TIKKUN LEYL SHAVUOT PROGRAMME DETAILS
Our midrashic tradition has it that the Israelites slept in late on the morning of the revelation on Mount Sinai and needed to be roused from their beds. For this reason Jewish communities around the world observe a "tikkun leyl", or "night of repair", to make up for our ancestors' error. The night is devoted to learning, thinking and arguing. Each year at KNM we take a theme and develop it through the small hours of the night, hoping to gain new insights into some particular aspect of Jewish life.
(For details of our Junior Tikkun, Football in the Park, and second-day Shavuot service, click here.)
Expressing the Encounter with God
The Israelites stood together at Sinai and experienced God. We stand together on Shavuot and mark the occasion by reading a very particular story about the Israelites standing together at Sinai and experiencing God! Jews, and after us the other Abrahamic monotheists, are really into written words!
Was the original encounter linguistic? If not, how and why did a fundamentally non-linguistic experience get turned into spoken words and then into written ones and then into printed ones, and how did that process alter our experience of revelation? After all that, are the original experiences in any way accessible to us?
9–10.10pm Session 1: Setting the theme (Rabbi Joel)
10.20–10.50pm Ma’ariv, followed by kiddush
11–11:45pm Session 2: The Spoken Word and Religious Experience (Georgia Kaufmann)
12–1:20am Session 3: Listening to the Silence (Rabbi Larry Tabick)
1.30–2.30am Session 4: Encountering God through Music (Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts)
2:45–4am Session 5: Summing up (Rabbi Joel)
4:44am Begin the Amidah as the sun peeps romantically over the horizon
6:30am Tucked up in bed!
Rabbi Joel will lead the discussion throughout the night. He will be joined by:
Rabbi Larry Tabick
Listening to the Silence
What did our ancestors (we?) hear on Mount Sinai? We will consider two radical Hasidic interpretations, one based on the other, of what occurred at the Giving of the Ten Commandments.
Rabbi Larry Tabick lectures on Kabbalah and Hasidism at the Leo Baeck College, and is rabbi emeritus of Shir Hayim/Hampstead Reform Jewish Community. He is the author of The Aura of Torah (JPS 2014) and Growing into Your Soul (Hylas 2005). He has been known to attend Kol Nefesh from time to time. (He also the husband of Rabbi Jackie and the father of Rabbi Roni.)
Dr Georgia Kaufmann
The Spoken Word and Religious Experience
The sociologist Durkheim said that religion was the divinisation of society. In pre-literate societies before the Vedas, the Torah, the Bible, the Quran, people expressed faith verbally and physically. Jews became known as the people of the book. How then did the children of Israel, the Habirus, express religion and faith when they could not write, when they could only speak? What insights can be taken from religious practices in non-literary societies? How have the pre-literate origins of Judaism impacted on its historical expression?
Georgia Kaufman was born and grew up in North London. She studied Social Anthropology and Demography at Cambridge, LSE and Oxford. For most of her twenties and early thirties, she managed to live elsewhere, with a preference for places beginning with B: Brussels, Belo Horizonte, Brighton and Boston, amongst others.
Since 1995, she has lived in London, exchanging her career as a demographic anthropologist to bring up her children and write. Georgia's latest novel, A Hard Fall, is a political thriller set in a post-Brexit UK that has fallen in to the hands of hard-line nationalists. It was published by Mulberry Publishing in December 2018. Visit
Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts
Encountering God through Music
Jewish prayer is conveyed by words, many words. But it is also carried on melody, whether chanted or sung. What is the relationship between words and music in prayer? How does music function in a service? And how does this help us in our encounter with God. Presentation, singing, discussion.
Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts has served pulpits in the UK, the USA and Canada. She is an honorary research fellow in anthropology at Durham University and a research fellow of Leo Baeck College, as well as a half-complete Baalat Tefilah through EAJL. She has written many articles and papers, recently researching Jews and Christmas, rabbinic roles, and the conundrum of women's voices in Judaism. She is the co-editor, with Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, of Women Rabbis in the Pulpit: A Collection of Sermons. Her PhD work was on Anglo-Reform Judaism through the lens of its music, from which she derives some of her material for this Tikkun. She commutes from Newcastle upon Tyne to Kol Nefesh.