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This program took place during Sefirat HaOmer 2002. To learn more about this program, choose one of these options:

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  Learn About the Program
  Learn About the Scholars


Click to listen to Michael Chernick discussing his framing questions for the Pirkei Avot Sefirah Study.

Learn about the Program

Our program began with a special introduction by Michael Chernick. Click to hear about some of the questions Michael Chernick addressed. Materials are now available for download from the course's website.

Participants were encouraged to set aside a fixed time(for example, 30-60 minutes twice a week), in order to study the mishnayot and commentaries and participate in the email-based discussion.

Week Scholar

Michael Chernick

5. Ronald Brauner
6. Dvora Weisberg
7. Dvora Weisberg

They signed-up with a chevruta, a spouse or partner, existing study groups or hevruta, senior staff of their congregation, local colleagues and/or clergy, or they signed-up for a national hevruta in which we paired them with a colleague from another part of the country.

In addition to the email and discussion with the weekly scholars, Michael Chernick, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, was with the participants throughout the program weaving together the various scholars' expertise and unique perspectives. Dvora Weisberg, HUC - JIR/Los Angeles, concluded the program during the final week of the Omer.

From across the Northern Hemisphere, participants joined with HUC - JIR faculty, distinguished scholars, and fellow CCAR members for seven weeks of engaging study.

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Scholars' Bios

Rabbi Michael L. Chernick: (click for faculty page on HUC - JIR's website)

Michael Chernick is the Deutsch Family Professor of Jewish Jurisprudence and Social Justice at HUC - JIR/ New York. Rabbi Chernick is an Orthodox rabbi who received his ordination from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and his doctorate from the Bernard Revel Graduate School. He has also spent many summers teaching in the Judaic studies program he founded at Yahel and Lotan, two young Reform kibbutzim in the Aravah. This year (2002) he devised and led the second Israel Kallah (2002) program sponsored by the Union and HUC.

His field of specialization is Talmudic literature and Jewish law on which he has written and lectured extensively. Most recently Rabbi Chernick published Hermeneutical Studies: Gezerah Shavah (Habermann Institute: Lod) and Essential Papers on the Talmud (New York University Press, 1995). (Click to see the book at Amazon.com.).

Leonard Gordon

Rabbi Leonard Gordon has served, since 1994, as Rabbi at the Germantown Jewish Centre (in Philadelphia). Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1985, he has Masters Degrees in Religious Studies from Brown University and JTS as well as a Masters of Philosophy from Columbia University. He has taught comparative religion, Humanities, and the history and literature of Rabbinic Judaism at Kenyon College, the Ohio State University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

He has written on the teaching of Bible in the University, the history of Rabbinic Judaism and issues in Gender and Judaism in both popular and scholarly journals. His wife, Dr. Lori Lefkovitz, heads KOLOT: the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Leonard Kravitz: (click for faculty page on HUC - JIR's website)

Dr. Kravitz is Professor of Midrash & Homiletics at HUC - JIR/New York. He received his undergraduate degree from John Carroll University and was ordained by the Cincinnati School of HUC-JIR where he received the degrees of Master of Hebrew Letters and Doctor of Philosophy. He teaches Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Midrash and specializes in Maimonidean studies.

Kerry M. Olitzky and Leonard S. Kravitz edited and translated Shemonah Perakim: A Treatise on the Soul - A Companion Volume to Maimonides' Study of Pirke Avot. (Click to see the book at the UAHC Press.)

Charlotte Fonrobert:

Professor Charlotte Fonrobert is an assistant professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She has previously held a Talmud position at the University of Judaism where she taught in the rabbinical school from 1996-2000. Professor Fonrobert has also taught Talmud at Hebrew Union College, both on the Los Angeles campus and in New York.

Her book, Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender, was published by Stanford University in October 2000 and received the Salo Wittmayer Baron prize for a best first book in Jewish Studies. The book was also a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Jewish scholarship in the year 2000. She has also published a number of articles about questions of gender and rabbinic Judaism, as well as the relationship between Jewish and early Christian culture. She is currently serving as a co-series editor for the monograph series Divinations: Rereading Religion in Late Antiquity at Stanford University Press.

Ronald Brauner: (click for more information)

Dr. Brauner is Professor of Judaic Studies at the Siegel College of Judaic Studies (formerly the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies) and he heads The Foundation for Jewish Studies, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh. Ronald A. Brauner has written numerous articles on Bible, religion, education, and Semitic studies; and he has edited and authored five books of essays dealing with all aspects of Jewish civilization through the centuries. His newest volume, Thinking Jewish: The Art of Living in Two Civilizations, has enjoyed enthusiastic reviews. (Click to view the book at Amazon.com.)

Born and raised in Philadelphia, he graduated from Akiba Hebrew Academy and finished his undergraduate studies at Temple University's College of Education. Dr. Brauner earned a Teacher's Certificate from Greenberg College in Jerusalem and completed his doctoral work in Semitics at Dropsie College, now associated with the University of Pennsylvania. Brauner maintains the Internet site http://www.torah.com.

Richard Sarason: (click for faculty page on HUC - JIR's website)

Dr. Richard S. Sarason is Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought at HUC - JIR/Cincinnati. He holds an A.B. from Brandeis University and was ordained at HUC-JIR after two years of visiting study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He earned his doctorate at Brown University in the Department of Religious Studies, where he taught on the faculty before returning to the College-Institute in 1979. He is the English translator of Joseph Heinemann's "Prayer in the Talmud: Forms and Patterns," and has published books and articles in the areas of Judaism in late antiquity and classical rabbinic literature and thought (Mishnah and Tosefta, Palestinian Talmud, midrash, and liturgy). He currently serves as associate editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual. He has been a regular instructor at the UAHC Summer Kallot for the past five years.

Dr. Dvora Weisberg: (click for faculty page on HUC - JIR's website)

Dvora Weisberg is Assistant Professor of Rabbinics and Director of the Beit Midrash at HUC - JIR/ Los Angeles. Before coming to HUC-JIR, Dr. Weisberg taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the College of William and Mary and the University of Pittsburgh. She also has extensive experience in the field of adult education and has taught at the Union of American Hebrew Congregations' summer Kallah for many years.

Dr. Weisberg was raised in San Francisco. She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Brandeis University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Her undergraduate thesis, for which she was awarded highest honors in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, was entitled "Can the Demands of Jewish Feminists Be Met Within the Halakhic System?" She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Talmud and Rabbinic Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Dr. Weisberg's doctoral dissertation dealt with the evolution of religious and intellectual concerns in the Babylonian Talmud. Her publications include "Levirate Marriage and Halitzah in the Mishnah" and "Men Imagining Women Imagining God: Gender Issues in Classical Midrash." She is currently working on a book about the evolution of levirate marriage in ancient Judaism.

Dr. Weisberg is married to Rabbi Neal Scheindlin and is the mother of Micah and Noah Scheindlin.

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