Friday, February 20, 2009


The Gift of the Dream: A Transformative Conference

Sunday, March 15, 2009
8:25am - 5:00pm
Germantown Jewish Centre
400 West Ellet Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19119

For registration information:
Contact Elana Shaw, Program Director
215-844-1507 x19

Information & Registration at

Join us as world class professionals and scholars present a variety of opinions and worldviews that promise to challenge and shape whole new ways of looking at dreaming.

The Gift of the Dream Conference is an exploration of the history, philosophies and science of dreams as they affect us spiritually, emotionally and physically. This event will center on Rodger Kamenetz’s most recent book, The History of Last Night’s Dream, in which he challenges Judaism and Jewish texts into communication with current trends in psychology and neuroscience. Modern psychiatric and psychological theories of the dream, as well as recent advances in brain science studies of dreams and what those findings could portend for the future will make the conference equally appropriate for individual seekers as well as those giving pastoral or psychological counseling.

Workshops include:
Introduction to Archetypal Dreamwork and Demonstrations with Marc Bregman and Christa Lancaster
Harnessing the Imagination with Carol Rose
The Dreams of Joseph’s Journey with Sarah Braun, M.D.
The Contemporary Theory of Dreaming with Ernest Hartmann, M.D.
Dreams in the Jewish Tradition a panel with Professors Joel Hecker, Chava Weissler and David Kraemer
A Journey Into Dreams with Jessica Dibb
Music with Rayzel Raphael

Co-sponsors include:
Inspiration Community of Baltimore; Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; Minyan Sulam Yaakov @ the Gershman Y; North of Eden; Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia; Temple University Jewish Studies Department; P’nai Or; Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC); Big Blue Marble Bookstore

Monday, February 2, 2009

A New Study Text: Massekhet Hahammah

On April 8, 2009, the Jewish world will celebrate a unique alignment of ritual moments. In addition to erev Pesach, and thus the Siyyum of the Firstborn, April 8 is also the date of Birkat HaHammah (“Blessing of the Sun”) when, once every twenty-eight years, Jews everywhere celebrate the sun’s return to the place in the sky that it occupied at the moment of its creation.

In response to this unique moment, and in partnership with a broad coalition of Jewish environmental organizations, the Commission on Social Justice and Public Policy of the Leadership Council of the Conservative Movement has produced a new study text, Massekhet HaHammah ("Tractate of the Sun"), edited and translated with commentary by Abe Friedman (a rabbinical student at the Zeigler school at AJU). Massekhet HaHammah draws on two millennia of Jewish thought on the awesome majesty of the sun and other celestial objects. Through its commentary, Massekhet HaHammah demonstrates how classical Jewish texts offer important guidance for contemporary Jews struggling with climate change, resource allocation, and other crucial environmental challenges.

In bringing together diverse texts from all periods of the Jewish tradition, Massekhet HaHammah offers a fresh look at Jewish attitudes toward the sun, moon, stars, and the mysteries of creation. Through diverse topics such as the dynamics of power between humans and the heavenly lights, astrology and omens, and return and redemption, Massekhet HaHammah enables learners to reflect on the natural world and their place in it. The texts are presented in the original Hebrew and Aramaic with a new translation, and the commentary both elucidates the nuances of the text and helps tie the issues raised in the traditional sources to contemporary environmental challenges. Rabbi Elliot Dorff notes that “as a modern example of some of the massekhtot ketanot … people who study it may say the Hadran prayer afterward,” and it is our hope that rabbis and educators throughout the Jewish community will look to Massekhet HaHammah as they plan their pre-Pesach study.

Massekhet HaHammah is currently available on the website (look under Birkat Hahammah) and will be up in coming days on together with a study guide designed for educated laypeople (written by JTS student, Jill Levy). It will be available soon from the Rabbinical Assembly’s publications site, along with Rabbi Joe Prouser’s Sun Siddur, as a print on demand book.

At the upcoming Limmud conference in Philadelphia (on Sunday, February 22 at 3:00 p.m.) I will be teaching excerpts from the Massekhet together with Professor Mitch Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania.