November 30, 2011 - Beginnings

During our first session together, we we will have the chance to begin getting to know one another.  The community-building possibilities of our time together are significant.  I sincerely encourage everyone to try and reach out and personally introduce themselves to the other members of the class, in the minutes leading up to (and following) our next few sessions.

For this week's online reflection, please comment on this question:

What are you hoping to get out of our time together in the coming year?

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Tonight, we will spend some time talking about Jewish conceptions of time.  The Jewish calendar is directly relevant to that discussion.  Everyone should spend some time playing around, my favorite online Jewish calendar.  Let me know if you have trouble using it.

For the authoritative reference volume on the Jewish calendar (i.e. the mechanics of how a Jewish calendar works), check out "The Comprehensive Jewish Calendar" by Arthur Spier.

Now is also the time to consider checking out or buying a comprehensive overview of the Jewish holidays.  There are many fine volumes that do this.  I am particularly fond of "The Jewish Holidays" by Michael Strassfeld and "The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays" by Irving "Yitz" Greenberg.  Both of these volumes will be very useful for all of the holiday-related sessions in the course.

In terms of preparing for the lifecycle work that we'll be doing...I was trying to think of a song that kind of sums up Judaism's sense of the passage of time.  The first one that jumped into my head is "Turn, Turn, Turn" (written by Pete Seeger and popularized by The Byrds - but the words come to us from the Bible (the Book of Ecclesiastes).

Listen to The Byrds perform the song here:

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