As we hear the poetic message Moses bequeaths to us in our Torah toward the end of our wilderness journey, Harvard Ph.D. student and scholar of Jewish art, history, and scribal tradition, Deborah B. Thompson, and Sonia Epstein '22 join the Harvard Torah conversation to explore how cherished verses, poems and songs and special letters can be touchstones and guiding stars on our travels.
As we find our Torah telling the story of itself as a written Book, two scholars of scriptural literature join the Harvard Torah conversation – Professor Luis Manuel Girón-Negrón, whose current work on the 15th century Arragel Bible tells of remarkable communication and collaboration in Spain of that time in the production of a codex of scriptural translation and commentary incorporating Jewish and Christian traditions and ideas – and Theo Motzkin '19 who now studies the ancient languages, literatures, and religious cultures of Mesopotamia and the Near East at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"You stand all of you today before the Eternal One your God," begins our Torah reading this week – and how to share with you the joy of all of us who are able at long last to be together in person on the Harvard campus? Beyond a podcast message expressing some of that joy in words, I hope you will enjoy the photos at this link, snapped at our Harvard Hillel Pop-Up Café this past week, welcoming students to campus.
"Ki Tavo" – "When you come into the Land" – is our reading this week; and amid the many blessings of our coming back into in-person community, psychologist Jerry Zuriff and Social Studies student Sarah Shamoon '21-'22 join the Harvard Torah conversation to ponder the Curses that figure in this week's Torah reading along with the possible blessings, what to make of those 'rebukes' or 'chastisements,' and how to make sure they are not our fate.
As our students head back to campus for a great Harvard ingathering, Rabbi Jenn Queen, Harvard Hillel's Robert and Dale Mnookin Director of Engagement, joins in the Harvard Torah conversation – in the face of a reading that may seem quite alien and even alienating in parts at first glance – to discuss being present with and for one another as the essence of creating a community that listens to our Torah.
Alexandra Natapoff, Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law, expert in inequality and the U.S. criminal system, and Ezra Feder ‘24, both of whom have worked in Maryland’s Office of Public Defense, join the Harvard Torah conversation – as our scriptures command us to appoint ‘judges and officers in all our gates’ – for a discussion on pursuing righteous justice.
This week's instalment of Harvard Torah comes to you recorded amid travels – as our ancestors, in our scriptures, prepare to set up a distinctive haven and home country. I hope you enjoy this brief and solo journeying interlude in the ongoing series, and I can promise a return to the podcast's customary format, with a wonderful Harvard teacher and student, for next week's Torah reading.
Spencer Glassman '23-'24, just back from a year in Israel, joins the Harvard Torah conversation, to reflect on ourselves and on others in our land – as we hear the Children of Israel instructed in our scriptures in fearsome terms about the conquest ahead of them, and we hear them told to love the stranger.
Professors Arthur Applbaum of Harvard and Jon Gould '10 of Berkeley Law School join the Harvard Torah conversation, as our Torah gives us some of the most fundamental words and covenantal ideas of our tradition.
As we begin our Torah's book of Deuteronomy, Moses retelling the wilderness years to the people, Rabbi, Professor, Historian, and Theologian Arthur Green joins the Harvard Torah conversation along with Folklore, Mythology, and Religion scholar Daniel Frim '14, to discuss the theme of Story.
As we read about Tribes – Matot – and about the Journeys of our people – Mas'ei – Adam Nahari '20 and Ellie Blum '20, who have led hundreds of Harvard peers of many faiths and backgrounds on the Harvard College Israel Trek over several years, join the Harvard Torah conversation to speak from their experience of shepherding people to the Promised Land.
"Then it came to pass, after the plague..." says our Torah this week.
Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases Yonatan Grad and incoming student Paz Meyers'25, who has spent this past year in SARS- CoV-2 research, join the Harvard Torah conversation to reflect on where we now are, what's ahead, and what we have learned.
