Perspectives & Publications
Pluralism, the conviction that various religious, ethnic, racial, and political groups should be allowed to exist on an equal footing and thrive in a single society, is the foundation of our mission at Hebrew College. It is woven into all we do. It affects how we think, how we pray, how we teach, how we study, how we learn. It permeates how we interact within the Jewish community and with the world at large.
Here you’ll find our faculty and leadership’s pluralistic perspectives on the areas most important to Hebrew College: Torah, spirituality and prayer, sustainability, social justice and communal responsibility, creativity, and interreligious work.
Our commitment to pluralism also feels particularly poignant in the current moment. It means that we welcome and embrace the diversity of the Jewish community and of the wider multi-religious and multi-cultural society in which we live. And, it means that we aspire to listen well, to learn with and from each other with humility and curiosity, to approach each other with open hearts and minds.Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, President, Hebrew College
Speaking Torah Podcast
In Hebrew College’s podcast “Speaking Torah,” Jewish leaders from around the world read essays from Hebrew College faculty, rabbinical alumni, and leaders about how Torah can help us navigate the most pressing issues of our time. After listening to the podcast, we hope that you will be left feeling inspired, uplifted, and excited to engage with Torah in a modern, transformative way. Hosted by Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, Director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab.
Our On Torah page includes a collection of holiday and parshiot commentary and publications written by Hebrew College faculty, alumni and students.
Seventy Faces of Torah
How can the weekly parashah inform our current busy and complicated lives? Each week in our Seventy Faces of Torah blog , Hebrew College faculty and alumni reflect on the weekly parashah in light of major news events, ongoing social or political issues, or individual or communal concerns in the world like poverty, climate change, spiritual unrest and illness and healing. This weekly series appears on the Hebrew College blog and Patheos.com.
Preparing for the High Holidays in a Time of Upheaval
Elul, the month leading up to the High Holy Days, is traditionally an opportunity for introspection, reflection, and self growth. In response to the isolation of the pandemic, Hebrew College has launched Elul Together: Preparing for the High Holidays in a Time of Upheaval. The project brings teachings, music, and the sound of the shofar into the homes of our broader community during this time of isolation.
Each week of Elul, we post videos, art and journal prompts to accompany you through the next week of High Holy Day preparation. Watch, listen, write, make art, and share your reflections on social media with #ElulTogether. We’re in it together.
Listen to Hebrew College Rabbinical School Rector Rabbi Arthur Green discuss Torah and holiness.
Hebrew College High Holiday Companion
Jewish tradition teaches that as we traverse the winding path of teshuvah (return and renewal) each year during the High Holy Day season, it is wise to do so with fellow seekers. To help guide your steps, the faculty, alumni, and students of Hebrew College created a High Holiday Companion — collection of reflections on the prayers, scriptural readings, and sacred practices of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Featuring original essays, poetry, and visual artwork, this booklet will help illuminate the way into the High Holiday liturgy and these sacred days of return and renewal.
Hebrew College Passover Companion
Published in March 2020, the Hebrew College Passover Companion is a collection of essays that temerged out of a desire to honor our friend and colleague, Dr. Judith Kates. Professor, author, teacher, and scholar, Kates stands among the pioneers of contemporary Jewish women reclaiming their Jewish literary heritage by bringing a feminist perspective to the interpretation of classical Jewish texts. The Passover Companion represents a unique collaboration among faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Hebrew College. Following after the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, it offers a pathway into another of our central ritual moments—the Passover seder. — Rachel Adelman, Jane L. Kanarek, and Gail Twersky Reimer, Editors.
Making Prayer Real
Rabbinical School of Hebrew College faculty member Rabbi Ebn Leader discusses tefillah in this excerpt from an interview about his Making Prayer Real Course.
Responding to COVID-19
Hebrew College faculty, students, and alumni, have responded to the pandemic with words of Torah and art for this moment. In addition, Rabbinical School alumna Rabbi Suzanne Offit`09 created the online event “Time to Mourn: Grieving in the Time of COVID, where we paused to mourn those lost during the COVID pandemic thus far. The event was aired on the 17 of Tammuz, Shivah Asar B’Tammuz. Visit our response web page and watch the event below.
