Shavuot: The Art of the Covenant

Moving Forward Together in Splendor
Thursday, May 28, 5-7pm
on Zoom
$5 Chochmat Members, $10 General Public

Music with Lior Tsarfaty  |  Spiritual centering with Jeffrey Kessler  |  Workshops with some of our talented congregants

• Art and Renewal during the Pandemic Era, with Nadine Rosenthal
• Renewing the Soul: A Poetry Workshop for Shavuot with Leah Shellada
• Ruth/Haiku – Revelation/Enlightenment, with Lisa Strongin
• Sharing Our Stories from the Top of the Mountain, with Joel ben Izzy
• Tending the Orchard in One Verse: The First Verse with Zvi Bellin
• The Torah of Design, with Neil Goldberg
• Sauerkraut and Ancestral Memory, with Mike Perlmutter

Scroll down for workshop descriptions!

Participants will be able to choose one workshop to attend. A questionnaire will be sent shortly after you register for you to choose your workshop. Space is limited in each group so register early to get the workshop of your choosing.

Shavuot is the holyday commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.  Every year, we connect to this ancestral memory by renewing our Covenantal Connection with the Divine and our sacred community.  This year, rather than a conventional service, or traditional all-night study, we will come together in virtual community with something unique to Chochmat HaLev.

Each workshop will offer a different artistic expression of concepts such as covenant and renewal. The goal is for each participant to renew their connection to the source of divine inspiration. We will come back together to close in community, share our experiences, and offer some new awareness that will guide us into the future.

Bring your own nosh!
Dairy foods are traditional on Shavuot so feel free to nibble on some cheesecake, blintzes, borekas, or other sweet or savory dairy dishes.


Workshop Details


Art and Renewal during the Pandemic Era, with Nadine Rosenthal
This workshop is for artists and lovers of art.

During Shavuot, we renew our connection to the source of divine inspiration. The art we love to see, and the art and love to create, inspire our deepest and most passionate emotions. Art can bring our connection to God and to people in our closest circles nearer to us… especially during this pandemic.

In this workshop, we will explore how art is filling us during this pandemic. We will discuss the place art holds in our lives. Have you been inspired to create art? What kind of art do you create? Have you been seeking out art online? Does your relationship to art awaken Divine inspirations in you? Let’s get to know each other through our relationships with art.


Renewing the Soul: A Poetry Workshop for Shavuot, with Leah Shelleda
Spiritual poetry comes out of our experience of Presence and Absence, longing and union, our gratitude and misery. Where else to begin on Shavuot than with Genesis? A Rabbinical tale will take us into the realm of Light and Darkness, along with a reading of poems. Meditation and visualization will bring us into our inner world, so we can take time to explore our own words and images. Those who wish to share their writings will be invited to do so.


Ruth/Haiku – Revelation/Enlightenment, with Lisa Strongin
The Book of Ruth is traditionally read during Shavuot. What potent messages can be gleaned from its verses? One way to explore what it reveals to each of us individually is through the construction of a haiku.

A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression. Haiku opens us to a brief moment in time with use of provocative, colorful images juxtaposed to produce a sense of sudden enlightenment.

Participants will look at the verses of Ruth found at and experiment with how particular images or words or ideas found tin the text can be expressed and transformed as personalized haiku.


Sharing Our Stories from the Top of the Mountain, with Joel ben Izzy
Shavuot is the perfect time for reflecting on our journeys, and we’re all in the midst of a big one. We’ll be reminding ourselves where we’ve been and where we’re going, as we remind ourselves of what inspires us through the art of storytelling. We’ll touch on the basic techniques and find bits and pieces of stories. No need to prepare – the stories are inside you, waiting to be told.


Tending the Orchard in One Verse: The First Verse, with Zvi Bellin
We will look at the layers of interpretation on the first verse of the Torah through in-depth word analysis, lessons for the present moment, creative storytelling, and hidden secrets (shhhh…). No prior experience in Torah study is necessary, nor experience with Hebrew, though you will gain in both of these skills after this session.


The Torah of Design: Living with Creative Intention, with Neil Goldberg
At the intersection of the creative process known as “design thinking”, Torah, and Mussar, lies a way to live a Jewish life with kavahna (intention) and creativity. This will be an introduction to design thinking, a discussion of biblical insight into creativity and the middot of Mussar (measures of the soul). At the end, we’ll engage in a short practice to get you started on designing the Jewish life you always wanted.


Sauerkraut and Ancestral Memory, with Mike Perlmutter
Sauerkraut making is a fun way to connect to ancestral memory – as so many of our ancestors have been sustained on it as well as other ferments. It also connects to the concepts of renewal – through acculturation (of the bacterial sort) and community (again, bacterial).  Learn the basics of sauerkraut making – and what a divine inspiration is the taste of vibrant, tangy, and crunchy vegetable ferments! This workshop is hands on!  To make sauerkraut during the workshop, please bring: cabbage and other veggies to ferment, salt, savory seeds (optional), knife, cutting board, a jar or crock to pack veggies in, and a rock to weigh it down (optional).



The JCC East Bay’s Annual Community Day of Learning – May 31st.
The JCC is sponsoring a day of learning in honor of Shavuot on Sunday, May 31st.  Jhos Singer and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb will both be teaching at that event. Click the links below to find out more.

Telling Your Tale: Cultivating Radical Awareness and Self-Acceptance, with Jhos Singer
The Lost Torah of Regina Jonas, Woman Rabbi, with Lynn Gottlieb


May 28 2020


5:00 pm - 7:00 pm