The 5778/2018 schedule is up!

Please note that we will be adding to and updating the schedule regularly, so check back for more details. Session times subject to change.

Please let us know if you have specific questions about this year’s lineup!

Friday, June 8

3:30 – 5 p.m. Registration

5 p.m. Kiddush

5:15 p.m. Dinner

6:30 p.m.

  • Keynote Address with Joy Friedman, Director of Organizing at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  • Kids’ Services, followed by programming with Amy Bley

8 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat, followed by Tisch


Saturday, June 9

8 a.m. Breakfast

9 a.m. Shabbat Services

  • Conservative Services
  • Renewal Services/Jewish Mindfulness Meditation with Maggidah Neshama Waller
  • Orthodox Services
  • Walking Services with Susan Bakaley Marshall and Chris Marshall
  • Gentle Chair Yoga with Tiffany Lopes
  • Parashat HaShavua Learning Session
  • Kids’ Services, followed by PJ Library Aleph Bet Yoga and babysitting

11 a.m. “Responsible One for Another:  The Jewish Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico,” Edward Finkel and Yotam Polizer

12 Noon Lunch

1-2:30 p.m. Learning Block

  • Rabbi David Freidenreich, “Putting Maine’s Rich Jewish History to Use” (moderated panel)
  • David Trietsch, “Bringing out the Best in Your Team: Recognizing Differences, Managing Difficult Conversations, Strategies for Success”
  • Poetry Slam! With Anna Bat Chai Wrobel, Lee Sharkey, Martin Steingesser
  • Chayim Goldberg, “The Kashrut of Birds: Signs and Tradition”
  • Kids’ Programming with Amy Bley
  • Babysitting

2:45 p.m. 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”
  • Rabbi Bill Siemers, “Rambam at Earthrise: Jewish Thought and the Apollo Program”
  • Teen Programming with rabbinical student Lily Nagy-Deak
  • Kids’ Programming with rabbinical student Josh Pernick
  • Babysitting

3:45 p.m. Seudah Shlishit/”Cocktail” Hour

5 p.m. Dinner

6:30 p.m. 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, “What if the Rambam Came to Maine?”
  • Yotam Polizer, “Saving Lives and Building Bridges Between Enemies: IsraAID Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis”
  • Teen Programming with Madison Slobin of Habonim Dror
  • Babysitting

8 p.m. Learning Block

  • Lily Nagy-Deak, “Wonder Women of the Tanakh”
  • Rabbi Sruli Dresdner, “Singing in the Dark: Special Late-Shabbat and Havdalah Zemirot”
  • 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 p.m. Havdalah

9:30 p.m.

  • Teen Movie and Discussion with Barbara Merson
  • Jam Session at the Thomas Outdoor Fireplace — bring your instruments!
  • Temple Shalom Auburn and Beth Israel Waterville Israel Trip Reunion


Sunday, June 10

8 a.m. Breakfast

9:15 a.m.

  • Rabbi Linda Motzkin, “The Making of a Torah”* (please note that this session runs until lunch, and is suitable for older children and teens as well as adults)
  • Heidi Lovitz, “The Benefits of Using ShalomLearning”
  • Jeffrey Yoskowitz, “Jewish Pickling 101: A Hands-on Workshop by Gefilteria”
  • Jonathan Posner, “The Table and the Text: Making Jewish learning and practice tangible, engaging, and delicious”
  • Rabbi Jared Saks, “Transitioning Judaism: An Exploration of Reimagined and Emerging Rituals to Include Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming People in Jewish Life”
  • Babysitting

10:30 a.m.

  • Zoe Lang, “Songs from the Society of Jewish Folk Music”
  • Barbara Merson, “Enrich, Educate, Entertain: Why Watch Films with Jewish Content?”
  • Eli Rogosa, “Bread from the Earth”
  • Rabbi Carolyn Braun, Heidi Weiss, Jean Berman, “A Good Shiva: A Conversation Across Professions”
  • Teen Programming: “Jewish Artisanal Work: An Informal Conversation with Jeffrey Yoskowitz”
  • Babysitting

11:45 a.m. Plenary Session with Amy Bley: The Stories of Maine Jewish Life

12:45 p.m.

  • 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.
  • Jonathan Rosenbloom, “Venetian Jewish Pastry, History, and Community”

2 p.m.

  • Hands-On Shechita, Butchering, and Kashering Demo! with Chayim Goldberg
  • Closed Session: “ShalomLearning Partners Training,” Heidi Lovitz. If you are interested in participating in this training, please contact MCJL organizers.


Walking Services: We’ll take our davening outdoors along trails and in fields on Thomas campus, stopping at particular points to chant, offer readings and share with each other about the Torah portion.

Saturday, 11 a.m.

“Responsible One for Another:  The Jewish Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico,” Edward Finkel and Yotam Polizer. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. This session will share updates, details, and personal stories about the work of two Jewish values-based organizations, The Jewish Federations of North America and IsraAID, that are supporting the people and communities affected by Hurricane Maria and will discuss opportunities to get involved in the long recovery process.