Music & Prayer Leadership
At Hebrew College, our rabbinical and cantorial students and alumni are using music in innovative and creative ways for their prayer leadership — infusing traditional Jewish liturgy and prayer forms, as well as contemporary, experimental, and world music to create meaningful tefilah and learning for their communities. Learn more.
Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest
Held in January 2021, the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest was a virtual and collaborative festival by and for people who want to activate Jewish values to move the needle on climate change. Hebrew College faculty and alumni presented several online sessions—from “Rabbinical Training and Jewish Leadership in an Era of Climate Crisis” with Hebrew College President Sharon Cohen Anisfeld to “Songs to Sustain Us in the Struggle: A Motzei Shabbat Sing” with Hebrew College Director of Professional Development Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman ’14 (above), who organized Hebrew College’s sessions, and Rabbi Micah Shapiro ’15.
A playlist of all Hebrew College session may be viewed on the College’s YouTube channel here.
Global Climate Strike
Hebrew College students, faculty, and staff joined the 2019 Climate Strike in Boston, part of the Global Climate Strike, some marching from earth-themed morning davening at the Boston Synagogue
Ma’amad & the Environment
Hebrew College Rector Rabbi Arthur Green has inspired the Hebrew College community to renew the ancient practice of reciting daily the biblical text for the day of Creation (or ma’amad).
Led by rabbinical and cantorial students, Admat Kodesh, the Hebrew College Sustainability Committee organizes a number of green initiatives, including College-wide composting and carpooling, and helped the College attain the Hazon Seal of Sustainability.
Read more about their work in the Hebrew College Rosh Hodesh Shevat 5781 Renewing Torah newsletter.
Hebrew College in Israel
As part of our newly-enhanced Year-in-Israel program for rabbinical students, funded by generous support from the Germanacos Foundation, students will be spending several days at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on Kibbutz Ketura, learning with students from throughout the Middle East who are preparing to meet the region’s environmental challenges.
Teens Supporting Sustainability
Teen Students from the Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston, a Hebrew College program that teaches local high school students about fundraising, civic leadership, and grant-making, gave $17,548 of the $60,265 they raised in 2018-2019 to environmental organizations “to preserve the environment for future generations.”
In response to the unfolding global pandemic and upheaval over racial injustice, on June 8, 2020 The Miller Center and Interfaith Youth Core launched a new digital initiative on the Book of Psalms entitled PsalmSeason: An Online Encounter with the Wisdom of the Psalms. The multifaceted project seeks to provide people with a creative context in which to explore their swirling thoughts and feelings through the prism of this ancient and beloved collection of prayer-poems. The project began with an online PsalmSeason Concert on June 8, followed by the launch of the PsalmSeason digital platform—an 18-week exploration of the Psalms focusing one psalm each week.
Prayer for interfaith vigil at Tornillo Detention Camp – Hebrew College President Rabbi Anisfeld joined a national delegation of labor, educational, and faith leaders organized by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Texas border calling for an end to the inhumane policy of family separations and detentions and the violations of the basic rights of asylum seekers. President Anisfeld offered this prayer during an interfaith vigil at the Tornillo Detention Center where children are still being held.
Voices of Resilience – At this special Hebrew College event, guests Reverands Mariama White-Hammond and Fred Small, and Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman`14, share their thoughts on hope, optimism and the yearning for goodness.
Something of Redemption – Rabbi Dan Judson, Dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, relates Parashat Balak and the famous verse “How goodly are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel!/Mah tovu ohalekha Yaakov, mishkanotekha Yisrael” and the theme of redemption to the immigration and family separation struggles in America during the summer of 2018.
#WeToo – President Sharon Cohen Anisfeld addresses the Jewish response to the #MeToo movement.
COVID Youth Commission
In March 2021, Hebrew College’s Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & leadership and The Center for Teen Empowerment teamed up to start the Covid Youth Commission (CYC). The commission is composed of a diverse group of youth (26 + mentors) from Greater Boston who are passionate about addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including some longstanding justice issues that this health crisis has brought to light or exacerbated. The students work on three project teams—The Advocacy Team, The Direct Service Team, and The Multimedia Team—and with local partner organizations on food sustainability issues, creating COVID kits for homeless shelters, and on communicating the work of the project to local and national experts. Learn more.
