Rabbi Jonathan Porath


Our Connections with World Jewry and Israel

"The Torah and Teaching of My Friend and Mentor Elie Wiesel"--through the prism of their nearly 50 year relationship, listen to the words and teachings of one of the greatest Jews of our time; very timely

"All of Jewish History From Abraham to the Present Day in One Hour"—an epic and engaging presentation covering the flow of Jewish history for the past 4,000 years [with audience give and take; ideal for adult/family education and Federation programs—a great favorite across the country].

"The Greatest Jews of All Time" [or "The Greatest Jewish Women and Men of All Time"] - an exploration into the famous Jews from the past and present who changed the Jewish People for all time, and who affected world civilization. Lots of audience participation.

"All of Judaism in One Hour: Core Beliefs, Daily Practices, Yearly Holidays and Life Cycle Events in 60 Minutes"—an intensive presentation of what has held and defined the Jewish People throughout the generations and into the modern age.

"All of the Five Books of Moses in One Hour"--a quick review of the opening 176 chapters of the Bible, from the creation of the world until the death of Moses--with epic stories, heroes and villains, laws, adventures and You Know Whom; catch up on the Shabbat morning Torah readings all at once!

"175 Trips to the Jews of Russia"—personal experiences, stories and insights from visits to the Soviet Union and Russia since 1965 until the present [frontal presentation; ideal for adult education, Federation and school programs; also, in abridged form, for Shabbat morning at services; with accompanying power point presentation. Also available as: "A Lifetime With Russian Jews: Their Exodus from the Soviet Union and Coming Home to Israel"

"The Greatest Partnership: A Century of the JDC (the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee--the 'Joint') and the Jews of America Helping the Jews of the World" With a Special Case Study of the Jews of the Former Soviet Union—highlights of the service of the Joint to the Jewish People since 1914, with a focus on Russian Jewry today [frontal talk with power point]

"How American Jewry Came to the Aid of the Jews of Europe During the Shoah: The Story of the JDC"—How the official "overseas arm" of the American Jewish Community did all in its power to help the Jews of Europe during the Shoah; an anguished and inspiring story of sacrifice in the face of absolute evil [power point presentation]. Especially appropriate for Yom Hashoah, Kristallnacht and other memorial commemorations.

"Leaving Home and Coming Home: 30+ Years on Aliyah to Israel"—a family's story of leaving the US for Israel and what it is like to live in Jerusalem today [discussion for weekday or Shabbat; effective for Hillel and students ages as well].

"The Jewish People and the Land of Israel Throughout the Generations"--a multi-part mini-course with a series of self-contained units: Jerusalem in the Eyes of the Jewish People; The Centrality of the Land of Israel in the Bible; Dreams vs. Reality in the Midrash [The Death of Moshe]; Israel in the Talmud and Throughout Rabbinic Literature; Loving Our Brother--Loving the Other: How the Land of Israel and the Mitzvot Should Bind Us Together. Based on texts and experiences which tell the Jewish Story of our ties to the Land from the very beginnings of our history and faith until the present day.

"Living the Dream: Personal Reflections on Israel at 70"--thoughts on the miracle of Israel today, from the perspective of the scion of an old Jerusalem Family and a modern-day immigrant; why is Israel so special to the Jewish People and the world--and what should we do today to support and advocate for it

"In Praise of Smaller Communities Around the Jewish World"--citing the unique aspects and advantages of living in smaller Jewish communities in North America, Russia and wherever; maximalizing local Jewish potential in the 21st century

Sharing Heartfelt Concerns

"Biblical and Contemporary Family Relationships--Abraham, Sarah and the Kids: Lessons for Today"--study and discussion of the lives of the First Jewish Family and what we can learn for our own family relationships today

"Trying to Be a Jewish Father" - grappling with this most challenging and rewarding role throughout the ages and especially today; bringing Jewish wisdom and insight into the modern family; a thoughtful and eye-opening discussion.

"Nurturing Our Jewish Hearts and Our Jewish Souls: Sharing Our Stories"—thought provoking and personally evocative stories [warmly recommended for Shabbat services]

"Coping With Life's Transitions: A Jewish and Personal Exploration" — a discussion, based on Jewish texts, of bridging into life's new and often challenging situations; very personal and exploratory; including, but not limited to: "From the '60's and In Our 60's" [audience engagement critical; for those open to grappling with life's changes]

"Expanding Our Jewish Horizons or How To Be Even More Jewish in …[fill in the name of your local community]"—a discussion of the contemporary application of Jewish practices, values and Mitzvot in today's America; practical suggestions how to be more Jewish [lots of audience give and take; for weekdays and Shabbat study group/discussions]

"Travelling the Sad Journey: A Year of Mourning in the Jewish Tradition"—grappling with the loss of a loved one through classical Jewish sources [also for memorial occasions such as a Yizkor or Memorial Day service]

"Enhancing Intimacy: Jewish Marital Sexuality"-a discussion about marital relations and intimacy, according to classical Jewish sources [FOR ADULTS ONLY].

