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Shavuot 5779 at FTJC

image of manuscript with handwritten hebrew text descending from above to below

In smoke and fire, concealed and revealed, the Torah comes to us as a gift from God. On Shavuot, we open ourselves at night to receive the Torah, and enact our presence at Mount Sinai in the morning with Torah reading and celebration.

Join us for festival prayers, joyful and song-filled Hallel, and chanting of the Ten Commandments. Hear the once-a-year sacred poetry of “Akdamut.” And how can you miss the four-chapter, four-handkerchief love story of Ruth? Yizkor will be held on Day 2 to honor and bless the memory of our deceased family and friends.

Quick Links:

Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Day 1 Services and Learning Opportunities

Day 2 Services and Community Picnic

 

Tikkun Leil Shavuot — All Night Torah Study!

Saturday, June 8, 9:30 PM, through Sunday May 31, 7:00 AM

Location: Hebrew Tabernacle, Social Hall

Fueled by caffeine and cheesecake, light-headed from lack of sleep, we enter an altered state of mind and body that can open us up to new insights. New friends may also be revealed as we gather, laugh, and learn.

This year's theme: "alternarratives":

What’s the story of the Torah and the Jewish People? What is the place of narrative in Jewish tradition, both in relation to halachah, and on its own? Who tells these stories, and to whom, and why? How do our stories get retold, reassessed, and renewed? What makes them “our” stories, if at all? What if certain events had taken a different course entirely? Come be a part of this all-night reverie full of learning and storytelling, and of course plenty of coffee and cheesecake.

We'll offer a series of scheduled learning sessions on this theme in the Social Hall, with additional space in the Library for independent study and hanging out -- plus coffee, cheesecake, and more in the Kitchen.

9:20 PM -- Maariv

10:00 PM - 5:00 AM.  Schedule below:

10:00 PM - "The Regendered Bible" with Yael Kanarek. What if Elohin created the Eve in her likeness and image and from her rib created a man to be her helper? Inspired by her Kabbalah studies, artist Yael Kanarek began rewriting the Hebrew language of the Bible reversing the genders of all characters. The technical and grammatical adaptation of these deeply familiar stories leads to surprisingly deep emotional responses and interpretive possibilities. The Torah is retold through a lineage of mothers and daughter, thus giving rise to divine feminine language that is authentically Jewish. Yael Kanarek is an artist, jewelry designer, and student of Kabbalah whose artwork has been exhibited at the Jewish Museum, The Whitney Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and more.

11:00 PM - "The Love Triangle of Torah: The Sages, their Wives, and the Divine" with Rabbi Sara Zacharia. A look into the culture of Torah study in the Beit Midrash. The power of vows and the pull of study puts us in the territory of dangerous Torah, where infidelity and seduction are alive in the mind of Rabbinic tradition. In these stories, we'll confront issues of the marital bed and the deep commitment to Torah study, both of which weighed heavily on the Sages. Is balance even possible? Rav Sara Zacharia is the Hillel Rabbi and Senior Jewish Educator at Queens College Hillel, and recently received an Honorary Doctorate from the American Jewish University celebrating 20 years in the rabbinate.

12:00 AM - "As the Story Goes: Yiddish Folk Stories of Famous Rabbis (& The Occasional Heretic)" with Yoyneh Hersh Boyarin. We'll read short vignettes in English translation from Mordekhai Lipson’s folk collection Di Velt Dertseylt. These stories were part of a highly developed, sometimes humorous and snappy, sometimes deeply thoughtful oral tradition about moments in the lives of famous figures from the Jewish world (all male, mostly Ashkenazi, mostly from the 17th-19th centuries). They were first put on the page by Lipson in the 1920s in an effort to preserve their memory. In the spirit of the oral tradition, we'll have the chances to read and then dramatically tell the stories to one another. Yoyneh Hersh Boyarin is a writer, educator, Yiddish translator, and all-around troublemaker.

1:00 AM - "He's Not Wrong, and That's Not Great: Haman Speaks" with Rabbi Salem Pearce. What was the exact content of the letters that Haman, in the name of King Achashverosh, sent to all the provinces and all the peoples, urging them to be ready "to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day" (Esther 3:13)? A midrash from Esther Rabbah offers an answer. Rabbi Salem Pearce is Director of Organizing at T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

2:00 AM - "The Daughters Came Forward" with Nissa Mai. What do we do when we can't find ourselves in Torah? Can we write ourselves into it? Is it still Torah, and then, is it even enough? Focusing on the "Daughters of Tzelophechad" and other episodes in Bamidbar/Numbers, this is a text-based discussion touching on authenticity, radical transmission, and having a complicated relationship to tradition. Nissa Mai is a Vietnamese-Chinese-American, "halakhic egalitarian" queer woman who recently finished up a year at Yeshivat Hadar. She talks to computers for a living.