Saturday, 1 p.m.

“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!


“Bringing out the Best in Your Team: Recognizing Differences, Managing Difficult Conversations, Strategies for Success,” David Trietsch. Successful leaders are able to inspire, motivate, and work with all types of individuals. Recognizing differences while building strong and lasting relationships is a critical component of leading a congregation. In this workshop we will explore both helpful frameworks and practical advice on how to have the conversations you’ve been avoiding and at the same time strengthen your relationships.


“Putting Maine’s Rich Jewish History to Use,” Rabbi David Friedenreich and Panel


Saturday, 2:45 p.m.

“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.


“Rambam at Earthrise:  Jewish Thought and the Apollo Program,” Rabbi Bill Siemers. This coming December is the 50th 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?”


Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

“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 address   the power of “grit,” but is that contemporary concept analogous to 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.


“Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah,” Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor. How did Maimonides’s life story help shape his writing of the Mishneh Torah?  We will examine several key passages that exemplify its style and utility.


“Saving Lives and Building Bridges Between Enemies:  IsraAID Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis,” Yotam Polizer. The session will present case studies from IsraAID’s work with Syrian and Yazidi refugees in Europe and the Middle East. Through its humanitarian mission, IsraAID’s team of Jews and Arabs not only saved lives, but also built human bridges between Jews, Muslims, Israelis, and Syrians.


Saturday, 8 p.m.

“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.


“Singing in the Dark: Special Late Shabbat and Havdallah Zemirot,” Rabbi Sruli Dresdner. First, we will search for the secrets contained in these ancient, mystical song-poems. Then we will sing!


“Well-Rooted and Flourishing: Is Innovation Allowed in the Study Hall?” Josh Pernick. At the end of the first 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 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.


Sunday, 9:15 a.m.

“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.


“Transitioning Judaism: An Exploration of Reimagined and Emerging Rituals to Include Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming People in Jewish Life,” Rabbi Jared Saks. Join Rabbi Jared H. Saks as we explore an ongoing conversation in the Jewish world to adapt longstanding Jewish traditions to make them fully inclusive of the full scope of gender identities. We will also examine emerging rituals that are being created to celebrate the particular life journeys of people across the gender spectrum.


“The Table and The Text: Making Jewish Learning and Practice Tangible, Engaging, and Delicious,” Jonathan Posner. Jewish learning is about more than reading books that detail what our sages of blessed memory did and thought, and not all of us are so book-ish anyway. Jewish learning is about building a life-practice that can touch every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Join chef and rabbinical student Jonathan Posner in a discussion about his approach to teaching through cooking and about how you can incorporate this into your lives as well.


“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.


“Jewish Pickling 101: A Hands-on Workshop,Jeffrey Yoskowitz. It’s a hands-on pickling workshop, with Jeffrey Yoskowitz of The Gefilteria! Learn about this favorite Jewish treat, and leave with not only a handmade jar, but a new appreciation for how pickles are made!


Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

“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 by the director of the Maine Jewish Film Festival will explore the range of films with Jewish material and how diverse audiences connect to them. The presentation will include film clips and discussion.


“A Good Shiva: A Conversation Across Professions,” Rabbi Carolyn Braun, Heidi Weiss, Jean Berman. A rabbi, a social worker, and a lay leader of a national chevra kadisha organization in conversation about what, perversely, makes for a “good” shiva.


“Bread from the Earth,” Eli Rogosa. Join us to renew the meaning of “bread from the earth” that is holy to the Jewish people, and explore forgotten teachings on blessings, seeds, and farming of Ancient Israel, and in Seder Zarim, the first book of the Mishnah. Learn how to plant, tend, harvest, and bake with ancient Israeli wheat, and how to establish a garden and seed-saving program at your synagogue or school. Participants will receive ancient Israeli seeds, collected by Eli for the Israel Plant Gene Bank, to restore in your own garden sanctuary.

Post-plenary sessions

“Venetian Jewish Pastry, History, and Community,” Jonathan Rosenbloom. This workshop will include a demonstration of Impàde and Sucarìni (two classic Venetian pastry), a lunch of traditional Jewish artichokes and a tagliatelle dish, a short lecture from Jonathan on the food provided, and copies of the day’s recipes. Please note that this session costs $25 to cover the cost of lunch; we will collect money at the door. (Please note that while this meal will be vegetarian, Itali-ah does not have a kosher kitchen.) This session requires preregistration.


Kosher Butchering and Kashering Demo, Chayim Goldberg. After a demonstration of kosher slaughter, shochet Chayim Goldberg will lead a hands-on demonstration of the proper way to butcher, and kasher, a heritage chicken. We have one dozen chickens to work with. Many thanks to Hazon, for a micro-grant which purchased the chickens and helped us bring up Chayim, and to Karl Schatz and Margaret Hathaway of Ten Apple Farm, for raising the birds for the Center for Small Town Jewish Life.

“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.