Tik-ZOOM -Too  Leil Shavuot

Sunday, May 16th

6:30pm – 10:30pm


Tikkun Leil Shavuot - A Kabbalistic (Jewish mysticism) tradition of late night (or all night) Torah learning on the eve of Shuvuot (the festival celebrating God’s giving and our receiving of the Torah).

Do we do this because of a Midrash that says the Children of Israel overslept that morning at Sinai when God gave us Torah?  Is it to sharpen our senses so we’ll be truly ready and receptive?  Or, as the Kabbalists believed, because the heavens open most favorably at midnight for those who stay up on the anniversary of our national revelation?  Is it likening the relationship between God and Israel to that of a bride and bridegroom? 

Well, the answer is, “Yes!  Of course.”

Join together with several congregations and an incredible group of rabbis and scholars from far and wide as we learn from one another in celebration of God, Torah, and Jewish People-hood.

There will be break-out rooms for you to pick and choose from, panel discussions, and time to schmooze with new and old friends.  So get your Yom Tov candles ready, make a pot of coffee, put out some chocolate and cheesecake, and bring your yearning for learning.


Our Presenters (in no particular order):

Rabbi Marc Kraus - Temple Emanuel, Virginia Beach VA

Marc has served Temple Emanuel in Virginia Beach for seven years. In his spare time, he’s a candidate for an M.Ed in Counseling at the College of William and Mary. Prior to the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, he spent time in the Pardes Kollel and received his undergraduate degree in Hebrew Literature from Oxford University. His interests include rabbinic demonology and clinical applications of mindfulness meditation. He has a four-year-old named Shmoo, with whom he shares a devotion to superheroes and Ketchup.

Ascending to Heaven: Mystical Visions of God

Despite the Torah’s warning that none can see God and live, many Jews, from the Bible to the present day, have written about their visions of God.  What can we learn from these accounts?  What did these mystics experience?  This session will explore early mystical texts that describe ascending to heaven as well as the broader issues raised by visionary and transpersonal experiences across cultures.  

Rabbi Alon C. Ferency - Heska Amuna Congregation, Knoxville, TN
Alon C. Ferency is the rabbi of Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is a founding board member of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the rabbi-in-residence at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, religious consultant to Burt Reynolds' The Last Movie Star, and a Dungeon Master for tabletop role-playing games using Hebrew Bible and other Jewish Folklore & Mythology.

Embracing Imperfection: Our Own and God's
What if God is not perfect? 
Let’s discuss something old yet new: the tradition of God being “powerful but not perfect.” We can choose a faith in the Vulnerable God, who has limited power, limited knowledge, but unlimited compassion.
What if God is like us, only more so? We are created in God’s image, after all.

Rabbi Nelly Altenburger - Congregation B'nai Israel, Danbury CT/Congregation Adath Israel, Middletown, CT

Rabbi Nelly was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  She has also spent time living in Argentina, England, and Israel.  She is a fluent speaker of Portuguese, English, Hebrew, and Spanish. Rabbi Nelly’s mission is to draw people closer to Torah and Jewish texts, communal prayer, and actions that strengthen bridges between individuals and communities. She loves teaching children and adults of all ages, and learning from their questions and comments. Besides being a pulpit rabbi she’s active in interfaith efforts and in gun regulation efforts."

Being Jewish-American:

An exploration of the question of belonging through the lenses of two holidays: Halloween and Valentine's Day

Rabbi Steven Henkin - Congregation Agudath Achim, Savannah, GA

A native of the Chicago suburbs (and lifelong Chicago sports fan), Rabbi Henkin has studied at the University of Minnesota, Emory University, and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, where he received his rabbinic ordination and M.A. in Rabbinic Studies in 2014.  Before coming to Savannah, Rabbi Henkin served as the Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland.  Rabbi Henkin brings with him a passion for building Jewish community, education both of children and adults, and making Judaism meaningful and relevant to the daily life of 21st Century Jews, along with a love of reading, music, TV crime shows, working out, sports, and being outdoors.  He is excited to share his adventures with his wife, Orly, and his children, Dinah and Noah. 

Finding Comfort in Uncertain Times
Even as our country starts to open back up, many of us find ourselves feeling many of the same emotions were feeling when the pandemic started--anxiety, fear, frustration, loneliness, overwhelmed, and just plain boredom.  Our discussion will focus on sources from our tradition which can provide us comfort, either by reminding us we are not alone or helping us reframe our emotions.

Dr. Heather Hirschfeld, PhD - University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Heather Hirschfeld is Kenneth Curry Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of English. She is the author of two books on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama as well as the editor of The New Cambridge Shakespeare Hamlet and The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Comedy.

