Conferences

Kisufim - Jerusalem Conference of Jewish Writers (2007)

Beit Avi Chai, Jerusalem, April 16-19 2007 (in cooperation with the journal Dimui, published by Beit Morasha) - Kisufim, the Hebrew word for 'longing' and the acronym for “Jerusalem Conference of Jewish Writers and Poets”, brings together Jewish writers from different countries and diverse backgrounds, who share a sense of Jewish consciousness, to explore together the connection between Jewish identity and text, the interplay of culture and Jewish identity, what defines a Jewish writer and what characterizes Jewish writing. During three days and nights of readings, discussions, and cultural events, renowned and established writers alongside promising young writers in many different styles and languages, share their works with colleagues and with the general public and clarify textual and cultural issues. The conference is interdisciplinary, with opportunities to integrate music and works of art and documentary films about Jewish writers and poets from around the world. One of the conference goals is to establish an international umbrella organization of Jewish writers and poets that will promote the exchange of multilingual Jewish literature, publishing and translation.

Watch a segment of the conference ( Video / Audio )

Russian-speaking Jewry in Global Perspective: Power, Politics and Community (2006)

Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, October 17-19 2006 - The Conference brought together prominent researchers from Israel, USA, Canada, the CIS, Europe and other countries, and focused, among other issues, on Russian-speaking Jewry and Power Structures in Contemporary Israel and the Diaspora; Models of Social Identity and Political Integration of Russia-speaking Jews in Israel, the CIS and countries of the "new Russian Jewish Diaspora"; The "Host Societies": Mutual Political, Social and Cultural Experience; Models of Institutionalization in Russian Jewish Communities; Social and Demographic Factors, Social, Cultural and Political Influence pf Russian-Jewish Entities in Different countries of the World; Organizational and Political Structuring of the "Global Russian Jewish Community"; Russian Jewish Media; Russian Jewish Communities as a factor of World Politics and International Relations.

Contemporary Responses to Intermarriage (2005)

The conference, chaired by Prof. Gerald Cromer, was designed to provide an opportunity for in-depth analysis and discussion of contemporary Jewish responses to intermarriage. Academics, rabbis, educationalists and journalists from Israel and abroad will examine topics such as communal boundaries, reactions in different communities around the world, rabbinic responsa, intermarriage in Israel and Israel as a prophylactic to intermarriage in the diaspora, and rationales for opposition to intermarriage. The concluding session was devoted to a consideration of future joint research and action projects.

Russian speaking Jewry in Global Perspective: Assimilation, Integration and Community Building (2004)
The conference was held on June 14-16, 2004 and hosted dozens of senior scholars from Israel and abroad as well as activists in various organizations and bodies dealing with Russian-speaking Jewry. Dr. Ze’ev Khanin was conference chairman. Following the conference many of the participants suggested that The Rappaport Center host a bi-annual public academic conference in order to continue tracking and analyzing developments in this important segment of world Jewry.

Rabbis and the Challenge of Assimilation: Historical and Contemporary Approaches (2003)
The conference, chaired by Dr. Adam Ferziger, was held on June 23-24, 2003 and hosted scholars and rabbis from around the world. A noteworthy session was the one on Denominational Perspectives which hosted representatives from various denominations: Rabbi Prof. David Ellenson, the president of Hebrew Union College (Reform), Rabbi Reuven Hammer, President of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat/Ohr Torah Institutions, and Rabbi Dr. Naftali Loewenthal from London [A Chabad chassid and a leading expert on the Chabad movement].

Israeli Assimilation: The Absorption of Non-Jews into Israeli Society and its Influence on Collective Identity (2002)
Israeli assimilation is the mirror image of the Diaspora Jewry case: The phenomenon prevalent here is that of assimilation of non-Jews into the Jewish majority. Most Israelis are not aware of the scope of this phenomenon in spite of its significant influence on the character and identity of the majority at present and more so in the future. The findings presented in the conference – held on June 12-13, 2002 and chaired by Dr. Asher Cohen - indicated the need for a re-evaluation of Israel’s immigration policy and of The Jewish Agency’s worldwide modus operandi, especially in East European countries. The conference also raised public awareness of obstacles to the possibility of conversion to Judaism that exist in the Jewish world today.


Seminars

Training Young Diaspora Rabbis: New Approaches to Interactions with Jews who are not affiliated with the Jewish Community
This training seminar for orthodox rabbis serving in Diaspora communities was held in the summer of 2003. The rabbis attended lectures and training sessions, toured the country and learned how to plan various community projects. This was an operative program aimed at in-service training for rabbis, on analytical and practical considerations and methods for interacting with assimilated Jews. The seminar focused on the acquisition of new approaches to interaction with Jews who are unaffiliated with any Jewish community. The concept which lies at the core of the program reflects a unique approach to training community rabbis, one which combines a deep commitment to the Jewish tradition and a thorough understanding of the cultural appeal of other contextual worlds. The aim is to enable community rabbis to engage the vast number of Jews who maintain very little contact with the Jewish community or none at all. Following the seminar, several of the participants launched trial counter-assimilation projects in seven communities worldwide, under the supervision of the Rappaport Center [see below]


Leadership Development

Teaching Judaism to Young Adults in Europe – In Collaboration with Paideia, The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden
The Paideia framework, launched in 2000, aims at providing new directions for young Jews of leadership potential from throughout European Jewry. This approach includes the study of sources of Jewish culture, openness to contemporary Jewish art and literature, and a commitment to a new Jewish future. 25 young men and women from countries such as Russia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, The Czeck Republic, Germany, Italy, Britain, Denmark and Sweden study in Paideia every year. The Rappaport Center offers assistance in developing the graduates' skills of analyzing the problems faced by their communities and of initiating new methods and activities to address these pressing issues. In May 2004 and May 2005, The Rappaport Center, together with Paideia, held alumni conferences in Stockholm dedicated to the subject of responses to assimilation. Prior to the conferences, the graduates had conducted studies of assimilation in their communities; the conferences were devoted to presentation and discussion of these studies and their implications.

Rabbis Leading Projects for Counter-Assimilation in Jewish Communities Abroad
Following the seminar for young orthodox rabbis from the Diaspora held in the summer of 2003 [see above], trial counter-assimilation projects were launched in five Jewish communities abroad (Oakland, California; Mexico City; Guatemala City; Vancouver, Canada; Oslo, Norway) coached by Rabbi Don Peterman and supervised by Dr. Adam Ferziger.

Collaboration with the Amiel Program for training Diaspora Community Rabbis
The Rappaport Center contributes to the enrichment of the Amiel Diaspora Rabbi Training Program, headed by Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum. The Center’s scholars are invited to present lectures and lessons to the rabbis being trained for service in Jewish communities in the diaspora. Amiel graduates serve as community rabbis around the world and stand in the forefront of the struggle against assimilation.
In May 2005, a joint intensive in-service training event was held by the Rappaport Center and Amiel, for almost thirty young rabbis serving in North America, and their wives. Rabbi Dr. Adam Ferziger of the Rappaport Center played a major role in the conference, providing insight and guidance for these rabbis serving in communities throughout the United States and Canada, especially with regard to the role of rabbis in responding to the challenges of assimilation. In December 2005 a similar event was held in Montevideo, Uruguay, for rabbis serving throughout Latin America. Prof. Gerald Cromer represented the Rappaport Center at this conference and provided teaching and guidance especially in regard to the issue of intermarriage that he had researched for the Rappaport Center.

 
 
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