In late February I was invited to participate in a dialogue on the meaning of Progressive Zionism, Israel’s character as a Jewish homeland and democratic state, why Israel is important for American Jews, our role in US-Israeli politics, and our relationship with each other vis a vis the state of Israel.

I was questioned by Dr. Joshua Holo, Associate Professor of Jewish History and Dean of the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, in a 45-minute conversation. Dr. Holo and I covered many of the most critical issues facing American Jewry in relationship to the state of Israel today. Our conversation can be watched at http://huc.edu/academics/learn/zionism-and-crisis.

This program, called “Zionism and Crisis – A Conversation,” is part of an on-going series of discussions led by Dean Holo on a wide variety of themes in a series called “THE COLLEGE COMMONS.” Currently, 20 Reform synagogues throughout the western United States from Seattle to San Diego and throughout the southwest are participating in a live-stream and real-time conversation followed by discussion in each synagogue led by their respective rabbis. Dr. Holo prepares study materials for those synagogue conversations.

There is no charge for synagogue participation. This is not what Josh calls “Pajama Torah,” meaning that you cannot access this conversation in real-time on-line from home. It must be done in community with others, and so synagogues are signing up and gathering congregants to watch, question the speakers and then discuss together these themes.

If you are interested in participating, ask your rabbis and adult learning chairs to contact HUC and schedule these events. They occur on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings four times annually. If you live in other communities around the country, you are welcome as well but note the time changes.

For more information see collegecommons@huc.edu. Also see http://huc.edu/campus-life/los-angeles/college-commons and http://huc.edu/academics/learn/theme/458

Upcoming Conversations include (all moderated by Dean Holo):

DEATH BY SUCCESS? WALKING THE TIGHTROPE OF IDENTITY: with Dr. Kristine Garroway and Rabbi Tali Zelkowicz
OUR JEWISH FUTURE: THE B’NAI MITZVAH REVOLUTION: with Dr. Isa Aron
REBIRTH IN GERMANY?: with Dr. Leah Hochman and Dr. Sharon Gillerman
THE MYSTERY OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS: with Rabbi Joshua Garroway, Ph.D
ARMED WITH SCRIPTURE: QUR’AN AND TORAH AS WEAPONS IN THE WAR OF IDEAS: with Rabbi Tamara Eskenazi, Ph.D

Past Conversations are now available on-line (above) for viewing from home:

BULLY PULPIT: TORAH WITH A POINT OF VIEW: with Rabbi Richard Levy
ANTI-SEMITISM: ROOTS AND REALITY: with David Lehrer
POLITICS AND THE PULPIT: with Rabbi Stephanie Kolin
HOW JUDAISM IS CHRISTIANITY?: with Rabbi Joshua Garroway
FROM ARAB SPRING TO ARAB SUMMER – OR WINTER? FAULT LINES IN THE ARAB AND MUSLIM WORLDS: with Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D
A FORUM ON THE 2013 PEW STUDY OF JEWISH AMERICANS: with Sr. Sarah Bunin Benor, Dr. Bruce A. Phillips and Dr. Steven Windmueller

This is an exciting new forum for synagogue learning with leading scholars and teachers. My own synagogue will be part of next year’s series.

I wish to express my gratitude to my friend Dr. Josh Holo for conceiving and initiating this forum and thereby bringing scholars and HUC faculty to our communities on a regular basis.

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