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Scholar-in-Residence

North Peninsula Jewish Community 2023

Rabbi David Ellenson | March 9–12, 2023

Shades of Gray: A Jewish Approach to Issues of Moral Complexity and Disagreement

The North Peninsula Jewish Community presents 2023 Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi David Ellenson

Shades of Gray: A Jewish Approach to Issues of Moral Complexity and Disagreement

Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson served as President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, as well as Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. A leader in the Reform movement and a “rabbi’s rabbi,” Ellenson is internationally recognized for his work in the areas of Jewish religious thought and ethics, modern Jewish history, and emerging trends in American Jewish life. Rabbi Ellenson is an outspoken advocate for religious tolerance and pluralism both in Israel and within the American Jewish Community. Widely respected for his scholarship, integrity, and respectful discourse, Rabbi Ellenson’s collaborative leadership has reflected his commitment to advancing Jewish unity.

These programs are supported by PJCC and our North Peninsula Jewish Community partners: Congregation Beth Jacob, Peninsula Sinai Congregation, Peninsula Temple Beth El, Peninsula Temple Sholom, and Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School. All programs are free to the public; your support is welcomed at pjcc.org/donate

Register for All Scholar-in-Residence Programs Here


2023 Scholar-in-Residence Program: Schedule of Events

This Moment in the Jewish American Experience: Judaism in a Post-Ethnic Nation

Thursday, March 9 · 7:30 pm · Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School Ulam Gadol
Debates over Israel have become particularly rancorous in the contemporary American Jewish community. In view of this and the strong and justifiable emotional attachments so many of us have to Israel, is civil discourse within our community over Israel possible? This session will consider the diverse positions held by different sectors of the community and ask the audience to reflect on how such conversations might take place. PJCC’s Development Committee is proud to host a dessert reception after this kickoff lecture.


Learning from Ethically Compromised Individuals—What Does Jewish Tradition Say about Cancel Culture?

Friday, March 10 · 6:30 pm · Peninsula Temple Sholom
Significant controversy and debate have arisen in our day about whether it is permissible to learn from, study with, read the works or appreciate the art of morally flawed or ethically compromised individuals—or celebrate and commemorate them in any way. With the help of Talmudic and rabbinic texts, we will examine together the complex attitudes of Jewish tradition on such matters and provide thoughtful guidelines. Following services, please join us for an oneg reception.


How Did We Get Here? The Birth of Modern Judaism in Europe

Morning Services
Saturday, March 11 · D’var Torah Approximately 10:45 am · Peninsula Sinai Congregation

Emancipation and Enlightenment at the end of the 18th Century in Europe gave birth to new approaches to Judaism and Jewish religious tradition. What were these developments and how did Judaism adapt to this changed milieu? Rabbi Ellenson will share what these challenges have meant to him personally as he has crossed denominational lines and how he has attempted to create a meaningful Judaism for himself and his family. Following services, please join us for kiddush lunch.


How Did We Get Here? The Intellectual Roots of Modern Zionism and the State of Israel

Post-Lunch Lecture
Saturday, March 11 · 12:45 pm · Peninsula Sinai Congregation

For many, the birth of the State of Israel represents the great miracle of the modern era of Jewish history. Through the writings of Herzl, Ahad Ha-am, and Rav Kook, we will explore the diverse intellectual foundations of modern Zionism and their practical expression in the modern State of Israel, as well as current directions in Israeli Jewish thought.


Shades of Gray: Relationships after Moral Failures

Havdalah Reception
Saturday, March 11 · 7:00 pm · Congregation Beth Jacob

In our society, we are constantly faced with leaders, celebrities, and our own associates whose moral failings disappoint, astound, and even disgust us. Knowing that Jewish tradition supports “teshuvah” or ethical recalibration, how might we approach reconciliation and rebuilding of trust after such a fissure? In this session, we will encounter a dramatic episode in a Swiss hotel room in 1947, when the famed psychiatrist Carl Jung met with Rabbi Leo Baeck, the last head of the German Jewish community prior to its destruction by the Nazis. Jung asked Baeck, whom he had known prior to World War II, to forgive him of the Nazi sympathies he had expressed in the 1930s and requested that Baeck address a spiritual conference that Jung was convening. Reflecting on this encounter will help us consider how to move forward in our own relationships.


Beyond the Boxes: Non-Denominationalism and Future Trends in Organized American Jewish Religious Life

Lecture
Sunday, March 12 · 11:00 am · Peninsula Temple Beth El

According to the Pew Study of “Religion in American Life,” more than 75% of United States citizens do not affiliate with the religious movement of their birth. What is true of the total population of this nation is equally true of Jews. In view of this overarching lack of denominational commitment, how will the Jewish community adapt? What will this mean for our children’s and grandchildren’s Jewish experience? This lecture will consider these trends and reflect on possible future directions for the Jewish people in North America. This event also includes a bagel brunch.

Register for All Scholar-in-Residence Programs Here


Locations
Peninsula Jewish Community Center
800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City · 650.212.PJCC (7522)

Congregation Beth Jacob
1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City · 650.366.8481

Peninsula Sinai Congregation
499 Boothbay Avenue, Foster City · 650.349.2816

Peninsula Temple Beth El
1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo · 650.341.7701

Peninsula Temple Sholom
1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame · 650.697.2266

Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School
800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City · 650.378.2600

The PJCC is proud to be a part of the Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood, presenting educational and cultural programs that explore Jewish heritage, identity, and community. This initiative is co-funded by the Koret Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture.

Funded in part by Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Peninsula Temple Beth El, Peninsula Temple Sholom, Peninsula Sinai Congregation, Congregation Beth Jacob, Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School, and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Funded primarily by the Koret Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture.

Photo Credit: Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

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