The concept of Liberal Democracy came into being long after our classical Jewish texts. Yet Jewish tradition offers deep wisdom on how to live into many of the values on which a vibrant liberal democracy depends, including protection for the most vulnerable populations, an ethos of support for serious debate about issues that matter, checks & balances on power, and a celebration of diversity.

Moreover, in recent generations, the Jewish people have thrived under liberal democracies, which are now facing existential threats in both the United States and Israel.

What does Jewish tradition have to say about it? Join our community-wide text-based learning & dialogues this summer, with rabbis from throughout the Twin Cities – and be part of an important communal conversation!

SCHEDULE

Sunday, June 23, 10:30 am - 12:00 noon

LOCATION: Beit HaMidrash at TTSP and Zoom – register for link

Democracy as the Religion of America

Rabbi Jeffrey Schein, Mordecai Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

There are a series of thin lines between the idea of democratic process and such concepts as the tyranny of the majority, individualism on steroids, and mobocracy. We will explore the conceptual and existential dimension of this narrow ridge through a series of insights from from the Democracy Project of A More Perfect Union and The Mordecai Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood applied to our situation in the summer of 2024 as we approach elections.

Monday, July 1, 2:00 PM

LOCATION: Temple Israel

Scripture, Story, and Statecraft: Israeli and American Declarations of Independence

Rabbi Tobias Divack Moss, Temple Israel

In this session we will do a comparative study of the Israeli and American Declarations of Independence, focusing on their references to sacred texts and stories. As July 4th nears, we’ll explore how these documents have shaped national identities and the concept of liberty.

Thursday, July 11th, 5:00pm

LOCATION: Beth Jacob Congregation

Machlochet L'shem Shamayim - Dispute for the sake of Heaven

Rabbi Justin Held, Beth Jacob

Coming together or breaking apart: How do we handle communal conflict when it can bring us closer together and how do we handle it when it breaks us apart?

There is a famous principle in Judaism called Machlochet L’shem Shamayim, Argument for the Sake of Heaven. In this session we will explore how dispute has the power in Jewish traditions to bring people together, and how it has the power to break people apart.

Wednesday, July 17th, 7:00pm

LOCATION: Mayim Rabim and Zoom – register for link

Holy Chutzpah and Challenging Authority – The Daughters of Zelophechad

Rabbi Sharon Stiefel, Mayim Rabim

Explore the methods and strategies the daughters of Zelophechad use to fight for justice before Moses. Are these women role models for us of how to challenge authority while working within the system?

Monday, July 22, 12:00 pm

LOCATION: Beit HaMidrash at TTSP

Covenant and Citizenship 1: As American Jews, how do we understand "Liberty?"

Rabbi Debra Rappaport, Hineni

The US Declaration of Independence declares these rights inviolable: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. As Jews, while we celebrate liberation at Passover, the freedom is explicitly linked with obligations of Torah. Looking at at texts from the Torah commentaries, we will compare expectations of citizenship as Jews with citizenship as Americans.

Thursday, July 25, 7:00 pm

LOCATION: Beit HaMidrash at TTSP

Covenant and Citizenship 2: What is "the pursuit of happiness?"

Rabbi Debra Rappaport, Hineni

The US Declaration of Independence declares these rights inviolable: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Looking at “Midrash on Happiness” by Grace Paley and other Jewish texts, we’ll explore what “the pursuit of happiness” might mean for American Jews.

Thursday, August 1st, 12:00 pm

LOCATION: Mount Zion Temple and Zoom – register for link

An Authentic Jewish Voice for Democracy: The 49-49 Rule from Midrash on Psalm 12

Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, Mount Zion

We will study Psalm 12 which laments the “truthiness” and duplicity of humanity and a midrash which turns it around to honor people and honor democracy. That midrashic turn by our rabbinic tradition gives hope. We will take this learning to look soberly at Israel’s fragile democracy and the growing numbers who are heirs to Jabotinsky. We will read selections of his testimony to the Peel Commission in 1937 and reflect on their implications today. Turning to America, we will reflect on America’s fragile democracy to focus with hope on the heirs of liberal democracy in “American Values, Religious Voices”, letters in response to Trump’s Presidential runs in 2016 and 2020.

Tuesday, August 6th, 6:00 pm

LOCATION: Shir Tikvah lawn; library as back-up

A Prayer for Our Country: a Brief History of Compromise and Resistance

Rabbi Joey Glick, Shir Tikvah

For the last two centuries, Jewish liturgists have framed a variety of prayers for their diasporic, home countries and governments. While patriotic on their face, these prayers often contain subtle notes of ambivalence and protest, providing a rich lens into the relationship between Jews and nation states. In this text study, we’ll read a variety of prayers for states and governments, and consider how these liturgies might inform contemporary practices of political engagement and activism.

Thursday, August 22nd, 7:00 PM

LOCATION: Bet Shalom

Ovens, Acts of God, and the Community Fund: Civic Responsibility according to Bava Metzia

Rabbi Samantha Thal, Bet Shalom

We will look at a story of civic responsibility through a beloved story from the Talmud.

tuesday, August 27th, 7:30 PM

LOCATION: Adath Jeshurun

What Kind of Political Leadership Should We Have?

Rabbi Sammy Seid, Adath Jeshurun

Should we turn back the clock and strive for a benevolent ruler, or is there a different model worth considering from our tradition?

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Faculty

Rabbi Joey Glick
Rabbi Justin Held
Rabbi Tobias Divack Moss
Rabbi Debra Rappaport
Rabbi Sammy Seid
Rabbi Jeffrey Schein
Adam Stock Spilker
Rabbi Sharon Stiefel
Rabbi Samantha Thal

Tuition

All sessions are free and open to everyone! Registration and $18/session donation encouraged.

Questions?

If you have difficulty accessing the meetings, or have problems with payment, please contact Sofia Flores for assistance. For questions about the class or other Hineni programs, please contact Rabbi Debra Rappaport.

Presented by Hineni in Partnership with

Adath Jeshurun Congregation
Bet Shalom Congregation
Beth Jacob Synagogue
Mayim Rabim Congregation
Mount Zion Temple
Shir Tikvah
Temple Israel
The Mordecai Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood
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