Tradition & Innovation

Soulcation: A Global Jewish Tour from the Comfort of Your Home

December 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 2020
$36 per session. Register for all 7 and get one free! ($216 for 7 sessions)

Winter vacation cancelled? Don’t let that bring you down. You're invited to take a virtual trip around the world and bring some spiritual warmth into your home and soul. Join six rabbis across the globe as they guide us in exploring local Jewish geography, uncovering fascinating hidden gems of history, and sharing teachings that inspire. Hop onto our virtual airplane as we tour Jewish communities in Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, Majorca… Sit back, relax, and give your soul some much needed nourishment on this eclectic adventure of the mind and spirit. You may join one workshop or more, no passport needed! 


All sessions will be recorded and available to participants. You may join the session live or watch recordings at your own convenience.

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Story of the Hidden Jews of Southern Italy
Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Italy  
December 8, 2020, 12:001:15 PM ET
Join us on a trip to Southern Italy – to hidden mountain villages where ancient olive trees dot the landscape, bright bouquets of tropical flowers burst around every corner, and where Jewish traditions, long hidden, are just now coming to life. In this session, we will journey to the tiny mountain village of Serrastretta in Calabria, the southernmost Italian region. Serrastretta boasts the first active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years, Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud (“The Eternal Light of the South”). It is here where local Italians, along with Italian-Americans and Italian-Canadians, have gathered to discover their lost Jewish traditions and to begin their journey to embrace their hidden Jewish roots. Together we will uncover some of these hidden Jewish traditions, explore artifacts that illustrate the b’nei anusim experience, and hear personal accounts of Italians embracing their Jewish roots.
Wonderful Copenhagen: Hygge, Hospitality, and Safeguarding the Other
Rabbi Rebecca Lillian, Denmark
December 9, 2020, 1:00–2:15 PM ET
Welcome to wonderful Copenhagen! The capital of the ”happiest country in the world” is as enchanted as a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale in the wintertime. Pour yourself a warm beverage as Rabbi Rebecca Lillian explores the real meaning of the popular Danish notion of hygge with us. How can we create a sense of hygge even during the pandemic? What is Jewish about this? We will take a close look at Jewish texts on hospitality and how we treat the Other. We will hear stories of the Danish Jews who were rescued in Sweden in 1943 and the non-Jews who helped them to safety. Why did Danes protect their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis? Why did Sweden welcome them and offer shelter until it was safe for the Jews to go home in 1945? Historian Emmy Weber called this remarkable event a “conspiracy of decency.” What does this experience come to teach us about the millions of people who are being forced to migrate today? 
Shining Our Inner Light on Hanukkah
Rabbi Hannah Nathans, The Netherlands  
December 10, 2020, 1:002:15 PM ET
On the first night of Hanukkah, visit beautiful Klal Yisrael, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Delft, the Netherlands. This synagogue was rededicated in 2005 and still retains details from 1862, when it was built. Guided by Rabbi Hannah Nathans, we’ll take a tour of this architecturally significant synagogue. We’ll also immerse in hasidic texts on hinukh (education), which shares the same Hebrew root at Hanukkah. These texts inspire us to contemplate how we should pursue our own mission in life and about the unique contribution of every individual. The biblical character Hanokh, whose name also shares the same root as Hanukkah, walked with God and is supposed to have gone to the upper world, sitting there at the throne of glory. We will experience a guided meditation on the (re)dedication of our own growth, our own hinukh, tapping into our inner Hanokh, to become the best versions of ourselves and let our souls shine. 
Reading a Winter Psalm in Jerusalem
Rabbi Gail Diamond, Tzor Hadassah, Israel
December 14, 2020,1:002:15pm ET

