Judaism and Democracy Webinar

Entering the Heichal (sanctuary) of the Voting Booth: Reflections on Judaism and Democracy 

with Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Sarah Hurwitz, Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Lauren Grabelle Herrmann
October 30, 2022

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Question: What do you get when you bring together….

One of the foremost Jewish philosopher thinkers on our contemporary scene (Rabbi Elliot Dorff)

A practitioner-philosopher of a Jewish future that demands an amplified voice for Tikkun Olam (Rabbi Sid Schwarz)

…and a distinguished author and former speechwriter for Barack Obama (Sarah Hurwitz)?

Plus a d’var by SAJ’s Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann!

Answer:A dialogue about Judaism and Democracy you will not want to miss!

Elliot Dorff, Rabbi, Ph.D., is Rector and Distinguished Service Professor of
Philosophy at American Jewish University and Visiting Professor at UCLA School of Law. He has chaired the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for fifteen years and has served on three federal government commissions — on health care, on diminishing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and on the protocols for research on human subjects. His books relevant to today’s session are these: To Do the Right and the Good: A Jewish Approach to Modern Social Ethics, and For the Love of God and People: A Philosophy of Jewish Law, especially Chapter One in both books.

Rabbi Sid Schwarz is a social entrepreneur, author and teacher. He is currently a Senior Fellow at Hazon, a national organization based in New York.

Rabbi Sid founded and led PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for 21 years; its work centered on integrating Jewish learning, Jewish values and social responsibility. He is also the founding rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD where he continues to teach and lead services.  Dr. Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history and is the author of two groundbreaking books–Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue (Jewish Lights, 2000) and Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World (Jewish Lights, 2006). 

Rabbi Sid directs the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI), a program that trains rabbis to be visionary spiritual leaders.  He also created and directs the Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network which is identifying, convening and building the capacity of emerging spiritual communities across the country.

Sid was awarded the prestigious Covenant Award for his pioneering work in the field of Jewish education and was named by Newsweek as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America. Sid’s most recent book is Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future (Jewish Lights, 2013).

From 2009 to 2017, Sarah Hurwitz served as a White House speechwriter, first as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama and then as head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama. Prior to serving in the Obama Administration, Sarah was chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton on her 2008 presidential campaign. Sarah is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law school, and she is the author of Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life – in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There).

Lauren Grabelle Herrmann serves as the rabbi to SAJ (Society for the Advancement of Judaism), the first Reconstructionist synagogue in the United States, founded by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. SAJ is a congregation dedicated to joyous spirituality, intellectual exploration, community, and social justice. Before coming to the SAJ, Rabbi Lauren was the founding rabbi of Kol Tzedek, a dynamic and diverse spiritual community in West Philadelphia. She founded the congregation during her student years at The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, which she graduated from in 2006. Among Rabbi Lauren’s passions are ritual and social justice. She has been a leader in interfaith work in Philadelphia and is involved with T’ruah and interfaith organizing in NYC. She is the co-chair of the rabbinic council of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ).

Many thanks to the sponsors of this webinar: Jacobs-Cedarbaum Family, Joe Kanfer – Director of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, Sam Kelman Family Foundation, Josh and Debra Levin, Sherwood and Barbara Malamud, Karol and Daniel Musher, and Rabbi Arnie Rachlis