Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted a pluralistic study session at his Residence on Thursday, August 8, 2019. The theme of the session was the connection between private and public grief, in view of the fact that this year President Rivlin is in mourning for his wife Nehama, who died in June. This marks the fifth year in a row that President Rivlin has hosted a pluralistic Tisha B'Av study session. This year, the four teachers included a leading Modern Orthodox Rabbi, David Stav, Chief Rabbi of the city of Shoham and Chair of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization; Rabbi Nathalie Lastreger, who leads the Conservative congregation in Kfar Veradim; and Advocate Uri Banki, whose daughter Shira was murdered at the Jerusalem Pride parade in 2015.
Rabbi Michael Marmur ’92, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish Theology at HUC-JIR's Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem, represented HUC-JIR and the Reform Movement at the President's Residence. He discussed aspects of the general theme of the session, bringing sources both from medieval midrash and a teaching from The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, edited by HUC-JIR’s Rabbi Tamara Cohen-Eskenazi, Ph.D., and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
Rabbi Marmur commented, “One of the sources I chose to teach at the President’s Residence is the one I also referred to at the event marking a year since the death of Rabbi Aaron Panken. Here too the theme of private grief and public impact was on my mind as I thought of Nehama Rivlin and Shira Banki in the presence of their families. The Ninth of Av has traditionally been a day of national grief and group memory. The study was intended to provide some food for thought, and hopefully a measure of comfort too.”
Rabbi Marmur served HUC-JIR from 2009-2018 as the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost. Previously, he served as Dean of the Jerusalem campus. In recent years he has taught courses in Theology, Homiletics, and Pluralistic Jewish Education. Born and raised in England, Rabbi Marmur earned his B.A. in Modern History at the University of Oxford before moving to Israel in 1984. He earned his M.A. in Ancient Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1992. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Sources of Wonder, and the co-editor, together with Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., of an anthology of American Jewish Thought due for publication in Spring 2020.
Rabbi Dalia Marx ’02, Ph.D., Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, represented the Reform Movement at President Rivlin's 2016 study session; Rabbi Naamah Kelman ’92, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, represented the Reform Movement at the 2017 study session; and Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benveniste ’08, Director of the Israeli Rabbinical Program at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, represented the Reform Movement at President Rivlin's 2018 study session.