Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis Rabbinic Seminar
Spring Semester 2017
Theme: “Godliness: Implications for a Rabbi’s Work”
Thanks to the generosity of the Harold M. Schulweis Institute (HSMI), the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (ZSRS) continued the bold educational initiative for their rabbinical students during the spring 2017 semester, with the second “Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis Rabbinic Seminar.”
The theme was Godliness: Implications for a Rabbi’s Work. Godliness is a linchpin in the Rabbi’s revolutionary introduction of Predicate Theology as a way to relate positively to divinity, and its celebration in prayer and ritual. Quoting from Rabbi Schulweis, “We are an old-new people and we require old-new ways to renew our connection with our ancestors’ faith. From Elohim to Elohut, Godliness, is not a path away, but towards our spiritual renewal and reconciliation.”
The sessions were presented as follows:
From God to Godliness – Guest Lecturer Rabbi Ed Feinstein : Addressing the reasons that would impel a man like Rabbi Schulweis to move from God to Godliness, and to explore the consequences in terms of halakhah, pastoral care, and morality.
Godliness as a Source for Healing – Guest Lecturer Rabbi Sharon Broun: Addressing ways that a focus on godliness makes possible better pastoral responses. What do you say when…?
Godliness and the Person – Guest Lecturer Malkah Schulweis: The tool to fully express godliness requires an understanding of the psychological processes of the individual.
Fulfilling the lifelong vision of Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis and with the support of the Schulweis Institute, Dr. Michelle Green Willner founded the Jewish Community Children’s Choir (www.jewishchildrenschoir.com) in 2011. The choir’s success in bringing together children from different tracks of Judaism has proven Rabbi Schulweis’ passionate belief in the power of combining Jewish tradition and music as a means to overcome barriers to discourse. Raising their voices in harmony, the children in the JCCC represent a cross-section of the many denominations in the Jewish Community of Los Angeles. Its members attend public schools, private Jewish day schools, charter schools as well as being home-schooled. For some of these students, the JCCC is their only connection to Jewish culture. The JCCC focuses on teaching children how to read music and how to perform professionally by inspiring a new generation in the singing of Jewish choral compositions, both old and new. The JCCC performs at venues throughout Los Angeles, enriching the broader community with new music, new repertoire and new memories. CLICK HERE To see a video of a recent concert,
In the fall of 2004, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (z”l), delivered a sermon to the congregation at Valley Beth Shalom on Rosh Hashanah regarding the need to develop a response to the on-going genocide in Darfur. In a few short months, Jewish World Watch was formed from volunteers at VBS, led by Janice Kamenir-Reznik, co-founder and president. In the months that followed, other synagogues in the Los Angeles area expressed interest in participating. The Institute has been providing funding to support Jewish World Watch since the organization was founded. JWW has raised more than five million dollars for relief and development projects that impact tens of thousands of people in Sudan and Congo. For further information, CLICK HERE
The Schulweis Institute supports special programming at Valley Beth Shalom each fall with a scholar in residence, to commemorate the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Schulweis.
Chancellor Arnold Eisen served as scholar at the first commemoration in 2015. Arnold M. Eisen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Since taking office in 2007, Chancellor Eisen has transformed the education of religious, pedagogical, professional, and lay leaders for North American Jewry, with a focus on graduating highly skilled, innovative leaders who bring Judaism alive in ways that speak authentically to Jews at a time of rapid and far-reaching change.
Rabbi Avi Weiss was the guest for the second commemoration in 2016. Rabbi Weiss is an American Modern Orthodox ordained rabbi, author, teacher, lecturer, and activist who led the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in The Bronx, New York and is the founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a rabbinical seminary he refers to as “Open Orthodox”, a term he coined to describe an offshoot of Modern Orthodoxy.
Each guest provided insight through discussions and lectures at the Friday night services, the Torah study preceding Saturday services, and spoke to their view of the meaning of the parsha of the week and led Shabbat Shiur study group following Services. They also participated in the Havdalah service and throughout the weekend, gave valuable insights into their views of Judaism as a world force. They identified the challenges we face and the relevance to community and global activism and social justice, in much the same manner as Rabbi Schulweis (z”L) would discuss how important Judaism is to the direction of modern civilization, based on our 2000 year history.
