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Neil Gillman, a native of Quebec City, is an American rabbi and philosopher, affiliated with Conservative Judaism, and currently serves as the Aaron Rabinowitz and Simon H. Rifkind professor of Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He graduated from McGill University in 1954, was ordained at JTS in 1960, and received his PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1975.
Dr. Gillman is the author of several books and essays, including "Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew" (winner of the 1991 National Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought); "The Way Into Encountering God in Judaism"; "The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought"; :The Jewish Approach to God: A Brief Introduction for Christians"; and just published "Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah & Israel in Modern Judaism."
As well as having been a regular contributor to the "Sabbath Week" column in the Jewish Week, Dr. Gillman is also chair of the Sh'ma Advisory Committee. He was a member of the Commission on the Philosophy of Conservative Judaism, which produced Emet Ve'Emunah, the first statement of principles for Conservative Judaism.
A popular speaker and teacher, Dr. Gillman has served as scholar in residence in many Conservative and Reform congregations. Dr. Gillman has taught courses on the philosophies of Mordecai Kaplan and Abraham Joshua Heschel, including at the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow on behalf of Project Judaica.
Reuven Kimelman is Professor of Classical Judaica at Brandeis University. Previously, he was Joseph Shier Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto and Five College Professor of Judaic Studies at Amherst College. He has also taught at Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Trinity and Williams Colleges as well as the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition, he served as scholar-in-residence of the National Jewish Community Centers Association and Senior Scholar of CLAL. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University.
Professor Kimelman has published widely in journals of scholarly and popular interest on Bible, history, ethics, liturgy, and current affairs. He is the author of the Hebrew work “The Mystical Meaning of Lekhah Dodi and Kabbalat Shabbat,” published by Magnes Press of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and “The Rhetoric of Jewish Prayer: A Literary and Historical Commentary on the Prayerbook,” to be published by The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. He is also the teacher of our own audio coursebook on “The Moral Meaning of the Bible—The What, How and Why of Biblical Ethics.”
Dr. Kimelman lectures frequently at academic conferences, synagogues and national Jewish organizations. He has served as scholar-in-residence for many groups, including the former UJA Young Leadership Cabinet, The Wexner Heritage Foundation, the JCCA Biennial Conference, the JCC On The Palisades, the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), and the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities.
The Moral Meaning of the Bible
In his unique journey, Prof. Kimelman uses well known Biblical episodes to discuss many of the “gray areas” of morality. By asking difficult ethical questions that emerge from the Biblical narrative, he helps the listener wrestle with these issues in a contemporary relevant manner. The focus is on biblical characters as agents exercising moral leadership. Each session focuses on one segment, asks provoking questions, analyzes the text closely in search for elucidation, and wraps up by suggesting at one or more answers.
Throughout the journey, the historical background, the literary artistry, and the ideological motivations of the text are highlighted by posing three questions: what is said, how is it said, and why is it said. Through the prism of these three questions, Professor Kimelman analyzes the moral content of each episode, delineates its mode of presentation, seeks to ascertain its purpose—all converging in illuminating the moral meaning of the Biblical text.
»The Seduction of Eve: Why Did She Do It? – Original Sin versus the Anatomy of Sin
» Cain and Abel: Homicide as Fratricide – The Moral Implications of Playing God
» Noah as the New Adam – Human Nature and Moral Realism
» The Tower of Babel – A Man Proposes and God Disposes
» Abraham’s Challenge to God – Power and Morality
» Moses as the People’s Defense Attorney – Leadership versus Self-Interest
» Elijah at Sinai – Religious Success and Moral Failure
» The Binding/Sacrifice of Isaac – Covenant and Mutual Testing
» The Blessings of Isaac to His Sons – Do the Ends Justify the Means?
» Jacob and the Man/Angel – Is the Struggle with Conscience a Struggle with God?
» Joseph’s Conflict with His Brothers – Illusions of Grandeur or Awareness of Greatness?
» Judah and Tamar – Perversity or Integrity?
» Joseph’s Meeting with His Brothers – Vengeance or Repentance?
» Joseph’s Reconciliation with His Brothers – What makes a Great Moral Hero?
» The Enslavement of Israel in Egypt – Do Despots Need the Consent of their People?
» Moses’ Self-Discovery – Why was Moses Chosen?
Doing Jewish Theology
With clarity and passion, Neil Gillman gives us extraordinary insights into Jewish identity, theology and our relationship with God.
Gillman examines the central themes of Judaism to distill the spiritual and theological questions that face all of us:
» How can we know anything about God?
» What can Judaism teach us about God?
» What is the source of authority for what we believe and how we live as Jews today?
» What is Torah and why is it sacred?
» What, if at all, is God’s role in human suffering?
» What happens to us after we die?
He also traces his own evolution from a more traditional background to a liberal Jewish theologian and how this development has contributed to his pursuit of a coherent and consistent ideology for his denomination, the Conservative Movement.
The What, How and Why of The Binding of Isaac
A WORLD PREMIERE
Jewish Theological Seminary
Register Now and receive instant access to the audio recordings of all three sessions!
Listen to a 12-minute fragment from the first session with Professor Reuven Kimelman:
Listen to a 12-minute fragment from the second session with Professor Neil Gillman:
In the story of the Binding of Isaac from Chapter 22 of the Book of Genesis, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. In what is widely considered one of the most challenging Biblical stories, Abraham sets out to obey God's commend, only to be stopped at the last minute, when he discovers a ram in some nearby bushes and sacrifices it instead... But what does it all mean?
- Why does the story start by saying that "God put Abraham to the test?"
- Is Abraham's acquiescence out of character with his audacity in defending Sodom and Gomorrah?
