Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Lehrhaus Lives!

YES! Announcing The New Lehrhaus! It is Abq Jew's great honor and wonderful privilege to inform you, his very loyal readers, that his earlier report (see June 17's Fare The Well, HaMaqom) of the death of HaMaqom / Lehrhaus Judaica was greatly exaggerated.

Which is to say: WRONG! Which is to say

The New Lehrhaus
The New Lehrhaus Lives!

Abq Jew must apologize. He would have reported this wonderful news earlier - but he somehow fell off the J. Weekly - The Jewish News of Northern California's email list. Didn't see it on Facebook; didn't see it on Twitter.

And so Abq Jew missed this article, written by Gabe Stutman and posted less than two weeks after his premature WRONG! Jewish education hub HaMaqom to close after 47 years.

Jewish educator Rachel Biale and her husband, UC Davis Jewish Studies Professor David Biale,
are behind a new initiative designed to replace the closing HaMaqom.

New Lehrhaus rises from HaMaqom’s ashes

Almost immediately after learning that the unique Jewish adult education center HaMaqom would be closing, Rachel and David Biale — Jewish educators with links to the Berkeley institution since its founding in the 1970s — knew they had to do something.

“Lehrhaus has been what I would call the crown jewel of the Bay Area Jewish community for 47 years,” 

David Biale said, referring to the center’s former name for 45 of those years (it was changed to HaMaqom | The Place in 2019). 

“It fulfills a very important need in the community. To see it disappear feels just wrong.” 

As Abq Jew himself said:

HaMaqom | The Place has deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 47 years, the institution has provided inclusive and accessible adult Jewish education to students from all backgrounds. 
Abq Jew finds it extraordinarily difficult to see this phenomenal venture come to an end.
Everything OK

Gabe Stutman continues:

The Biales announced Tuesday they are launching a new Bay Area adult learning center, dubbed the Free Jewish Lehrhaus. They are reclaiming the name of the original center, which was modeled after the interwar hub for Jewish learning in Frankfurt, Germany, known as the freies jüdisches Lehrhaus, or Jewish House of Free Study.

In a phone call with J. on Tuesday, the Biales — who are in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit and already announced an impressive slate of teachers and board members — said they were meeting with a possible funder later in the afternoon, and with a second later in the week. 

Robert Alter
Robert Alter in his home office.    Photo / David A.M. Wilensky

Among the teachers joining the project: UC Berkeley Hebrew professor and renowned Bible translator Robert Alter, Graduate Theological Union director of Jewish studies and scholar of medieval Judaism Deena Aranoff, and Daniel Boyarin, the Taubman professor of Talmudic culture within Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies department.

Some of the teachers who have signed on have taught at HaMaqom, such as former executive director and Biblical Hebrew scholar Jehon Grist, longtime HaMaqom leader Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan and founding director Fred Rosenbaum, while others are new, including Jewish educator Rachel Brodie and UC comparative literature professor Chana Kronfeld.

So, speaking of the Biales, you might be wondering (as Butch Cassidy might have asked in a slightly different context) -

So, Gabe Stutman tells us:

[David] Biale, a professor of Jewish history at UC Davis, has extensive ties to the institution dating back to its early days. He and Rosenbaum were studying Jewish history together at Berkeley in the ’70s when the latter wrote a paper on the Jewish cultural renaissance of Weimar Germany. 

The paper would serve as the intellectual inspiration for Lehrhaus Judaica, a unique American version of Frankfurt’s hub for Jewish religious, linguistic and philosophical discourse. Biale and Rosenbaum would teach side-by-side at Lehrhaus in its early years.

Rachel Biale, an Israeli-born social worker and author, shares an extensive background in Jewish adult education and in the nonprofit world. She directed Jewish programming at the Osher Marin JCC for seven years, and served on the board of the East Bay’s Jewish Family and Community Services for six.  

And, in case you were wondering -

Board members for the new initiative include Rosenbaum, Biale, Stanford Jewish studies professor Steven Zipperstein, Rabbi Raphael Asher, Rabbi Judy Shanks, former Jewish LearningWorks CEO David Waksberg and more.

In short - the Biales called in the big guns
Thus Abq Jew must believe -  

Abq Jew must apologize. Again. He also missed this article in the J. Weekly, written by Maya Mirsky and posted in early September. Didn't see it on Facebook; didn't see it on Twitter.

Fred Rosenbaum
Fred Rosenbaum founded the original Lehrhaus in 1974 and will be
teaching classes as part of the new Lehrhaus beginning next month.

It’s back! New Lehrhaus to kick off first classes next month 

While the Bay Area community was still mourning the loss of beloved Jewish educational organization HaMaqom, known for 45 years as Lehrhaus Judaica, educators Rachel and David Biale quickly took action, emailing former teachers and notable names from the local Jewish community to see if there was a way to raise a new Lehrhaus from the ashes.

“Nearly 50 of them responded,” David Biale said. “They were eager to teach, the majority of them for free.”

Now their quick response is bearing fruit. “New Lehrhaus” has announced lectures, workshops and courses beginning on Oct. 27, kicking off with a lecture by historian Fred Rosenbaum, who founded Lehrhaus Judaica in Berkeley in 1974.

“It’s so gratifying,” said David Biale. “Lehrhaus is truly a beloved institution in the Bay Area.”
Those 70s Kids

So, here we go again. Back to a new beginning. "Next month" is here! Abq Jew would therefore like to invite you, his very loyal readers, to


The New Lehrhaus Inaugural Lecture
Wednesday October 27 @ 8:00 pm NM Time

A Revolution in Jewish Life and Learning -
Lehrhaus Then and Now

with Founding Director Fred Rosenbaum

Join Fred Rosenbaum [on Zoom] for a history of the Lehrhaus method of adult Jewish learning, founded in Frankfurt in 1920 by Franz Rosenzweig.

Fred Rosenbaum founded Lehrhaus Judaica in the Bay Area in1974. Fred will be joined by David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History at UC Davis.


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