Spring 2017 Jewish History Lectures

Spring 2017

(Click on Title for Free RSVP)

Wednesday, February 1: Who Was Rashi?

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst 8 Spruce St Cedarhurst NY 11516 (516) 569-3324

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Revered for centuries as Rabban shel Yisrael (“the Teacher of All Israel”), Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki’s writings on the Torah has earned primacy among all commentators: clear and straightforward enough for children yet sophisticated for the most learned elder. His spiritual leadership was tested at the end of his life with the tragedy and devastation of the Crusade of 1096.

Part I of the “Letters Flying Free” Series, team-taught with Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Mora D’asra and Assistant Rabbi Ya’akov Trump. Sponsored by Touro College and the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

Monday, February 6: Who Was Abraham?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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Named in the Torah as “the father of many peoples,” Abraham the Patriarch is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the original proponent of monotheism. This lecture will survey what the archeological and historical record reveals about the demographic, economic, and cultural environment in Israel when the Patriarchs and Matriarchs walked the land.

This lecture is sponsored by Mr. Christopher Bray of Ariel Capital Investors.

Part I of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Wednesday, February 8: Who Was Ramban?

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst 8 Spruce St Cedarhurst NY 11516 (516) 569-3324

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Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, also known as Nachmanides, was a pivotal figure in Jewish thought. His sophisticated commentary on the Torah built upon the foundations laid by Maimonides and Rashi, yet in his old age he was exiled from his native Spain after embarrassing the Church in the Barcelona Disputation of 1263. Arriving in an Israel almost barren of Jews, he single-handedly revived the community with his sage vision and personal charisma.

Part II of the “Letters Flying Free” Series, team-taught with Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Mora D’asra and Assistant Rabbi Ya’akov Trump. Sponsored by Touro College and the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

Monday, February 13: Who Was Joshua?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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The Bible describes how the Jewish people, emerging from Egyptian servitude and decades of wandering in the Sinai desert, followed Joshua’s military leadership to conquer the Land of Israel and establish the ancient foundations of their Torah-centered society. This lecture will survey the archeological and historical record to understand the larger context of the Biblical account.

Part II of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Wednesday, February 15: Who Was Sa’adia Gaon?

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst 8 Spruce St Cedarhurst NY 11516 (516) 569-3324

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Responding to the attraction of Islamic philosophy to Jews living in Muslim lands, Sa’adia composed a highly influential work in the 10th-century Kalam style that influenced generations of thinkers. A pugnacious and principled thinker, he engaged in several heated debates with politically powerful rivals including David ben Zakkai, who forced Sa’adia into exile. When ben Zakkai and his son predeceased Sa’adia, the Gaon took the orphaned grandson into his home and cared for him as his own child.

Part III of the “Letters Flying Free” Series, team-taught with Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Mora D’asra and Assistant Rabbi Ya’akov Trump. Sponsored by Touro College and the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

(February 20 no lecture, President’s Day)

Wednesday, February 22: Who Was Onkelos?

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst 8 Spruce St Cedarhurst NY 11516 (516) 569-3324

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Translation is perhaps the most immediate form of commentary, and Onkelos’ 1st-century Aramaic rendition of the Torah was considered the greatest of all. A convert from a royal Roman family, he defied his imperial origins to join the Jewish people, to whom he gave the eternal gift of his scholarship.

This lecture is sponsored by Sharon and Arnold Rosenberg, on the occasion of the shloshim of Sharon’s mother, Bella Bura.

Part IV of the “Letters Flying Free” Series, team-taught with Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Mora D’asra and Assistant Rabbi Ya’akov Trump. Sponsored by Touro College and the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

Monday, February 27: Who Was King David?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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“Sweet singer of Israel,” David was the poet-warrior King who led the Jewish people to political and cultural prominence. Denied his most cherished goal of building the Temple, he lived a life of great personal challenge and heroic resurgence from tragedy, and his biography left an indelible mark on the Jewish understanding of leadership.

Part IV of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Wednesday, March 1: Who Was Ibn Ezra?

