by Emily Eisbruch and Gillian Jackson
In honor of the giving of Torah at Mount Sinai, AARC celebrated Shavuot this year by engaging in learning and discussion. We were joined by Kehillat Israel from Lansing. The evening was structured around discussion groups on interesting and relevant topics.
The first two discussion groups were led by congregation members Clare Kinberg from AARC and Ken Harrow from KI.
Clare Kinberg led a discussion about the Jewish concept of time and how it relates to the story of Ezra. A lively discussion followed regarding the different ways that Jews interpret history and time as it is written in our sacred texts.
Ken Harrow led a discussion about the events at Sinai. In his session he focused on how to contextualize the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the commandments. Ken emphasized relationships to works of art, demonstrating our connections with facial expressions. Ken shared slides with examples from famous artworks, including self-portraits from Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
After enjoying a potluck of delicious deserts provided by members of AARC, we embarked on even more engaging opportunities for learning with Rabbi Ora and Rabbi Zimmerman.
Rabbi Ora led a discussion on Jewish Perspectives on Abortion. The discussion was a fascinating exploration of various texts that reference abortion. Looking at the issue from the perspective of various Jewish Sects, Rabbi Ora showed how the Jewish people have struggled to codify when and how a woman should be allowed to terminate her pregnancy.
Rabbi Michael Zimmerman’s session on “The Torah of the Green New Deal” looked at Judaism’s approach to caring for the planet. He shared a handout with biblical and other references urging stewardship of the land, including text from House Resolution 109 on the Green New Deal. The group discussed the relationship between Jewish teachings on charity and preservation of the earth.
All and all much knowledge was passed and given. It was truly an enriching evening during which the two congregations were able to get to know each other and enjoy lively discussion!