Here's What Our Summer 2012 Seminar Students Had to Say....
Above all, the program taught me to live consciously and be conscientious of the past, present, and future in my daily life. Introspection is a powerful tool, and having completed the program, I feel more empowered about constructing my identity, shaping my own destiny, and exercising my creative passions in my approach to religious Jewish life.
Gabriel Fineberg (University of Pennsylvania)
Amitai Fraiman (Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya)
I felt that one of the most important ideas that came up throughout the program was the discussion of connecting to Judaism through text study by both secular and non-secular Jews. Because my whole life I was taught and learned the Jewish texts in a religious framework, I never thought about them being anything but religious texts. But the historical aspects of the texts and their significance to the Jewish people’s heritage are in fact critical for all Jewish people to learn and study in order to somehow be connected to their nation, regardless of religious observance. Moshe Halbertal said something that particularly struck me. He mentioned what a tragedy it is that the secular Jews have surrendered the texts and handed them over to the religious people as if it is exclusively theirs. One does not need to believe that the Bible is a divine work in order to study it and learn its historical significance. The fact that a completely secular person in America has no way of connecting to Judaism if it is not in a religious framework is sad. The fact that many Israelis feel only Israeli and not Jewish is sad. We have a long history and a rich heritage and it should be studied and shared by all.
Esther Hindin (Bar-Ilan University)
Although I was a quieter participant in the program, I think the seminar has profoundly impacted the way I view Judaic scholarship and community--and therefore altered the manner in which I personally engage as a Jewish thinker. I was coming from a more right-wing, less academic conversation, and this plunge has opened my mind to the myriad ways of viewing literature, Jewish ideas, and Jewish lifestyle to which I previously had little or no contact. In many ways it has preserved Judaism’s integrity for me.
Shana Attar (University of Connecticut)
Haleli Jabotinsky (Tel Aviv University)
Daniel Kraft (St. John's College)
Benjamin Perlstein (Tufts University)
Elazar Weiss (Tel Aviv University)