Dr. Ari Ackerman, Outgoing Dean and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought at the Schechter Institute, takes us on the path of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. Rabbi Kook was known for his optimistic, positive attitude towards life. How did he relate to a difficult passage about Amalek in Parashat Beshalach?
Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute asks: Can Judaism and Christianity cooperate, or is there an unbridgeable gap between these two religions?
What inspires someone to choose an academic’s life devoted to Jewish Philosophy? Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought, introduces key mentors from his early academic career and what led to a vocation in the academy instead of the rabbinate.
Whether it is the yearly rituals of Passover celebrations or the familiarity of Shabbat rituals each week, Jewish observance creates sanctuaries of time. Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought, explores Abraham Joshua Heschel’s concept of architecture of time and how ritual helps create holy spheres in our lives. The accompanying article focuses on Heschel and Moses Maimonides’ differing perspectives on ritual sacrifice.
Who is the true hero of the Purim story? Dr. Ari Ackerman, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Jewish Thought, discusses the concept of Nes Nistar (a hidden miracle). How do the power of Esther and the foibles of Haman and Achashveros manifest in the drama of saving the Jews? Watch the video below:
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?
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.
Essential to modern Jewish existence is the search for models that attempt to reconcile the dual commitment to tradition and modernity. It is of prime importance to bring to light examples that illustrate the balance between Torah commitment and openness to new challenges posed by modernity and post-modernity. This explains the recent interest in the halakhic works of Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn (1857-1935), a fascinating model of integration of Torah learning with modern values. Rabbi Hirschensohn was born in Safed and strived to modernize the religious community in the land of Israel. Hounded by Jerusalem zealots who called for his excommunication, he eventually immigrated to the United States in 1904. There he served as rabbi of four communities in Hoboken, New Jersey, until his death in 1935. His prolific writing includes over 20 books on halakha, philosophy and Biblical and Talmudic commentaries.
One of the most significant cultural trends in Israeli society is the resurgence of interest in Jewish texts among circles of secular Jews. The return of secular Jews to the Jewish bookshelf began in the mid 1970s as part of the cultural reconfiguration that followed the Yom Kippur War. It has accelerated, however, in the last fifteen years, particularly since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, producing numerous initiatives and institutions involving joint secular-religious study of Jewish texts and independent secular engagement with traditional sources. It has grown to the extent that it has been characterized as a fourth stream within the cultural and social constellation of Israeli society.
The Religious Zionist community has struggled with the proper balance between modernity and tradition. In their attempt to identify models of dedication to Torah with openness to modernity, Religious Zionist scholars have recently turned to R. Hayyim Hirschensohn (1857-1953) as offering a pattern for the possible integration of Torah learning and modern values.