Yom Kippur Afternoon Study Sessions | Congregation Beth Am

Yom Kippur Afternoon Study Sessions

As is our custom on Yom Kippur afternoon, Beth Am members will be offering learning sessions on a variety of Jewish topics. Enrich your Yom Kippur observance by learning something new! We need volunteers to help direct people to the sessions that afternoon, so if you're interested in helping out, please contact Rabbi Sarah. (Please visit the High Holy Day page for more information about High Holy Days 5780.)

Session 1 -- 1:30-2:15 PM

  1. Our Jewish Journey as Immigrants and as HIAS Volunteers in El Paso
  2. Sin:Repentance / Flight:Return — Intersections of Psychology with the Work of Yom Kippur
  3. Judaism and Climate Change: Paths to Effective Action
  • Our Jewish Journey as Immigrants and as HIAS Volunteers in El Paso  Green Room
    In response to the immigration and asylum crisis at our Southern border, nine lawyers from our Beth Am community traveled with Rabbi Prosnit to El Paso for a week as HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) volunteers, providing legal services through Las Americas, a local pro bono immigration legal clinic.  In the session, we will reflect together on the circumstances and experiences of the journey of each of our families to America and then our volunteer group will relate that experience to what we witnessed in El Paso.  Because the crisis continues, we will also be sharing various opportunities for our community to provide needed assistance, just as HIAS and other organizations helped our families in their immigration sagas.
    -- Tim Taich and Dorit Perry will facilitate the discussion, and will be joined by the other El Paso attorney volunteers: Debbie Fishman, Adam Goldman, Olivia Iannicelli, Dana Kornfeld, Wendy Miller, Lee Rubin, Parijat Sharma and Katharine Wies
  • Sin:Repentance / Flight:Return — Intersections of Psychology with the Work of Yom Kippur  Yellow Room
    On Yom Kippur, work is forbidden — and yet the day involves some of the hardest psychological and spiritual work we can imagine.  What can we learn about this inner work that revolves around error, transgression, remorse and repentance by combining psychological insight with the classic texts of our tradition? What can we learn about those texts by viewing them through a psychological lens?  Saul will discuss the issues of sin and repentance from the perspective of Maimonides, the great Jewish scholar of the 11th century, and how that translates into contemporary therapy and life. Loren will focus on what the story of Jonah and the great fish has to tell us about error and flight, and what it might also say about return and repentance as a therapeutically transformative experience.  Join us for an exploration of these themes through Jewish texts and therapeutic examples drawn from the clinical encounters of two mental health practitioners at opposite ends of the experience continuum.
    --Saul Wasserman, MD is a child psychiatrist and a longstanding member of the Torah Study class. He also leads the Friday Afternoon Book Study Group at Beth Am. Loren Ford is the same person you’ve known as Lorri Ford for a while now, with a name that fits better. As a graduate student in counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, Loren works with patients at Pathways Hospice. At Beth Am, you’ll find Loren in various occasional musical roles, as chair of the Library Committee, and as a member of Beth Am’s INCLUDE Committee.
  • Judaism and Climate Change: Paths to Effective Action  Red Room 
    What can we really do about climate change? We are called by our Jewish values to be environmental stewards, but what can we, at Beth Am, do to make a difference? Actually, a lot! We will explore paths to personal and collective action to address climate change today...to create a much better tomorrow. This session is an update and expansion of the Asilomar Retreat presentation on climate change and is perfect for anyone who wants to take concrete steps to address the crucial environmental issue of our time.
    --Steve Levin is an active volunteer with The Climate Reality Project (founded by Al Gore) and with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He has trained hundreds of climate activist leaders in how to engage ordinary citizens to take action to create a national policy to reduce carbon emissions.

Session 2 -- 2:30-3:15 PM

  1. Parenting and Grandparenting in a World Full of Addiction Possibilities
  2. Rabbinic Transition: Emotions and Aspirations
  3. From Dead Bodies to Baristas: Constructing a Talmud for Today
  • Parenting and Grandparenting in a World Full of Addiction Possibilities  Green Room 
    Addiction takes many forms in America in 2019, and a one-year-old group at Beth Am, Netivot, is working to help congregants and their families who are addressing addiction issues. Psychologist Susan Markowitz, a veteran therapist and long-time Beth Am member, will discuss strategies for equipping young people and their families with the emotional strength, flexibility, and security that can help them lower addiction risks.
    -- Susan L. Markowitz, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor, adjunct clinical faculty at Stanford.  
  • Rabbinic Transition: Emotions and Aspirations  Yellow Room 
    With Rabbi Marder’s upcoming retirement, we are experiencing many emotions. Let’s acknowledge them and also discuss the feedback from the congregation-wide input sessions and survey.
    --Donnovan Somera Yisrael is a member of the Senior Rabbi Transition Committee and is a senior health educator at Stanford, where he integrates the tenets of emotional intelligence and positive psychology to help students add meaning and happiness to their healthiness. He trained as a grief educator and has a passion for teaching people about the skill of grieving everything from disappointment to death. Mike Kaplan is the chair of the Rabbinic Transition Committee at Congregation Beth Am. Professionally, he works in healthcare and is involved with several mental health organizations.
  • From Dead Bodies to Baristas: Constructing a Talmud for Today  Red Room 
    The Talmud is filled with wisdom. AND it was written for a different era. As such, the Talmud has numerous references to things that do not happen in everyday life, like what to do when you find a dead body in a pool of water. As we continue to learn from these ancient teachings, what if we wrote a new Talmud for the 21st century to add to our body of wisdom? In this session, we’ll discuss a few of the Barista Rules, written to give guidance in today's world. Then, we’ll work in small groups to create new rules inspired by a text from the Talmud.
    --Greg Marcus is the author of The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar, and is a first year Rabbinical student at the Academy of Jewish Religion, CA. At Beth Am, he was the co-chair of the Sh’ma Groups Initiative and serves on the Adult Education Advisory Committee.
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We strive to live as a holy community whose study and practice of Judaism inspires and challenges us to "do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).