This course will explore the basics of Chassidic thought through the writings of three Chassidic masters: The Noam Elimelech, the Kedushat Levi, and the Mei Hashiloach. These ancestors* were radically shifting what it meant to live in a religious framework in the face of increasing antisemitism. We will read them as texts that speak deeply to political and religious emergencies, how we might pivot and turn, resourcing us for times of deep distress through realising that we are the more than human. We’ll be reading them as always with close investigation into the background sources they quote and a humble seeking around returning to them after the Shoah, how we might turn them into not practices or composites or collaged newness, but that old bone knowledge from lost Motherland*.
We will ask what it means to embody them as we explore key terms such as dveikut, taanug, shefah, hitlahavut and more. Alef-bet needed, no other skills required.
This class will take place in-person in central Edinburgh.
Monday 26 June, 3.30 – 5.00pm Chapter 1: The Fallen Sparks
Tuesday 27 June, 3.30 – 5.00pm Chapter 2: The Intimacy Only Increases
Thursday 29 June, 3.30 – 5.00pm Chapter 3: Channelling the Divine River
Monday 3 July, 3.30 – 5.00pm Chapter 4: The Narrow Practice
Tuesday 4 July, 3.30 – 5.00pm Chapter 5: Too Soft; A Little Fear?
Wednesday 5 July, 3.30 – 5.00pm (note change due to 17 Tammuz on the Thursday). Chapter 6: Not Mine: The Only Permanent Insight
Yael Roberts is a Jewish educator and visual artist. Born in St. Louis Missouri, she lives in London where she works as Director of Community & Adult Educator at Westminster Synagogue. Over the years she has studied at Yeshiva University, the Pardes Kollel, Nishmat, Yakar, and the Conservative Yeshiva. When she was 20 she fell in love with reclaiming the radical nature of chassidut and making it accessible to everyone, and a decade later she hasn’t looked back. Yael has taught at BIMA at Brandeis, the Nesiyah Institute, Oxford University with Yente Zine, JW3, Limmud, Alyth Synagogue, Reform Judaism, and Miknaf Haaretz, and once organised several Open Talmud Projects. When she is not teaching, organising, or making art, she can be found baking vegan challah, on her bike, or reading poetry.
*The course is being taught by an Ashkenazi Jew who relates to these texts as part of her heritage and ancestry. Jews from all backgrounds and parts of the world are welcome to explore these texts and join in learning them.