1. HOW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS JEWISH LIFE AND LEARNING IN THE 21ST CENTURY – Participants will leave the presentation with an understanding of how new technology (Web 2.0, Internet, Distance Learning, etc.) has transformed the global Jewish community and how the borders have changed to allow for the flow of Jewish wisdom to transcend space and time. Jewish wisdom, once garnered through the rabbi, is now transmitted by bloggers, on Twitter, and in YouTube videos by anyone with an Internet connection. Distance learning means that Jewish wisdom can be delivered to anyone anywhere without limits.
2. NOT EVERYTHING’S KOSHER IN THE KOSHER WORLD – Participants will leave the presentation with an understanding of how the kosher laws of the Torah (don’t eat pork or shellfish and don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk) have been passed down through the generations to our current era in which tin foil requires a kosher certification, rabbis search broccoli for bugs under a microscope, smoked salmon and NYC tap water are rendered unkosher, and kosher isn’t kosher unless it’s “Glatt.” Rabbi Jason Miller, a Conservative rabbi who founded Kosher Michigan, explains how the Ultra-Orthodox gained a monopoly on kosher certification and supervision and each year add stringencies to the kashrut laws until they become unrecognizable to past generations. Participants will learn about new initiatives launched by Conservative rabbis in several Jewish communities to raise awareness of kosher observance, increase the number of kosher options available, and bring ethics into the kosher marketplace.
3. JEW SO FUNNY! – Why are there so many Jewish comedians? And why is the Jewish joke such an important part of our culture? We’ll go back to the humor in the Torah and Talmud. Then we’ll listen to the funniest shtiks of the Borscht Belt comics who influenced the funniest Jewish comedians of the 20th and 21st centuries. From Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and the Marx Brothers to Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman and Jon Stewart, we’ll laugh through the generations at the best Jewish comedy routines and the most hilarious Jewish jokes.
4. HOW JEWISH TEENS WILL SHAPE THE JEWISH FUTURE – The times they are a changin’ in the American Jewish community and it will be the young people of today (Jewish teens and college students) who determine what that community will look like in the next several decades. Participants will leave the presentation with an understanding of what Jewish teens and college students believe about the role their “Jewishness” plays in their lives, why they don’t believe that someone has to actually be Jewish to be Jewish, why denominations and federations don’t matter anymore, why this generation will be philanthropic in more creative ways, and what Israel means to the future of our people. Jewish wisdom, to young people, can be gained through media that didn’t exist in prior generations and from alternative teachings that are not considered part of the existing Jewish establishment.