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Home  »  Lecture Series First Quarter Schedule

Taste of Gamliel Lecture Series Schedule for 1st Quarter 2021


Why Justice is Prior to Freedom: COVID 19 and the Challenge of Community
January 17 and 24, 2021, with Laurie Zoloth, Ph.D.

Wisdom, Healing, and Taharah, from Sefer Maavar Yabbok – 
Final Acts of Love and Compassion from the Kabbalah of Rabbi Aharon Berekhiah
January 28, February 4, 11, 18, 2021, with Rabbi T’mimah Ickovits

The Whys of Jewish Rituals for Death and Mourning
March 3, 2021, with Rabbi David Levin

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – More than Putting it On and Taking it Off Properly
March 4, 2021, with Kohenet Ellie Barbarash and Dr. Elayne Phillips

When the “Silver Cord is Snapped Asunder”
March 17, 2021, with Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky



January Lecture Series Courses

Lecture Series
Two 90-minute Sessions
January 17 and 24, 2021
6:00pm Eastern / 3:00pm Pacific
Course Fee:  (Recordings are FREE)   Register to view the recordings

Why Justice is Prior to Freedom: COVID 19 and the Challenge of Community with Laurie Zoloth, Ph.D.

January 17th – Justice in an Unjust World: Theories of Justice

Every family, tribe, and society have to decide how to distribute their resources, from love to gold to doses of vaccine during a pandemic. But before we can decide policy, we have to understand the history and theories behind our choices.  In this first session, we will consider classic theories of justice from Aristotle to Liberation Theology, and ask:  what do we mean by ‘fair?’  This will be an interactive session!   Please bring  bag of M and M’s or Hershey’s kisses, or grapes to the session so we can see how different answers to that question mean different and tangible rewards.

January 24th – Vaccine Distribution: Jewish Tradition and Jewish Ideas of Justice

Jews are not strangers to the problem of life and death decision making in situations of scarcity.  Jewish texts have long considered the problem of scarcity and the need for systems of justice, especially ones that challenge existing hierarchies of power and privilege.  In this second session we will look at the different ways that distributive justice is considered in the rabbinic and philosophical traditions of Jewish thought. We will consider how Jews might think about vaccine distribution and compare the Israeli idea of justice to the many American versions in the vaccine distribution process.  Don’t forget your Hershey’s kisses.

Laurie Zoloth, Ph.D.

Laurie Zoloth is the Margaret E. Burton Professor of Religion and Ethics and the Senior Advisor to the Provost for Social Justice at the University of Chicago. She has served as the Dean of the Divinity School at the University, and as President of both the American Academy of Religion and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Her 1999 book, “Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish View of Social Justice,” addressed the challenges of distributive justice.


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February Lecture Series Courses

Mini Series
Four 90-minute Sessions

January 28, February 4, 11, 18, 2021
8:00pm Eastern / 5:00pm Pacific
Course Fee: $98    Register

Wisdom, Healing, and Taharah, from Sefer Maavar Yabbok –
Final Acts of Love and Compassion from the Kabbalah of Rabbi Aharon Berekhiah with Rabbi T’mimah Ickovits

This series opens a portal into the Kabbalah of Sefer Maavar Yabbok to provide insight into the earliest and most respected Jewish book about end of life care. Rabbi Aharon Berekhiah, the author of Maavar Yabbok, assumed that those guided by his book would have a deep working knowledge of not only Jewish practice and Torah, but of Kabbalah as well. However, liturgy and procedures in many modern day Taharah manuals have omitted significant parts of the original version and added additional text, to highlight interpretations of the original.  This has blurred some of the original intent which is based on kabbalistic tradition published in Italy.

This lecture series is not an academic translation exercise; rather, we will work with a nuanced and heartful translation of the original published liturgy to support all aspects of life’s end. This offers understanding of this holy ritual process, while shining light on how to live a more resonant and meaningful life. We will study spiritual poetry and sacred text, sing, learn how the sacred feminine may be cultivated, apply wisdom from the Etz Hayyim (Tree of Life) to ritual washing (rehitzah), elucidate the mythic metaphor “Mikvah Yisrael”, and practice the ancient ritual of sheva hakafot (circuits) attributed to Hillel the Elder.

Rabbi T’mimah Ickovits

Rabbi T’mimah Audrey Ickovits, BSE, is the founding rabbi and spiritual leader of Holistic Jew in Santa Monica, CA where she cultivates spiritual gatherings combining prayer, Torah study, sacred movement, meditation with ethically sourced kosher community meals. Passionate about the environment and committed to equality in death, she teaches in support of green, cost effective, traditional end of life options. Rabbi T’mimah teaches siddur. T’mimah helps students cultivate insight through prayer, Continuum Movement – Liquid Kabbalah, sacred text study and spiritual counseling. Rabbi T’mimah recently published 1) “Seven Sacred Circles” to make underlying substructure of Jewish sacred circling practices easily accessible in support of cultivating the Divine Feminine, and 2) “Shacharit for Weekdays” featuring a full prayer service, heart focused English translation, and classical Kabbalah meditations translated into English for the first time.