Teaching Shakespeare and the Jews

“Hath not a Jew eyes?” Sensitive audiences have struggled for centuries with how to interpret Shylock’s plea and how to understand Shakespeare’s relationship to Jews and Judaism. We’ll look at some of the materials I use to discuss Merchant of Venice with students at the University of Tennessee and then do some close reading of two of Shylock’s famous passages. 

Dr. Joshua Gettinger, MD 

Josh Gettinger is a professor of Family medicine at… No, start over.  Joshua Gettinger has been a ba’al keriyah, a student of Torah Chant for over six decades.  He is the author of Sound and Scripture.  He advocates for practicing the craft of chant with precision, and also with artistry that brings pleasure to its listeners.

Torah Chant: A Magical Mystery Tour

Chant is an art form, the oldest in Western tradition that puts words to music.  Its purpose is twofold.  Grammatical precision is a mechanism for making sure that public readings are faithful and preserve the meaning of text.  By adding musicality, chant does for words what music still does for words – animating, interpreting, and serving as a vehicle for passages to penetrate the heart.  In the words of R. Kook: “Up to us is only to remove the plug from the ears of our children…and the Song will send waves crashing into their hearts, and lift up their souls.”  Chant is the channel through which Israel has received Torah for thousands of years.  We will explore how a musical listening can change the experience of a familiar text.

Rivka Campbell - Executive Director Beit Rayim Synagogue and School, Toronto Ontario

Rivka is a Jew of Jamaican descent - born and raised in Toronto, who seeks to build community among Jews of Colour (JOC) in Canada while opening dialogue about the JOC experience among the mainstream Jewish community. She is a recognized speaker on Jewish Diversity and is currently filming a documentary on this topic.

Harmony in a Divided Identity

Jews of Colour (JOC) is a pan-ethnic term used to identify Jews whose family origins lie in African, Asian, or Latin American countries. JOC may identify as being of Black, Latino, Asian, biracial, or multi-racial heritage, while Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews from North African and Arab lands vary as to whether they self-identify as JOC. A common question posed to JOCs is “What’s your story?” Rivka’s story will include a brief history of the Caribbean, focusing on Jews of Jamaica, and will culminate with the story of navigating within the Jewish community as a JOC. This presentation will widen the scope of what it means to be Jewish in Canada and throughout the world.

Dr. Raphael Panitz, Ph.D. - University of Tennesee, Knoxville

Dr. Panitz is a lecturer for the  Department of Religious Studies and a member of Heska Amuna Congregation where is a former president, and Adult Education instructor.  He is also a teacher at ORICL- Oak Ridge Tennesse Institute for Continued Learning.

Standing For The Ten Commandments:

Rabbinic arguments for and against the tradition of standing during their recitation.

Rabbi Joshua Corber - Beit Rayim Synagogue and School, Toronto Ontario

Rabbi Corber grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia where he studied Religion Literature and the Arts at UBC. He also studied at Edinburgh University in Scotland and Pardes in Jerusalem before enrolling at the Ziegler School of Rabbnic Studies in Los Angeles where he was ordained in 2013.  Rabbi Corber is the Senior Rabbi of Beit Rayim Synagogue and School in Vaughan, Ontario where he lives with his wife Chloe and his two children, Isaac (1) and Eliana (3). He is a trained Reiki Master with a passion for music, fitness meditation and mysticism.

The Gilgal:

The Stonehenge of Israel, a place of hidden secrets and powerful mysteries, a portal to eternity hiding right under our noses.

Dr. Erin Danielle Darby - Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Dr. Darby holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Bachelor of Music in Sacred Music from Evangel University, a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Missouri State University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Religion from Duke.  She is the co-director of the Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project. 

Know Your Biblical Archaeology?

Test and expand your knowledge by joining in a fun, challenging and informative archaeology quiz.  Dr. Darby will use this format to explore some key biblical sites in Israel and Jordan.  Can you dig it?

Elliott Michaelson - Beit Rayim Synagogue and School, Toronto Ontario

Elliott teaches B'nai Mitzvah, manages the Torah reading schedule, and occasionally leads services at Beit Rayim Synagogue. He has been a Jewish educator for over twenty years, including a decade of service as Director of Education to Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues in Toronto. He has a graduate degree in Jewish Studies, and professional certificates in Jewish Education and Ritual Direction. He is currently the Financial and Administrative Officer at Jewish Free Loan Toronto.

Abracadabra! Magic In Ancient Judaism
In this eye-popping and skull-talking program, we'll look at the uses and abuses of folk magic in Biblical and Talmudic times.

