In an event celebrating shared Jewish culture, scholarship, and history, five area institutions will participate in the Global Day of Jewish Learning Sunday, Nov. 7, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, Rutgers Hillel in New Brunswick, Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley/East Brunswick Jewish Center, and the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset will all invite community members to engage together in Jewish learning. (Hillel will hold its program Nov. 6 because of a scheduling conflict.)
“It is a tremendous unifying concept to have Jews from all different denominations, ages, and observance levels all learning from the same source on the same day,” said area coordinator Leslie Ostrin of Highland Park. “It…is a very wonderful way to start an even more incredible initiative of learning and leadership in the world.”
The day was selected to mark the historic completion of the 46-volume translation of and commentary on the Talmud by internationally renowned scholar and educator Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, a culmination of 45 years of work.
The day is an initiative of the Aleph Society, devoted to the Israeli rabbi’s mission to make the Talmud and other sources of Jewish knowledge accessible to all Jews.
Many Nov. 7 programs will feature a live video hook-up showing Steinsaltz conducting a siyyum, a ceremony held after finishing a tractate of Talmud.
Study will revolve around seven topics — the environment, God, love, leadership, miracles, prayer, and tzedaka — deriving from the Talmud tractate Ta’anit.
The initiative has gained the support of a broad coalition of partners, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union, the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Union for Reform Judaism.
Ostrin said she became involved locally through her friendship with Rabbi Shmuel Greene, also of Highland Park and director of the Mekor Chaim Steinsaltz Ambassadors program, which brings young Israelis to the United States to build ties with American Jews, another Aleph Society initiative.
“The main goal of the day is the commemoration of Rabbi Steinsaltz,” said Greene. “His motto has always been ‘Let my people know.’ The idea is that everyone can learn.”
Ostrin also was introduced by her mother, Harriet Blank of Bridgewater, who is on the national board of the Jewish Community Centers Association, another partner agency in the global initiative.
“My mother has been instrumental in bringing this program to the attention of Jewish federations all over New Jersey,” said Ostrin. “Since I know Middlesex, we brought it to the attention of the local federation,” whose executive director, Gerrie Bamira, “was a big help.”
Ostrin was also able to reach out to Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner, senior Wilf campus chaplaincy director, who belongs to her synagogue, Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park. The chaplain, said Ostrin, was eager to offer the program on campus to residents and their families.
Andrew Getraer, Hillel’s executive director, is a neighbor. Ostrin said that program was open to both community members and college students.
RPRY will have programming for both young people and adults as will the joint Schechter/EBJC program.