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Kaplan Minyan

The Bnai Keshet Kaplan Minyan is named for Reconstructionist Judaism founder Mordecai Kaplan, who sought to create a Jewish framework for discussions of ethics, culture, history, and current events. They are designed for people who enjoy a communal Shabbat and want to enrich their understanding of Jewish peoplehood in an alternative, less traditional setting.

Upcoming Sessions

Password: KAPLAN

2021-22 Sessions

February 19: Ariel Goldberg - Just Captions: Ariel Goldberg Shares Research and Writing from book in progress on Trans and Queer Image Cultures

Ariel will share research and writing from their book in progress Just Captions" Ethics of Trans and Queer Image Cultures, about the processes and relationships integral to producing images of trans and queer life in its emerging years between the 1960's and 1990's. Through close readings of self published books, grassroots exhibits, traveling slideshows, photography workshops, correspondences and short-run publications, Goldberg explores modes of dialogue that revolve around the production of influential images to study how the permission (or lack thereof) to take and distribute images of trans and queer individuals was first achieved. 

Ariel Goldberg's publications include The Estrangement Principle (Nightboat Books, 2016) and The Photographer (Roof Books, 2015). They are a 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant recipient for their book in progress Just Captions: Ethics of Trans and Queer Image Cultures. Goldberg’s writing has most recently appeared in Afterimage, e-flux, Artforum and Art in America. Their research and writing has been supported by the New York Public Library, the Franklin Furnace Fund, SOMA in Mexico City, and Smith College. They have been a curator at The Poetry Project, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, and the Jewish History Museum in Tucson, Arizona. Goldberg currently teaches at The New School, Bard College, and City College.

March 12: Jenny Baum - Just City, Growing up on the Upper West Side when Housing Was a Human Right

Jenny's manuscript Just City presents a story of growing up in New York City in the 1960's and the 70's at the peak of the progressive housing movement- what that era meant to me and what it meant to my generation of New Yorkers--to offer timely lessons and hope for the current housing crisis.  In 1967, when she was four years old, Jenny's family moved into RNA House on West Ninety-Sixth Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue in Manhattan. It was one of the first in a series of brutalist, no frills, co-op buildings created under the auspices of New York State's Mitchell-Lama housing legislation at a time when the idea that housing is a human right became a guiding principle of politics and urban design. Just City weaves together memoir, interviews, archival material and policy including Jewish participation in the tenement reform movement and the history of the Jewish labor movement in the 1968 Teachers Strike, which marked the beginning of the deteriorating relations between the Black and Jewish communities' historical allies. Just City illustrates how families in subsidized housing shaped by a collective, integrationist spirit lived with dignity and thrived. It flips the script on stereotypes of failed social housing and advocates for a massive invention from the federal government on the scale of the 1949 Housing Act, not only to return to the value of housing as a human right, but to address systemic racism, which plays a major role in housing equality. The utopian ideal is not nostalgic; we can return to a "just city." 

Jennifer Baum is a filmmaker turned writer. Her writing has been published in New York Daily News, Guernica, Jacobin, The Village Voice, The Phoenix Jewish News, Canadian Jewish Outlook, The Jewish Observer Los Angeles, MUTHA, Hip Mama and NewFound, which nominated her essay, A Different Set of Rules, for a Pushcart award. Her full-length memoir, Just City is based upon her Pushcart-nominated essay. Baum teaches composition at Mesa Community College and occasionally works as a freelance editor, most recently for a series of reports for the World Bank on poverty in Ghana. She graduated from NYU's Gallatin Division, majoring in film and history and won "Best Short Documentary" at NYU film school for Mothers in Labor, about single teenage mothers being trained in labor jobs. She also holds an MFA in filmmaking from University of British Columbia. Her short films have screened in Havana, Seattle, Tokyo, San Francisco, Vancouver, New York, Toronto and Ottowa. 

April 2: Michelle Cameron - The Uneasy Balance - A Fiction Writer's Take on Assimilation vs. Maintaining Jewish Tradition

It happens every year around Christmas time - when the pull to conform with your neighbors is at odds with the fact that you don't string lights or put up a tree. Or maybe you do. Of course, where you draw the line is a personal, family choice. But many individuals who opted - or were forced - to assimilate means that we've lost complete touch with ancient peoples and especially ancient religions. But not the Jewish people, despite the disappearance of ten of the twelve tribes. We've faced many epochs when we had to make the choice - do we assimilate, or do we hold fast to the customs and traditions of our forefathers? This is a particularly acute problem for writers of Jewish and Israeli topics. The recent rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has meant many of these writers are ostracized on social media and have publishers unwilling to move forward with their work. Under this pressure, do these writers retreat into silence? Do they give up on projects that they have been working on for years? Author Michelle Cameron finds this a topic of special fascination - particularly because her latest novel, Beyond the Ghetto Gates, is set during the European Enlightenment, when Jews were made citizens in France for the first time in millenia - but where conformity was an underlying expectation. When Napoleon tore down the ghetto gates during his Italian Campaign and stripped Jews of their distinctive insignia, Italian Jews faced the same dilemma that we here in America face today. How much assimilation is desireable? And how much endangers our survival as a people? 

Michelle Cameron is the author of works of historical fiction and poetry: Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, 2020), The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira Ashkenaz (Pocket, 2009) and In the Shadow of the Globe (Lit Pot Press, 2003). Beyond the Ghetto Gates is the recipient of the 2020 Silver Medal for Historical Fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY'S), won First Place, Best in Category for the Chanticleer Goethe Awards and was a Finalist in the 2020 Foreword Indies. Michelle lived in Israel for fifteen years (including three weeks in a bomb shelter during the Yom Kippur War) and served as an officer in the Israeli army teaching air force cadets technical English. Michelle is a director of The Writer's Circle, an NJ- based organization that offers creative writing programs to children, teens and adults. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two grown sons of whom she is inordinately proud. Visit her website for more information. 

Past Sessions:

Roni Yavin - Did the Baby Cry? Midwifery and Circumcision in the Talmud.
Ari Finkelstein -
Separating Christians from Jews in Late Antique Syria: the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the 380s and its Impact on Jews and Judiasm
Siddhu Nadkarni - Identity: What is your true identity from a Kabbalistic and Vedantic perspective?
Miriam Herschlag - A Montclairite in Jerusalem: Fieldnotes from my inspiring, infuriating, flawed, beautiful home.

Tue, January 25 2022 23 Sh'vat 5782