2011 Conference
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Shelly Fredman

Skirball Adult Education/Barnard college

Shelly R. Fredman teaches the Writer’s Beit Midrash at Skirball’s Adult Jewish Center in NYC and also teaches writing at Barnard College. Her work has appeared in "Best Jewish Writing" and various anthologies. She is particularly interested in the profound encounter that can take place when sacred texts meet up with the dreams, struggles, aspirations and challenges of our personal lives.

Give Me Wonder: Heschel, Nachman, and Rumi

Ritual, Prayer & Spirituality, Text & Thought

Nachman's brand of prayer focused on hitbodedut (the act of creating personal prayer) or talking to God--out loud--in an open field. Heschel tells us prayer is not about petition, but is an act of responding, receiving and awakening. What should our prayer life look like today? How might our theological heroes' approaches to prayer enrich, challenge and ignite our own relationship with the Divine? Using a new technique of "writing into text," we will explore these seeker's ideas and our own.

Crossing the Sea: On Transformation

Faith and Doubt: The Sea of Reeds Moment

Ritual, Prayer & Spirituality, Text & Thought

The Israelite Crossing of the Sea is a liminal moment, a time of both terror and fear, which miraculously engenders faith and song. What does it mean to be, in Avivah Zornberg's words,"drawn after a miracle?" How do the Israelite women's experiences, particularly, allow them to create a songline that will accompany them through the wilderness? Drawing upon this episode and Rabbi Nachman's ideas, we will "write into the text," thus delving into our own moments of transformation.

The Soul's Search for Meaning

Creating a Personal Theology

Ritual, Prayer & Spirituality, Text & Thought

Art Green describes theology as nothing more than a string of moments of Holy and Awesome Presence, or Deep, Inner Stillness. What are our own places where such moments are evoked and what kind of belief system can we create, so that we can access these experiences more often, more deeply? We'll consider the writings of Green, Rilke and Mary Oliver and participants will have the opportunity to write/explore their own sacred moments.


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