Women’s League Shabbat at Heska Amuna: Expanding Our Mission with a Fresh Perspective
January 19th and 20th
Each year the women of Heska Amuna celebrate in January with a special Shabbat service. In earlier times before the 1990’s, this was the only time of the year when women could participate fully in the services by reading Torah and davening. As an egalitarian congregation, the newness of this experience is sometimes forgotten because of the ease with which so many women congregants now participate. Women’s League Shabbat celebrates this change and remembers those who worked to make this possible.
This year, 2018, as part of the new goals for Heska Amuna Women’s League, the invited speaker for the weekend comes from the world of academia. Professor Rachel Gordan will present her work on mid-twentieth century American Judaism as part of a Shabbaton for Women’s League members, all Heska Amuna congregants, and the broader Knoxville community. Heska Amuna Women’s League (HAWL) anticipates active discussion and input from those who attend. It is an opportunity to broaden our viewpoint on where we came from and where we are going. (See attached schedule for Dr. Gordan.)
The National Women’s League has set aside this Shabbat, January 19 and 20, 2018 as a time to remember the woman who organized Women’s League in 1918, Mathilda Schechter. Mathilda Schechter was the wife of Solomon Schechter, the first president of the Jewish Theological Seminary. This Shabbat is a continuation of the 100-year anniversary for the Women’s League. As part of the national agenda, the concept of Mah Tovu (how beautiful are the tents) has been chosen as a theme. Special recognition of the work of women who contribute to the care and beautification of the synagogue will be part of the celebration. Heska Amuna will also recognize those who have contributed to making the “tent” of the synagogue more home-like and congenial. At Heska Amuna, the Women’s League recently replaced 30+ year old ovens with new ones, which will be marked with festivity during this weekend. (See related story.)
Heska Amuna Women’s League has a busy schedule planned for the coming months. Don’t miss the Jewish Learning at Home (JLAH) session scheduled for January 28 or Mitzvah Day in February. Membership renewals for Women’s League went out in December and will be due by the end of January. Join us for the opportunity to learn with Dr. Gordand and to work together for Heska Amuna and the broader Knoxville community.
Women’s League Shabbaton Schedule
Exploring Modern Jewish History with a Guide
Professor Rachel Gordan of the University of Florida Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Departments will be joining the Heska Amuna Women’s League for a weekend of study and sisterhood. Dr. Gordan is a historian who has focused on the Jewish experience in the 20th century. Besides her thesis work on the development of Judaism as a modern American religion, she has also published critiques and reviews on movies and writers of that period. She is a graduate of Yale, where she majored in American studies and wrote about the Hadassah organization in the 1950’s for her senior thesis. She has a master’s from Yale Divinity School, and her Ph.D. is from Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion. She was a postdoctoral fellow in religious studies at Northwestern University and was a Ray D. Wolfe Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Toronto. Professor Gordan is an alumna of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship and recently presented on her work to the Bronfman Alumni Reunion in New York.
Professor Gordan will present a D’var Torah at Shabbat services on January 20 and will also lead an informal movie review session on Saturday evening following Havdalah. The topic for the evening discussion will be the 1947 Academy Award–winning movie, “A Gentlemen’s Agreement” starring Gregory Peck, which is about anti-Semitism. The book upon which the movie is based was written by Laura Z. Hobson, a daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants. On Sunday morning, she will discuss why the mid-twentieth century was the era when Judaism became an American religion which is the topic of her book-in-progress. She will be joined by a panel of local discussants, including Mary Linda Schwarzbart. The session will include break-out groups for a discussion of this topic and its impact on daily life in Knoxville.
Please plan on joining Heska Amuna Women’s League in welcoming Rachel Gordan to the community and enjoy this refreshing historical perspective on where we are as Jews in America now.