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CAI rabbi in residence to focus on heart of Torah

Rabbi Shai Held, Ph. D.

Rabbi Shai Held, Ph.D. — one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America, according to Newsweek — will be the scholar-in-residence at Congregation Anshei Israel on Jan. 11 and 12. His overall theme for the weekend will be “The Heart of Jewish Spirituality.”

A theologian, scholar and educator, Held is president, dean and chair in Jewish thought at Hadar, where he also directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas.  Previously, he served for six years as scholar-in-residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and halachah (Jewish law) at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

He also served as director of education at Harvard Hillel. A 2011 recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, he holds a doctorate in religion from Harvard. Held’s main academic interests are in modern Jewish and Christian thought, biblical theology, and the history of Zionism.  Held’s first book, “Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence,” was published by Indiana University Press in 2013; “The Heart of Torah,” a collection of essays in two volumes, was published by JPS in 2017.

Rabbi Held is a master teacher who brings Torah to life, says Rabbi Eisen. “His intellect is inspiring and his presence is persuasive. His passion is contagious as he enables us to deepen our understanding of our sources and our soul.”

Held’s visit will include a Shabbat dinner and presentation, delivering the Shabbat morning D’var Torah and an afternoon presentation on

The weekend will begin with Mincha and a Kabbalat Shabbat service at 5:45 p.m. The dinner will begin at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11. At 7:45 p.m., Held will present “The Gifts of God Flow Through You: How Grace, Gratitude and
Generosity Form the Heart of Jewish

On Saturday, Jan. 12, at the 9 a.m. Shabbat service, Held will present the D’var Torah, “Waiting for God.” At 3:45 p.m., his lecture will be on “Compassion and the Heart of Jewish Spirituality.” Mincha follows at 4:45 p.m., followed at 5:15 p.m. by Seudah Shlesheet (Third Meal), Ma’ariv and Havdallah

RSVP and payment are required by Jan. 7 for the Shabbat dinner. The fee for CAI members is $18 for adults, $12 for children; for guests, $22 for adults, $15 for children. The fees will increase by $5 after Jan. 7. For more information and to RSVP, call 745-5550 or visit

Editor’s note: Updated to reflect that Hadar is no longer known as Mechon Hadar.