Announcing the Fall 2016 ELI Talks Speakers

new_eli_logo_squareFifteen talented writers, activists, teachers, and community leaders are slated to share their inspired Jewish ideas on the ELI Talks stage this December 20, 21, and 22 at Center on Halsted in Chicago.

ELI Talks speakers are current and up-and-coming leaders in the Jewish community, each with their own unique idea which emerges from the intersection of 3000 years of Jewish tradition and their personal story. Speakers go through a rigorous coaching process to develop their talks and deliver them unaided on the ELI stage come production time. The upcoming cohort’s talks will address a wide range of themes, from poetry and holiness to trauma and addiction; from love and leadership to technology and miracles. The videos from this production are set to be released starting in February, 2017.

ELI Talks cover a range of themes and topics, but each addresses Jewish religious engagement (E), Jewish literacy (L), and/or Jewish identity (I) with Israel and peoplehood at the core. ELI’s “inspired Jewish ideas” emerge at the intersection of Jewish tradition and a speaker’s unique story. Drawing on the model of Jewish discourse and the latest in digital technology, ELI Talks captures, transmits, and nurtures these ideas.

Speaking on December 20 (tickets available here):

  • Rabbi Ari Weiss, Executive Director of Cornell Hillel, on the meaning of a “gift”
  • Writer and educator Hillel Broder of SAR High School in Bronx, New York, on poetry and prayer
  • Soferet (Torah scribe) Julie Seltzer on writing Torahs and making meaning
  • Writer and educator Lex Rofes of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future on the internet and Judaim’s other “lands”
  • Professor Sam Fleischaker of the UIC on how to listen to one another and the Torah

Speaking on December 21 (tickets available here):

Speaking on December 22 (email info at to request an invitation):

  • Gali Cooks, Executive Director of Leading Edge, on bringing Jewish values into the workplace
  • Chaplain Marita Anderson on spiritual caregiving in times of trauma
  • Senior Rabbi of Beit T’shuvah Mark Borovitz on the radical idea of t’shuva (returning)
  • Educator Sandra Lilienthal on seeing – and living – miracles
  • Educator and activist Yakir Englander of Kids4Peace International on hasidism and making peace

Tickets to Tuesday and Wednesday’s productions, which include a reception and opportunity to meet with that night’s speakers, are available now. Thursday’s production is an invitation-only event. To request an invitation, or find out more, please email Mary Rubenstein, ELI’s Project Coordinator (info at

Tickets are available for individuals and groups to join the studio audience. Interviews with speakers can be arranged. Organizations and media outlets interested in partnering on the event and/or the videos should contact Mary Rubenstein, ELI Talks Project Coordinator. (info at

For more on what ELI talks are all about, see this video.
For more on the impact of ELI, see this video.
For more inspired Jewish ideas, visit