Discover how Frank Stella, the celebrated American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, has found inspiration in Jewish themes throughout his career, from his earliest minimalist paintings influenced by the Nazi propaganda newsreels of his childhood, his mixed-media “Polish Wooden Synagogue” works commemorating “the obliteration of a culture,” and his Had Gadya narrative abstractions expressing a universal, aspirational message of justice and hope.
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” “for everything there is a season,” and “the sun also rises” are all drawn from the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. Artist Debra Band describes how her exquisite calligraphy, micrography, and paintings illuminate the first ever visual interpretation of this entire poetic text. Dr. Adriane Leveen analyzes the enduring wisdom and inspiration of a text expressing the beauty and transience of human life and accomplishments.
Art has the ability to challenge the status quo and encourage us to change our way of thinking. Several pieces produced by The Braid, exemplify this idea, such as True Colors and Sweet Tea and the Southern Jew. The Braid is a story company and non-profit organization grounded in Jewish culture and experience. Representatives from these works will engage in discussion about their connection to their monologues, internal issues they faced when preparing these pieces, and the positive and more difficult reactions they’ve received from audience members about these pieces.
Hear about how our reality affects our mental health, common reactions to this reality, and the tools we have available to support ourselves and others.  Coping with horror, fear, pain, and the difficulty of dealing with everyday routines affects all of us, especially these days.
During this moment of trauma and heightened concern, Jewish children are grappling with how to process the terrible things happening in the world and need support from the adults in their lives. Join Dr. Sivan Zakai, Rabbi Rebecca Milder ’07, and Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal as they contemplate what it looks like to support Jewish children and families, review “best practices,” and discuss the ways in which Jewish institutions and organizations are contributing to these efforts.
Across the deep divides of our politics, one sentiment is shared: despair in our democracy and its capacity to respond to our most significant challenges. But what are the causes of that despair and what can we do about it? Why exactly is authoritarianism so popular among so many, both in the United States and throughout Europe? Given the challenges that our democracy faces, do we have the institutions that can respond to the threat or are our institutions part of the problem? And what exactly do we need: stronger protections for minorities, or greater capacity for people to make laws and enact them? HUC will host two of our most esteemed commentators and scholars on these matters, Anne Applebaum and Jedediah Purdy, to discuss and debate these essential questions.
Rabbi Samuel Hirsch's story is key to understanding the transnational history of Reform Judaism and the struggle of Jews to secure a place in history and society. En route from Thalfang via Dessau and Luxembourg to Philadelphia, Hirsch strove to strengthen Judaism to meet the demands of modernity and enable its survival in the modern era, leaving his mark on societal, religious, and philosophical debates in increasingly radical stances. As a Hegelian and a Jew he claimed that the actualization of freedom - so central to Hegel’s philosophy - was enabled by Judaism, more than any other religion.
Awakenings: American Jewish Transformations in Identity, Leadership, and Belonging, by Rabbis Stanton and Spratt, has sparked important conversations about the revisioning Jewish practice and connection. Who are the Jews of the present and future? How can we co-create and adapt Reform Judaism? Who are our leaders and supporters? How might seminary education adapt to Jews of today and tomorrow?
Scholars of the Bible as literature since the heyday of literary criticism in the 1980s and 1990s have tended to focus on the Bible’s narratives; much less attention has been given to its significant collections of poetry. To what extent do our ideas about poetry shape our understanding of these texts? How do thinkers and poets in different eras approach the poetry of the Bible, and how do their contexts shape their expectations of what they find there? Steven Weitzman and Elaine James discuss the legacy of James Kugel’s history of ideas about biblical poetry (especially his The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and its History [1981]). There is much to learn from how readers—ancient and modern—have read biblical poetry, related it to their own political contexts, and found in it models for new creative expressions.
The recent election in Israel has provoked massive protests in Israel and a surge of commentary in the United States. But what does this moment represent for progressive Israeli Jewish and Palestinian activists? Is the current government a new and unprecedented threat to Israeli democracy, or the latest stage in a long story? And how should Israelis and Palestinians committed to justice and equality -- and their American allies -- respond? Join Mikhael Manekin and Rula Hardal to engage these urgent questions.