Edlavitch DCJCC

Slavery, Redemption, Song, and Storytelling: A Day of Learning in Preparation for Passover with Mechon Hadar
Edlavitch DCJCC

Join the EDCJCC on March 19 as we welcome Mechon Hadar into our Center for a half-day workshop. This learning program will include a panel, lunch and two additional workshops. Each session will bring open-hearted and passionate discussions coupled with deep classical text study and new interpretations for a modern age. 

This program is presented by the Szubin and Katzman families on the occasion of the first yahrzeit of their father, grandfather, and teacher, Professor Zvi H. Szubin z"l.

The EDCJCC partnership with Mechon Hadar is supported by Rae Ringel and Amos Hochstein and Talya Bock and Rafi Cohen in addition to the Szubin and Katzman Families.

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.

10:45am—11:00am Doors Open and Registration
11:00am—12:15pm Plenary: Freedom and Redemption: Reflections on the Highlights of the Seder
12:15pm—1:00pm Lunch
1:00pm—2:15pm Session 1
2:15pm—2:30pm Break
2:30pm—3:45pm Session 2

Session 1:

Turning Memory Into Empathy: The Implications of Exodus
R. Shai Held
In this session we'll get at the very heart of biblical ethics: the idea that our suffering is supposed to teach us empathy and kindness.  We'll explore these themes through a close look at the mandate to love and protect the ger (sojourner, immigrant, refugee) and at other laws that try to construct Israel as a radical alternative to Egypt.

Mah Nishtana: The Core Questions of the Seder
R. Elie Kaunfer
In this class we will explore the most basic and most profound part of the Seder - the 4 questions. Why these questions? What purpose do they serve? What themes stand underneath the surface? We will use a literary approach to explore these questions and the stories they tell about our Seder.

Why and How We Enslave Ourselves
Dena Weiss
On Pesach we celebrate the liberation of our people and the difficult process by which we became free. In this class we'll look at the story of the Exodus from the very beginning and ask ourselves, how did we lose this freedom? What were the political and psychological factors and forces at work in the Egyptian and Hebrew communities that led to the dire state of slavery and how are those dynamics still at play in our own relationships to freedom, work, and responsibility?

Session 2:

Az Yashir: The Song of the Sea and the Theology of the Hebrew Bible
R. Shai Held
Every morning, as part of remembering the Exodus from Egypt, Jews recite Az Yashir, "The Song of the Sea". This magnificent poem also forms the Torah reading for the seventh day of Pesach. What is this poem really about? What images of God does it present, and how does it think about God's relationship to the Jewish people and the rest of creation? We'll read the poem closely, situating it in the broader context of biblical theology while examining both its grand themes and its small details.

What is the story of the Jewish People? A close reading of the Haggadah narrative
R. Elie Kaunfer
At its core, the Haggadah is a story about the formation of the Jewish people. How one tells this story has great significance for how we think of ourselves as Jews and as freed people. In this class, we will examine the different approaches to telling the story that are embedded in the Haggadah. By looking at some ancient versions of the Haggadah discovered in the Cairo Genizah, we will explore the basic question of how we tell our story on Passover.

The Case of the Stolen Matzah: Do the Ends Justify the Means?
Dena Weiss
One of the enduring questions of human political life and our attempts at progress is whether the ends justify the means. The Talmud uses the case of the stolen matzah to probe the question of whether I can do a mitzvah with an object with a tainted pedigree. At what point must I draw the line and refuse to use an object that came to me illicitly and at what point can I say that what is in the past is in the past?

General Admission: $18
Student Admission: $10
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 President, 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 by Indiana University Press in 2013; his next book, The Heart of Torah, a collection of essays on the Torah in two volumes, is due out this year.


rabbi elie kaunfer


Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is President and CEO 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 (Jewish Lights, 2010). 





Dena Weiss is Rosh Beit Midrash and Director of Fellowship Programs at Mechon Hadar, where she teaches Talmud, Midrash and Hasidut. Dena earned a BA in Religious Studies from New York University and an MA in Theology from Harvard Divinity School. She has studied and taught in a variety of Jewish educational settings including Drisha, Midreshet Lindenbaum, and Pardes. She currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the Mima'amakim journal of Jewish religious art.


Co-sponsored by:

mechon hadar logo   dc minyan logo

Adas Israel Congregation washington hebrew congregation logo


Time: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
1529 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

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