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March Lecture Series Courses

One 90-minute Session
March 3, 2021
8:00pm Eastern / 5:00pm Pacific
Course Fee: $36    Register

The Whys of Jewish Rituals for Death and Mourning with Rabbi David Levin

We all struggle with the loss of a loved one.  Jewish Tradition has evolved a sophisticated system that takes care of the needs of the dead and the bereaved, known as Kavod v’Nichum, honor and comfort.  However, many people  do not fully appreciate the rituals surrounding death and mourning.  The purpose of this discussion is to explore the tachlis of our tradition, the “Why we do what we do.”  Once people grasp the richness of our rituals, they will be able to embrace and engage them.  Employing the wisdom of our tradition ultimately does a great service to everyone who grieves.

Rabbi David Levin

Rabbi David Levin is a reform rabbi ordained from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion (NY). David serves the community of Greater Philadelphia. He also devotes his time to special projects including Jewish Sacred Aging, teaching and free speech issues on the college campus. Rabbi David is a Fellow with Rabbis Without Borders, an interdenominational rabbinic group affiliated with CLAL. He proudly claims to be one of Rabbi Louis Frishman’s (z”l) “Temple Kids”, from Temple Beth El in Spring Valley, NY. Rabbi David attended the University of Chicago earning an AB in Economics. He went on to the New York University Graduate School of  Business where he earned an MBA in Finance.

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One 90-minute Session
March 4, 2021
8:00pm Eastern / 5:00pm Pacific
Course Fee: FREE    Must Register to attend

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – More than Putting it On and Taking it Off Properly with Kohenet Ellie Barbarash and Dr. Elayne Phillips

These experts will discuss all aspects of using PPE, including cotton face masks, surgical masks, filters, KN95, N95, fit testing, face shields, goggles, gowns, and booties. They will discuss what works and how it works; what can be substituted and what should be in your “go bag”.  They will demonstrate how each item is put on and taken off, and how it all works together.

This session is designed for Chevrah Kadisha roshim and coordinators to give them information and tools to provide guidance and education to the taharah teams and to consult with their funeral homes and resident medical experts.

Kohenet Ellie Barbarash

Kohenet Ellie Barbarash, MS, CPEA, has advocated for more than 25 years for worker safety while designing and implementing safety training programs for employees in healthcare, municipal services, utilities, and labor unions. Ellie serves as a safety technical resource and coordinates educational programs in leadership and occupational safety for Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE/AFT), a NJ labor union of 13,000 nurses and frontline healthcare professionals. She is certified as a Professional Environmental Auditor specializing in OSHA regulatory compliance and occupational safety. Ordained as a Hebrew Priestess (Kohenet) in 2009, Ellie is a taharah safety instructor at Kavod v’Nichum’s Gamliel Institute and a member of the Philadelphia Reconstructionist Chevrah Kadisha.


Dr. Elayne Phillips

Elayne Kornblatt Phillips, RN, MPH, PhD, FAAN, is a public health nurse and epidemiologist, and is knowledgeable and experienced in bloodborne pathogen transmission prevention. She retired as Research Director of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s International Healthcare Worker Safety Center.  Dr. Phillips received funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to examine the impact of the Needlestick Safety & Prevention Act on hospital worker sharps injuries and blood exposures.  She has developed low-cost strategies for reducing worker risk in resource-limited countries, has published widely, and has served on expert panels addressing healthcare worker safety across the U.S. and internationally. She serves as chair of the Women’s Chevrah Kadisha at Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, VA.

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One 90-minute Session
March 17, 2021
8:00pm Eastern / 5:00pm Pacific
Course Fee: $36    Register

When the “Silver Cord is Snapped Asunder” with Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky

Surviving the death of someone dear catapults us into a unique, slowed down, here-and-now time in which the doings of everyday life seem irrelevant. The liminal place is pregnant with meaning and wild possibility. It can be calm or uplifting, profound or frightening. Having a map would assist us. I have created just such a map. Using projected images from the map, we will trace the journey from deathbed through the first year of mourning with an aim to locating where the mourner is, and what the soul is doing during the same period.

Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky

Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky received her master’s degree in social work in 1980. She worked for 15 years as a psychotherapist before entering Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where she received ordination in 2007 along with a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters. She earned her certificate for four units of Clinical Pastoral Education in 2011 and has served as both a hospital and hospice chaplain. She is also an artist inspired by Medieval illuminated manuscripts and hopes to bring people to Torah through “visual portals to sacred texts.” She has been aligned with Kavod v Nichum since its inception and specializes in end of life care. She serves as the community rabbi for Rhoda Goldman Plaza, an assisted living center in San Francisco, and also teaches Parshat ha Shavua and an introduction to Judasim at the JCC there.

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