Introducing the Spring 2015 ELI Talks Speakers

Sixteen new “inspired Jewish ideas” are set to be filmed this June at WTTW11 in Chicago. ELI Talks is thrilled to have such a talented, diverse group of speakers for this round of production. Artists, scientists, teachers, and community activists will share thoughts on everything from the neuroscience of ritual to race relations, from the moral imagination of the Talmud to Ladino proverbs, from death to dance. It’s our pleasure to introduce you to them here (please note all titles are subject to change): Speaking on June 16th as part of a night entitled “Jewish Life and Learning:” Rabbi, educator, and technologist Charlie Schwartz: “Listening to the God You Don’t Believe In” Rabbi and Gratz College Professor of Education Joshua Gutoff: “Talmud and the Moral Imagination” Rabbi and … [Read more...]

The Truth About Giving to Israel

When Israel was just born, when it was a fledgling state, it relied on the financial support of Diaspora communities. Today, Israel has a booming economy. It can, theoretically, "fend for itself." Why, then, should the Diaspora continue to give to Israel? The answers begin with a story. In 2003, three years after immigrating to Israel from the United States, Joseph Gitler founded Leket Israel - The National Food Bank, and Israel's largest food rescue and redistribution organization. His experiences running Leket and in fundraising on its behalf over the past eleven years has given Mr. Gitler unique insights into the Israel-Diaspora philanthropic paradigm - and the need for a shift in that paradigm. As Mr. Gitler's recent ELI talk suggests, it's not just about the money. In the talk, Mr. … [Read more...]

Reigniting the Soul of Philanthropy: Why the Haredim Don’t Need to Change

Written for this week's JFN Conference By Yael S. Simon Social change. Integration. Legitimacy. These are only a few of the words bandied about when discussing the importance of Haredim becoming a more productive part of Israeli society. One of the most critical issues discussed in the recent elections was the focus of Haredi employment and its long-term importance in the economy. Although partially eclipsed by foreign policy issues, Israel’s Haredi employment issue has been the go-to topic for all domestic policy discussions and is possibly just one-step down from the campaign for army recruitment. This article is not about the elections, because the elections won’t change the Haredim. In fact, no one and nothing will. Not is it an article about the mechanics of social mobility, … [Read more...]

Selfishness, the Yetzer Hara and Creativity: A Response to Yossi Prager’s ELI Talk

By Margy-Ruth and Dr. Perry Davis We’ll start by being grossly unfair: philanthropy is about the virtue of the donor. Charity is focused on the recipient. The philanthropist has a broad view of social ills and change. The recipient of charity has a specific pain. We make this unfair statement because the very word “philanthropist” already tips the scales towards the needs and rewards of the donor. In his cogent and compelling ELI talk, Yossi Prager is very right to use the contemporary tropes of reward and impact, drive and transformation in the service of giving. What sharper irony is there than to turn the beast of selfishness back on its own self? One Jewish view is that the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, is closely tied to creativity. God speaks of the yetzer hara only once, … [Read more...]

ELI talks Announces an Open Call for Speakers

ELI talks is now accepting submissions for its next round of production, scheduled for the week of June 15th in Chicago, IL. This open call for speakers will run through March 18, 2015. Late entries will be reviewed at the discretion of ELI talks. ELI stands for Jewish religious engagement (E), Jewish literacy (L), and Jewish identity with Israel and peoplehood at the core (I). Every talk in the ELI catalog addresses, and deepens in some way, the viewer’s connection to these elements. “ELI is all about inspired Jewish ideas, rather than inspired ideas for Jews,” says Program Director Miriam Brosseau. “We’re looking for new ideas that emerge from Judaism - Jewish text, history, philosophy. Innovation within tradition.” All are welcome to submit here. For questions about submissions, or to … [Read more...]

What the Learning Sciences Can Learn from Jewish Education

By Peter Wardrip In Dr. Sam Abramovich’s recent ELI talk, he eloquently describes the existing and potential symbiosis that exists between Jewish Education and the Learning Sciences. And he makes a compelling argument how Jewish Education can learn from the empirical research from the Learning Sciences. Like Dr. Abramovich, I was trained in the Learning Sciences to design and study learning experiences in order to better understand learning and create more effective learning experiences. And like Dr. Abramovich, I have had the opportunity to use that training to study Jewish education. However, I am not Jewish. Yet, I've still learned and developed insights from my studies of Jewish education. Jewish education represents a rich resource for the secular world. How can the field of … [Read more...]

Got God? Thoughts on God from a Sometimes-theist (as inspired by ELI on Air)

By Esther D. Kustanowitz The High Holidays are over, and for many, so is our most immersive “God language” experience of the Jewish calendar year. Over the course of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we read of God’s many roles: God is the supreme sovereign. God commanded us to bring sacrifices. God commanded Abraham to bring his son as sacrifice and then issued a reprieve at the last minute. God granted Hannah a child. God is the shepherd who looks at us individually as we pass under God’s staff. God searches out our innermost kishkes and discerns our heart’s intentions. God has a “naughty-and-nice” list (in the High Holidays context, it’s called the Book of Life). I’m a graduate of yeshiva day schools; I grew up with liturgy. I know that, according to Jewish texts, God has different names, going … [Read more...]

Announcing the ELI Talks Speakers, Fall 2014

ELI talks is proud to announce the next cohort of speakers presenting their “inspired Jewish ideas” this fall. ELI talks is dedicated to capturing, sharing, and nurturing conversation around new and compelling ideas of Jewish religious engagement, Jewish literacy, and Jewish identity with Israel and peoplehood at the core. “ELI talks has established a reputation as the starting point for inspiring dialogue and ideas that encourage investment in Jewish life,” says Andrés Spokoiny, President and CEO of The Jewish Funders Network. “This evening will be no exception.” This round was the program’s most competitive yet, with over 100 submissions coming in from around the globe, all evaluated by a committee of content experts, video specialists, and representatives from partnering organizations. The … [Read more...]