Rabbi Elyse Goldstein and her husband, Baruch Sienna
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein and her husband, Baruch Sienna

Beth Shalom to host couple at its annual Nelson Legacy Event.

Do men and women read the Bible differently?

That’s the question Rabbi Elyse Goldstein will answer as the keynote speaker for this year’s Nelson Legacy Event at Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park, which will start on Wednesday, June 6.

For the second half of the event, a lunch-and-learn program at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7, Baruch Sienna, Goldstein’s husband, will present an interactive workshop, “Making Letters Dance and Fly,” a history of the Hebrew alphabet showing how pictures became words.

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein and her husband, Baruch Sienna
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein and her husband, Baruch Sienna

Gender colors many people’s experiences in the academic, personal, emotional and spiritual realms, says Goldstein, founding rabbi of the City Shul in Toronto. In Bible study, gender may seem invisible, but recognizing how others feel and hear things may change our minds about it. Goldstein will examine whether Bible study can ever be truly gender-neutral.

Before starting City Shul, Goldstein served as the director of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning.

She graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University in 1978 and, in 1981, earned a master’s degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she was ordained in 1983.

Her articles have appeared in scholarly and popular journals. She is the author of ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens and the editor of The Women’s Torah Commentary, The Women’s Haftarah Commentary and New Jewish Feminism.

In 2005, Goldstein received the Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators, one of the most prestigious Jewish education awards. The Covenant Foundation sponsored her appearance in Detroit last year at Limmud.

Toronto Jewish educator and artist Sienna will present at the second part of the Nelson Legacy Event.

He will show how the Hebrew alphabet has evolved and continues to be transformed. Using an interactive format, he will lead participants in playing with letter forms, turning letters and words into pictures and transforming text into visual midrash (interpretation of the Torah).

Sienna was the first person to create Hebrew fonts on the Apple Mac computer system. He has designed educational digital media, and now works as a visual digital artist and graphic designer with a focus on Jewish texts and letters. He has taught calligraphy, designed ketubot and created siddurim for synagogues and Jewish day schools.

A master Jewish educator, Sienna has taught in day schools and served as webmaster for Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto. He is the author of The Natural Bible, an encyclopedia of Judaism and the environment.

Admission to Goldstein’s lecture, which includes a dessert reception, is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Admission to Sienna’s lunch-and-learn program is $22. Lunch will be provided by Bloom’s Kosher Catering. Reservations are a must.

Reserve for either event or both by calling the synagogue office at (248) 547-7970 or emailing cbs@congbethshalom.org.

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