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RECLAIMING THE BIBLE AS A JEWISH BOOK: A CNS Scholar in Residence Masorti Shabbat in memory of Dr. Jacob Milgrom, z”l


A CNS Scholar in Residence Masorti Shabbat in memory of Dr. Jacob Milgrom, z"l

sponsored by the Ethelyn Simon Fund at Congregation Netivot Shalom

cosponsored by Bay Area Masorti


Featuring Professor Benjamin Sommer,

Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary


January 14th and 15th -- Enjoy a special Erev Shabbat davening, dinner, and after-kiddush learning on Shabbat day featuring Dr. Benjamin Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary. 


  • Erev Shabbat* (Friday night) will begin with Kabbalat Shabbat at 5:30pm, followed by a catered Shabbat dinner at 6:15pm. During dinner Dr. Sommer will speak on the topic:  "The Tent of Meeting and the Presence of God.  "
  • Dr. Sommer will also teach during our after-Kiddush learning, when his topic will be "Reclaiming the Bible as a Jewish Book", specially dedicated in memory of Dr. Jacob Milgrom, z"l, a beloved member of Congregation Netivot Shalom.  (Please see below for expanded descriptions of each presentation.)


*The cost of Shabbat dinner is 15$/adult, 8$/child, children 0-3 free (50$ maximum per family).   No one turned away for lack of funds.  Please RSVP to Rachel in the CNS office at  Childcare will be made available if requested.  After you RSVP  by emailing Rachel there are 2 options to make payment- either online at, use the "Make a Donation" Tab and put "Simon Fund Shabbat Dinner" in the description field or  send in your check to Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94702.  Please write "Simon Fund Shabbat Dinner " in the memo line.


Expanded Descriptions of Dr. Sommer's sessions:


The Tent of Meeting and the Presence of God:  Nearly half the Book of Exodus describes the Sanctuary or Tent of Meeting. Generally thought of as one of the most boring sections of the whole Bible, these chapters in fact encode Israel's core beliefs about how the Creator of the universe becomes accessible to humans. These ideas touch upon notions of sacred land, sacred space, center, and periphery that might inform a committed but non-idolatrous religious Zionism – a religious Masorti Zionism that differs decisively from the messianic/idolatrous version that has won the day further to our right.


Reclaiming the Bible as a Jewish Book:  The past year marked the end of an era for Jewish biblical scholarship with the passing of four great Conservative/Masorti scholars who developed distinctively Jewish and original ways of reading the Bible as modern critical scholars. Professors Jacob Milgrom (beloved Netivot Shalom member), Yochanan Muffs, Moshe Greenberg,  and Moshe Weinfeld exerted extraordinary influence on both Jewish and Christian scholars who came after them. In this after-kiddush talk, Professor Benjamin Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary, will describe how they combined traditional Jewish learning with modern historical methods to recover lost voices of Jewish theology in the Torah, how their methods were shaped by their studies in Jerusalem and JTS, and why their perspective matters to people who want to be fully modern and fully Jewish without contradiction.


Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  || Bay Area Masorti  || 
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  || 
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