RRC Logo

Get Email Updates!

Audio Teachings

Take advantage of teachings from a variety of scholars, including our faculty, graduates and rabbis in our communities. More lessons will be added over time. Click on the player to listen now, or right click on the "download audio" button to download the file to your computer, phone or tablet for later listening.  

Click any link below to jump to the topic you want:
Rabbi Seth Goldstein: Minor Prophet, Major Message: Reflecting on the Book of Habakkuk in the month of Elul
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D., Raising Future Decision Makers: Ten Keys to Ethical Choices in Everyday Life
Rabbi Jacob Staub: What makes Reconstructionist Judaism different from other liberal movements today?
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum: The Jewish Community and LGBT Rights: Where Do We Go From Here?
Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
Rabbi Rena Blumenthal: A Tale of Two Prophets
Rabbi Lester Bronstein: A Hasidic Lens on Parshat Bo (Exodus 10:1 - 13:16)
Elsie Stern, Ph.D.: Here, There and Everywhere—Three Views of Revelation for Shavuot 
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling: Pesakh—Reclaiming Pesakh as a Nature Holiday
Joel Hecker, Ph.D.: Pesakh—Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: Matzah as a State of Mind
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz: Yamim Noraim—Moses: After the Darkest Hour
Elsie Stern, Ph.D.: Pesakh—Frogs Here, Frogs There: The Ten Plagues in the Torah and the Haggada
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz: Yamim Noraim—Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet 
Joel Hecker, Ph.D.: Pesakh —The Inner Point and the Big Picture: The Hasidic Teachings of the Rebbe of Ger on Pesach
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz: Pesakh—Interpreting the Pesakh Symbols: From the Rabbinic Era to Contemporary Times
Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D.: Yamim Noraim—How Do We Return: Traditional Sources for a Reconstructionist Approach to Teshuvah
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D.: Reconstructionist creativity in approaching ritual
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, ’82, Ph.D.: Why Do We Pray?
Lori Lefkovitz, Ph.D.: Restoring Women to the Hanukkah Story


Rabbi Seth Goldstein, '03, has served as the rabbi of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, WA, since 2003. He holds a Master’s of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary, completed the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is currently a Brickner Fellow through the Religious Action Center. Rabbi Goldstein was recently named as one of “America’s Most Inspirational Rabbis” by The Forward.
Minor Prophet, Major Message: Reflecting on the Book of Habakkuk in the month of Elul (Total time = 32 minutes)


Rabbi Seth Goldstein teaches on the Book of Habakkuk as it relates to our individual growth and communal redemption. By looking at the biblical text and some selected commentary, we will reflect on the themes of the High Holiday season as we prepare for a time of individual and communal renewal.


Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D., served as Senior Rabbi of Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist congregation in Pacific Palisades for 28 years and is currently Rabbi Emeritus.
Raising Future Decision Makers: Ten Keys to Ethical Choices in Everyday Life  (Total time = 37 minutes)


Rabbi Reuben is a nationally recognized expert in the field of moral education and has written extensively on that topic. He will discuss raising ethical children of character and share ten keys to leading your children to ethical choices in everyday life.


Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Medieval Jewish Philosophy, Professor of Jewish philosophy, Director of the Jewish Spiritual Direction Program
What makes Reconstructionist Judaism different from other liberal movements today?  (Total time = 45 minutes)


The Reconstructionist movement has had such a huge impact on liberal American Judaism, some question why it’s still needed. Staub explains what makes Reconstructionism unique and why the culture, theory and practice behind it will continue to help shape Judaism in the 21st century.


Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, ’90, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST)
The Jewish Community and LGBT Rights: Where Do We Go From Here?
(Total time = 17 minutes)


Now that the Supreme Court has declared some limited rights for same-sex marriage, what is the next frontier for LGBT Jews? Kleinbaum explores how we can respond politically, ritually and religiously to the changes that have occurred over the past 40 years. She covers areas such as family structure, homelessness, queer and trans identity, healthcare, and elders facing systemic homophobia.


Rabbi Sid Schwarz, ’80, Senior Fellow, Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
(Total time = 17 minutes)


Schwarz draws on his new book to analyze the major shift in identification among what he calls “next-gen” Jews. These changes have mainstream American Jewish organizations stymied, as membership, donations and dues drift downward. Schwarz looks at the social norms shaping the habits and lifestyles of younger American Jews and suggests four guiding principles which—if harnessed—can lead to a renaissance in Jewish life.


Rabbi Rena Blumenthal, ’03, Rose and Irving Rachlin Adviser to Jewish Students, Vassar College
A Tale of Two Prophets (Total time=15 minutes)


All communities need both political and inspirational leadership. But it is often difficult for one person to combine the two. Blumenthal uses the story of Moses in the book of Numbers to address the quandaries of rabbinical leadership and the spiritual significance of the Omer. This teaching is inspired by the writings of her father, Fred Blumenthal, z"l, and presented in his honor.


Rabbi Lester Bronstein, Bet Am Shalom Synagogue, White Plains, NY
A Hasidic Lens on Parshat Bo (Exodus 10:1 - 13:16) (Total time=18 minutes)


Bronstein shows how some of the most astounding, provocative and informative Jewish messages available to modern-day Reconstructionists also exist in Hasidic Torah commentaries dating back as far as the 18th century. Though their language is highly poetic and mystical, three sample texts from renown teachers include concepts that also were central to Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan’s philosophy: God, peoplehood, and the responsibility to reconstruct and model the tradition in every era. According to Bronstein, the less intellectual language of Hasidic masters may entice young, contemporary Jews into connecting with ancient texts. This teaching also sheds light on the origins of the word haggadah and the Reconstructionist symbolism of the fourth child in the Passover seder.
Open the PDF file with text sources for this talk


top of page 

Elsie Stern, Ph.D.: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Here, There and Everywhere—Three Views of Revelation for Shavuot
(Total time= 23 minutes)


In her inimitable fashion, Stern offers three radically different depictions of the revelation of God based on the three texts associated with Shavuot. In Exodus verses 19-20, the entire community makes a covenant and the the spoken word predominates. In Ezekiel 1, the text presents an elaborate, almost psychedelic vision of divinity through the experience of one man. And in the Book of Ruth, we encounter a deeply humanistic narrative of a God who is revealed in relationships of chesed (lovingkindness) and social systems designed to protect the disenfranchised.


Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, ’85, Director of the Social Justice Organizing Program
Pesakh 5771 (2011)—Reclaiming Pesakh as a Nature Holiday
(Total time=21 minutes)


Liebling examines Passover’s historical roots in the rhythms of the earth, especially the barley harvest. He challenges us to return to the watchful balance with nature that is built into Judaism in general and this spring festival in particular. According to Liebling, “this moment requires that we hear the cries of the earth.”  Open the PDF file with texts related to this session.


Joel Hecker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish Mysticism
Pesakh 5770 (2010) — Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: Matzah as a State of Mind
(Total time=22 minutes)


Hecker explains the Passover symbolism of the leavened and unleavened bread through the lens of kabbalah. Simply by eating with the right or wrong kind of intention, people can move between realms that are sacred and life-enhancing or personally debilitating and destructive. Hecker and Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz discuss how these mystical Jewish teachings are relevant to our lives today.  Open the PDF file with text related to this session.


top of page 

Rabbi Dan EhrenkrantzRRC president 2002-13
Yamim Noraim 5769 (2009) —Moses: After the Darkest Hour  (Total time=18 minutes)


Ehrenkrantz examines the encounter between Moses and God that occurs after Moses experiences fury and despair caused by the Israelites’ building of the golden calf. At the lowest moment of his career, Moses ultimately has his most intimate experience of God. This teaching also offers an unconventional interpretation of the language and the relationship between God and Moses in that historical moment, based on an intentional blurring of identities in the text.  Open the PDF file with text related to this session.


Elsie Stern, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs
Pesakh 5769 (2009)—Frogs Here, Frogs There: The Ten Plagues in the Torah and the Haggadah
(Total time=24 minutes)


Stern offers a “romp through the history” of Judaism’s traditions regarding the 10 plagues—from the Bible to the Internet age. She considers the evolving meaning of the ten drops of wine we remove from our seder cups. Stern also explains the ways in which fear, triumphalism and humor have shaped our interpretation of this powerful narrative over time.  Open the PDF file with text related to this teaching.


Rabbi Dan EhrenkrantzRRC president 2002-13
Yamim Noraim 5768 (2008)—Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet  (Total time=24 minutes)


Ehrenkrantz analyzes the first chapter of the Book of Jonah, traditionally read on the afternoon of Yom Kippur. He delves into Jonah’s rich teachings about our attitudes toward “the other,” the meaning of prophecy and the question of identity. Ehrenkrantz pays special attention to the language and verb forms in the text, drawing lessons that are both timeless and contemporary.  Open the PDF file with text related to this session.


top of page 

Joel Hecker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish Mysticism
Pesakh 5768 (2008) —The Inner Point and the Big Picture: The Hasidic Teachings of the Rebbe of Ger on Pesach
(Total time=17 minutes)


Hecker addresses the question of how we reconcile the tension between the inner and outer being, the body and soul. How can human beings—as living, loving and, ultimately, dying creatures—forge a connection with an infinite, eternal and mysterious God? Through the writings of Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter, a 19th-century Hasidic master, Hecker suggests how Pesakh offers us the opportunity to step back from our outer-focused, activity-filled lives and reconnect with the core of spirituality, of the divine spirit, that dwells in each of us.
Open the PDF file with texts related to this session.


 

Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, RRC president 2002-13
Pesakh 5767 (2007)—Interpreting the Pesakh Symbols: From the Rabbinic Era to Contemporary Times  (Total time=26 minutes)


Ehrenkrantz traces the seder symbols of the raised cup of wine and the uncovered plate of matzah to show how the Rabbinic-era view of history has dominated Passover and other aspects of Jewish life. After reviewing discussions of Passover in the Bible and the Mishnah, he suggests that the Rabbinic viewpoint should no longer dominate our sedersOpen the PDF file with texts related to this session.


Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Medieval Jewish Philosophy, Professor of Jewish philosophy, Director of the Jewish Spiritual Direction Program
Yamim Noraim 5767 (2007) — How Do We Return: Traditional Sources for a Reconstructionist Approach to Teshuvah 
(Total time=20 minutes)


Staub uses two texts to illuminate the idea that the voice of divine revelation—the potential to return to good and kind behavior—is always within us and that Abraham's true strength was not his obedience to God but his recognition that people must actively interpret God's will.


top of page 

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, ’99, Ph.D., RRC president
Yom Hashoah 5767 (April 15, 2007) (Total time =8 minutes)


Rabbi Waxman reflects on Reconstructionist creativity in approaching ritual and on the origins of both the holiday of Yom Hashoah and the Reconstructionist movement.


Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, ’82, Ph.D., director of the Multifaith Studies and Initiatives Program and the associate professor of Religious Studies
Why Do We Pray? (Total time=8 minutes)


Fuchs-Kreimer explores the question: “Why do we pray?” Her d’var torah for parsha Tatzria-Metzora was inspired by Mitchell Silver’s book, The Plausible God: Secular Reflections on Liberal Jewish Theology.


Lori Lefkovitz, Ph.D., Kolot's founding director
Restoring Women to the Hanukkah Story (Total time = 17 minutes)


top of page