Sunday, May 16, 2010


One of my personal Jewish outlets is participating in Limmud Southeast+Atlanta. As you may know Limmud is an international organization that represents a cross-communal approach to Jewish learning. It began in 1980 in the UK and now has about 35 all over the world.

Limmud Southeast+Atlanta has several events through the year; the highlights are a day-long Limmud in March, a full weekend over Labor Day called LimmudFest, and piloting a Jewish music festival this June. I am an active VOLUNTICIPANT (a cool Limmud concept for a participant who is also a volunteer!). For LimmudFest 2010, I am the co-chair of a committee called Participant Care (i.e. hospitality, special needs requests, transportation, housing, etc). It is such a rewarding experience to be involved in Jewish community for personal reasons and not just professional ones.

Limmud gives me a phenomenal multi-generational community amid which I have made some of my closest friends in Atlanta. They are all people who are committed to Jewish life - however they personally define it. They are engaged, intelligent, and loving (not to mention a ton of fun!). Limmud gives me an outlet for my post-denomination Judaism. Limmud gives me on-going adult Jewish learning for learning's sake. Limmud has given me front-line access to some of the world's best Jewish educators. But now, Limmud has given me something else.

I was recently asked to represent Limmud Southeast+Atlanta to be a part of an international Limmud project called the Chevruta Project. It is a book, published once a year, in which texts are examined around one theme, through many lenses, and by-way of both traditional and modern texts. The Chevruta book is divided into four sections and each section is developed by a geographic team. This year's theme is TIME and my team is North America. The North America team has representatives from Toronto, New Orleans, Chicago, NY, Boston, LA, Philly and Colorado. The section of the book we were assigned is around Communal Time.

In thinking about on-line learning communities, one of the greatest strengths is what has become known as "crowd-sourcing." The Jim Joseph Fellowship has reinforced the useful nature of tapping into the collective wisdom of a community. So combining my participation in the Fellowship with my participation in the Limmud Chevruta Project, I wanted to take this opportunity to ask all of the Davar Acher readers to participate in crowd-sourcing around the topic of Jewish Time. I invite you to answer any one, a few, or all of the questions below.
  • What does Jewish Time mean to you?
  • What traditional texts best frame or guide your view of Jewish time?
  • What modern texts do this?
  • How does Personal Jewish Time play out in your life?
  • How does Communal Jewish Time play out in your life?
  • What comes to mind when the concept of G-d's Time is introduced?
  • Do you have thoughts about Eternal Time?
I look forward to the amazing discussion I think we can have in asynchronous TIME about this topic.

NOTE: Picture to left is Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Time"


  1. This sounds great. Where/how do you want us to post our answers?

  2. Just post your answers as comment here ... that way everyone can see, and maybe dialogue. Thanks, Peter!

  3. I just discovered your questions, hope it's not too late!

    What does Jewish Time mean to you?

    When I hear that phrase the first thing that comes to mind is being late. I think many cultures have a phenomenon of starting things late and call it ______ Time.

    I once saw Jackie Mason perform a fund raiser at Carnegie Hall and Carnegie Hall starts at exact time, yet the crowd was on Jewish time. So they started and Jackie teased people as they came in.

    What traditional texts best frame or guide your view of Jewish time? What modern texts do this?

    I think - and I saw this cited in Pardes Yosef - that "Breishit bara elokim" implies that G-d created time. The Breishit narrative is filled with time related quotes, time (like everything else) is created by and framed by speech - after various pronouncement it is called a day. (That reminds me of a joke: G-d says to the angels "I created this sphere that will rotate around the sun and be dark half the time and light half the time." The angels say, "That's great what are you going to do next?" And G-d says, "I think I'll call it a day."

    One of my favorite questions is, "What was created on the seventh day?" The common answer is "nothing." And yet, by pulling back, Shabbat was actually created.

    I think Heschel does a unique and amazing job of developing Shabbat as a time to appreciate time.

    Also, one could spend forever answering Hillel's question, "If not now when?" and his related advice, "Don't say when I have free time I will study, because you may never find free time."

    How does Personal Jewish Time play out in your life?How does Communal Jewish Time play out in your life?

    I like the Gemorah in Avodah Zarah's schedule of G-d's day. At one point in His day He plays with the Leviathan. Rav Soloveichik said that the lesson here is to have a playful compartment built into our schedule.

    In Jewish life deadlines are important (which is an interesting name for it when you think about it) - the idea that a second after a certain point time is up. This is the idea behind the statement in Avot that in a way one second in terms of active repentance and good deeds one second in this world trumps all of the world to come, because once you've crossed the line you've crossed the line.

    What comes to mind when the concept of G-d's Time is introduced?

    I think time is something that was created for us and is not real for G-d.

    Do you have thoughts about Eternal Time?

    Shabbat is a chance to experience a taste of eternal time...

  4. wishing you a shanah tovah. any thoughts on my answers?