The Howard County Board of Rabbis will host the county’s second annual Global Day of Jewish Learning at Howard Community College on Nov. 15.
The Global Day of Jewish Learning, started by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz in 2010, aims to bring Jews around the world together for one day to celebrate shared Jewish text through community-based learning.
Steinsaltz started the project to commemorate his full translation of and commentary on the Babylonian Talmud, which he began working on in 1965. The project is managed by the Aleph Society which was founded in 1988 to expand upon Steinsaltz’s goal of developing Jews, Jewish identity and Jewish community.
“At the time, I was the president of the Howard County Board of Rabbis,” said Rabbi Craig Axler, who was instrumental in bringing the day of learning to Howard County last year. “And we were looking for ways to do collaborative Jewish learning. It seemed like perfect opportunity to get us and our communities together.”
Axler added that Columbia Jewish Congregation had participated in the Day of Learning prior to last year.
The Aleph Society decides the topic for the event, which is intentionally broad, and this year’s topic is “Love: Devotion, Desire and Deception.” In Howard County, more than a dozen rabbis will be teaching classes ranging from whether or not to forgive a domestic abuser to a special teen class being taught by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman.
“[The teen class is] about leaders who are struggling with their relationships with one another, their egos and their obligations to the community,” said Scheinerman. “And how they manage all of that.”
Scheinerman added that she has taught this text to teenagers during a scholar-in-residence in the past, and the teens could immediately relate it to their own lives. Axler’s class revolves around the modern Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai and an exploration of how Hebrew words change from biblical to modern Hebrew.
Rabbi Ilyse Kramer, whose family attends Columbia Jewish Congregation, a Reconstructionist synagogue, is teaching about Jacob and Esau in Genesis.
“[The day of learning] is a great way to bring together a cross-section of adult learners from the variety of synagogues,” said Kramer. “And both of these years we’ve been very blessed to have great representation from all denominations as well as their adult learners.”
Axler leads Temple Isaiah, which is a Reform synagogue, and Scheinerman
is a part of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. However, the event will have rabbis from a variety of movements such as the Conservative movement and Chabad-Lubavitch, among others. Axler, Kramer and Scheinerman all emphasized that the diversity is an important aspect of the event.
“I see the value of each of the streams [of Judaism], but I also see the danger of remaining too separate from one another and not coming together,” said Scheinerman.
“We’re all different individuals and different movements; there’s a reason there are different synagogues,” said Axler. “But we are open to be one Jewish people and one Jewish community, and we’re richer when we do that. That’s why it was important to me to make something like this happen.”
In partnership with the Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Federation of Howard County is sponsoring the day of learning.
“As the integrating resource for Jewish organizations in Howard County,” said Michelle Ostroff, executive director of the Howard County Jewish Federation, “the
Jewish Federation is proud to support adult learning with our community’s clergy through the Global Day of Jewish Learning.”
Global Day of Jewish Learning
Howard Community College Health Science Building
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway Columbia, MD 21044
Nov. 15, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
No registration required. Contact Rabbi Ilyse Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Amy Scheinerman at email@example.com.