Scholar in Residence Weekend

January 19-21, 2018
To Do the Right and the Good - Exploring Jewish Ethics
Louis E. Newman, PhD - Stanford University

Friday, January 19 - During our Kabbalat Shabbat 7:30 pm Service
What is Ethics, Anyway?
All of us have an instinctive sense of what’s right and wrong.  What does the study of ethics teach us about this dimension of human experience?  When we approach an ethical tradition, like Judaism, what questions should we ask?  This session, a kind of “Ethics 101,” sets the stage for the questions that we’ll explore throughout the weekend.

After the service and Oneg Shabbat (approximately 9:00 pm)
What Does Judaism Teach About. . . ?
(Hint:  It’s More Complicated Than You Think)
We may imagine that Judaism provides clear guidance on the moral issues we face in our daily lives, or it should.  But what if every rabbi’s answer is contested and every perspective is subjective?  Together we’ll explore a critical approach to Jewish ethics that doesn’t seek certainty, but also doesn’t assume that all answers are equal.

Saturday, January 20 - During our Shabbat morning 10:00 service
Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart, and Ours
In this week’s Torah portion, we read that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” and then punished him.  How can we understand this?  And what is a hardened heart?  We will explore a range of answers to these questions and what this troubling text can this teach us about our own struggles to change and grow.

Saturday, January 20, About Noon
Luncheon with our scholar-in-residence. Free and open to all, but please click click here to register by midnight Wednesday, January 17 so that we'll know how many tables to set up and how much food to prepare.

After our service and Oneg Shabbat Lunch (approximately 1:15)
Jewish Ethics:  What Does God Have To Do With It?
Our tradition seems to assume that God determines what is right and wrong, which is captured in the Torah’s commandments.  But how can those of us who don’t believe in God--at least not that kind of God--find meaning and guidance in Jewish ethics? In this session, we’ll explore how a religious perspective can change our approach to moral issues.  Skeptics especially welcome.

Sunday, January 21, 10: 00 am
Your Money and Your Life - Jewish Values and Personal Choices
We use money every day, but how often do we reflect on the role it plays in our lives? In this interactive session, we’ll explore our own values around money--making it and spending it, saving it and giving it away.  And we’ll explore some Jewish texts that invite us to reconsider our relationship to money.  This session is “family-friendly”--teenagers are welcome to join parents in what is always a provocative and revealing discussion.

Louis Newman has been thinking, teaching, and writing about Jewish ideas for over 30 years.  One of the country’s leading scholars of Jewish ethics, his most recent book is Repentance:  the Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah(Jewish Lights 2010) Louis is Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Director of Undergraduate Advising and Research at Stanford University.  Prior to joining the staff at Stanford, he served as the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies, Associate Dean of the College and Director of Advising at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, he received his B.A. in philosophy and Hebrew and his M.A. in philosophy from the University of Minnesota.  He received his Ph.D. in Judaic Studies from Brown University.. Louis Newman is married to Rabbi Amy Eilberg.  He still gets his fingers dirty reading the New York Times print edition every morning.  

All programs are free and open to the public.