About a year ago, I launched a series of Torah classes that has taken me on an inspiring journey. The chief complaint of the mostly Millennial group who asked me to teach this class, was that they were fluent in the basics of Judaism, they knew the curated version of its meaning that they learned in school, they wanted to be observant, but the Judaism they knew did not resonate with them.
My approach to this kind of issue is to give others the tools and experience necessary to curate their own version of meaning in Judaism. We demonstrated how meaning of Mitzvot is subjective interpretation and always has been a space of greater academic freedom than codification of Jewish law. Our journey was a journey through time as much as a journey through ideas. We discovered different interpretations of the messages or benefits of Mitzvot and we noticed that sometimes these ideas were uniquely connected to their own place and time.
The journey empowered all of us to think about our own Judaism and our own observance. It challenged us to find the meaning of the way we practice or want to practice Judaism in 21st century Los Angeles. Together, we reviewed the Judaism they once learned as children and teens, and with new tools and fresh eyes we rediscovered a more intimate and personal Judaism as adults.
I loved this class. I loved learning and researching the material. I loved the people in the class. Above all, I loved what we were doing in the class.
Over the past year, many of the ideas and concepts that we discovered through our work in the class have been consciously and subconsciously incorporated into so many of the things I say or write about Judaism. If you read my blog, Facebook posts, or other materials. You may already recognize some of these ideas from my writings. It has been life changing for me. I’ve learned that it has been inspirational to many other people as well.
It seems that most of these people are non-conformists who want a Judaism that is less focused on conformity and more focused on spirituality and positive Jewish experiences. In particular, people with strong creative or artistic personalities who did not feel comfortable in Orthodox Judaism and felt even less comfortable out of Orthodox Judaism, felt comfortable with this kind of Judaism. To me, this was the most important and meaningful part of all.
This summer, my friend Elad Nehoral asked me if I would be interested in teaching a course at the nascent Hevria Academy. I saw this as an opportunity to bring this material to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. Hevria Academy has launched and the first courses are starting soon. My 10 week course is called “Guide to YOUdaism: Non-Conformist Orthodox Judaism for Everyone” and you can register for the course right now.
I am offering two tracks for the course. There is a live group course with a lot interaction and opportunity for group discussion. At some point, a self-guided course will be offered as well.
You are invited to register for the course and join me on this journey. The course will be interesting for anyone. It will be interesting and incredibly useful for people who are struggling with their Judaism in this way. If you know someone who might find this course helpful, please reach out to them and invite them to register. I am really looking forward to this adventure and hope you will join me.
I am happy to answer any specific questions.
REGISTER HERE: Hevria Academy
— Eliyahu Fink (@efink) November 4, 2015