3:00 AM - "Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters: Water Conflicts and Justice in Torah Law" with Avi Garelick. Water is a source of life and a collective ecological resource. It is also a source of conflict which shapes boundaries and identities. Together, we will study sources (!) from our tradition which struggle with the contradictions of water rights and management, navigate a course between legal ideas and stories of lived experience, and consider what they imply for our own models of collective governance and resource sharing. Avi Garelick is the director of the Ivry Prozdor High School at JTS.

4:00 AM - "Ruth and the Resistance" with Rabbi Guy Austrian. The biblical Book of Ruth is part pastoral tale, part love story, and part royal origin myth. But in the hands of its Rabbinic readers, it came both darker and more heroic, a high-stakes narrative against the backdrop of total sociopolitical breakdown. In our own reading of Midrash Ruth Rabbah, we'll count up the Rabbis' prescriptions of how to rebuild toward redemption, one sheaf of barley at a time. Rabbi Guy Austrian serves as spiritual leader of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center.

5:00 AM Early Shacharit in the Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall

 

Shavuot Day 1 – Morning Services
Sunday June 9, 8:30-11:00 AM
Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall; Children's games and activities with parent supervision in Classroom 1 at 10:00 AM

Featuring “Akdamut” (“Introductory Words”) — a strange and beautiful Aramaic poem that introduces the Shavuot reading of the Ten Commandments with sweeping theology and a vision of redemption. We will be moving quickly through the service in order to accommodate the church, our fellow tenant at HT, that uses the space on Sundays.

Please note the early version of the service offered at 5:00 following the Tikkun Leil Shavuot (see above). All are welcome at either.

 

Shavuot Day 1 – Daytime Learning Opportunities!

Sunday June 9, 3:00-6:00 PM, Bennett Park (SE corner near chess tables). Rain location: TBD.  Children are welcome to play nearby, and the presenters understand that adults may be in and out as they check in with their children. Please feel free to bring a blanket or kosher snacks to share.

3:00 PM - "Ruth and the Resistance" with Rabbi Guy Austrian. The biblical Book of Ruth is part pastoral tale, part love story, and part royal origin myth. But in the hands of its Rabbinic readers, it came both darker and more heroic, a high-stakes narrative against the backdrop of total sociopolitical breakdown. In our own reading of Midrash Ruth Rabbah, we'll count up the Rabbis' prescriptions of how to rebuild toward redemption, one sheaf of barley at a time. Rabbi Guy Austrian serves as spiritual leader of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center.

4:00 PM - "He's Not Wrong, and That's Not Great: Haman Speaks" with Rabbi Salem Pearce. What was the exact content of the letters that Haman, in the name of King Achashverosh, sent to all the provinces and all the peoples, urging them to be ready "to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day" (Esther 3:13)? A midrash from Esther Rabbah offers an answer. Rabbi Salem Pearce is Director of Organizing at T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

5:00 PM - "When Torah Talks to Democracy" with Rabbi Jill Jacobs. Rabbi Chaim David Halevy, who served as Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Tel Aviv from 1973 until his death in 1998, was a sensitive thinker who often went against the grain of his own community, and who grappled with questions of how to be religious in a modern democratic state. We will look at some of his teshuvot on making peace with Egypt, racism, and democracy and think about how his approach might be relevant to our own society. Rabbi Jill Jacobs is Executive Director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

 

Shavuot Day 2 – Morning Services, with Megillat Ruth and Yizkor
Monday June 10, 9:00 AM
Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall; Children's services in Classrooms at 11:00 AM.

Join us for Megillat Ruth, the original classic of love and loyalty — taking us from the harvest origins of Shavuot, through wrenching human relationships, to the footsteps of Messiah. We’ll also hold a Yizkor service – with psalms, readings, and the liturgy of mourning, we call to mind those who have left our world. We wrestle with the blessings and burdens of their lives and our emembering. Donations in honor of Yizkor may be made to FTJC by clicking here.

Shavuot Day 2 – Community Picnic!
Monday June 10, 12:30 PM
Location: Cafe Lawn in Fort Tryon Park (enter from Margaret Corbin Circle and take a right on the first path toward the New Leaf Cafe).
Join us after morning services. Bring your own dairy/pareve lunch, as well as a blanket and lawn/ball games.

Mon, July 22 2019 19 Tammuz 5779