"ONCE UPON A TIME...LESSONS FROM THE PAST--LEGACIES FOR THE FUTURE: WRITING YOUR PARENTS' LIFE STORY" -- co-authoring the life story of older parents, and the lessons learned across the generations [based on publishing my 97 year old mother's memoirs]

Learning Torah Together

"How To Be a Mentsh" exploring our own personal Jewish experiences in light of classical rabbinic texts [featuring facilitated discussion and interactions on a very personal level—very well received by participants, especially with intergenerational groups—ideal for Shabbat study]; also available as "Leaders Are Mentshen Too! Instilling Jewish Values in Communal and Congregational Leadership" for leadership seminars and discussions for Federations, synagogues and other organizations

"Instilling Jewish Values In Parents, Children and Ourselves"--using the wisdom of Jewish tradition to illuminate life's lessons for us all, with special relevance for students, teachers, parents and children.

"The Rambam's Greatest Hits: Making This World a Better Place"--intensive textual study of selections from Maimonides' epic Mishna Torah; designed either as a mini-course [4-5 sessions] or for a single session. Topics included ethics in daily life, helping others, and the Ultimate Tikun Olam. no prior background required.

The Ultimate Tikun Olam: The Rambam's View of the World to Come and Our Role in Making It Come About--what does Judaism really have to say about Repairing the World/Tikun Olam and how can each one of us make a difference?

"Hearing God's Voice: Favorite Psalms of a Rabbi From Jerusalem"--a very personalized look at the Book of Psalms and its meaning for today. Homework assignment for participants: What is your favorite Psalm and why?

"Jewish Paths to Spirituality"--How does Judaism teach us to feel the presence of the Divine in our everyday lives and how can we derive spiritual support and meaning?--with extensive audience participation

"The Life and Death of Rabbi Akiva: A Hero For Our Time—A Tale of Jewish Passion, Vision and Valor Which Resonates With Us Today"—intensive study of texts from the life and times of Rabbi Akiva, and especially his death at the hands of the Roman [very engaging and inspirational—excellent for Shabbat study]

"Words to Live By: The Greatest Stories from the Talmud and What Do They Have To Do With Us"—a new anthology and translation of selected Talmudic stories related to the true value of the individual, the goals of life and the trials and successes of living in this world [delving in-depth into Rabbinic texts; for adult education, day school students and faculty members] For single or multiple sessions.

"Helping Others and Helping Ourselves: Principles of Practical Tzedakah"—a study of Maimonides' Laws of the Gifts to Poor People with practical applications for public policy in today's world [especially for Federations and community funding decision makers—relevance of classical texts for analysis of contemporary issues]

"The Majesty and Wisdom of the Mishna B'rura: The Greatest Jewish Legal Code of the 20th Century"--a new selected anthology of Jewish thought and practice in many realms of Jewish life, including Serving God in This World, The Shabbat: The Cornerstone of Jewish Faith, Being Jewish in a Non-Jewish World, Understanding and Enhancing Jewish Religious Practice, and other contemporary issues. Advanced Torah Textual Study.

"GPS--Getting Into the Purim Spirit!" including the following presentations: The Book of Esther Part I--Where the Boys Are; The Book of Esther Part II--Where the Girls Are or Cherchez La Femme; An Insider's Purim; From Amalek of the Bible Until Today; The Saga of Russian Jewry As a Modern Day Purim Story.

"Little Known, Strange and Bizarre Stories in the Bible"--how well do we really know the Biblical text and what do these seemingly inexplicable stories and events come to teach us?--Guaranteed to learn something new about the Bible you didn't know before!

"Responsa From the Holocaust: Questions From the Kovno Ghetto"--textual study of questions and answers asked during the Shoah in German-occupied Lithuania [recommended for Shabbat and memorial days study, such a Yom Hashoah etc.].

"Countdown to the Book of Numbers"--the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers/Bamidbar is a fascinating travelogue through threatening desert landscape--physically, politically and spiritually. How to negotiate in tough times!

Additional topics also available include:

  • Honoring Parents and Honoring Children: Living the 5th Commandment from the Heart
  • Asking Jewish Questions: Modern Responsa of the Rabbis Including the Shoah, US Army During WWII, Israel's War of Independence, and Modern Israel Today
  • Never Heard of the Greatest Soviet Jewish Author of the 20th Century? The Odessa Stories of Isaac Babel: Grappling With Being Jewish in the Modern World

CONTACT Rabbi Porath at:   jporath1@gmail.com   or 011-972-54-4979589 (in Jerusalem)

©Arnie Draiman Productions, 2012