The 5778/2018 schedule is up! Please note that we will be adding to and updating the schedule regularly, so please check back for more details. Session times subject to change. Please let us know if you have specific questions about this year’s line-up!


Friday, June 8

3:30 – 5:00 Registration

5:00 Kiddush

5:15 Dinner

6:30 Keynote Address

Kids’ Services

8:00 Kabbalat Shabbat, followed by Tisch


Saturday, June 9

8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Shabbat Services

  • Conservative Services
  • Renewal Services
  • Orthodox Services
  • Hiking Services
  • Parashat HaShavua Learning Session
  • Kids’ Services, followed by babysitting

12:30 Lunch

1:00 Learning Block

  • Rabbi David Freidenreich, “Putting Maine’s Rich Jewish History to Use” (moderated panel)
  • Poetry Slam!
  • Chayim Goldberg, “Keeping It Kosher”
  • Kids programming with rabbinical student Josh Pernick
  • Babysitting

2:30 Learning Block

  • Chris Myers Asch, “Jews and Racial Justice”
  • Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein, “Are You Worthy of That Challah? Challah and the Ten Mitzvot”
  • Lanni Solochek, “On the Move: Physical Movement in Jewish Prayer”
  • Rabbi Shim Maslin, “God for Grownups”
  • Teen Programming with rabbinical student Lily Nagy-Deak
  • Kids’ Programming
  • Babysitting

3:45 Seudat Shlishit/”Cocktail” Hour

5:00 Dinner

6:30 Learning Block

  • Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, “Resilience in the Jewish Tradition”
  • Anna Wrobel, “History, Memory and Poetry: Art as Historical Transmission”
  • Rabbi Erica Asch, “#MeToo: Consent in Traditional Jewish Texts and Modern Day Implications”
  • Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor, “Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah”
  • Rabbi Carolyn Braun, Heidi Weiss, Jean Berman, “A Good Shiva: A Conversation Across Professions”
  • Teen Programming
  • Babysitting

8:00 Learning Block

  • Lily Nagy-Deak, “Wonder Women of the Tanakh”
  • Rabbi Sruli Dresdner
  • Josh Pernick, “Well-Rooted and Flourishing: Is Innovation Allowed in the Study Hall?”
  • Zach Heiden, “Praying With Our Feet”
  • Arielle Greenberg, “Form Follows (Dys)function: Innovative Structures in Contemporary Jewish Literature

9:15 Havdalah


  • Teen Movie and Discussion with Barbara Merson
  • Jam Session at the Thomas Outdoor Fireplace — bring your instruments!


Sunday, June 10

8:00  Breakfast


  • Rabbi Linda Motzkin, “The Making of a Torah”* (please note that this session runs until lunch)
  • Rabbi Bill Siemers, “Rambam at Earthrise: Jewish Thought and the Apollo Program”
  • David Solmitz, “Emotional Scars: Surviving Nazism, Dachau, and Beyond”
  • Babysitting


  • Zoe Lang, “Songs from the Society of Jewish Folk Music”
  • Barbara Merson, “Enrich, Educate, Entertain: Why Watch Films with Jewish Content?”
  • Heidi Lovitz, “The Benefits of Using ShalomLearning”
  • Babysitting

11:45 Plenary Session: The Stories of Maine Jewish Life


  • Lunch on your own in downtown Waterville
  • ShalomLearning Partner Lunch. All ShalomLearning Partners are invited to lunch with our staff, sponsored by ShalomLearning. Not a ShalomLearning partner yet but interested in becoming one? See Heidi Lovitz, Director of Educational Programming.


  • Closed Session: “Shalomlearning Partners Training,” Heidi Lovitz. If you are interested in participating in this training, please contact MCJL organizers.


“Keeping It Kosher,” Chayim Goldberg. Learn what qualifies a bird species as being kosher, from an actual shochet (ritual slaughterer). Have questions about the mechanics of kashrut? This session is for you!

“Jews and Racial Justice,” Chris Myers Asch. This session will explore the history of Jews in movements for racial justice in the United States. From abolitionism to civil rights, from the Congress of Industrial Organizations to Black Lives Matter, Jews have been disproportionately active in racial justice movements. We will discuss the variety of Jewish responses to issues of racial justice, the extent of Jewish involvement, and the challenges of organizing across racial and religious lines.

“Are You Worthy of That Challah? Challah and the Ten Mitzvot,” Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein. “Rabbi Yitzchak, when he sat down to eat, would stretch his ten fingers over the loaves and say, ‘Behold, I have fulfilled ten mitzvot!’” (Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Challah 1,16a). In this workshop we will examine the significance of challah in our celebrations, and take a close look at the Ten Mitzvot (not the Ten Commandments) through whose fulfillment we merit being able to share our bread together. This discussion touches on issues of food behaviors, community food policy, and the health of our planet.

“On the Move: Physical Movement in Jewish Prayer,” Lanni Solochek. Throughout Jewish history, we’ve developed different movements through a service that have different meanings. For some, movement brings them closer to God; for others, movement is a method of focus; for others still, movement is rote physical memory. This session will tackle the physical movement of Judaism, exploring how we’ve adapted different movements (from shuckling to hagbah to chant circles) and how physical movement can change prayer practice.

“God for Grownups,” Rabbi Shim Maslin. We will consider the many ways that people conceive of God and attempt to find a concept worthy of mature thinking adults.