- Where was Sarah? What happened to Isaac at the end of the story?
- Why did Abraham agree and why did God stop him in the end?
- Why do Jews read this story on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year)?
If these and other questions about this controversial story have been puzzling to you, these three sessions with Professors and Master Teachers Reuven Kimelman and Neil Gillman are for you.
In these three 90-minute interactive sessions recorded live, two renowned scholars and master teachers bring TWO complementary treatments of this remarkable story. In the first session, Brandeis Professor Reuven Kimelman brings a literary perspective. In the second, Jewish Theological Seminary Professor Neil Gillman brings a historical, theological and cultural perspective. In the third and final session, both Professors Kimelman and Gillman engage in a dialogue between themselves and with you on the significance of this story to us, here and now.
If you happen to also be an educator, lay or professional, this tele-webseries is your pre-made module you can learn, adapt and then teach with least amount of effort.
To gain instant access to all three recordings + Study Guide + Neil Gillman's paper on Teaching the Akedah, all for only $67, simply...
What do I get?
How I can continue to learn from Neil Gillman and Reuven Kimelman?
Frequently Asked Questions
If you've had the pleasure to attend any of either Neil Gillman or Reuven Kimelman's live teaching or both, you already know how insightful, inspiring, and informative they are. If you haven't, you are in for a real treat. Either way, having them both in counterpoint is an unprecedented opportunity you cannot miss. So go ahead and register now!
See you there!
Sergiu S. Simmel
Founder and President
Our Learning Company LLC
The What, How and Why of The Binding of Isaac (The Akedah)
In this tele-webinar we will explore questions such as:
- What is the context of this story within the Genesis narrative?
- Why is “the test” emphasized?
- Why are there FOUR expressions in God’s command?
- Where was Sarah?
- Was Abraham eager or reluctant to start the journey?
- What did Abraham mean by “God will provide?”
- Why do Jews read this story on Rosh Hashanah (New Year)?
- Why did Abraham let Isaac do all the work?
- How have modern commentators viewed traditional interpretations?
- Who was testing whom?
- How has this story influenced contemporary Israeli poetry?
- What is the meaning of the ram?
- Why does the story record two separate angelic voices?
- How do you feel about God's role in this story?
... and many more, all in 270 minutes over three 90-minute sessions. But there is more:
As as a registered participant, you will get:
- A Study Guide, including the dramatized English translation of the text.
- The full chapter titled "Teaching the Akedah" from Neil Gillman's recent book "Doing Jewish Theology," published by Jewish Lights.
- Lifetime access to the recordings of the entire tele-webseries, both as a streamed audio as well as a downloadable MP3 files.
- A No-Cost subscription to Reuven Kimelman's audio blog on topics related to The Moral Meaning of the Bible.
And here is how:
The Promotional Offer
At the tele-webinar, and only for registered participants, I offered all registered participants the opportunity to enjoy Reuven Kimelman's audio coursebook on The Moral Meaning of the Bible, Neil Gillman's books on Doing Jewish Theology and Encountering God in Judaism, as well as several other Special Bonuses, including a membership in Our Learning Inner Circle™ and a subscription to The Moral Meaning of the Bible Audio Blog with Dr. Kimelman.
While the Special Offer availability period is now over, you can still get the same package at a Promotional Offer level. The details will be made available to you once you register. To make sure you won't miss this opportunity, you must
Looking forward to your participation!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. I am not Jewish. Why should I be interested in what Professors Kimelman and Gillman have to say about this topic?
A: As you know, this story has profoundly influenced the theologies and cultures of all three Abrahamic traditions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Each has developed its unique ways of reading and interpreting the narrative. We believe that each can positively inform and inspire people of all faiths, as well as people who don't subscribe to any particular religious faith, in using the profound meanings of this story in dealing with contemporary issues of morality. We invite you all to learn about how two of the most prominent contemporary Jewish scholars and authors view this narrative's modern implications to humanity at large.
Q. I am a beginner, and know nothing about the Bible or The Binding of Isaac story. Will I be able to follow these sessions, or are they for advanced learners only?
A: No worries: Professors Kimelman and Gillman's teaching are for everyone. They are both quite renowned for the clarity of their teaching and their well structured approaches. Also, don't forget that you will gain access, like all other registrants, to the recording of each session, which you'll be able to listen to again. So even if you missed something on the first pass (such as during the live event), you'll be able to catch up shortly afterwards.
Q: I am very advanced in my Biblical studies (may be even an ordained rabbi or priest or minister or a Biblical scholar), so why should I spend my time and money on this?
A: For at least three reasons: First, both Professors Kimelman and Gillman's approaches to this material are fairly unique: their combined abilities to synthesize millennia of Jewish commentary and add their own fresh new perspectives is about as superb as you'll be able to get anywhere. Second, the opportunity to hear and interact with them in combination is unprecedented. Third, if you are an educator, you'll be able to very quickly create a seminar of your own based on what you learn here; Professors Gillman and Kimelman have already done all the "heavy lifting" for you.
Q: How come you're charging money for this tele-webinar when there is so much free stuff on the Internet?
A: We offer a very unique, interactive, pedagogically superior learning environment rarely available anywhere. We also engage absolutely top-of-the-line (if I may use that phrase) Jewish scholars, teachers, authors and thought leaders as our faculty. In fact, for example, the ONLY way one could study this very material with Professors Kimelman or Gillman is to enroll in their Brandeis or JTS courses.
Q: I don't know any Hebrew. Is that a problem?
A: Not at all. Everything is in English. If our speakers will quote a word or a phrase in its original Hebrew, they will immediately translate it into English. The study text is entirely in English.