Paradigms of Parting: Exploring Jewish Texts About Facing Death
Rabbi Richard Hirsh
January 9, 23, and February 6, 2020 – (three 90-minute classes)
Thursdays, 8:00pm Eastern / 5:00pm Pacific
Zoom link provided upon registration
Course fee is $108 (register here for this three session course and for many other Gamliel Institute short courses)
Using stories from biblical, rabbinic and hasidic texts, we will explore how biblical heroes, talmudic sages and hasidic masters faced the inevitability of impermanence. In reading the texts, we will look for insights that might be applied to contemporary spiritual practice–and those that might be avoided. Implicit in these stories about the end of life are suggestions about how life is lived most fully in the face of its inevitable end, and insights into how family and friends can provide context, care and compassion that can ease moments of parting.
All texts will be available in English.
About the Instructor
Rabbi Richard Hirsh recently completed five years of service to Philadelphia-area Reform congregations. In his forty-year career he has held a number of organizational, academic, editorial and congregational positions. He continues to serve Congregation Darchei Noam in Toronto for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, where he has been leading services for over twenty years.
Rabbi Hirsh previously served as Executive Director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association for sixteen years, and was on the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Hirsh was the editor of the journal The Reconstructionist from 1996-2006. Rabbi Hirsh previously served congregations in Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Toronto. He served as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis and Jewish Chaplaincy Service (1988-1993) and was on the staff of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council (1987- 1988).
Rabbi Hirsh received his BA in Jewish Studies from Hofstra University (1975), his MA in religion with a specialization in the New Testament from Temple University (1981), and was graduated as a rabbi from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1981). Rabbi Hirsh was the chair of the “Reconstructionist Commission on the Role of the Rabbi” and the author of its report, The Rabbi-Congregation Relationship: A Vision for the 21st Century. His commentaries are featured in A Night of Questions, the Reconstructionist Haggadah, and the Kol HaNeshamah prayerbook series. He is also the author of the chapters “The Journey of Mourning,” “Welcoming Children,” “Conversion” and “Jewish Divorce” in the book A Reconstructionist Guide to Jewish Practice III: Lifecycle. His articles appeared regularly in the magazines The Reconstructionist and Reconstructionism Today, as well as in many other Jewish and general publications. For over a dozen years he contributed commentary on the weekly Torah portion for the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent and the New Jersey Jewish News.
Rabbi Hirsh was co-chair of the Clergy Task Force on Domestic Violence of Jewish Women International from 2011-2013 and is currently directing a pilot project, “Men as Allies: Leading Equitable Workplaces” for Jewish Women International. He is on the Board of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia and is on the editorial board of the magazine Sh’ma.