Shavuot 2020

Videos of all Live sessions are now available. Scroll down to the Full Class Descriptions to access the individual video links or view them all here.

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During an unprecedented time we come together in community to renew our commitment to ourselves and our faith. All our welcome.

We are proud to join with our local partners Temple Beth Shalom, Congregation Beth Israel and Shalom Austin as well as Adath Jeshurun (Minnetonka, MN) and The Rabbinical Assembly to bring you an engaging evening of learning.

Join our partners at Adath Jeshurun for their minyan at 5pm followed by a collaborative chanting of the Book of Ruth at 5:30pm, via their Zoom.

Just as our ancestors celebrated a new dawn with the receiving of the Torah, we look forward to ushering in a new tomorrow with one another.

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

Classes will be presented along 4 tracks: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Sinai. We hope these themes will inspire a variety of spiritual and scholarly learning opportunities. We are grateful to learn from our local rabbis, esteemed community members and honored guests.

At Midnight we will all join together for one final live kulanu with Rabbi Neil F. Blumofe (CAA).


Click on the color-coded boxes to join the Zoom room for your desired class. All sessions in the same color/track are in the same Zoom room. Scroll down to see complete class details. The password for all sessions is “shavuot” though you should not have to enter it.

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7:30 p.m. 

Welcoming Remarks

8:00 – 8:50 p.m. 

Keynote Speaker: Jeremi Suri (Video)

What Does Civic Renewal Mean Today?

From generation to generation, Jews have played crucial roles in rebuilding institutions and connections between people after tragedy. How do we understand the unique historical contributions of Jews to civic renewal? How can we make similar contributions today? This presentation will use history to help us think about lessons, legacies, and current possibilities.

9:00 – 9:50 p.m.

MIND: Rabbi Gail Swedroe (Congregation Agudas Achim) (Video)

Ruth’s Journey

Through original text, modern midrash (commentary), and perhaps even creating our own artistic midrash, explore how Ruth changed her life by making a series of bold choices, and how taking risks, small or large, might lead to positive transformations in your own life.

BODY: Alison Alter, Austin Council Member District 10 (Video)

Tikkun Olam through Elected Office / Public Service

What does it mean to pursue Tikkun Olam through elected office or other public service? How does one pursue Tikkun Olam in the context of hyper partisanship, a 24/7 news cycle, and our new COVID-19 virtual reality?

SPIRIT: Rabbi Amy Cohen (Temple Beth Shalom) (Video)

Leadership During Crisis: Jewish Women Who Found Strength and Joy in Challenging Times

Midrash teaches us that Miriam packed faith with her when she left Egypt. Ruth changed her life (and the future of the Jewish community’s) by taking risks and making bold choices. For centuries Jewish women found strength and joy in the most challenging times of their lives. By reading their stories and exploring midrash, ancient and modern commentaries we will honor their legacy while being inspired by our female biblical ancestors

SINAI: Rabbi Daniel Septimus (Shalom Austin) (Video)

The Shepherd: Abraham Joshua Heschel and The Efficacy of Prayer

As we face uncertain and challenging times, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s teachings on the efficacy of prayer provide valuable insight and guidance.  We will immerse ourselves into his perspectives on how prayer enables us to connect with G-d just as our ancestors did generations and generations ago at Mount Sinai.

10:00 – 10:50 p.m.

MIND: Hazan Joanna Dulkin (Adath Jeshurun) (Video)

Soul Sisters: A Feminist Beit Midrash

Ruth, Naomi, Chosen family, and Chesed. Studying the women of Shavuot through the lens of the biblical text as well as rabbinic and contemporary midrash.

BODY: Dr. David Goldblatt (Video)

Responding to Critical Illness in the Z’mon HaMagefah (during the time of a plague).

This is based on my family’s experience with my brother Bernie suffering with Covid19 and being in the ICU for the past 3 weeks. We have gathered as a family each night on Zoom to sing, pray, tell stories and pray. We also have gone on imaginary journeys of strength and healing.

SPIRIT: Rabbi Harold Kravitz (Adath Jeshurun) (Video)

Encountering Mussar- Incorporating Sinai into How We Live.

The Mussar Movement was developed by Rabbi Israel Salanter in the 19th c as a way of having people truly live the values received at Sinai. Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Adath Jeshurun Cong offers this opportunity to delve into this renewed  spiritual practice.

SINAI: Rabbi Monty Eliasov (Congregation Shalom Rav) (Video)

Is Purim the most important Jewish Holiday?  A study in Disaster, Dislocation, and Redemption.

Rabbi Monty Eliasov explores the reality that the Megillah of Esther (i.e. the Hidden Feminine) does not at all include the Holy Name, while it certainly includes numerous allusions to ancient pagan god-names!Plus he ponders why Purim can not only push away Passover, the Holiday of Freedom, it also has been quipped that even Yom Kipurim (the Day of Atonement) is merely a Yom K’Purim (i.e. a reflection of the Day of Purim)!!

11:00 – 11:50 p.m.

MIND: Yaira Robinson (Video)

Outsider Poetry & Jewish Values   

Ruth was the ultimate outsider—but from her, we learn much about Jewish values. In her honor, we’ll read and discuss poetry written by people who were/are outsiders in some way, and we’ll draw connections to Jewish values. What can we learn today from listening to the voices of outsiders? Participants are welcome and encouraged to bring a poem by an “outsider” to share!

BODY: Dr. Healy Smith (Video)

The Microbiome- Mind, Body, and Spirit. 

In this shiur we will look at mind, body, and spirit through the lens of the human microbiome (the collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that live in us and on us and are in fact an essential part of who we are and how we function).  We will weave together science, medicine, psychology, and Jewish text as we explore who we are, what we are made of and how that informs our paths to living healthy, vital, and meaningful lives.

SPIRIT: Cathy Schechter (Video)

The King, a Census and a Plague

This class will examine traditional Jewish stories and wisdom about what to do and how to survive in times of plague.  Comforting ancient wisdom still relevant for modern times.

SINAI: Rabbi Aaron Weininger (Adath Jeshurun) (Video)

Whose Torah is it anyway?

Join us as we explore provocative rabbinic texts, from Maimonides to Midrash, that beg such a question as Jewish people across the globe (and Zoom) celebrate the revelation of Torah at Shavuot. Do we all get a place at the foot of Mount Sinai, or do the riches of Torah belong to an elite few?

12:00 – 12:50 a.m. 

Keynote Speaker: Rabbi Neil F. Blumofe (Congregation Agudas Achim) (Video)

The Harp Sounds at Midnight: Nocturnal Delight and a Taste of the World to Come

The Zohar, the foundational work of Jewish mystical thought, speaks of the wise at heart who enter and emerge into the darkness and who transform darkness into light.  In this late hour, how do we awaken?  Join in this time for melody, inspiration, and ways to thrive as we learn how our spiritual ancestors prospered by transforming and elevating their consciousness.

Click here to view the pre-recorded video sessions from local teachers.

In this time, please consider investing in the Support CAA During Covid-19 Fund