Listen to Rabbi Rose discuss the PsalmSeason project on Chagigah Radio.
The Miller Center and Interfaith Youth Core launched a new digital initiative on the Book of Psalms entitled PsalmSeason: An Online Encounter with the Wisdom of the Psalms.
State of Formation
Founded as an offshoot of the Journal of Interreligious Studies (JIRS), the State of Formation is a blog sponsored by the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership at Hebrew College and Boston University School of Theology.
Glitz, Glam, and God
Hebrew College alumna and entrepreneur Rabbi Adina Allen`14, co-founder of the Jewish Studio Project – an arts-based nonprofit in Berkeley, CA that blends traditional Jewish learning with a creative arts studio – infuses creative art and writing into her interpretation of Torah. Read more in Glitz, Glam and God.
On Being Caught in the Thicket – Hebrew College President, Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, infuses poetry with Torah in this piece about Rosh Hashanah.
Godly Play – Watch Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire, Chief Academic Officer and Dean of the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education and a pioneer in the creative field of Jewish education, use the creative “Godly Play” storytelling method to bring Torah to children.
- Communal Singing – In this bonus podcast episode of “Judaism Unbound,” recorded live at Hebrew College, host Lex Rofeberg, MJEd`18 (holding microphone below) enters into conversation with Hebrew College alumni Rabbi David Fainsilber, Rab`14, rabbi of The Jewish Community of Greater Stowe, and Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer, Rab`14, rabbi and chazzan of The Kitchen in San Francisco (pictured below). The panel was part of a Hebrew College conference entitled “The Past and Future of Synagogues.”
Rethinking Synagogue Dues
Rabbinical School Dean Rabbi Dan Judson, an expert on synagogue dues, was the featured guest on two December 2018 episodes of the podcast Judaism Unbound: “From Selling Dues to Temple Pews” and “Pennies from Heaven…and Building Upkeep.” His book Pennies for Heaven: The History of American Synagogues and Money was named a finalist for the Celebrate 350 Award by The National Jewish Book Council in January 2019.
Selected Faculty Publications
- Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit, Ph.D. , Director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab, has several new publications, “Knowing how to Tell a Story” appeared in Voices of the Field: Pathways in Public Ethnomusicology (Oxford University Press, 2021) and “Searching for a Metaphor: What is the Role of the Shaliach/Shalichat Tzibur (Leader of Prayer)?” appeared in Studying Congregational Music: Key Issues, Methods, and Theoretical Perspectives (Routledge, 2021). In addition, “Reimagining Spiritual Experience and Music: Perspectives from Jewish Worship in the United States” will be published in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Jewish Music (Oxford University Press) and “Singing God’s Words: Contemporary Perspectives on Chanting Torah” will be published in Contemporary Jewish Music in America, 2000 – 2022, a special edition of The Journal of Synagogue Music (The Cantors’ Assembly of America).
- National Jewish Book Award Winner: Hebrew College Rector Rabbi Arthur Green, founder of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College, has been awarded his first National Book Award for Judaism for the World: Reflections on God, Life, and Love (Yale University Press) in the category of “Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice in Memory of Myra H. Kraft.”
- A New Hasidism: Roots and A New Hasidism: Branches (2019) by Hebrew College Rector Rabbi Arthur Green and Ariel Evan Mayse, PhD. This first-ever anthology of Neo-Hasidic philosophy brings together the writings of its progenitors: five great twentieth-century European and American Jewish thinkers—Hillel Zeitlin, Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Shlomo Carlebach, and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi—plus a young Arthur Green. The thinkers reflect on the inner life of the individual and their dreams of creating a Neo-Hasidic spiritual community.
- Words to Live By: Sacred Sources for Interreligious Engagement (2018) co-edited by Rabbi Or Rose and Rev. Soren Hessler of Hebrew College’s Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership, and Dr. Homayra Ziad of the Institute for Islamic, Christian , and Jewish Studies.