Dr. Marilyn Kallet  - University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Marilyn Kallet is Knoxville Poet Laureate. She has published 18 books, including How Our Bodies Learned, poetry, 2018. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems and Benjamin Péret’s The Big Game. Dr. Kallet is Professor Emerita at the University of Tennessee. She mentors poetry groups for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Auvillar, France. Poetry is forthcoming in 101 Jewish Poems for the New Millennium, and New Voices, an anthology of contemporary voices confronting antisemitism.

Comfort Songs

Experience poetry reading of comfort songs, as prompted by Yo Yo Ma, during his recent PBS performance. I have been writing a comfort song every day since the pandemic started. After my short reading, we'll write a comfort poem together, and talk about how to continue our dialogue.
Here are links to two of the comfort songs that have been published online already.

The Biggest Blue Jay, and Comfort Song in a Time of Peril.

Rabbi Meir Goldstein - Senior Jewish Educator with The Oregon Hillel Foundation.

Rabbi Meir is committed to a pluralistic vision of Judaism that supports the flourishing of every student.  He attended the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies where he earned an MA in Rabbinic Studies in 2003 and Rabbinic Ordination in 2006. For the last few years, Rabbi Goldstein brought his leadership back to college-aged students—walking beside, mentoring, and learning with all kinds of students at Dartmouth College and Elon University.

He believes deeply the early rabbinic maxim that “if you save one person, you save an entire world,” and seeks to elevate the dignity within every person he meets. When not at work, you will find him the happiest being out on a hiking trail, baking bread, playing guitar, or studying. Rabbi Goldstein lives with his wife, Laura, the greatest blessing in his life, and their loving (yet bossy) shih tzu, Koofi.

The Truest Revelation is found in the Preparation

Lawrence Fox  - Beit Rayim Synagogue and School, Toronto Ontario

Lawrence is a long-time member of Beit Rayim Synagogue, where he's done a d'var torah or two and taught a few classes over the years. After graduating from the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT), he went to the University of Toronto where he squeezed in a few more Jewish courses into his B.Comm program. Today, when he's not hanging around the shul, he has an accounting and bookkeeping practice in Thornhill (and sometimes paints a watercolour or two).

Shavu'ot and Z'man Matan Torah

What's the connection? And WHY are we staying up all night studying?

Paul Litwack MNLP MTLT MCHt

Paul consistently celebrates his wide-ranging Jewish life experiences, from Conservative to Chabad. Community-minded, he is active in UJA and Beit Rayim, Toronto (Ba’al T’filah/Koreh and inspiring D’var Torahs), and he volunteered at Ground Zero, just a week after 9/11. Drawing from 40+ years (from the back room to the Boardroom, on four continents), Coach Paul empowers leaders to apply his Get UNstuck NOW! Breakthrough coaching system – to consistently create more compelling, immediately improved, and lasting results in their lives (and for those who matter to them). Paul was selected to ‘The Top 100 Corporate Coaches in the World’; and in the Toronto Star 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards as ‘ Best in the City’: Hypnosis; Life Coaching; … and Bartending (his professional hobby… ask him about his ‘Chanukahhhhh’ cocktail). 

How to Hallucinate Better NOW!: Ready, FIRE… Aim! (in that order!) 

In this crazy Covid-19 mishegas, something unexpectedly profound has come to light: Imperfect action achieves consistently better results… than waiting! Imagine that. Ever wonder why? 
In this engaging and immediately relevant-to-you session, Coach Paul draws from relevant Tanachic, Talmudic, Kabbalic resources (and more) to empower you to harness your Best Self (your Inner Truth/Emmet) to create results that serve you best. On demand. So that you will then know that you know that you know what you know. (PS: that is proper grammar! ;-)

Rabbi Mathew Marko - Congregation Beth Israel, Greenville SC

Mathew grew up in NY, lived in Florida, Israel, The Cayman Islands, and prior to serving Beth Israel, spent 20 years in Los Angeles.  His career adventures have included acting professionally, and being proprietor of a fine carpentry and custom furniture shop.

Outside of rabbinical life, his passions include being a certified Scuba instructor, riding his BMW motorcycle, playing music, working in his shop on fine woodcraft (mostly for various synagogue commissions), teaching woodworking to teens at Camp Ramah Darom, and being a creative kosher chef of international cuisine and "kosher treiff."

What REALLY Happened at Sinai: Eyewitness Accounts

The rabbinic tradition is abounding with imagery and reverie, fantastic imaginations of what it might have been like both for the Children of Israel seeing God’s thunder of revelation, and for Moshe himself ascending to receive Torah for all of Israel.  
Together we'll explore some of these delightful midrashic texts, discussing the very nature of revelation, God's "voice", and what roles God and Israel play in our mutual relationship.

Connect with Us

425 Summit Drive | Greenville, SC 29609 | (864) 232-9031 | admin@bethisraelsc.org


Main office: (864) 232-9031