March 28: Simchat Chocma Workshop

Monday, March 1, 2004

Celebration of Wisdom at 60
Simchat Chochma

A Workshop by Peter Pitzele and Arthur Strimling 
Sunday, March 28 1:00 - 4:00 PM 
Admission is Free. No registration is required.
Photo ID required for entrance. 
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
One West 4th street (Between Broadway and Mercer)
New York City

Although we live in a culture that worships youth - where media honors the innocent wisdom of the child more than that of the seasoned elder -Jewish tradition invites us to not only embrace aging but to celebrate its arrival. Join Peter Pitzele and Arthur Strimling, two men on the cusp of elderhood as they investigate the art of aging. This workshop will ask how we can move through negative images and stereotypes of aging to embrace the wisdom, mastery and productivity that can only come with time. Jewish text from Leviticus, to the Wisdom of Ben Sira , 2nd Century BCE, to modern commentary by Abraham Joshua Heschel, ascribes old age as a benchmark for wisdom, giving rise to new rituals that commemorate its arrival. Through this workshop, in exploring Rabbi Abraham Heschel's suggestion, "that man's potential for change and growth is much greater than we are willing to admit," and celebrating the milestone of sixty years, we can discover how to transform our culture into one where the wisdom of age becomes a central source of meaning. In beginning this transformation we need only look to what has been in our Jewish culture for a millennia.

Arthur Strimling is a maggid (storyteller), writer, and director. His performances, which include spiritual memoir, midrash and life stories, revisit, re-vision and rekindle traditional Jewish stories and themes so they sing to our present conditions. Arthur has performed at The Public Theatre, the 92nd Street Y, the Knitting Factory, Symphony Space, the Jewish Museum and venues throughout the country. The PBS series "In The Prime" recently featured his storytelling and teaching. Arthur is also the Artistic Director of Roots&Branches Theater, in which old and young actors (ages 18-30 and 65-96) create and perform original plays built through a unique workshop process of life stories, improvisations and discussion. His original stories have been published in The New York Times, The Forward, Hadassah Magazine, Contemporary Midrash, New Menorah and other publications. He is Maggid HaMakom (Storyteller-in-Residence) for Congregation Kolot Chayeinu in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife, cantorial soloist Lisa B. Segal.

Peter Pitzele, Ph.D. is an adjunct faculty member at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary. He is a writer, teacher, and part of the Institute for Contemporary Midrash. He has developed a form of improvisational theater for the teaching of biblical narrative called The Art of the Biblical Interview. He has written many articles and two books: Our Fathers Wells: A Personal Encounter with the Myths of Genesis, published by Harper San Francisco and available from the author, and Scripture Windows: Towards a Practice of Bibliodrama, runner-up for the best book in Jewish Education, l998, published by Torah Aura.

This program is offered in conjunction with the exhibition The Art of Aging, on view through June 25, 2004. Aging is a process that begins with birth-it is a lifelong journey affecting the dynamics of human relationships, creativity, memory, continuity, and growth. Jewish text sources are full of references to values intrinsic to the aging process, from the respect attendant to one's elders, honor for one's parents, forty as the age of understanding, fifty as the age of counsel, the celebration of wisdom at age sixty, the celebration of strength at the age of eighty, and intergenerational and familial responsibilities. Through painting, sculpture, photography, installation, mixed media, and video, contemporary artists from Israel and North America reflect on the diverse aspects of aging, including creativity and vitality, memory, anxiety, wisdom, physical change, loss, intergenerational interaction, responsibility, and optimism.

For further information, please email Leah Kaplan at lkaplan@huc.edu


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu