Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to let you know that my dear friend Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed, one of the leading teachers of Judaism in the world today, and a wise and joyous soul, will be joining us at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation as our Scholar-in-Residence for the weekend of September 1-3. Her topic will be “Awakening: Preparing Ourselves for the New Year.” We have arranged her visit so that her Friday evening and Saturday morning teachings are free and open to all, and then she will be leading an intensive workshop from Saturday lunch through Sunday lunch that is open to registrants only. All the details are below.

I am honored to be one of Melila’s students, and honored to call her a friend. A native of Jerusalem, a riveting presenter and an expert in Jewish mysticism, Dr. Hellner-Eshed combines an encyclopedic knowledge of classic Jewish texts with the heart of an artist and the perspective of a citizen of the world. Like all great teachers, Melila guides us to where the ancient tradition and our own lives intersect, and makes us more aware and alive in the process. Her teaching integrates interactive text study, lecture, song, creative writing, reflection and deep sharing.

A native of Jerusalem, Dr. Hellner-Eshed teaches Zohar, Jewish mysticism, and Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is also a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. For the past two decades, Dr. Hellner-Eshed has been a central figure in the renaissance of the study of Jewish texts by Israeli adults from all paths of life, as well as teaching and working with Jewish communities all over North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. At the Shalom Hartman Institute, she initiated and directs the Rabbinic Students Seminar, a program for rabbinic students from all denominations spending a year in Israel. In this capacity she has influenced a generation of young rabbis from around the world. Dr. Hellner-Eshed is also the coordinator of the Maskilot Program, which provides outstanding female doctoral students with an edge in completing their Ph.D.’s and pursuing their rightful place in Israel’s elite circle of Jewish studies academics. Dr. Hellner-Eshed is active in ‘Sulha’ – a reconciliation project that brings together Israelis and Palestinians.  She is the author of And a River Flows from Eden – On the Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar (2009), and Seekers of The Face – From the Secrets of the Idra Rabba in the Zohar (2016).

I hope you will be able to attend some or all of the weekend, and that you will invite others as well. This is a rare opportunity to learn with a world-class scholar in our intimate Woodstock setting. Registration for the workshop is open now at the Lev Shalem Institute of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation website

Here are the details:

Friday, September 1

5:00pm Registration and greeting for weekend workshop participants

6:00pm “First Friday” pot luck Shabbat Dinner OPEN TO ALL

7:30pm Teaching with Dr. Hellner-Eshed OPEN TO ALL

Saturday, September 2

10:00am Shabbat morning service, led by Rabbi Jonathan, with Torah teaching by Dr. Hellner-Eshed OPEN TO ALL

12:30pm-8:00 Workshop begins with lunch for the participants, followed by learning sessions, afternoon break, dinner and havdalah service.

Sunday, September 3

9:30am-2:00pm Workshop continues, and concludes with lunch and farewells

Workshop Registration and Information

Tuition: $150 General; $75 WJC Members. Meals: Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, Sunday lunch, plus snacks $70 (most dietary needs can be accommodated). Participants are also welcome to bring their own dairy/vegetarian food if they do not want to sign up for the meal plan. If tuition costs are prohibitive, contact Dee Graziano ([email protected]845.679.2218 x6) at WJC for a confidential conversation. Again, easy online registration is available through the LSI website

Shabbat Shalom and Love,

Rabbi Jonathan