TI to present “Spiritual Strength in Challenging Times” on Feb. 20

Temple Israel will hold the presentation “Spiritual Strength in Challenging Times: Answering in Times of Trouble” featuring Dr. Wendy Love Anderson on Sunday, February 20, at 10:30 am, on Zoom. To make a reservation and receive a Zoom link, contact Tammy Kunsman at temple office at 723-7461 or titammy@stny.twcbc.com. 

Anderson, who is a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Academy of Jewish Religion, received a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Chicago and is presently assistant director of academic programs at the Center for the Humanities at Washington University in Saint Louis. 

“Approximately 850,000 Americans have perished in the past two years,” said organizers of the event. “COVID-19 has undermined the fabric of our society. Public schools are struggling to provide a quality education in a safe environment. College students are disenchanted with their educational experience and the decision to hold virtual classes. Physicians allege that there is a growing mental health crisis among young people. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that U.S. children and adolescents are facing a mental health crisis. In 2018, suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24.”

Organizers added, “There has also been an increase in violent crime in urban centers and an increase in antisemitic incidents. A current issue of Hadassah Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2022) was devoted to the increase of confrontations at colleges and universities targeting Jewish students. We were distressed by the tragic incident at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Recently, a terrorist took four hostages, including the rabbi, at a synagogue in Texas.”

Anderson spoke about what Judaism has to offer during this time of crisis. “As 2022 continues a seemingly endless cycle of crisis, the psalms of the Hebrew Bible offer a potential source of consolation, with psalm after psalm describing divine rescue and aid in a ‘time of trouble’ or a ‘day of affliction,’” said Anderson. “But can ancient religious texts really respond to the needs of the 21st century? This class will start from Psalm 20:2 (May the Lord answer you in time of trouble / the name of Jacob’s God keep you safe”) to explore Jewish liturgy, midrash and even folk customs around the ‘time of trouble.” How have Jews responded to past times of troubles? How can we use the psalms to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow?”