Setting Intentions This Summer
Soon I begin a three-year study fellowship with the Shalom Hartman Institute. This Sunday, I set out for three and a half weeks on the Hartman campus in Jerusalem. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s finest teachers, to tap into old and new Jewish texts, and to take long walks on ancient stones. Thanks to those who have enabled me to “practice what I preach” about the Jewish virtue of life-long learning. I will come back enriched with many gifts to share with the congregation.
The long days of summer – whether in the city, by the lake or travelling – afford us the chance to reflect on the year ahead. Now we have some precious time to think, to consider, to imagine what would enhance the quality of our life and the strength of our character. The High Holy Days bring these intentions into focus and set them in the frame of religious ideals, but the simmering of ideas can begin even now.
Life-long learning is a virtue. Those who embrace it are more grounded when the wind blows through our world. Those who pursue it are admired by family and friends for their sense of curiosity and their ability to grow. Holy Blossom is known as a centre for education. We are busy now planning opportunities for congregants and guest to come and learn about Jewish books and music, art and culture, Hebrew language and Israel, Jewish history, ethics, sacred texts and ideas, the how-to’s of Jewish life, and even travel-study.
I often hear congregants say they wish they knew more – Jewishly. Many regret the gaps in their Jewish education and seek greater confidence in their bank of Jewish literacy. Holy Blossom is proud to be the Toronto hub for Hebrew University’s Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. After last year’s success, we are expanding our offerings. If you’d like to stand on a stronger foundation of Jewish knowledge, these classes are for you. The excellent curricula are team-taught by four rabbis.
The personal rewards, which come from joining a community of learners are described in the sixth chapter of Pirkei Avot. “When you walk, Torah will lead you. When you lie down, it will watch over you. When you awake it will talk with you.” Whether you are looking for guiding insight, spiritual protection, or good company you can discover it through your pursuit of lifelong learning.
I admire you for it and I wish you a joyful summer.