More than one hundred Southern Arizona community members gathered in-person and virtually at the J, April 5, for a Together in Jewish Learning event. The evening began with a presentation by keynote speaker Aaron Henne.
Henne is the Artistic Director of theatre dybbuk, a company whose work focuses on Jewish folklore and history, and whose projects include “Cave…a Dance for Lilith,” “Exagoge,” and “Lost Tribes,” as well as plays such as “King Cat Calico Finally Flies Free!” and “Sliding into Hades.”
The evening revolved around Henne’s keynote address “Exile and Redemption: Artistic Explorations of an Ancient Jewish play, Exogoge.” It focused on how Jewish history can help to engage in complex conversations about contemporary issues in our world, and how theatre, storytelling, and other artistic endeavors serve to help Jewish communities create new opportunities for connection. Henne explored how his research into the surviving fragments of Exagoge proved to be an excellent vehicle for the discussion of the issues of refugees and immigrants through the lens of Jewish values. He compared the struggles these populations face today to the lives of Jews during the Hellenistic period, as well as during Moses’s exile to Midian.
The keynote address was followed by breakout sessions. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in rich discussions with local Rabbis and community leaders about a variety of relevant topics including “The Haggadah; An Ancient Story with Lessons of Good for Today,” “Do Jews of the Diaspora have a Special Obligation to Aid Immigrants and Refugees,” “Creativity in Our Tradition – Agada,” and a chocolate seder-plate cooking demo and explanation. The evening concluded with a dessert reception in the sculpture garden.
A van was provided to Green Valley residents so that they could attend this special event.
The evening, a collaboration of the J and Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona was sponsored by the Kivel Lecture series in memory of Rabbi Lee Kivel z”l. Rabbi Kivel was a graduate of NYU and served as a rabbi for 17 years before retiring to Tucson. While in Tucson he was involved in the family business of commercial real estate which included the El Con and Park Place malls. He was the author of the children’s book “The Lonely Train.”