Judaism’s Response to the Search for Meaning in Our Lives
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., will be the scholar-in-residence at Congregation Beth Israel, 701 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, CT, during the weekend of November 2-4, 2012.
American Jews are in the midst of a revolutionary shift from inherited ethnicity to the search for personal meaning. Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, a charismatic national leader with a passion for the spiritual renewal of American Judaism, will offer uplifting messages on the value of Judaism in our daily lives.
“Our Chance of a Lifetime: The Anxious Search for Meaning in a Post-Ethnic Era” will be the focus of his discussions, which will look at human meaning as well as take a nostalgic look at American Jewish identity, how to find God, and how we can re-imagine Judaism.
The weekend will begin on Friday, November 2, 7:30pm at a Shabbat service at Beth Israel, followed by Torah Study on Saturday, November 3, 9:30am, a Shabbat service, lunch, and discussion on Saturday starting at 11am, and a breakfast discussion on Sunday, November 4, at 9:30am.
Rabbi Hoffman offers an uplifting message," said Senior Rabbi Michael Pincus. "A visionary in our Reform movement, his classes at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion helped shape my own Jewish view. His engaging style and wonderful sense of humor lightens serious lectures that probe how we can find meaning in our lives today, I invite the Greater Hartford Community to join us in our discussions with Rabbi Hoffman.”
Dynamic and engaging, Rabbi Hoffman has taught at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York since 1973. He has written or edited over thirty-five books, including My People's Prayer Book (Jewish Lights Publishing), a ten-volume edition of the Siddur with modern commentaries, which was named a National Jewish Book Award winner for 2007. His Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Jewish Lights Publishing) and his Art of Public Prayer (Skylight Paths) are widely used by churches and synagogues as guides to organizational visioning and liturgical renewal. In 2011, he received a second National Jewish Book Award for co-authoring Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary (Alban Institute). He syndicates a regular column which appears, among other places, in The Jewish Week and The Jewish Times, and writes a blog entitled Life and a Little Liturgy. In 1994, he co-founded "Synagogue 2000," a trans-denominational project to envision the ideal synagogue "as moral and spiritual center" for the 21st century. As Synagogue 3000, it has launched Next Dor, a national initiative to engage the next generation through a relational approach featuring strong communities with transformed synagogues at their center.
The public is welcome to join the Beth Israel community in all events, and everything is free, except for a $10 fee for the Saturday lunch and a $5 fee for the Sunday breakfast.
Friday, November 2, 7:30pm (during Shabbat service)
Builders, Baby Boomers and Beyond: Looking for American Jewish Identity
Synagogues change and so do we. But before looking at where we go from here, we take a retrospective look at where how we got here from there: a nostalgic revisiting of baby boomers growing up, suburbia, and Dr. Spock, marching for Israel and freedom for Refuseniks—and what is left of all that now. This is your life, American Judaism.
Saturday, November 3, 9:30am (with Torah study group)
Spirituality in Public: Looking for God in Greater Hartford
A generation ago, one young rabbinic student asked his professor to teach him how to speak Yiddish. “Teach you Yiddish?!” came the reply, “You don’t teach Yiddish; you just open your mouth and it comes out.” The student tried it. It didn’t work. Now, a generation later, more and more people are asking how to pray. As with Yiddish, the assumption has been, “You just open your mouth and it comes out.” Again, it doesn’t, of course. How then do we pray? And how do we find God—in all the right places.
Saturday, November 3 (after services, lunch included)
Judaism as a Conversation: Staking Out Our Claim to What’s Worth Talking About
Is it a religion? A culture? An ethnicity? A way of life? Or is it a conversation? Re-imagine Judaism as a three-millennia long conversation about God, life, and the universe; and find yourself engaged in ideas old and new—most particularly, nowadays, the revolutionary shift from inherited ethnicity to the search for personal meaning.
Sunday, November 4, 9:30am (breakfast included)
Judaism for the Next Generation: Where Does Judaism Go When All the Givens Fail?
We can take nothing for granted anymore. With intermarriage rising, and ethnic memory growing dimmer, why will anyone choose to affirm Judaism as our century proceeds? Why be Jewish at all, any more? The lecture explores Judaism’s response to the frantic search for human meaning, against the backdrop of science, art, the challenge to tradition, and the “rereligionization” of America.