Edlavitch DCJCC

Repentance, Forgiveness, Personal Change: Entering the Days of Awe with Mechon Hadar
Edlavitch DCJCC

Join the EDCJCC as we welcome Mechon Hadar into our Center for a half-day workshop of passionate and open-hearted discussions about many of the most crucial questions Jews ask during the High Holidays.

Mechon Hadar is an educational institution that empowers Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing communities of Torah learning, prayer, and service. Learn more about Mechon Hadar here.

Judaism places enormous emphasis on personal change-- but changing can seem impossibly hard, even when we sincerely want to. Forgiveness is essential to human flourishing, but it is also confusing: whom should we forgive, and under what circumstances? The liturgy for the Days of Awe is majestic and inspiring, but it can also be alienating and off-putting.

We welcome all adult learners, babysitting is available for an additional fee.

1:30pm -2:00pm Doors Open and Registration
2:00pm -2:15pm Welcome and Introduction
2:15pm - 3:30pm Opening Class with Rabbi Shai Held
   Why Don't People Change...and How We Could
3:30pm -3:45pm Break
3:45pm - 5:00pm Breakout Sessions with Rabbis Shai Held and Elie Kaunfer
   Rabbi Held, On Personal Growth: What Maimonides Can Still Teach Us
   Rabbi Kaunfer, Who By Fire, Who By Water?: The Most Controversial Prayer in Jewish Life

Why Don't People Change-- and How We Could
R. Shai Held
Every year we engage in the process of recreating ourselves, and yet notwithstanding all the attention we give the work of teshuvah, most of us rarely change very much.  In this interactive lecture, we'll ask what keeps us stuck and consider ways we might free ourselves to more fully become who we could be.

On Personal Growth: What Can Maimonides Still Teach Us?
R. Shai Held
Maimonides' Laws of Repentance (Hilkhot Teshuvah) is the most influential and often-cited Jewish texts about the meaning and significance of teshuvah.  In this session, we'll explore some of the key themes Maimonides develops in guiding our repentance: freedom --and whether we can ever lose it; forgiveness-- and the interpersonal dynamics associated with it; and character-- what it means to repent not just for actions but also for character traits.

Who By Fire, Who By Water?: The Most Controversial Prayer in Jewish Life
R. Elie Kaunfer

Are you troubled by reciting: “Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?” every year on High Holidays? Does God really mete out just reward and punishment each year? Together we will examine the Untane Tokef prayer, look at its Biblical allusions, and discover its radically divergent internal theological approaches.


General Admission: $18
Student Admission: $10
Babysitting: $20 per child
Cost should not be barrier for participation in this program. Please be in touch if the cost of this program would prevent your attendance.


rabbi shai held headshotRabbi Shai Held-- theologian, scholar, and educator-- is Co-Founder, Dean and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, where he also directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas. Previously, he served for six years as Scholar-in-Residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and Halakha at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also served as Director of Education at Harvard Hillel. A 2011 recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, Rabbi Held has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. He holds a doctorate in religion from Harvard; his main academic interests are in modern Jewish and Christian thought, in biblical theology, and in the history of Zionism. Rabbi Held's first book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, was published in 2013; his next book, The Heart of Torah, a collection of essays on the Torah in two volumes, is due out next year.


rabbi elie kaunferRabbi Elie Kaunfer is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mechon Hadar. Elie has previously worked as a journalist, banker, and corporate fraud investigator. A graduate of Harvard College, he completed his doctorate in liturgy at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was also ordained. A Wexner Graduate Fellow and Dorot Fellow, Elie is a co-founder of the independent minyan Kehilat Hadar and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow, and is the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities.



Presented in memory of Rabbi Zvi H. Szubin z"l


Co-sponsored by:

mechon hadar logo 

Adas Israel Congregation washington hebrew congregation logo


Time: 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
1529 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

We're sorry, the deadline for online sales has passed. Contact program staff listed above to purchase by phone.


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