2012 Conference
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Joel Hoffman

Joel Hoffman

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Joel M. Hoffman, Ph.D., who specializes in translation, Hebrew, and the Bible, is known for his "fresh insights and interpretations about religious life in the 21st century." A popular speaker, Hoffman presents to synagogues, churches, community groups, and university audiences across the world. He holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and has served on the faculties of Brandeis University and HUC-JIR. His latest book, And God Said, explores how translation mistakes conceal the Bible's original meaning.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Birkat Hamazon

(or: "Why is Birkat Hamazon SO long?")

Sacred Text & Thought, Spiritual Practice

In addition to containing its own liturgical treasures, Birkat Hamazon (blessing after meals), which is usually over a dozen pages long, exemplifies the fundamental principles of Jewish liturgy. Come learn why it is so long, what it contains, and how it reflects the basic workings of Jewish prayer.

The Bible Doesn't Say That!

How Translations Conceal What the Bible Means.

Identity & Global Culture, Sacred Text & Thought

The original Hebrew of the Ten Commandments does not say, "do not covet." The translation "the Lord is my shepherd" is misleading, and the English phrase "with all your heart and all your soul" is just wrong. Like the game of telephone that prompts children to whisper messages around a circle, hundreds of generations have handed translations of the Bible, one to the next, distorting the original meaning. Unlike in the children's game, we still have the original. Learn what the Bible really says!

Four Exiles and Four Spiritual Revolutions

From the Ancient Prophets to Modern America

Jewish History, Spiritual Practice

We will take a whirlwind tour of 3,000 years of Judaism, stopping to look at three historical spiritual revolutions and the exiles that led to each, and then examining the final spiritual revolution that is modern Judaism. This is an engaging and uplifting look at how we live our lives today as Jews in the context of all that has come before us.

The Story of Hebrew

3,000 Years of Continuity as Seen through Hebrew

Jewish History, Sacred Text & Thought

The story of Hebrew mirrors the epic of the continuity of the Jewish people, starting 3,000 years ago when an early experiment in writing led to the first written Hebrew. Then, two dialects were used for the Bible, a third dialect for our liturgy, and after over 1,000 years of not being spoken, a fourth dialect arose in modern Israel. Come learn how Hebrew began, how it has changed, and how it is still the same.


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