Sara S. Lee Seminar Provokes Thought about Tradition and Innovation

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On September 12-13, 2010, over 30 students, faculty, and alumni of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) gathered at the Steve Breuer Conference Center in Malibu for the Sara S. Lee Seminar. This bi-annual event was developed and funded by the RHSOE Alumni Association in honor of Professor Sara S. Lee, the long-time Director of the school. In addition to the spiritual and intellectual stimulation, the gathering afforded the participants the opportunity to deepen the sense of community among the various constituencies of the RHSOE. 

This year renowned Jewish educator Amichai Lau-Lavie, creator of Storahtelling, engaged the participants in a thought provoking exploration about how to re-envision the traditional Torah Service and by extension Torah study.

According to Lau- Lavie, “Storahtelling makes story matter again. Using an innovative fusion of scholarship, storytelling, performing arts and new media, our programs reclaim the narratives and traditions that define Jewish life yet have failed to adapt to modern times.”

Lau-Lavie facilitated a variety of sessions that come from his Storahtelling Program. The group participated in a “Biblical Cocktail Hour,” text study about the history and tradition of Torah translation and interpretation, and a Storahtelling-style Torah Service. Lau-Lavie challenged the group to consider innovative and creative methods to engage adults and children in Torah study that will result in greater interest in and connection to Torah which he strongly believes will ultimately strengthen Jewish Identity.

Comments from participants ranged from how much they enjoyed the creative methods and discussions facilitated by Lau-Lavie to how much they appreciated the time they spent bonding as a community in the beautiful Malibu setting.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's first 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 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