Woodstock Synagogue’s guest scholar to speak on pandemics, racial inequality, and healing 

Saturday, March 20 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.—WOODSTOCK—Pandemics, racial inequality, and healing will be the focus of two talks by one of North America’s preeminent Jewish scholars, presented by the Woodstock Area Jewish Community’s Scholar-in-Residence program.

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus of Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will offer insights on Saturday, March 20, during complementary presentations, leaving time for questions after each program.  The program is open to the public as well as the WAJC-Shir Shalom community.

“Rabbi Ellenson is one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of our time and one of the most compassionate teachers ever,” Rabbi Haigh said as plans were being made for this year’s scholar-in-residence program.  “If we’re going to have the best teacher ever, it’s important that he should teach about the most compelling issues of our day.”

Dr. Ellenson’s morning session, from 10-11:30 a.m., is titled, “Pandemic Healing, Racial and Economic Inequality:  What the Past Teaches, What the Present Calls For.”  Drawing on sermons delivered by rabbis and African American leaders during past pandemics and from Catholic and Protestant responses to the 1918-1919 pandemic, Dr. Ellenson will offer insights into how different faith communities have struggled with questions of meaning and action during times that are in many ways parallel to today’s Covid-19 era.

The afternoon talk, from 1:00 to 2:30, is titled “Past Pandemics and Religious Responses:  Jewish Responses to Pandemics, Illness and Healing.”  Rabbi Ellenson will explore the Jewish responses to pandemics, illness, and healing by looking at texts in the Talmud, Jewish legal writings and passages from Abraham Joshua Heschel and others.

Anyone who finds the program of interest is welcome to go to shirshalomvt.org to find the Zoom link a few days before March 20.

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