- National Jewish Book Award Finalist: Pennies from Heaven: The History of American Synagogues and Money (2018) by Rabbi Dan Judson, Dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, and expert on synagogue dues. Synopsis: In the annals of American Jewish history, synagogue financial records have been largely overlooked. But as Rabbi Judson shows in his examination of synagogue ledgers from 1728 to the present, these records provide an array of new insights into the development of American synagogues and the values of the Jews who worshipped in them. Looking at the history of American synagogues through an economic lens, Judson examines how synagogues raised funds, financed buildings, and paid clergy. By “following the money,” he reveals the priorities of the Jewish community at a given time.
- Learning to Read Talmud: What it Looks Like and How it Happens (2017) co-edited by Rabbi Jane Kanarek, Rabbinical School Associate Professor of Rabbinics and Marjorie Lehman. Synopsis: Learning to Read Talmud is the first book-length study of how teachers teach and how students learn to read Talmud. Through a series of studies conducted by scholars of Talmud in classrooms that range from seminaries to secular universities and with students from novice to advanced, this book elucidates a broad range of ideas about what it means to learn to read Talmud and tools for how to achieve that goal. Bridging the study of Talmud and the study of pedagogy, this book is an essential resource for scholars, curriculum writers, and classroom teachers of Talmud.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi: Essential Teachings (2020) by Rabbi Or N. Rose (Editor), Netanel Miles-Yépez (Editor), Orbis Books. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1924-2014) was one of the most creative and influential Jewish spiritual teachers in the late twentieth-century. Reb Zalman (as he is known) made several distinctive and lasting contributions to Jewish and interreligious life in North America and beyond. Originally trained as a Hasidic rabbi within the Chabad-Lubavitch community, he became one of the great teachers and translators of Jewish mystical tradition.
Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law (2017) by Rabbi Micha’el Rosenberg, Professor of Rabbinics, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, and Ethan Tucker. Synopsis: As gender equality has spread throughout society, including its religiously observant sectors, traditional communities turn to their guiding sources to re-examine old questions. This book opens the reader’s eyes to the wealth of Jewish legal material surrounding gender and prayer, with a particular focus on who can lead the prayers in a traditional service and who can constitute the communal quorum—or minyan—that they require. With honesty, transparency, and rigor, Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law is a powerful resource for grappling with these complex questions.
- From Tiberias, With Love: A Collection of Tiberian Hasidism, volume I: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk (2020), edited by Aubrey Glazer and Nehemia Polen, Fons Vitae Press. A journey to rediscovering the magic and mystery, the intimacy and depth of a lost moment in the history of a remarkably relevant, and conscious community in the Galilee that still has much to teach us.
- Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas (2014) by Rabbi Arthur Green, Rabbinical Rector. Synopsis: In an age of fluid identity, many people are honestly asking the question “Why be Jewish?” What in this religious and ethnic legacy is worth preserving? Does Judaism have something unique to offer a contemporary seeker free to choose a way of life and a system of values? Rabbi Arthur Green, a leading spiritual teacher who has faced these questions in conversation with generations of students, answers these questions with warmth, humor, personal and rabbinic stories and down-to-earth explanations.
- Speaking Torah Vol. 1 & 2: Spiritual Teachings from around the Maggid’s Table (2013) by Rabbi Arthur Green. Synopsis: While Hasidic tales have become widely known to modern audiences, the profound spiritual teachings that stand at the very heart of Hasidism have remained a closed book for all except scholars. This fascinating selection—presented in two volumes following the weekly Torah reading and the holiday cycle, and featured in English and Hebrew—makes the teachings accessible in an extraordinary way. Volume 1 covers Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, and includes a history of early Hasidism and a summary of central religious teachings of the Maggid’s school. Volume 2 covers Numbers and Deuteronomy and the holiday cycle, and includes brief biographies of the Hasidic figures.
- Radical Judaism (2010) by Rabbi Arthur Green, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College Rector. Synopsis: How do we articulate a religious vision that embraces evolution and human authorship of Scripture? Drawing on the Jewish mystical traditions of Kabbalah and Hasidism, path-breaking Jewish scholar Arthur Green argues that a neomystical perspective can help us to reframe these realities, so they may yet be viewed as dwelling places of the sacred. In doing so, he rethinks such concepts as God, the origins and meaning of existence, human nature, and revelation to construct a new Judaism for the twenty-first century.