Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Waterville in Yiddish: Beth Israel Education Director Featured in the Yiddish Forward!

Our very own Melanie Weiss is covered in the Yiddish Daily Forward.  You can check out the article here.  How may times have Waterville, Maine and Colby College been written about in Yiddish?!

If you haven't seen the youtube video of her talk, here it is!

Mazal Tov, Melanie and Yasher Koach to Colby student (and Hillel board member), Jacob Marx '13 for organizing such an incredible conference!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Holocaust Survivor Ernie Weiss to Speak at Colby College

Holocaust survivor Ernie Weiss, will be speaking 
at Colby College 
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm 
in the Pugh Center.   
All are invited and welcome to attend.

Candlelight vigil to follow on Miller Library Steps

Ernie Weiss was born in Vienna, Austria in 1931. He is a Jew. Following the annexation of Austria to Germany, he and his brother and parents began their journey to the United States. Mr. Weiss traveled through Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Cuba before arriving in the United States in 1946. The family settled in New York City for one year, and then moved to Brookline, Massachusetts where his father received employment. Ernie attended Brookline High School's class of '49, as a junior and senior; became a Boston University graduate in 1953 with a B. S. in Public Relations; and served in the U. S. Army from 1953 until 1955. 

He then married and had two children. Ernie entered the footwear industry, following his father's vocation, as a supplier of materials to shoe manufacturers. He was president of the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore (MA) among other volunteer positions and retired in 2004. He now lives in Cumberland Foreside, Maine. 

After his mother's death in 1990 he took four large boxes of photographs taken by his father, an enthusiastic photographer. It took several years to organize the photos. Ernie then became interested in his father's incarceration in the Dachau concentration camp and the eight years of hectic flight out of Vienna. He thus began his research and discovered how other family members escaped from Vienna. This was the beginning of Out of Vienna. This is his first book.

Who Should We Marry?: Online Talmud Class

Our next online Talmud class will be tonight at 7:30 pm.  We will be discussing the rabbis' approach to marriage.  What were their values?  Are they the same as ours?  What do we learn from their narrow view of what makes a marriage worthwhile. if anything?

You can download the text in advance here.

Instructions for joining the conversation:

1) Go to https://www.google.com/chat/video and click on "Install voice and video chat." It will take a few minutes, so let it finish its installation. Depending on your computer, you may have to restart before it will work.

2) Go to https://plus.google.com/ and sign in with your Gmail account if you have one (if not, click on "sign up" at the top). a. It will ask you to sign up for Google+...make sure you do this!

3) When it asks you to "add people," search for "Rachel Isaacs" and add me!

4) A half hour before the class, I will send out an email to everyone of my Google+ friends with a link to the class. Click on the link and wait to see me!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Holy Work: Thoughts from Parashat Shemini

                 Having just concluded Passover, we take some time to think about what redemption means to us. Redemption is one of those loaded theological terms that is used often, but rarely understood. In the literal sense, we are redeemed when we are released from slavery. However, in a modern philosophical context, the term has taken on a different valence. Redemption has come to be associated with the value we can derive from our toils and struggles. A redeemed life is a life defined and contoured by meaning. In this week’s portion, parashat shemini, we come to understand redemption better through Aaron’s blessings to the Israelites. According to Rashi, who quotes the Rabbis, Aaron’s blessing stated, “May the pleasantness of the Lord, our God, be upon us (Ps. 90:17); May it be God’s will that the Shechinah rest in the work of your hands.” I think that there are two important things to learn from Aaron’s blessing.
         The first is that Aaron wants the Israelites to pursue holy and meaningful vocations. God should be with them not only in the Tent of Meeting or in the presence of the Tabernacle, but in the workshop, the office, and the battlefield. God’s love and values should guide and define our work, not just our worship. A blessed life integrates the Divine into every facet of the lived experience.
        The second thing to note is that the Israelites needed this blessing to be dignified and whole. After the Gold Calf debacle, the Shechina had been absent from their lives. They used their hands for evil, and as a result, the Divine Presence was no longer in their work. Aaron’s greatest blessing for them was an invitation to God to return to their work (after they had atoned and purified themselves.) After we have gone astray, we need to make the conscious effort to re-invite God back into our lives and into our handiwork.
        Our festivals, which force us to mediate on God’s role in our lives, help us recognize when the Divine has left us, and gives us the language to bring Her back into our daily lives. In this holy time between Passover and Shavuot, we are grateful for our redemption from slavery, and we look forward to revelation which saves us from nihilism and fruitless wandering. On Passover, we thank God for being physically freed from bondage, and in the following days, we bask in the blessing of a Torah which provides us with meaning, guidance, and Divine presence. Let us take the next days to think about how God fits into every element of our lives, and how to invite the shechina to be with us in all of our endeavors.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Annual Berger Lecture at Colby College: "Pope Pius XII in World War II"

 "Pope Pius XII in World War II" 

Gerhard L. Weinberg William Rand Kenan Jr., 
Professor of History, Emeritus University of North Carolina 

Thursday, April 4th, 2013  at 7:00 p.m. 

Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond

The Berger Holocaust Lecture this year will bring to Colby the most eminent historian of World War II: Gerhard Weinberg (emeritus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). Prof. Weinberg was born in Germany in 1928 and had to flee Nazi Germany as a child. He was centrally involved in analyzing the vast body of captured German documents after World War II and had a distinguished scholarly career. He discovered an unpublished book manuscript by Hitler that was meant to appear as a sequel to Mein Kampf and has provided crucial insights on the evolution of Hitler's mindset (Weinberg, ed., Hitler's Second Book). Weinberg's book, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II, has received praise as a pathbreaking global presentation of the Second World War, and Weinberg has more recently published an analysis of the ways in which eight World War II leaders imagined the victory of their side, Visions of Victory. At Colby, Prof. Weinberg will talk about a highly controversial (and very timely) topic: the role of Pope Pius XII in the Second World War. This is a unique opportunity to meet one of the most eminent historians of our time!