(Pictured) Wexner Heritage Alumni Dan Perla (NY 1) and Rae Janvey (NY/Skadden) meet up at Mechon Hadar’s Summer Kick Off

More than 150 people from all walks of Jewish life came together Monday evening to kick off Mechon Hadar’s annual summer program in New York City. Many Wexner Heritage and Graduate Fellowship Alumni were present, including Mechon Hadar’s three founders, Rabbis Shai Held (Class 7), Ethan Tucker (Class 11), and Elie Kaunfer (Class 15). Mechon Hadar is an egalitarian educational institution that seeks to empower a generation of Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing communities of Torah learning, prayer, and service.  The unique Beit Midrash attracts Israeli and North and South American “20-somethings” from across the spectrum of halachic and spiritual practice for its full time programs, and also opens its doors (and virtual doors, in recordings like this one) to the public many hours a week. On July 10th Mechon Hadar will host a special day of learning on the subject of “Boundaries: the Jew and the Other.”  For more information please visit www.mechonhadar.org/yomiyun.

To listen to Rabbi Shai Held bringing together close textual exegesis, contemporary moral theory, and medieval Jewish philosophy, on the complex and sometimes elusive meanings of “love,” “your neighbor,” and “as yourself,”  click the play button below.

Rabbi Shai Held, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alum from Class 7, is Co-Founder, Dean and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar. He has taught Modern Jewish Thought for the Wexner Heritage Program and both theology and Halakha at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Shai is a 2011 recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education. Shai has a PhD in religion from Harvard and also served as Director of Education at Harvard Hillel. His book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence is due out from Indiana University Press in the fall 2013.