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst 8 Spruce St Cedarhurst NY 11516 (516) 569-3324

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Destined to a life of wandering and penury, Abraham Ibn Ezra’s journeys took him across 12th-century Europe, writing poetry and composing a remarkably modern Biblical commentary. Dark and sometimes even depressed, his thought nevertheless represents a phenomenal achievement in religiosity recognized by scholars in many ways, including a crater on the moon named in his honor.

Part V of the “Letters Flying Free” Series, team-taught with Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Mora D’asra and Assistant Rabbi Ya’akov Trump. Sponsored by Touro College and the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

Monday, March 6: Who Was Yohanan Cohen Gadol?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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Born in the times of the Hasmonean rebellion celebrated with the holiday of Chanukah, Yohanan Cohen Gadol was one of the most prominent Jewish leaders during the brief period of Jewish freedom in the 2nd century BCE. Caught in the swirling controversy of internal religious debate, in his old age he abandoned his Pharisaic roots orientation to join the Sadducean movement, prompting the Rabbis to issue the adage, “do not trust in yourself till the end of your life.”

This lecture is sponsored in honor of Mr. Norman and Bridgette Robinson.

Part V of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Wednesday, March 8: Who Was Ralbag?

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst 8 Spruce St Cedarhurst NY 11516 (516) 569-3324

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Also known as Gersonides, Rabbi Levi ben Gershon represented the early synthesis between the burgeoning scientific revolution of the renaissance and traditional Torah study. He differed sharply from predecessors like Maimonides, and his Torah commentary espouses some startling approaches to traditional theological questions.

Part VI of the “Letters Flying Free” Series, team-taught with Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Mora D’asra and Assistant Rabbi Ya’akov Trump. Sponsored by Touro College and the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

Monday, March 13: Who Was King Herod?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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One of the greatest builders of ancient Israel, King Herod exploited his power as a Roman-sponsored ruler to develop the Temple, yet earned a reputation as a feared tyrant responsible for horrific massacres. HIs rule set the tone for the political climate in the Land of Israel during the tumultuous decades prior to the growth of Christianity.

Part VI of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Monday, March 20: Who Was Rabbi Akiva?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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Certainly one of the greatest Rabbis of the entire Talmud, Akiva son of Joseph did not begin his study of Judaism before adulthood. His trajectory of incredible spiritual growth was punctuated by moments of great personal tragedy, and his martyrdom at the hands of the Romans after the failed second-century Bar-Kochba revolt has an enduring legacy in Jewish history.

Part VII of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Monday, March 27: Who Was Mar Zutra?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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Traditional Rabbinic sources describe Mar Zutra as the progenitor of a long line of Jewish leaders in the Land of Israel, extending through the period of the early Islamic conquest in the seventh century. This lecture will explore the demographic, political and cultural landscape of Israel during the centuries preceding the turn of the millennium.

Part VIII of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

(No lectures in April: Passover)

Monday, May 1: Who Was Nahmanides?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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A brilliant 13th-century scholar of Rabbinic thought, Nahmanides’ defense of Judaism in a forced Church-sponsored debate earned him exile from his native Spain. An elderly sage, he emigrated to the Land of Israel, where he found a tiny Jewish community, desperately hanging onto the traditions of their ancestors. Summoning upon an immense reserve of energy, Nahmanides single-handedly resurrected the community living under Islamic rule and laid the foundation for a Jewish renaissance.

Part IX of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Monday, May 8: Who Was Rabbi Moshe Cordovero?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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The sixteenth century witnessed a phenomenal, short-lived explosion of Jewish spiritual creativity, centered in the sleepy Galilean town of Safed (Tsfat). Along with greats such as Rabbi Yosef Karo, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero was one of the founders of that unusual place, attracting still more Rabbis and especially Kabbalists to the mountaintop community, including Rabbi Cordovero’s most prominent disciple, Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Arizal).

Part X of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Monday, May 15: Who Was Theodor Herzl?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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Once a highly assimilated Austro-Hungarian journalist, Herzl was shocked by the treatment of Alfred Dreyfus, the French army captain falsely accused of treason at the turn of the 20th century. The rest of his life became subsumed within a seemingly impossible goal: the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel ending nearly two thousand years of statelessness for diaspora Jewry.  Like Moses, he did not merit to see the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, but his vision and determination transformed the millennial aspirations of an exiled people into a political reality.

