Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat

The Allan & Tybil Smith Kahn z"l Scholar-in-Residence Weekend
March 17 - 18, 2017

Defining Community: Jews, Race, Power and Privilege
with Prof. Marc Dollinger and Ilana Kaufman

Friday, March 17, 2017
6:15 pm: Shabbat service
7:00 pm: Catered Shabbat dinner
8:00 pm: Defining Community: Jews, Race, Power and Privilege with Prof. Marc Dollinger and Ilana Kaufman
Saturday, March 18 

9:15 am: Torah & Text study with Prof. Marc Dollinger and Rabbi Yoel Kahn
10:15 am: Shabbat morning service
Noon:  Catered luncheon and presentation
Further events TBD

Reservations Required: A link for your RSVP will be available shortly


Defining Community: Jews, Race, Power, and Privilege

by Rabbi Yoel Kahn

Professor Sarah Benor, an exceptional teacher and researcher, will be our second Allan and Tybil Smith Kahn Scholar-in-Residence on the weekend of February 21-23. Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the seminary of the Reform movement, Professor Benor is a leading authority on Jewish languages and the role of language in forming and maintaining identity in a multicultural, pluralistic society. This Scholar-in-Residence weekend continues our year-long Adult Education series exploring Jewish identity. 

Our Scholar-in-Residence weekend will begin on Friday evening, February 21, with a catered Shabbat dinner at 6:15 pm, followed by the Shabbat service and Professor Benor’s first presentation, “Jewish Languages Around the World,” at 7:30 pm. As Jews migrated around the world, they picked up local, non-Jewish languages and made them distinctly Jewish by incorporating elements from Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages. Through samples of Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Italian and Judeo-Arabic, we will explore how Jews have used language as a primary means for expressing their identities as both members of their local communities and as Jews. Saturday, February 22 will include our regular Shabbat morning schedule with Professor Benor leading Torah Study at 9:15 am before services at 10:15 am.

In the afternoon at 4:00 pm, Professor Benor will speak on “Jewishness in America: Religion or Ethnicity?” How do religion and ethnicity intersect in American Jews’ opinions, behaviors and cultural creations? Although some elements of Jewish ethnic identity have recently declined, such as commitment to having mainly Jewish friends and marrying Jews, other elements of ethnic identity are increasing, such as interest in Jewish music, films and political organizations. Following this lively presentation, we will join together for havdalah and a reception.

Our program will conclude on Sunday morning with a bagel breakfast at 10:00 am and our final scholar presentation at 10:45 am with a discussion of “What’s on your jPad?: Trends in American Jewish Identity and Community.” Using changes in the music industry as a metaphor for Jewish identity, this interactive talk will explore how American Jews understand their Jewishness and how younger Jews differ from previous generations. Professor Benor will focus on the diversity of approaches to Jewishness, the explosion of Jewish communal and cultural options and the quest for personal meaning. 


Sarah Benor is Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at the Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She teaches about the social science of American Jews, as well as about language and culture. She mentors students in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and serves as Adjunct Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Southern California. Her book, Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism, was published in 2012. She is the founder and editor of the Jewish Language Research Website, the Jewish English Lexicon, and the Journal of Jewish Languages. 

All of our Scholar-in-Residence programs are open to the community without cost. Advance reservations and payment are requested for the Shabbat dinner only; please visit for more information, to sign up for dinner or to make a contribution. 

I hope you will join me for this Shabbat weekend of learning.

The Allan and Tybil Smith Kahn Scholar-in-Residence Fund at Congregation Beth El was established in May 2012 after the death of Tybil Smith Kahn z”l, the mother of Rabbi Yoel Kahn. Dr. Allan Kahn z”l (1922-1995) and Tybil Smith Kahn z”l (1923-2012) were life-long supporters of learning and the Jewish community. The Allan and Tybil Smith Kahn Scholar-in-Residence Fund was established by their children and friends to honor their memory and perpetuate the values most precious to them.