As our Torah gives us the rite of the Red Heifer, and the death of Miriam, and Moses' striking the rock, and the foreign prophet Balaam's awestruck blessings of the Israelite camp, and more and more, Professor of the Comparative and Historical Study of Religion Kimberley Patton and Harvard Divinity School graduate Shira Mogil join the Harvard Torah conversation, to discuss tremendous and fascinating and even terrifying mystery, and how we (and other creatures on this earth) may touch it – not without hazard.
Avishay Ben-Sasson Gordis of Harvard's Government Department, research fellow at the Berl Katznelson Foundation and at Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, joins the Harvard Torah conversation for a special episode focused on the current governmental debacle in Israel, on the theme of Rebellion – as our Torah gives us the story of the revolt of Korach and his band of discontented Levites against Moses and Aaron, and as the longtime Prime Minister of Israel asks rhetorically, with reference to his own present situation and this week's Torah-reading, "How did God deal with rebellion against Moses our Master?"
Founder of the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, Dr. Ronald Heifetz, and Sarah Bolnick '22 join the Harvard Torah conversation to discuss Courage, as we read of the Israelite scouts surveying the Promised Land, and as Harvard students committed to Israel face challenges among their peers. (Listeners interested in learning more about the ethical, logistical, and political issues regarding Israel, the Palestinian territories, and vaccinations, touched upon by our guest toward the end of this conversation, may wish to read the article on the subject in the 5/5/21 edition of the Times of Israel.)
As we read in the Torah of the menorah and its lights in our ancient sanctuary, Professor of Astronomy Karin Öberg and astronomy student Natasha '21 (who likes to keep a low internet profile, hence the first name-only introduction) join the Harvard Torah conversation – to follow the example of our ancient ancestors who took this reading as an occasion to speculate on the luminaries of the heavens.
Dr. Judith Kates, Radcliffe and Harvard alumna, Professor of Jewish Women's Studies at Hebrew College, and formerly the first coordinator of Harvard's Committee on Women's Studies, joins Harvard Ph.D. Candidate and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in Harvard's program in Religion, Rachel Slutsky, in the Harvard Torah conversation, to reflect on women making pathways through the landscape of our heritage and sources – as our cycle of scriptural readings and of holidays brings us to the Sotah, the woman suspected of adultery, in our Torah, and to the Book of Ruth in the recent holiday of Shavuot.
Dr. Mira Bernstein, who applies mathematical insights to addressing gerrymandering, apportionment of representatives, and other problems of present-day democracy and society, and Cara Kupferman '20, who has worked in the back rooms and on the front lines of a U.S. election, join the Harvard Torah conversation – as we read about the counting of the Israelite people, tribe by tribe, and the naming of their leaders – while, in the present, we see the results of a U.S. Census, and a new Pew Research Center study on Jewish Americans.
Professor Joseph Singer, who teaches property law, legal philosophy, and federal Indian law at Harvard's Law School, and Gabriel Karger '18, who is now pursuing a PhD in Political Philosophy at Princeton and a JD at Columbia Law School, join the Harvard Torah conversation to discuss the ethics of Ownership, as we conclude the book of Leviticus with its laws about land, property, and release from debts and indentured servitude in the Jubilee year.
This week Professor Michael Ashley Stein, co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, and Elsie Tellier '19, whose path with cystic fibrosis through Harvard College, Human Rights Watch, and now law school in Canada is a celebration of life, learning, possibility, and service to community, both join the Harvard Torah conversation – as we read about disqualification of Priests with physical 'blemishes' – to contend with our tradition's legacy regarding Disability.
This week, Sheehan Scarborough, interim director of Harvard College’s Office of BGLTQ Student Life (a.k.a. The QuOffice) and new head of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, joins the Harvard Torah conversation to help us contend with Leviticus 18:22 and its abominating of homosexual intimate relations. In sharing this conversation, let me point to the QuOffice as a vital resource and center, and also say clearly that Harvard Hillel welcomes and endeavors to support and to be a safe space for students of all genders and sexual orientations.
