High Holy Days Conference 2015

On Monday, August 10, more than 100 rabbis and rabbinic students from across Southern California and all the streams of Judaism gathered together for a day of learning and discussion that marked the start of preparations for the upcoming High Holy Days. The 2015 High Holy Days Conference, presented by the Board of Rabbis of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and chaired this year by Rabbi Sarah Hronsky, is our largest annual event, offering rabbis from across the denominational spectrum an opportunity to discuss texts and learn with each other – all while gathering material for their High Holy Days sermons.

The Conference was again held at Stephen Wise Temple. Erica Brown, the conference’s first female keynote presenter, offered a unique two-hour presentation that took the assembled rabbis and rabbinical students on a spiritual journey of personal growth using group activities, self-assessment and dialogue.

Jonathan Jaffe BernhardThe breakout sessions included a discussion about how we can see our best selves by looking at the relationship between Moses’ life, neuroscience and the High Holy Days liturgy, led by Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard; Rabbi Denise L. Eger discussed one of the most difficult Rosh Hashanah texts by looking at the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, through art and poetry; Rabbi Sherre Z. Hirsch taught about facing life’s most challenging situations and comforting others by integrating the wisdom of our tradition and the realities of modern life; and Rabbi David E.S. Stein explored the profound and hopeful message of the Zohar as it relates to teshuvah.

After lunch, “Why is this Anti-Semitism Different from All Other Anti-Semitisms?”, a panel discussion moderated by Board of Anti-Semitism Panel DiscussionRabbis President Morley T. Feinstein and featuring Michael Berenbaum of the Sigi Ziering Institute, Rabbi Evan Goodman of Santa Barbara Hillel and Amanda Susskind of the Anti-Defamation League, covered the tones and trends of anti-Semitism in America, the world and on college campuses.

For the rabbis in attendance it was an opportunity to renew connections with colleagues and a chance to learn with an award-winning author and noted educator in the Modern Orthodox movement.

In all these ways, it was a conference that addressed our people’s traditions and texts and the aspirations we have for a hopeful future.

Please see the Board of Rabbis YouTube channel for recordings of all the sessions.