It has been a long time since I last wrote and I wanted to update you on the changes in my personal and professional life that are in progress.
The ALEPH Ordination Program:
•This is the last year I'm teaching the course in reading and writing t’shuvot to the senior rabbinic students. I think this is the 15th year in a row for this course and I am ready, even eager, for R. Natan Margalit to take it to new places.
•I am also thrilled that Reb Natan has succeeded me as chair of rabbinic texts for the AOP and my seat on the va’ad. I continue to serve the va’ad, as needed, in the capacity of chacham/consultant and I remain in close contact with R. Marcia.
•I will be teaching an elective course in Tanya this fall. Assuming space after current students enrol, the course is open to others who already have smicha.
•I am allowing my website domain to expire. The parts which I still update, the blog, its associated offerings, and some of the personal information are now parts of the larger website of ALEPH Canada (alephcanada.ca) along with the ALEPH ReSources Catalogue.
•I’ve expanded the catalogue to include a new section of Jewish spiritual texts. Much of what is in the catalogue is free, though we hope you will take the opportunity to buy that which is for sale and to donate when items are free. Your contributions support the work of the Integral Halachah Institute, which ALEPH Canada currently houses and supports.
Integral Halachah Institute:
•We are nearing completion of the work on ger toshav. Those of you who already purchased the first two units will receive the last two without charge and I will notify you by email when they are ready. In addition, we are now beginning to explore two more volumes to be edited by others.
•Over the next few months, I’m hoping to write a t’shuvah on gittin initiated by women. I also plan on adding sound files to Siddur Kol Koreh as I did with the machzor as a way of making nusach and niggunim available and to share some of what I have learned over the years.
•I’ve continued scheduling learning sessions for those interested in study toward the possibility of a semicha as dayan. We did two sets of sessions where we studied the tractate of Sanhedrin and now we’ve begun a third to more fully explore concepts and questions raised by Reb SaraLeya in her wonderful presentation at OHALAH.
•I remain open to requests to learn together.
ALEPH’s Reb Zalman Legacy Project:
•I have completed a database of all the sound files that Reb Zalman made while connected to ALEPH and those which others have shared with me over the years. I will be looking at ways to make the database public and look forward to sharing the work of reviewing and transcribing these files.
•The next step is to do the same for all the paper and computer files Reb Zalman shared with me over the years (on at least three occasions, he uploaded his entire files and so I need to sort through the duplicates).
•I have also asked two people to continue this work after I no longer can and to find a third to join them. We will let you know who they are once they are all in place and ready.
Given the discussions that began after I and the five rebbes posted our letter, I’m thinking of writing a few blog posts on the history of ALEPH and Jewish Renewal as I’ve seen and experienced it, as well as a clearer understanding of what being a chasid of Reb Zalman’s means to me.
Finally, I want to make clear that, in ordaining me as a dayan, Reb Zalman intended it as a recognition of my training as a mediator. I do love the halachic process and am open to writing t’shuvot on request, but my focus is on helping people find their own solutions to difficult situations either of personal practice or in relationship with others.
I want to thank R. SaraLeya Schley for her moving words of praise and gratitude at OHALAH and to all who wrote such beautiful words in the book she circulated. While it is true that I am not planning on returning to the conference, I am also not going into full retirement, as the above I hope makes clear. At the same time, I am making changes to acknowledge my advancing age, make room for others, and working to further reduce my carbon footprint.