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Boundaries and Belonging: Creating A Synagogue Community of Meaning

December 13, 2022, 7:00 pm

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Series: Boundaries and Belonging: Creating A Synagogue Community of Meaning
In our fragmented world, how can the synagogue be a nexus of community and connection? At a time of radical individuality, what is the value of communal life? How can we straddle the tension between nurturing a community of belonging with the need for boundaries? Who is an “insider” and who is an “outsider” in the modern American synagogue? What are the obstacles to the inclusive, pluralistic synagogue today?Join the Shalom Hartman institute of North America for a community conversation that explores these questions that are vital to our Conservative synagogues in Westchester. Learn together with Hartman’s world-renowned scholars, including (names and pics) Yehuda Kurtzer, Mijal Bitton, Justin Pines, Lauren Berkun.

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Session One: What are the Meanings of Jewish Identity in a Boundaryless age?
Yehuda Kurtzer – December 13, 2022
Jewish American identity, though always diverse, used to have a set of shared and recognizable features. As contemporary identities have become increasingly complex and layered, Jewish identity has as well. What does Jewish identity mean todayand how is it prioritized among other commitments? What impact have the shifts in what it means to be Jewish and live a Jewish life served to both challenge and enrich our synagogue communities?

Session Two: Being On the Inside: Boundaries and Belonging
Mijal Bitton, January 19, 2023
This session explores the tensions between creating communities belonging that are still boundaried. In a membership model community, what does it mean to belong? How do we navigate the tensions between building communities that are inclusive and preserving a core set of commitments that may serve to exclude? How do we create space for a plurality of views on Israel and American politics? What moral issues arise as a result of defining communal boundaries, intentionally or unintentionally, that exclude some groups or individuals?

Session Three: Thinking beyond Interfaith: New Models for Jewish Community
Justin Pines, February 7, 2023
For a long time, anxiety about intermarriage represented a set of concerns about Jewish continuity. Though many of these concerns no longer reflect the reality of Jewish American life, many synagogues are concerned about educating their congregants to live knowledgeable, meaningful Jewish lives. How do we think beyond categories of Jew versus non-Jew? How can we imagine new models of community?

Session Four: Boundaries and Belonging: Creating A Synagogue Community of Meaning
Lauren Berkun, March 14, 2023
Given the questions and tensions we’ve explored over the course of the past three sessions, how do we build and nourish synagogues that reflect our highest aspirations for Jewish life and community? How can synagogues embody the richest possibilities for flourishing Jewish life in the 21st century?

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