Our special guest this week is Ruth Balinsky Friedman, Maharat at Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue in Washington, DC. Maharat Balinsky Friedman graduated from Barnard College in 2007, and then spent 2 years studying at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education in New York before attending Yeshivat Maharat, which is the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities. As a supporter of dialogue and pluralism, Ruth has participated in the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College's Retreat for Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders in August 2009, the CLAL Rabbis Without Borders student fellowship in 2009-2010, and the JCRC Community Connections Fellowship. She also served as Congregational Intern at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and interned at the Center for Jewish Living of the JCC in Manhattan.
This week's Torah portion- Parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)- tells us the fascinating story of Jacob and Esau and of the selling of Esau's birthright to Jacob. Our discussion focuses on the tragic figure of Esau and on what we can learn from him and from the complex family dynamics featured in the story.