(Courtesy of Lamdeinu) Lamdeinu celebrated its Fifth Annual Chanukah Breakfast on Sunday, December 22. Men and women of the larger Jewish community joined together to celebrate Lamdeinu’s mission and its outstanding honorees, Ina Tropper and Ruth Hartstein.
Esti Mellul, program director of Lamdeinu, welcomed the well over 100 guests and described how Lamdeinu’s mission, “Study in Depth, Be Inspired,” has affected her life and the Jewish community. Dean Rachel Friedman delivered an insightful dvar Torah about the importance of taking charge of time to imbue human life with sanctity and meaning. Dean Friedman then spoke about her deep admiration for the honorees, Ina Tropper and Ruth Hartstein, both of whom sanctify their time with Torah study at Lamdeinu and through extraordinary devotion to the values of Judaism.
Tropper spoke movingly about her learning experience at Lamdeinu, and about the meaningful friendships she cultivates there on a weekly basis. She emphasized the importance of being koveah ittim, or setting aside time to engage in Torah study, and how Lamdeinu enables women and men from near and far to do so. She spoke about her favorite class, Parshanut HaMikra taught by Dean Friedman, and the special, chevrati dynamic that Lamdeinu classes offer. As Tropper elaborated, “people travel from a variety of places…more often than not, we don’t know one another’s families. We are not of the same age or even of one generation. We have different educational backgrounds, both secular and Hebrew…We span a variety of careers. But we all love learning the Torah…so, for a few hours each week, around our conference table in Lamdeinu, we form a community of Torah learners.”
Harstein captivated the audience as she described her Jewish journey and how being a part of Lamdeinu, both as a student and as program director, influenced that journey. Hartstein grew up as the daughter of two ba’alei teshuvah in a town where her family was the “only Jewish family on the block, and eventually the only shomer Shabbat family in the town…we did not have any traditions to speak of from my grandparents or great grandparents on either side, unless you count a brisket recipe.” And while over many years she became confident in her Judaism, she felt troubled by her lack of family minhagim—until she recognized that Torah study is her unique connection to Jewish tradition. As she eloquently conveyed, “As I began to define myself as a learning Jew, as a seeker, I realized that I too have connection to generations of insights and tradition from our holy rabbis and teachers that were just as much mine as family custom. This is the gift of Talmud Torah, and this is the mission of Lamdeinu. Lamdeinu offers men and women from any background the opportunity to connect to their tradition and invigorate their day with the intellectual challenges of close textual reading, analysis and debate guided by talented and devoted instructors…I invite everyone to continue to promote, support and make use of this incredible resource.”
Lamdeinu spreads Torah not only through weekday shiurim, but also through unique experiential events. Next Saturday night, February 15, Lamdeinu will host its Second Annual Women’s Melave Malkah & Kumzitz in Englewood at 8:00 p.m. All women are invited to attend. The event is free, and a light dinner will be served. The kumzitz will be led by recording artist Esti Mellul, a singer-songwriter as well as Lamdeinu’s program director. Mellul has been involved in the music scene for over a decade, and has recently released her debut album, “Invisible Wall.” Please join Esti and Lamdeinu for this evening of song, Torah and inspiration.
For more information about the upcoming Women’s Melave Malkah, visit https://www.lamdeinu.org/mm2020. The private home location will be provided upon registration.