Thursday, August 16, 2007

Introducing Sefer Ha-Bloggadah!

One year from today is Shabbat at the 2008 NHC Summer Institute! On that day, the group that has been studying the Encyclopaedia Judaica for two decades will complete the very last volume. What's next? All are invited to join in the newest havurah learning project, SEFER HA-BLOGGADAH!

2008 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Sefer Ha-Aggadah (The Book of Legends). Compiled by the Hebrew poet Hayim Nachman Bialik and the editor Yehoshua Ravnitsky, it is a collection of thousands of stories and folklore from the Talmud and throughout rabbinic literature, from the creation of the world to the world to come. At next year's Institute, people across the extended havurah network will begin studying Sefer Ha-Aggadah, reading a little bit each day for two years, and completing it at the 2010 Institute.

We'll be on a daily schedule so that everyone is on the same page. There will be a blog called Sefer Ha-Bloggadah so that we can all participate in an online discussion - a rotating team of bloggers can take turns posting each day, and everyone can discuss in the comments. If a lot of us are reading the same texts at the same time, I hope this can manifest itself in other ways as well: discussion groups in our home communities, workshops at NHC regional retreats on whatever topic we're on that weekend, etc.

I think Sefer Ha-Aggadah is an ideal text for our diverse community. The original edition is in Hebrew, and there is also an accessible English translation, so people with more Hebrew familiarity and people who would benefit from the English translation can participate on an equal footing. Bialik and Ravnitsky were two secular Jews who created this compilation to preserve the Jewish national literature, while most of their source texts are religious in nature, so we'll have the opportunity to look at these texts from all our different perspectives: religious, literary, historical, ethical, creative, ..............

If you might be interested in participating, join the email list at . This comes with no commitment (since we're not starting for a year), but it's an opportunity to keep up with what's happening and get involved with the initial planning.

I look forward to creating new Torah with you!