Community weekend promises Inspiration through collaboration March 20–23

by | Feb 14, 2014 | Other News

A four-day event scheduled for March 20–23 is already inspiring people “through community collaboration,” part of the weekend’s descriptive title. Tidewater Together is a cooperative gathering, planned and organized by dozens of diverse, and very excited representatives from all Jewish practices, affiliations, and areas of Hampton Roads.

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Synagogue-Federation Partnership of the Tidewater Jewish Community, and the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund have worked for months to plan this special occasion that encompasses a variety of topics at six different locations. The program is designed to appeal to all members of the Jewish community regardless of age, gender or degree of observance.

Their planning has gone well, particularly with the selection—approved by all—of the weekend’s scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson.

Artson holds the Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is vice president of American Jewish University in Los Angeles. A regular columnist for The Huffington Post and The Times of Israel, he is the author of more than 250 articles and 10 books, most recently God of Becoming & Relationship: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology.

Some area educators and synagogue leaders have worked with Artson before, or frequently use his books as resources for teaching. They say they genuinely like him, and admire his teaching methods.

“I met Rabbi Artson at a conference about 18 years ago, where I was incredibly impressed with his presentations—both his delivery and the information contained within,” says Alene Kaufman, Strelitz Early Childhood director. “Since then, sometimes I feel like a groupie! I own at least four of his books, including his “Torah” books (The Bedside Torah and The Everyday Torah), which are beautifully written, easy to read, meaningful and inspirational publications.

“There is a human and caring side to everything he does,” says Kaufman. “It’s about Judaism and people. We will learn and we will feel. We will be invigorated and reJEWvenated. We will be engaged with our community.”

Miriam Brunn Ruberg, Simon Family JCC Jewish Life and Learning director, also is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to learn with Artson again.

“He was one of the presenters at a conference I went to years ago. I did not yet know him, but I thought I’d give him a try. They did not give him a big enough room, and there were people “hanging” outside— spilling out of the room, just to hear him. And he was fabulous. Captivating, with a great sense of humor.

“He deals with subjects that are not always easy to talk about—God, theology— but he’s someone you hang on every word. You don’t want to miss what he has to say,” says Ruberg.

“I’m thrilled that he’s coming. I’m going to try to go to as many of his sessions as I can,” she adds.” I recommend people try to attend at least one. I think it’s definitely something you want to experience.”

Tidewater Together begins on Thursday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and discussion at the Sandler Family Campus. Rabbi Artson will speak that night on: “Sailing up the Nile to Learn Life’s Lessons.” The weekend’s other venues include Beth Sholom Village, Ohef Sholom Temple, Congregation Beth El (with Temple Emanuel), Congregation Beth Chaverim and concludes on Sunday at Temple Israel (with Kempsville Conservative Synagogue).

All events are free and open to the community, with the exception of Friday night dinner before the discussion—at Ohef Sholom. The cost for 12 years and older is $10, or $14 for a Kosher dinner— upon request; under 12 diners are free. RSVP is required.

For more information, to get a full and detailed list of the events, and to RSVP and pay for dinner, visit, call 965-6136, or email

by Laine Mednick Rutherford