2010 Conference
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Sara Hurwitz

Hebrew Institute of Riverdale

Sara Hurwitz is part of the Rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, where she serves as the Mahara”t (Manhiga, Hilchatit, Ruchanit, Toranit--leader in halachic, spiritual, pastoral counseling and teaching Torah.) She also launched Yeshivat Mahara”t, the first Orthodox school that will ordain women. She graduated from Drisha’s 3-year Scholars Circle Program and for the past 5 years has studied Jewish law under the supervision of Rabbi Avi Weiss. She received a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University . She also helped create JOFA’s Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project. Sara has lectured at JOFA, Drisha, the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School , the JCC in Manhattan , Lights in Action, CAJE, CLAL, and at various synagogues across the United States . She was just named as one of the Jewish Weeks 36 under 36, as well as the Forward50 most influential Jewish leaders.

One-Foot Judaism

Sara Hurwitz, David Ingber, Leon Morris, Mark Pearlman

Identity & Responsibility, Interactive, Spirituality & Mindfulness, Text & Thought

This guaranteed quick-paced yet thoughtful program—inspired by the question asked to Hillel, "Teach me the Torah while I stand on one foot"—will tackle top-of-mind and day-to-day questions on how to be Jewish. Answers are by world-class rabbis who offer enduring and practical sound bytes. The three rabbis are limited to short but impactful answers (180 seconds). Questions are all audience submitted, but may include "“How do I find purpose?” and “What issues should modern Jews be most concerned with?”

Agent of Change or Disruption: A Talmudic Case Study

Text & Thought

There are few named women in the Talmud. One of the few is Yalta, the wife of Rav Nachman, a third generation Babylonian Amora and the daughter of the Reish Galuta, a wealthy and well–respected figure. In each of the texts that we will study together, there is a question of Yalta's motivation. Is she a spoiled and disrespectful woman? Or are her actions motivated by a desire for greater involvement in religious and spiritual leadership? Finally, can Yalta teach us anything today about how to bring about religious change in a traditionally patriarchal world?

Envisioning a Healthy Jewish Sex Ethic

Text & Thought

Talking about sex is thought to be one of the last taboo topics in traditional Judaism. But, upon closer examination, the Bible and Talmud are filled with stories and advice about sex. What are the Biblical, Rabbinic, and Modern approaches to sex and relationships? Do chazal (the sages) convey a sex-positive or negative approach to relationships?

Jewish Law

Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going

Mimi Feigelson, Sara Hurwitz, Leon Morris, Ethan Tucker

The past 150 years have seen many struggles over Jewish law, its interpretation, and its application. In a globalized world of diminishing local community, Jews have more choice than ever before as to who their rabbinic authority should be and whether they choose one at all. This dynamic invites us to explore anew what role halakhah (Jewish law) should play in Jewish discourse, and how, if at all, halakhic authorities can and should shape Jewish life. Is halakhah a system of authority and obedience? Is it a language that can be used by pluralistic communities? Would Judaism today be better off without a discussion of halakhah at all? Come explore these questions and your own in a thought-provoking exchange with panelists who represent creative approaches to thinking about the application of Jewish law in our day.

Can Orthodox Women Be Rabbis?

Identity & Responsibility

Does the job of a rabbi preclude women from being religious leaders in the Orthodox community? What title should female Orthodox spiritual leaders be given? What are, if any, the halakhic (legal) barriers that would limit women from functioning as rabbis?

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