“Resilience in the Jewish Tradition,” Rabbi Rachel Isaacs. How do we continue on our journeys in the face of sadness, tragedy, despair, or just boredom? Contemporary scholars and inspirational speakers now speak of the power of grit, but is that contemporary concept the same as traditional approaches resilience? We will look to sources and rituals from our tradition that describe techniques for weathering life’s challenges, tragedies, and disappointments. We will also discuss the limits and complexities of a discourse focused on resilience and/or grit in a world of structural inequality.  This session will include song, chavruta study, and group discussion.

“History, Memory and Poetry: Art as Historical Transmission,” Anna Wrobel. The session examines how evidence-based history and personal witness may be extracted into poetic forms. We’ll explore poems and poets related to the Shoah, Israel, and American Jewish experience.

“#MeToo: Consent in Traditional Jewish Texts and Modern Day Implications,” Rabbi Erica Asch. Sexual harassment and assault has taken center stage with the recent #MeToo movement. This session will explore what traditional Jewish texts say about consent within marriage (you might be surprised) and what implications it can have for us today. We will also discuss gender disparities within our modern day Jewish community focusing on the experiences of women rabbis. This session is appropriate for 11th and 12th graders as well as adults.

Wonder Women of the Tanakh,” Lily Nagy-Deak. Devorah, Yael, and Judith are the Amazons of Jewish tradition. These wise leaders are unapologetically feminine warrior women. This session will use Jewish text, dramatic role playing, and conversation to explore their stories in the Tanakh and midrash in parallel with the themes and messages of Wonder Woman.

“Well-Rooted and Flourishing: Is Innovation Allowed in the Study Hall?” Josh Pernick. At the end of the 1st century CE, Judaism appeared to be on the verge of collapse, its foundation decimated by the destruction of the Second Temple and the loss of political autonomy. And yet, Judaism did not die; it transformed. In this class we will explore the diametrically opposed visions of the two leading rabbis of this generation whose work allowed Judaism to survive and thrive for the past 2,000 years.

“Praying with Our Feet,” Zach Heiden. This session will explore ways in which Jewish tradition and thought inspire and inform the fight for civil rights and equal justice. Inspired by Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s observation that, when he marched in Selma, his feet were praying, we will discuss the still-unfinished struggle for racial justice, as well as the related causes of criminal justice reform and justice for people living in poverty.

“Form Follows (Dys)function: Innovative Structures in Contemporary Jewish Literature,” Arielle Greenberg. In art and design, there’s a saying that “form should follow function”—that how a thing is made should be guided by what that the substance of that thing is. Some writers take this to heart, too, creating innovative and experimental literary structures for work that addresses complex and unusual subject matter. We’ll look at work by various contemporary Jewish writers who are pushing the boundaries of form to discuss how a structure might represent our ethnic/spiritual heritage.

“The Making of a Torah,” Rabbi Linda Motzkin. The Community Torah Project is a unique, long-term educational endeavor to involve participants of all ages in various steps in the making of a Torah scroll, from processing deerskins into parchment to stitching together completed panels. Come learn how a Torah scroll is made, and be included in the process by checking Hebrew letters on fully written panels (you will be taught how to do this!). All are welcome; you do not need to know Hebrew to attend.

“Rambam at Earthrise: Jewish Thought and the Apollo Program,” Rabbi Bill Siemers. This coming December is the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission and the iconic photograph of the Earth rising over the surface of the moon. In this session we will study the reaction of Jewish thinkers to the lunar missions, particularly the monograph by R. Menachem Kasher The Man On the Moon, and consider the question “Does modern astronomy matter to contemporary Jewish thought?”.

“Emotional Scars: Surviving Nazism, Dachau, and Beyond,” David Solmitz. Revisiting my parents’ experience before, during, and after the Nazi Holocaust accompanied by slides. How their experiences continue to and challenge me. Do we learn from history, our familial experiences, and our own? Lots of discussion encouraged.

“Songs from the Society of Jewish Folk Music,” Zoe Lang. In 1912, the Russian-based Society of Jewish Folk Music published a collection of songs “suitable for the home and school” (Lider-zamelbukh far der Yidisher shul un familie). The collection features liturgical music, arrangements of classical music (by Jewish and non-Jewish composers), and folk songs collected from the Pale of Settlement by members of the Society. This session will provide an overview of this anthology and feature performances of selected works from it.

“Enrich, Educate, Entertain: Why Watch Films with Jewish Content?” Barbara Merson. This presentation will explore the range of films with Jewish material and how diverse audiences connect to them. Presentation will include film clips and discussion.

“Shalomlearning Partners Training,” Heidi Lovitz. This session is for educators using the ShalomLearning program this fall. Participants will receive hands-on training to prepare for their first class, access materials, and utilize lesson plans using our Jewish Values curriculum or Hebrew Program. ShalomLearning educators also receive one-on-one mentorship and support throughout the year.

“The Benefits of Using ShalomLearning,” Heidi Lovitz. Find out how ShalomLearning has helped small Jewish communities with religious school programming.There are currently over 80 synagogues using ShalomLearning – each in their own way. The program is flexible to allow for in-person, virtual, or self paced learning depending on your community’s needs. ShalomLearning’s goal is to make the role of the educator and education director easier by providing ready made lesson plans, training, and support. Come find out how ShalomLearning can help your religious school programming with a values based curriculum and Hebrew programs.