As we read about the dread skin disease Tzara'at, often translated as 'leprosy,' but almost certainly not that – Dr. David Fisher, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor in Harvard Medical School joins the Harvard Torah conversation along with Ellie Zisblatt '24, who took part in Dr. Fisher's Freshman Seminar on "Skin, Our Largest, Hottest, and Coolest Organ: From Cancer to Cosmetics."
Chef Martin Breslin, Director of Culinary Operations for Harvard University Dining Services, joins incoming student Shira Hoffer for a conversation about food and community – as our scriptures give us a catalog of 'clean' and 'unclean' animals.
This week, as the calendar of Torah readings gives us a Passover hiatus from our weekly portions, we invite you to share your own input and ideas for Harvard Torah through a very brief survey at tinyurl.com/HarvardTorah – as we reflect on the series so far.
This week, the Harvard Torah podcast brings you a special set of resources for your Passover Seder. President Larry Bacow, Provost Alan Garber, Harvard students, and alumni from our Harvard Hillel Board of Directors have recorded brief introductions to the parts of the Seder. These recordings are also available individually here so that you can use them in your own online Seder if you wish.
The Rev. Rita Powel, minister to the Episcopal Community of Harvard, and former captain of the Varsity Softball team at Barnard and Associate Rector for Music at Trinity Church in Copley Square, joins the Harvard Torah conversation with Benjamin Rabinowitz '21, sacred singer, sexton/gabbai, Harvard Jewish Sports Initiative founder, and Levite – to take a stab at the question: How do you solve a problem like Vayikra/Leviticus?
Architect Moshe Safdie and architecture student Maxwell Lent '20 join in the Harvard Torah conversation, as we read the detailed design of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and consider the spaces we shape, which in turn shape our lives and experiences and even our self-conceptions.
Professor of Economics Ben Friedman, author of the recent Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, and Andrew Lobel '19 join for a conversation about Wealth. As we come to the construction of the sanctuary on the one hand and the golden calf on the other, a people and its resources and capabilities, and how they are drawn upon and applied, are the topic of discussion.
Irit Aharony, head of Harvard's modern Hebrew language program and Josh Moriarty '21 join in the Harvard Torah conversation to explore the echoes and the ongoing life of sacred terminology from our Torah reading in our own times and in the evolution of the Hebrew language.
This week Mishy Harman '08, host of the acclaimed Israel Story podcast, joins our own Harvard Hillel chronicler Noah Epstein '21, outgoing editor of our student 'Nosh on This' newsletter, to discuss Multiplicity, the array of ways in which so many hearts are moved to help shape our community.
This week Harvard Law School Professor and Deputy Dean, John Goldberg, a leader in present-day tort and property law, and Hannah Miller '22, who has recently helped in the editing of a tort law textbook, join the Harvard Torah conversation, as our Torah becomes very technical, legally speaking.
As the scriptural story of our people's journey reaches Mount Sinai, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg welcomes Shaye Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, and Rebecca Thrope '21 to discuss Revelation; where does Torah come from?
In this special musical episode of Harvard Torah, for Shabbat Shirah, our Sabbath of Song, Gund University Organist and Choirmaster in Harvard's Memorial Church, Ed Elwyn Jones, and countertenor, conductor, and composer Benjamin Wenzelberg '21, join our Executive Director, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, PhD, to speak – and sing! – about liberty and uplift, as the Torah celebrates our freedom from Pharaoh's tyranny with the Song at the Sea.
This week, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg welcomes Harvard Divinity School Professor of Philosophy and Theology, David Lamberth, and Emily Malpass '21 to take on the problem of Evil, as we read of the final devastating plagues in Egypt in the story of our Exodus.
