Agus Academy: iEngage: Foundations for a New Relationship

This is a series of nine central-themed DVD lectures and conversations with Hartman Institute scholars led by Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman. These discussions respond to growing feelings of disenchantment and disinterest toward Israel among an ever-increasing number of Jews worldwide. This creates a new narrative regarding the significance of Israel for Jewish life.

Facilitators: Rabbi Steven Schwartz, Rabbi Dana Saroken, and Dr. Eyal Bor.

Dates: Monday, October 28, November 4, 11, 18, 25, December 2, 9, 16, 23

Time: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m.

Location: Agus Library

Fee: No fee for Beth El Congregation members; $40 fee for non-members. Registration is required for all participants.

Unit 1: From Crisis to Covenant: Monday, October 28 with Rabbi Dana Saroken
What are the foundations of the current relationship between Israel and world Jewry? What makes the Jewish community so committed to maintaining it? What directions should a new narrative about Israel take if Israel and world Jewry are to come to terms with the new realities that define their relationship and that question the significance of Israel and even its legitimacy?

Unit 2: Religion and Peoplehood: Monday, November 4 with Rabbi Dana Saroken
Israel as the sovereign expression of Jewish peoplehood has significance only to the extent that peoplehood is significant and viewed as an essential aspect of Jewish life. In a world of intense individualism, can Judaism be redefined as a primarily internal, personal experience? How does a sense of belonging to a Jewish collective contribute to the meaning and purpose of contemporary Jewish life?

Unit 3: Sovereignty and Identity: Monday, November 11 with Rabbi Dana Saroken
The establishment of the State of Israel represents the decision of the Jewish people to grant their collective identity as a sovereign form. Is Israel's sovereignty significant only for Israelis, or does Jewish sovereignty contribute to the self-identity of Jews living around the world?

Unit 4: Power and Powerlessness: Monday, November 18 with Rabbi Steven Schwartz
Israel, like most other sovereign nation-states, uses military power-or its ability to exercise this power-as the foundation of its independence and a means of safeguarding
it. In today’s world, however, a critical sensibility that views power as a necessary evil, a force that often corrupts more than it contributes, is becoming more popular. How does Judaism perceive the moral foundations of power and the responsibilities and challenges that it engenders?

Unit 5: War and Occupation: Monday, November 25 with Rabbi Steven Schwartz
All democratic countries struggle with the moral challenges of exercising power in a complex world. How can Israel respond to these challenges and use its power in a way that is consistent with the highest standard of morality and Jewish values? How should Israel balance its legitimate right of self-defense with the values of peace and
the rights of others? How does one determine what constitutes a just war and the moral obligations and consequences of occupation?

Unit 6: Morality on the Battlefield: Monday, December 2 with Rabbi Steven Schwartz
Once a government decides to embark on a war, the integrity of one's moral compass shifts to the battlefield. What Jewishvalues do Israeli soldiers carry with them when going to war? What happens when complex moral responsibilities and issues meet the horror of war and the morally ambiguous reality of asymmetric conflict and
terrorist tactics?

Unit 7: Jewish and Democratic State: Monday, December 9, Dr. Eyal Bor
Democracy is the decided form of government for the Jewish nation-state. What does a Jewish state entail? Is it compatible with the principles of democracy? What does
democracy require? How can Israel's aspirations to be both Jewish and democratic work themselves out in the principles governing its policies?

Unit 8: Religious Pluralism and Human Rights: Monday, December 16, Dr. Eyal Bor
As a democracy, Israel is committed to being religiously pluralistic and to providing equal rights to all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. Does the Jewish dimension of
Israel serve or hinder these commitments? What are the principles and ideas that ought to govern Israel’s policies on these issues?

Unit 9: Values Nation: Monday, December 23 with Dr. Eyal Bor
Israel is the project of the Jewish people in which Jewish values and ideals meet the challenges of governance and everyday life. What resources within the Jewish tradition
can contribute to the shaping of Israel as a paragon of moral and democratic values and help fulfill the aspiration of Israel to be a nation of values?

For further information, contact Ellen Marks at [email protected] or 410-580-5166.

Date and Time: 
Monday, November 25, 2019 - 7:00pm