Information on each program will be posted on this website as it becomes available each year.
“Chesed” is a Hebrew word that is commonly translated into English as “loving-kindness”, “kindness”, or “love”. The Chesed Connection at Valley Beth Shalom targets opportunities where our volunteer forces can be of assistance, and places people in our community in meaningful volunteer situations. The Institute provided seed funding to support the initiation of the program at VBS, which attracts people who…
– Would like to help alleviate hunger
– Are passionate about protecting and saving the environment
– Are interested in helping ‘at-risk’ youth achieve success
– Find it fulfilling helping ill or disabled people
– Enjoy working with abandoned animals
– Would enjoy knitting or crocheting chemo caps and baby blankets
– Participate in the VBS Task Force on the Homeless
Current information on the Chesed program at VBS can be found HERE
The Valley Beth Shalom Caring Connection offers care, compassion and support during the moments of life’s transitions and celebrations.
– Connecting Valley Beth Shalom clergy and expertly trained team of VBS volunteers with members needing comfort and support
– Connecting VBS physicians with each other to discuss diverse doctoring and medical ethical issues melded with the study of Jewish wisdom with Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas
– Connecting our members with the latest information on health and wellness by sponsoring periodic educational programs
To get involved or request our assistance, please contact Susan Rubin, Caring Connection Director at 818-530-4056.
Valley Beth Shalom was the formative home for Aminadav Aloni and his creation of a great archive of Jewish music for solo voice, choir, and orchestra. Ami was recognized as a gifted composer with whom VBS was blessed with a 30 year association. With the encouragement of Rabbi Schulweis, a distinct liturgical voice was fashioned for the congregation. Aloni’s work, some in collaboration with Rabbi Schulweis, have spread worldwide, increasing awareness, pride and consciousness of the beauty of Jewis music and its power to enhance the religious experience. The Aminadav Aloni Music Foundation has been established to gather and publish the vast treasure of Ami’s repertoire. Many of these compositions can be heard HERE.
The Schulweis Institute provided seed funding to help establish VBSnextGen, a home for young Jewish couples at Valley Beth Shalom: providing a platform to lead, make a difference, form lasting friendships, cultivate Jewish life and help build the future VBS family.
VBSnextGen was founded on the belief that a meaningful life is best lived in community. Jewish learning and practice can transform – it can change lives, give purpose, and invest people in the world. VBSnextGen is our path for connection, transformation, and social action. CLICK HERE for further information.
Keeping true to its mission of creating and supporting legacy programs affecting the arts, Tthe Institute supported establishing an art gallery in the halls of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino California, and has provided support to the following exhibits in that space:
– Faces of the Homeless: Painting the Unseen Among Us. Use current text and use a “click here” link to a slide show, as done on the current HMSI website
– Ketubot Exhibit. A display of various Ketubot (a Ketubah is a contract signed by a bride and groom as part of the Jewish Wedding ceremonies) from various sources, from weddings held in various countries at various times over the past 100 years
– A Week in the Life of Valley Beth Shalom
Composed by Russell Steinberg
On May 28, 2014, the first performance of Sacred Transitions: A Song Cycle Based on Meditations by Harold M. Schulweis, composed by Russell Steinberg [link is http://www.russellsteinberg.com/chamber/#Sacred%20Transitions ], was presented at Valley Beth Shalom and jointly supported by the Schulweis Institute and the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, Richard Braun M.D. Chairman/Founder. The texts from these songs are selections from meditations by Rabbi Schulweis, on the four primary life passages—birth, marriage, sickness/age, and death (the meditations are all available in the archive on this website). Steinberg wrote “Rabbi Schulweis revitalizes rites of passage as sacred moments in our lives by using simple, clear and beautiful language to focus us to a higher awareness…I find a personal intimate quality to these meditations, as if one person is speaking to another with deep love, compassion, and awareness. Click here for further information.