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November 08, 2007 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-11-08

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I

Spirituality

'Who Knows One'

A video search around the world for answers about God.

Shelli Liebman Dorfman

Senior Writer

I

n April 2003, Sarah Goldfein was
working at a local law firm, set to
begin classes at Harvard Law School
in the fall.
Out of the blue,
she received a
certified letter
at her Southfield
home awarding
her a Jewish Future
Foundation fellow-
ship. Leery at first,
not having applied
for the honor
and having never
Sarah Goldfein
even heard of the
organization, she
soon learned the offer was legitimate and
important enough to defer the start of law
school.
What they proposed was simple. "They
asked that I do a project that would con-
tribute to the Jewish community in some
way:' Goldfein said. "The nature of the

project was left to my discretion, subject
to their approval. They compensated me
with a fixed stipend for the year."
The result of her project is "Who Knows
One," a filmed series of interviews with
scholars, philosophers, theologians and
Jews of all ages and persuasions about
how they see — or don't see — God. The
Jewish Forum will present the film and a
discussion with Goldfein during a confer-
ence Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Community
House in Birmingham.
A post-screening discussion will be led
by Rabbi Joe Kanofsky, a consultant with
the Centre for Enhancement of Jewish
Education in Tornoto and former direc-
tor of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in
Warsaw.

What To Do

Goldfein's choice of a film topic came from
her own experience. "I wanted to do some-
thing on Jewish belief because I felt that
talk about God was largely absent from
both my formal and my informal Jewish
education," she said.
Goldfein is a graduate of Hillel Day

School of Metropolitan Detroit in
Her search for interview candidates with
Farmington Hills, attended Yeshivat Akiva
well-developed and diverse views included
in Southfield, spent summers at Camp
spending "a lot of time sitting on the floor
Ramah, studied at Hebrew University
of the Judaica section at Borders reading
in Jerusalem and holds philosophy and
back covers and skimming a few pages of
Jewish studies degrees from the University whatever books were there she said.
of Michigan.
Interviews included such heavy-hit-
"Jewish history, Jewish tradition, Jewish
ters as Dr. Daniel Gordis, senior vice
law, Israel, the Holocaust were all talked
president of the Shalem Center Shalem
about, but very little was said about theol- Center in Israel and founding dean of the
ogy," she said. "I also taught Hebrew school Conservative Ziegler Rabbinical School at
for a while and God wasn't mentioned
the University of Judaism; Rabbi Zalman
when I was on that side either!
Schacter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish
"I was struggling with my own beliefs
Renewal movement; Rabbi Avi Shafran,
at the time the opportunity to do a project a haredi rabbi who serves as the direc-
arose, so I thought it would be a good
tor of public affairs for Agudath Israel of
place to focus my efforts."
America; Alice Shalvi, first woman rector
She credits her father, Dr. Irving
of the Schecter Institute of Jewish Studies
Goldfein, and her mentor at the founda-
in Jerusalem; David Wolpe, author and
tion for the idea to turn her research into a Conservative rabbi; Judith Plaskow, femi-
video. "Both encouraged me, thinking that nist theologian and professor of religious
it would likely reach a broader audience
studies; and Rabbi Irving Greenberg,
than print or radio;' she said.
Orthodox rabbi, founding president of the
Goldfein interviewed and videotaped 70 National Jewish Center for Learning and
indivic uals throughout the United States,
Leadership (CLAL) and current presi-
Canada and Israel. "Many, if not most,
were scholars writing in the area;' she said. 'Who Knows One' on page B2

The Jewish Forum Adult education

Shelli Liebman Dorfman
Senior Writer

D

r. Irving Goldfein and Mark
Schlussel, both of Southfield,
created the Jewish Forum
(TJF) to offer innovative, stimulating
and sophisticated opportunities in adult
education,
The nonprofit group hosts "programs
that present unique Jewish learning
opportunities for adults," Goldfein
said. The group's inaugural event last
May was a lecture series led by Bible
scholar and author Dr. Avivah Gottlieb
Zornberg.
Other programs, Goldfein said, will
include "events that bring the commu-
nity together for dialogue and debate
of important and possibly controversial
issues in the Jewish community and
the Jewish world."
The "Who Knows One" conference
on Sunday, Nov. 18, is TJF's next ven-
ture and includes viewing a film about
Jewish views of God by Goldfein's
daughter, Sarah.

The organization's target audience is
sored two summer events. In February,
the broader Jewish community, includ-
TJF will host a symposium with Young
ing Jews of all streams and ideologies.
Israel of Southfield and Young Israel of
"TJF is purposely and entirely inde-
Oak Park that brings four authors of
pendent of any congregation or move-
controversial works in "the search for
ment, and the
the truth: where
make-up of the
Torah and secu-
steering com-
lar knowledge
mittee reflects
meet."
that," Goldfein
In March,
said of mem-
the group will
bers Nancy
co-sponsor
Kaplan of West
"Jewish History
Bloomfield,
Through the
Barbara
Lens of Sport:
Klarman of
Present-Day
Southfield,
Challenges to
Rene Lichtman
At a May Jewish Forum event are steering
Group Identity,"
of West
committee members Ren6 Lichtman, Irving
with the Cohn-
Bloomfield,
Goldfein, speaker Dr. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg
Haddow Center
Donna R. Sklar
Barbara Klarman and Nancy Kaplan.
for Jewish
of Farmington
Studies at
Hills and Rebecca Starr of Troy.
Wayne State University.
Striving not to duplicate efforts of
In April, TJF's first town meeting on
other groups and institutions, TJF
the subject of "Jews and Power" will be
already has joined forces with some of
held at Temple Shir Shalom.
them. Congregation Beth Ahm co-spon-
Also in the works is a first-ever joint

conference with WSU's Cohn-Haddow
Center for Judaic Studies and the
Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic
Studies at the University of Michigan.
Programming will include everything
from lectures and debates to cultural
events. "We are hoping and planning
to take some of our programming to a
broader audience, via Internet and sat-
ellite," Goldfein said.
So far, funding for TJF comes from
admission charges and contributions,
which don't cover costs. Once their
nonprofit 501(c)(3) status is approved,
they will seek more contributions,
including foundation grants.
"We're not at all interested in build-
ing a large organization with much
infrastructure," said Goldfein. "What
we want to do is to create high-quality
programs and events for interested and
motivated Jews who see the value in
enhancing their own Jewish knowledge
and in strengthening ties in the Jewish
community by sharing – and debat-
ing – ideas in an open, informed and
respectful manner." f l

November 8 • 2007

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