1529 16th Street NW
Torah for the #MeToo Movement
The Hadar Institute is an educational institution that empowers Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing communities of Torah learning, prayer, and service. This program will include a plenary and breakout sessions full of cross-cultural, passionate discussions open to all, regardless of a participant’s background or affiliation.
General Admission: $18
Student Admission: $10
We request a registration fee to help cover the costs of the program. If this is in any way a hardship, please contact the Edlavitch DCJCC.
1:00 PM – 2:15 PM: Opening Plenary with Rabbi Aviva Richman
From Abraham to Esther: Telling Our Stories in a #MeToo Era
Many of the formative and beloved stories of our tradition take on a different valence in the #MeToo era. What would it look like to notice and “lean in” to the difficult moments in our stories? How can we pass down these rich and troubled parts of our tradition and at the same time convey that we are a culture that sincerely cares about setting a tone of dignity and respect? We will turn to interpretive passages in Midrash and medieval commentaries that help us uncover voices of women in these texts and at the same time unlock the power of our sacred stories to help us find the courage to tell our own stories.
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Breakout Sessions
Difficult Texts and Difficult Testimony: How Do We Respond? (Rabbi Avi Killip)
The #MeToo movement offered an unprecedented wave of written and oral testimony from women about their painful experiences of sexual assault and harassment. We cannot deny that our Torah also offers many similarly troubling and hurtful texts. How do we approach these hard texts? Can midrash serve as a tool to engage with our harshest texts? Come study a modern midrash from the book Dirshuni that offers one approach to hearing, and maybe even healing from our most difficult texts. Together we will ask how this approach may offer us guidance as we bear witness to so many painful words in the wake of #metoo.
The Halacha of Whisper Networks (Rabbi Avi Strausberg)
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, some women turned toward the creation of Whisper Networks for empowerment and protection from future harassment and abuse. Whisper Networks are a network of people passing information from one to another about powerful people who are alleged to be sexual harassers and abusers. Are these Whisper Networks a legitimate way of warning and protecting future victims from abuse? Are they a form of lashon hara, or evil speech, as they have the potential to spread unsubstantiated rumors and tarnish someone’s name? Do they shame the alleged transgressors in a way that violates halacha and if so, are there instances in which it’s okay to shame someone?
3:30 PM – 4:15 PM: Closing Reflections with Rabbi Aviva Richman, Rabbi Avi Killip, and Rabbi Avi Strausberg
Rabbi Aviva Richman is a faculty member at Yeshivat Hadar, and directs the Manger Winter Learning Seminar. Aviva has taught at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and is a past Rosh Kollel of the Bet Midrash at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. She has also taught at the National Havurah Institute. She studied in the Pardes Kollel and the Drisha Scholars’ Circle and was ordained by a private teacher. Particular interests include Halakhah, gender and sexuality in Judaism, and niggunim. A Wexner fellow, Aviva is currently pursuing a doctorate in Rabbinics at NYU.
Rabbi Avi Killip serves as VP of Strategy and Programs and Director of Project Zug at Hadar. She was ordained from Hebrew College’s pluralistic Rabbinical School in Boston. She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and holds a Bachelors and Masters from Brandeis University in Jewish Studies and Women & Gender Studies. She serves on the advisory board of ShmaNOW and the Jewish Studio Project.
Rabbi Avi Strausberg is the Director of National Learning Initiatives at Hadar, and is based in Washington, DC. Previously, she served as the Director of Congregational Learning of Temple of Aaron in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College in Boston and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She also holds a Masters in Jewish Education. Additionally, Avi has worked as a chaplain intern at Hebrew Senior Life and organized an anti-trafficking campaign as a rabbinic fellow at T’ruah. Energized by engaging creatively with Jewish text, she has written several theatre pieces inspired by the Torah and maintains a Daf Yomi haiku blog in which she writes daily Talmudic haikus. Avi is most grateful for her wife, Chana, and two children, Ori and Niv.