This week, Dr. Linda Chavers, Allston Burr Resident Dean of Winthrop House and Assistant Dean of Harvard College and Lecturer in the department of African and African American Studies, and Natalie Kahn '23 join in our Harvard Torah podcast conversation on the theme of Liberation, as we begin our book of Exodus, and as we face a fateful moment for liberty in this land.
This week Professor Peter Machinist and Alicia Vernell Rivera '22 join our Harvard Torah conversation on the theme of Blessing, as Jacob imparts final words to his offspring, and as we come to the end of our biblical book of Genesis.
This week, 300th Anniversary Univeristy Professor Martha Minow and clinical psychology graduate student Sarah Horne '19 join in our Harvard Torah podcast conversation to discuss the theme of Reconciliation, with regard to the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers and in our own times.
This week, Professor of Government Eric Nelson and student of Government Sam Meyerson '22 join Rabbi Jonah Steinberg to reflect on Power with regard to the biblical Joseph's rise in Egypt, the kingly Executive, and the allures and hazards of proximity to monarchical prerogative in our ancient tradition and today.
This week, our Executive Director, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, discusses Adversity with Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt and Isaac Longobardi '21, as the theme plays out in the odyssey of the biblical Joseph, in Shakespeare's dramas, and in our own lives.
This week our Executive Director, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg invites Diane Rosenfeld, head of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, and Rebecca Araten '22, leader of our Undergraduate Steering Committee at Harvard Hillel, for a conversation about the biblical narrative of the rape of Dinah and its echoes in our present day. Mindful of how sexual violence affects so many, this conversation also points to the following resources, in addition to our Deans, Harvard Chaplains, and the Proctors and Tutors who care for our students in our campus residential system: Harvard'sOffice of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response; Harvard'sTitle IX Office; theBoston Area Rape Crisis Center; theVictim Rights Law Center and Men Can Stop Rape.
Rabbi Jonah Steinberg welcomes Dr. Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who has studied the nature and function of sleep and dreams from a cognitive neuroscience perspective, and Diana Meyers '21.
In episode 6 of Harvard Torah, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg explores the theme of Legacy with Rob Shapiro '72, JD '78, former president of both the Harvard Alumni Association and the Harvard Law School Alumni Association, leader on Harvard's Board of Overseers, and expert in the field of trust and estate laws, and with Jonathan Katzman '22, as we read the story of Isaac's blessings of his and Rebecca's twin children, Jacob and Esau.
In this episode of Harvard Torah, executive director of Harvard Hillel and Harvard Jewish chaplain Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, Ph.D. welcomes Prof. Ramie Targoff and Jenna Freidus '22 for a discussion about love in the face of death. Together they explore this theme of our Torah portion with readings from John Donne, W.H. Auden, and Richard Feynman.
Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, Ph.D., Jewish Harvard Chaplain and Executive Director of Harvard Hillel revisits the Torah story of Ishmael and Isaac with Ambassador Nick Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and with Amitai Abouzaglo '20, founder of Embodying Peace.
In the third episode of Harvard Torah, Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg, PhD, Executive Director of Harvard Hillel and a Harvard Jewish chaplain, is joined byProfessor Derek Penslar (William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History) and graduate student Helen Yang, who reflects on her journey from a childhood in China to the Jewish community in Cambridge.
For the second episode of Harvard Hillel's new podcast, Harvard Torah, Rabbi Dr. Jonah C. Steinberg, Executive Director of Harvard Hillel, welcomes Professor Neri Oxman, whose path-making work at the intersection of biology and design finds its way to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and with Harvard College student Ariel Silverman whose work this semester is with the beluga whales of Cook Inlet in Alaska.
In the first episode of Harvard Hillel's new podcast, Harvard Torah, Harvard Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Dr. Jonah Steinberg explores the Genesis Torah portion with Adam Cohen, Professor of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Physics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Harvard, and with Harvard College sophomore Tobias Benn.