God, the healer of broken hearts, also brings snow and ice in winter. This special Psalm is attributed to Haggai and Zechariah, the prophets of the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple during the Persian period. What challenges did the returning exiles face as they sought to rebuild their community? What was winter like in Jerusalem, which sits at an altitude of almost 2,500 feet, in ancient times and what is it like today? What strength can we gain from Psalm 147 during the darkness of winter? Join Rabbi Gail Diamond to examine this special winter Psalm that is recited daily and mine it for fuel for our own spiritual lives. 
The Secret Jews of Majorca Island
Dani Rotstein, Majorca, Spain
December 15, 2020, 1:00–2:15 PM ET
Tour guide Dani Rotstein pulls back the curtain on the Spanish island’s secret Crypto-Judio and Converso history. During the Inquisition, the Crypto-Jews, or Chuetas, publicly professed Catholicism while privately adhering to Judaism. Synagogues were secretly built in private homes. Signs of this “secret” community can still be found today with many of the current jewelry shops having been kept within their families for generations beforehand. We will visit the inside of the permanent exhibit in the Jewish Quarter Interpretation Center inaugurated in 2015 as we trace the footsteps of the Jewish Conversos who walked the narrow alleyways of the casco antiguo, or old town. We will learn about the famous failed boat escape of 1688 when 40 Crypto-Jews tried to flee the Inquisition of the island unsuccessfully. We will look for clues and hints that suggest a robust Jewish community that was extinguished over centuries in the fires of the Inquisition. Don’t miss your chance to discover a unique, 600 year-old community, one that the global Jewish world is helping bring back to life! 
Sights, Sounds and Symbols of our Beloved Snoa: A Cultural Glimpse into Sephardi Jewish Curaçao 
Rabbi Georgette Kennebrae, Curaçao
December 16, 2020, 12:00–1:15 PM ET
Bon Bini! Welkom! !ברוכים הבאים Bienvenidos! We are excited to welcome you to Curaçao and Mikvé Israel-Emanuel! Join Rabina Georgette Kennebrae for a glimpse into Sephardi Western Spanish and Portuguese Jewish traditions and culture here on our island. The Snoa, short for synagogue in Portuguese (esnoga), is a beloved aspect of Jewish Curaçao. Come sing a few selections played by our organist, hear about the many languages used in our synagogue and island, see a couple of our centuries old ritual items from our living museum, and learn a bit of our incredible Jewish Curaçao history, dating back to the 1650s. We can’t wait to see you!
Light Out of Darkness: A Journey of Transformation and Hope for the Close of Hanukkah
Rabbi Michael Zimmerman, Düren, Germany
December 17, 2020, 1:00–2:15 PM ET
Düren is a relatively small German city with a complicated past and an unknown future, a microcosm of the best and the worst aspects of Western society. Having endured both the near annihilation of its Jewish population and the complete destruction of the city within half an hour of Allied bombing, Düren is a city with determination to learn from the past, and to promote peace in the present. With Rabbi Michael Zimmerman as our guide, we will be "tourin' Düren" and its surroundings: the beautiful Hurtgenwald forest, a former Nazi elite training camp converted into a National Park Information and Peace Center, a vibrant downtown pedestrian zone, architectural gems of a bygone era. Some of these sites may not be pretty, and the memories they carry often evoke the darkest of times. Yet through our meditations, prayers, and reconstructed Hanukkah blessings, we will bring a kavannah of cultivating and expanding the light within ourselves, so that it can illuminate our souls and kindle the fire of our passion to work for a better world.  

Rabbi Barbara Aiello is the first woman and non-Orthodox rabbi in Italy. She is the founding rabbi of Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sudin, Calabria. Rabbi Aiello has written extensively about her crypto-Jewish background and her efforts to uncover the hidden Jewish traditions of Calabrian and Sicilian Jews that date back to Inquisition times. Her work in the deep south of Italy and in Sicily includes directing the Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria (IjCCC), an organization dedicated to the b’nei anusim of southern Italy to help them discover and embrace their Jewish roots. She is a board member of Kulanu, an international organization that supports lost and isolated Jewish communities worldwide, and serves as mentoring rabbi for Darshan Yeshiva, a Jewish online distance learning program that leads to formal conversion. 

