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November 2017 Rabbi Arnow's Article

Law Meets Life at Kol Rinah

Part of the rabbinical school application asked applicants to read a few books from a list provided, and one of the books I read was Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman’s Voice, by Judith Hauptman. I remember being inspired by the way Dr. Hauptman, a Professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, read ancient texts closely to uncover the ways in which the rabbis of the Talmud were actually progressive, trying to improve the lot of women.

Five years later, I took a class with Rabbi Hauptman (she was ordained as a rabbi in the interim) in which we studied stories in the Talmud about aging. (I taught some of that material last year here at Kol Rinah.) It was a delightful experience realizing that one of the great scholars of Talmud in our generation was also a down-to-earth, kind, and warm person and teacher. It didn’t hurt that she had become friends with my parents!

November 3-5 we will be welcoming Rabbi Judith Hauptman to St. Louis. She’ll be with us at Kol Rinah for Shabbat (Friday night and Saturday), and then will be at B’nai Amoona Sunday. Her visit is sponsored in part by the Hereld Institute for Jewish Studies at JTS and the Rabbi Bernard Lipnick Foundation for Conservative Judaism and the Sara and Leo Wolf Adult Education Fund.

Her talks the whole weekend will be on the theme, “When Law Meets Life.” Friday evening we’ll have services followed by dinner and then learning with Rabbi Hauptman on “Law and Narrative in the Talmud.” She’ll be looking at examples of how stories in the Talmud that immediately follow laws show how the rabbi modified the law to adapt it to real-life circumstances.

Saturday morning, she’ll be speaking and teaching during and after services on “Women’s Voices in the Talmud,” looking at how women made changes in law in the Talmud.

Sunday morning at B’nai Amoona, she’ll teach on “How Criticism by One Rabbi of Another Leads to Halakhic Innovation,” looking at anecdotes of rabbis visiting one another.

Lest you think Rabbi Hauptman has only spent her time in the academy, know that she also started in 2004 Ohel Ayalah, an organization that runs free Passover seders and High Holiday services for 20- and 30-somethings in New York.

She embodies “When Law Meets Life.” I hope you will join us for an intellectually and spiritually stimulating weekend with a world-class scholar who is also one of the most charming and beloved teachers I know.
Sat, August 15 2020 25 Av 5780