Part XI of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Monday, May 22: Who Was Yitzhak Rabin?

Touro College 1602 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 (718) 252-7800 x59333

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Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, formerly a feared adversary of the Arab states that surrounded and made war upon Israel, ultimately became the very symbol of peace in the last decade of the twentieth century.  “One does not make peace with one’s friend,” he famously said, “one makes peace with one’s enemy,” an attitude that resulted in the ill-fated Oslo Accords of 1993 and, tragically, in his 1995 assassination at the hands of a Jewish extremist. Rabin’s life was inextricably bound with the relationship of Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Part XII of the lecture series “ISRAEL: The Land and its People” offered during the Spring 2017 semester at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. Free and open to the community. Sponsorships are available at bit.ly/thefriendsofjewishhistory.

Fall 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016 (Rockville, MD)

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“The Revolution that was Moses Maimonides”

Keynote Address, Jewish Rockville Outreach Center 10 Year Anniversary Gala Dinner

Philosopher, physician and sage, Moses Maimonides was among the greatest minds ever produced by the Jewish people, yet his meteoric career was not without controversy: harshly criticized by the traditionalist community, the works of the scholar known as the Great Eagle were actually burned by Jews in 1232, setting off a massive series of Church-sponsored immolations of the Talmud and Jewish works across Europe. Recent, controversial research into Maimonides’ thought has revealed the depth of his intention, which was nothing less than a tremendous revolution in Jewish intellectual history. 

This lecture is part of Jewish Rockville Outreach Center’s 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner. Please visit http://www.jewishroc.org/events/10thAnnual/ or call 301-468-3881 for more information.

Monday, October 31, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was Vladimir Jabotinsky?”

Jewish History @ J, 7 pm

Zionist ideologue and multi-lingual journalist, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky was one of the most influential political thinkers of the early twentieth century. Frequently swimming against the tide of dominant Jewish movements, Jabotinsky was most effective in the opposition. He borrowed freely from many intellectual sources to craft a right-wing ideology that endures to the present day.

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College

1602 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230

Monday, November 7, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was Rav Avraham Isaac Kook?”

Mystic and early Zionist, Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook’s challenging and eclectic philosophy has inspired generations of Jews since his passing in 1935. Often misunderstood, Rav Kook’s role as one of the principal Rabbinic figures of the era was foundational for establishing a religious ideology for the the modern, secular and democratic state of Israel.

Jewish History @ J, 7 pm

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College

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November 11-12, 2016 (Toronto, ON)

Scholar-in-Residence, Westmount Shul and Learning Center

Click here for more information.

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Monday, November 21, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was Emma Goldman?”

“If I can’t dance to it, it isn’t my revolution!” A fiery orator and fearless iconoclast, Emma Goldman was one of the most notorious and controversial left-wing thinkers of turn-of-the 20th century America.

Jewish History @ Avenue J, 7 pm

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College

Monday, November 28, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was Franz Kafka?”

Titled “poet of shame and guilt” by a recent biographer, Franz Kafka’s early twentieth-century writings have challenged generations of readers worldwide. Inspired in part by his early infatuation with his Jewish background, his haunting and opaque tales continued to be studied as statements of the modern condition.

Jewish History @ J, 7 pm

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College

Monday, December 5, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was Janusz Korczak?”

Heroic pioneer of modern educational theory, Henryk Goldszmit (who wrote under the pen name Janusz Korzcak) ran an orphanage in the beleaguered Warsaw Ghetto, ultimately accompanying his youthful charges to the gas chambers of Treblinka.

Jewish History @ Avenue J, 7 pm

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College

 

Monday, December 12, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was the Chazon Ish?”

Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant experts in Jewish law of the twentieth century, the Chazon Ish played a major role in the development of the modus vivendi between secular and religious Israelis.

Jewish History @ Avenue J, 7 pm

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016 (Surfside-Bal Harbour, FL)

Young Israel of Bal Harbour, topic to be announced

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Monday, December 19, 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

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“Who Was Elie Wiesel?”

Elie Wiesel was a Nobel laureate for literature and a relentless champion of human rights. His best known work is Night, based on his experiences in the Holocaust.

Jewish History @ Avenue J, 7 pm

The Mighty Avenue J Campus of Touro College