Rabbi Hannah Nathans, D.Min, serves the Reconstructionist congregation Klal Yisrael in Delft, the Netherlands, as rabbi, and founded and leads HaMakor, Centre for Jewish Spirituality. She co-founded and co-leads the Virtual European Minyan, an initiative of Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal rabbis and cantors. In her teaching, she combines kabbalah and enneagram, which she has been teaching for more than 25 years. She has been practicing several meditative methods since the 80s. She teaches Jewish meditation, Hasidism, and other Jewish topics, and leads hasidic journeys in Eastern Europe. She authored several best-selling books. Her book The Enneagram at Work is available in English. Het latest book on giyur in the Netherlands is expected to be published early 2021. 

Rabbi Rebecca Lillian has lived in southern Scandinavia since 2011, where she serves both Congregation Shir Hatzafon in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Egalitarian Synagogue of Malmö, Sweden. She is a co-founder of Øresundslimmud, a bi-national, tri-lingual adult Jewish learning initiative affiliated with the Limmud organization, which has pioneered and evolved a unique model of cross-communal Jewish learning throughout Europe. Rebecca has been engaged in several social cohesion and interfaith initiatives in Sweden and Denmark. Currently she serves as a Network Practitioner with A World of Neighbours, a “community of practice” among faith-based and civil society practitioners on behalf of refugees and migrants. In that context, she is a co-founder of Rodfei Tsedek: Pursuing Justice, the first pan-European Jewish social network. Prior to relocating to Scandinavia, Rebecca worked with an interfaith hospitality network in Chicago and served as rabbi of Reconstructionist Temple Beth Or in Miami. 

Rabbi Gail Diamond served for seven years as rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, Massachusetts, before making aliyah in 2001. She served for 14 years as Associate Director and Director of Institutional Advancement at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem where she taught Psalms, spearheaded the development of the Online Beit Midrash, and was a teacher and mentor to a generation of rabbinical students from four seminaries. Gail currently works as a freelance translator and editor, grant writer and English teacher and volunteers on the education team of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. She lives with her family in Tzur Hadassah where she is active in building bridges between Reform and Modern Orthodox congregations. 

Dani Rotstein is a film producer, history-teller, Rikud-aholic, and community organizer living in the Balearic Islands of Spain. Originally from New Jersey, he moved to the Majorca Island in 2014 where he learned of the taboo history of the Conversos, or Chuetas, native to the island. Since then, he has made it his life’s passion to continue exploring, uncovering, and sharing this interesting piece of little-known Jewish history. He believes that the revival of modern Jewish life in Spain can be a shining light to the rest of the world. 

Rabbi Georgette Kennebrae is the spiritual leader of Mikvé Israel-Emanuel in Curaçao, the oldest continuously active synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. She graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2017 and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow Alum and a Schusterman Senior Fellow. Rabbi Kennebrae previously served as the rabbi of West End Synagogue in Manhattan and was a Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Prior to the rabbinate, Rabbi Kennebrae had a career in higher education administration. She earned a joint master’s degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Brandeis University in 2008. Coming from a military family, Rabbi Kennebrae was born in Japan and has lived in numerous countries, including Turkey and France. Her time abroad gives her an immense love of languages and diverse cultures and is a source of her commitment to multi-faith and multi-ethnic engagement.  

Rabbi Michael Zimmerman (RRC, 2003) served for 17 years as the Rabbi of Reconstructionist Congregation Kehillat Israel in Lansing, Michigan, where he founded the Greater Lansing Chapter of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and co-chaired the Mayor's Interfaith Clergy Advisory Board. A genuine "Jubu," Rabbi Michael previously spent 12 years in a Tibetan Buddhist community in California. Since his retirement earlier this year, he has received German citizenship and is currently participating in a co-housing initiative in Düren.

To view our full list of online learning opportunities visit: www.ritualwell.org/learn

Found in: Hanukkah

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