Leyv Ha-Ir's Winter 2021-2022 Education Series: Voices of the Radical and Creative Jew

posted Dec 13, 2021, 8:56 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Dec 13, 2021, 8:57 AM ]

Reconstructing Judaism is a movement largely driven and shaped by communal values. Each Reconstructionist community marks its distinct take on practice, ritual, and community life, yet all Reconstructionist communities routinely dialogue with the values of social justice, humanism, rationalism, and experimentalism. As a movement, Reconstructing Judaism boasts a mode of Jewish life that is enthusiastically modern, socially progressive, and tirelessly ready to reconstruct in order to revitalize.

In our 2022 Winter Learning Series, Leyv Ha-Ir will host an learning series centered on the study of modern Jewish poets, exploring Reconstructionist values through poetry. Together, we will read the works of Allen Ginsburg, Grace Schulman, Edward Hirsch and David Antin, expanding our appreciation for poetry as a literary mode for Jewish life, while reflecting on our own communal commitments.

All sessions are on Zoom and run from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM.

Participants are welcome to attend as many sessions as desired. You do not need to attend prior sessions in order to participate. Each session will be offered as a stand-alone lesson, dedicated to group reading and study of poetry, as well as reflection.

Session 1: Social Protest (Sunday, January 23, 2022)

We will begin our series by reading one of the most well-known Jewish American poets of the 20th century, Allen Ginsberg, a literary genius, a cultural force, and political activist. We will delve into Ginsberg’s use of poetry to fight the good fight, to push freedom and liberty into the foreground of American life, and to serve as a voice for social progress and justice.

Session 2: Intellectual Revisionism (Sunday, February 6, 2022)

In our second session, we will read the poetry of Grace Schulman, whose selected works will model for us a Jewish life with emotional depth and without intellectual compromise. By reading Schulman’s writing, we will explore our own reconciling of Jewish ritual with science, God, pluralism, and life in the 21st century. 

Session 3: Humanistic Remembering (Sunday, February 20, 2022)

In this session, we will read the writing of Edward Hirsch and explore the ways Jewish tradition remembers those we have lost. Reconstructionism decries religious life insensitive to human experience, specifically to the sacredness of human stories. By delving into Hirsch’s poetry, we will consider Judaism’s mourning rituals and how poetry and human stories can enhance the way we remember those of our past and present.

Session 4: Radical Innovation (Sunday, March 6, 2022)

Reconstructionism pushes boundaries to help make a better world and to help us understand where a boundary should be. Poetry, too, can push boundaries, helping us understand what poetry is, and who we are as a community of readers and writers of poetry. In this session, we will read the radical writing style of David Antin, and we will be joined by Lonnie Monka, the founder of the grassroots poetry collective, Jerusalism, and the Jewish poetry journal, Halah, to explore the meaning of creative innovation in literary and communal Jewish context.

Ross Weissman
Ross is co-founder of the Basin Seminaries, an educational institute that combines the study of classical religious texts, poetry and the environment, to support the nurturance of ecological conservation and a religiously-grounded contemplative life. A former Kevah educator in Boston, he currently serves on the teaching team of Poetry in America. Ross’ poetry and translations have appeared in Exchanges, Caliban Online, Lunch Ticket, Pusteblume, Mizmor L’David Anthology, and elsewhere. He holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has completed graduate coursework in Judaic Studies at Bar-Ilan, Harvard, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.


Participation for LHI members is free of charge. We ask non-members to consider making a suggested minimum donation of $18 per person for the series,which you can make through PAYPAL on LHI’s website or by check payable to Leyv Ha-Ir, P.O. Box 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Information for this and all virtual events will automatically be sent to LHI members. If non-members would like to participate, please email us at info@leyvhair.org, or call us at 215-629-1995, to request that the remote access information be sent to you the day before each session.