The Lerhaus Institute
Lerhaus provides a unique setting for learning in which everyone is welcome regardless of denomination or religious background. Our study is informed by the latest in academic scholarship as well as advancements in the fields of archeology, linguistics and literature. If our narratives and sacred writings have been shaped by our historical consciousness, then we are attempting to understand our place in history by studying the collected texts of our tradition and their place in history. Essentially, our question is whether we are shaped by the story of past generations or possibly could it be the story which is shaped by our ongoing experience in history?
* Lerhaus Tanakh Seminar meets
7:00 PM Mondays at Temple Sinai,
* Lerhaus Me & My Mishpocha
Class meets 9:15 AM Mondays at
Temple Sinai in Dresher.
* Lerhaus Israel Forum meets 2:00
Shabbat afternoons at Sunrise
Brownstone in Abington.
The Jewish literary tradition speaks in many languages and in many art forms. Hebrew is the language of our Torah, Prophets and Writings. While Hebrew is the language of the Mishna, Aramaic however is the language of the Talmud. The Arabic language is crucial for our understanding of critical texts such as Maimonides’ Guide For the Perplexed, an attempt at synthesis of Greek thought and Jewish wisdom. While Latin was scorned for many centuries, Jewish thinkers would write in a myriad of languages in order to express their deepest theological ruminations. Jewish writings would even come to include German and Spanish dialects long after the Jews had ceased to live in German or Spanish lands.
In examining these languages we will ask what it was originally that made their use necessary and why it is that we have a fascination with these languages even now, long after the speakers of these languages have perished.
The Book of Deuteronomy tells us that the Pomegranate, in Hebrew, the rimmon, is one of the seven choice fruits of The Land of Israel. When the scouts return to the Israelites awaiting word of the Promised Land, it is the pomegranate they bring as proof of the land’s fertility.
Later in history, when Judea is destroyed by the Romans and the Jewish people are exiled from their land, it was said that the Pomegranate tree no longer could bear its fruit.
The language of this legend reminds us that the land, now destroyed, could no longer bear its people and sustain their presence in their ancestral homeland. Like its seeds, they were now dispersed abroad with an enduring hope that some day the God of Israel would return the People of Israel to its land, the Land of Israel.
The Lerhaus Institute is a forum for spiritual and intellectual wrestling. It is a place for those who seek to study both Biblical texts and Jewish thought in the hope of forming a living synthesis of the holy and the mundane. In examining the spiritual dimension of Jewish thought, our discussions will consider the arts, advancements in archeology, classical text study and modern scholarship. Our programs and Torah Study Forum will cross not only denominational lines but religious and secular lines as well.
Lerhaus, which means "house of learning”, takes its name and inspiration from a school for Jewish studies founded by philosopher Franz Rosenzweig in Frankfurt, Germany in 1920. The origiinal Lerhaus was a meeting place of a Jewish intellectual revival of the early Twentieth Century. Before it was closed by the Nazis, the school managed to attract scholars such as Martin Buber, S.Y. Agnon, A.J. Heschel, Gershom Scholem, and Erich Fromm to both teach and to learn from each other in what was then thought of as a free exchange of ideas. Dialogue between the
student and teacher was the primary method of learning, which, according to Rosenzweig and Buber, "could restore something genuinely Jewish to the Western intellectual mind."