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Educational Happenings

Rejewvenation 2012 will be taking place January 10 to 12, 2012, for young adults interested in learning about Judaism and the body.  Produced by Southern California Jewish Student Services and Long Beach Hillel, Rejewvenation 2012 will feature multiple rabbis speaking on different topics related to Judaism and the body.  Kicking off with a Torah on Tap event in Riverside the evening of January 10, Rejewvenation will continue in Long Beach and Los Angeles on January 11, and finish up in Irvine on January 12.  Admission is free and food will be provided.  For more information, please visit http://socaljss.org/rejewvenation2012 or direct questions to Rabbi Drew Kaplan at RabbiDrew@SoCalJSS.org.
Rabbi Kaplan, who travels around Long Beach, Riverside and Orange County on behalf of SoCal Jewish Student Services, was also selected to participate in Rabbis Without Borders.  Rabbis Without Borders (RWB), a landmark initiative from Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, helps rabbis make Jewish thought and practice more available for improving people’s lives.  More than 90 applicants competed for the 22 spots in the competitive program.
“Interest in the program has only increased over the years,” said Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, RWB Director.  “Rabbis recognize that the religious environment has changed – from family make up to spiritual practice.   To reach people where they are, rabbis need to apply their skills in new ways.  RWB offers that kind of support.  It helps rabbis better communicate in both familiar and new venues, and makes Jewish wisdom an accessible resource for the American public.”
The program, now in its third year, encourages rabbis to think creatively about their work and the new American religious landscape.  Building a network of religious leaders from all streams, RWB helps rabbis make Jewish insights readily available, adding to the well of American spiritual resources.  As the key disseminators of the tradition, rabbis who can present Jewish wisdom more effectively are better educators and community builders, and can become religious leaders with unique tools to offer the broader culture.
Rabbinic Fellows will gather in NYC four times over the academic year, 2011-2012.  The first session, in November, featured Prof. Gustav Niebuhr, Director of the Religion and Media Program at Syracuse University and former columnist at the New York Times, who discussed religion in America today.  The December program featured social media innovators Rabbi Owen Gottlieb and Daniel Sieradisky, who discussed technology, social media and gaming.  The two sessions in 2012 will be on religion and politics and religion and positive psychology.
According to Rabbi Kaplan, who is one of three Orthodox rabbis in the program, Clal is “looking to rebrand the rabbinate.  People are turning to rabbis for wisdom.  Although there is a conception that rabbis teach Jews who are Jewish to be Jewish and stay Jewish, is there room for rabbis to become American Jewish wisdom teachers, says Rabbi Irwin Kula, who heads the program.”
Rabbi Kaplan added, “We should be perceiving rabbis as more than just for the Jews, but as an American wisdom teacher.  Being a Jewish wisdom teacher has nothing to do with venue, Rabbi Kula says.

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