How is our timeless halakhic (Jewish legal) system responding to questions of Jewish law emerging from our fast-paced, open-sourced, multivocal, technology-saturated and rapidly-changing world? Is there a new paradigm emerging wherein the binaries of permitted/forbidden are expanding to include the importance of intention and community in the framework of religious observance?

Analyze contemporary teshuvot (rabbinic responsa) from across the Jewish landscape, study the systems of change that have maintained the relevance of Jewish observance for millennia, explore the dynamism within the boundaries of Jewish law, and learn to articulate, in the language of tradition, the commitments to spiritual practice that frame your Jewish life.

Questions to explore include

  • Gender and Sexuality: Must a transgender woman who is converting to Judaism undergo a ritual circumcision?

  • Laboratory-produced meat: Is it kosher? Would all meat produced this way, including pork, be kosher? Is its status fleishig/meat or pareve/neutral such that it can be consumed with dairy?

  • Natural Organic Reduction (Human Composting): Are alternative burial practices permitted by Jewish law?

  • Cultural Conversion: May someone convert to become a secular Jew?

  • Jewish identity: If an interfaith lesbian couple chooses together to have a child through artificial insemination and the non-Jewish partner carries the pregnancy, is the Jewish identity of the other parent transmitted to the child or does it require conversion?

  • Technology: In the age of virtual services and lifecycle rituals, what constitutes “presence” in the forming of a minyan/prayer quorum or a Beit Din/Rabbinical Court?

  • Prayer: Does the requirement to pray three times a day still apply in our modern world? Is there an approach to regular prayer that aligns better with our busy lives?

  • Kosher meat: Is today’s practice of Shehita/ritual slaughter kosher? What claims do modern technology and science make upon the need for Shehita to be humane and compassionate?

  • Religious hierarchies: In a post-Temple culture that strives for equality and justice, do the designations “Kohen/Levi/Yisrael” continue to hold meaning?

  • Intermarriage: Does the tradition contain precedents of alternatives to the traditional Jewish wedding that could be used to sanctify a multifaith/multiheritage marriage?

  • Shabbat: What constitutes “work” in our modern lifestyles to be avoided on Shabbat and what role does technology play in that conversation?

Jewrisprudence can be offered as a multi-session series that meets weekly or monthly, a Shabbaton or retreat, as a virtual or in-person experience.

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