God of History or God of Wisdom? Dr. Ari Ackerman on Parshat Yitro


This week in Parshat Yitro The Ten Commandments are revealed, and with them another lens of viewing God. Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought, calls attention to one of the great debates of Jewish Thought between Judah HaLevi and Maimonides. Should we view God  through the lens of power as seen in history or through the lens of wisdom as seen in our natural surroundings? 

Abraham Joshua Heschel and Spiritual Education


We are in the opening weeks of the 2017 fall semester at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. One of the innovative aspects of this year’s academic program is the introduction of a new program on Jewish spirituality. It is composed of three primary elements: Kabbalah and Hassidism; World and New Age spirituality and spiritual education. In the spirit of this exciting new program, I would like to briefly explore one of the most significant Jewish philosophers of the twentieth century, Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), whose approach to Jewish education places spirituality at its center.

Maximizing the Day of Judgment: From Repentance to Self-Worth / Rabbi Arie Hasit


The holiday that falls on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei has many names. Most famously, it is known as Rosh HaShana, the beginning of the year. Yet it is also called Yom Zikaron Tru’ah – the day of remembering the blast of the shofar, Yom Harat Olam – the day of the world’s beginning, and Yom HaDin, the day of judgment.

TALI’s Contribution to the “Jewish-Israel-Culture Program” – What the Ministry of Education Can Learn from Us


Since the establishment of the State of Israel, there has been ongoing debate over the Ministry of Education’s role in shaping the country’s Jewish identity. Successive education ministers formed public committees, launched new programs, promised transoformations. First was Education Minister Zalman Aran’s “Jewish Awareness” program in the 1950s; then the 1994 Shenhar Committee recommendations; Minister Limor Livnat’s “100 Tenets” program which hardly took its first steps before being shelved; then Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s “Jewish Culture and Heritage” program which lasted around five years before Minister Shai Piron decided to revise it. In between, Knesset Education Committee Chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior promoted the ‘Integrated Education Law,” which posited joint educational programs for secular and religious students in semi-private frameworks.

Adding Adar Bet: Striking a Balance


This Hebrew year consists of thirteen months rather than twelve. Jews throughout the world will add (“intercalate”) a second month of Adar this year, in order to insure that Passover falls in the spring. Although we think of it as the Jewish calendar, the calendar of twelve “lunations”, 29 or 30 day months corresponding to the cycle of the moon – whose 354-day years are adjusted to the solar year of 365 days by intercalating a thirteenth month every two or three years – was the most common calendar in the ancient world.

As a Driven Leaf by Rabbi Milton Steinberg – Notes and Sources Responsa in a Moment: Volume 9, Issue No. 7, July 2015


As a Driven Leaf by Rabbi Milton Steinberg is one of the most successful Jewish historical novels ever published in English and certainly the most successful novel related to the Talmudic period. It has been a best-seller since 1940. For the past five years I have been editing a Hebrew translation entitled K’aleh Nidaf, which was co-published in May by the Schechter Institute and Yediot Sefarim and is now on sale at all major book stores in Israel. The Hebrew version contains a forty-page Appendix in which I tried to provide all of the sources quoted or hinted at in the book and explain the historical background.

Are Jews Smarter?


Debate abounds about its beginning, but all agree that the Anthropocene epoch is in full swing. The newly coined geological era is characterized by humans’ global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems and even on evolution itself. Did the period begin with the agricultural revolution more than 10,000 years ago? Did it begin with the industrial revolution? Did it begin when we started to mine and burn fossil fuels? No matter. We are in the era and confronting the many ethical dilemmas we as humans are creating with our own hands.