Jewish Social Services of Madison Levy Summer Series

Our own Beth Hillel’s Rabbi Dena Feingold speakes at Levy Summer Series … read below for more info.

Rabbi Dena Feingold – Wednesday, August 10th “Why Less is Sometimes More:  Jewish Life in Smaller Communities”

To download Levy Summer Series brochure, click here.


Professor Jordan Ellenberg – Tuesday, June 7th

“The Torah Code:  Mathematics, Judaism, and the perils of wiggle room”

In 1994, a group of Israeli mathematicians published a paper with a startling claim, apparently backed up by sound mathematical reasoning:  that the words of the Torah contained predictions of events that took place thousands of years after its writing.  The controversy over the “Torah codes” spawned bestselling books and created an intellectual rift among Jewish mathematicians.  I’ll talk about how the claim worked, how it eventually unraveled, how the question looks from both a mathematical and Jewish perspective, and explain how the underlying statistical principle applies more broadly to investment returns and assessing results in social science. 

Professor Frank Tuerkheimer – Wednesday, June 22nd “Forgotten Trials of the Holocaust”

Starting about a decade after the end of the Second World War and continuing to the present, Germany has prosecuted persons assisting in the running of death camps. In the 1950s and 1960s there were several trials involving administrators at Chelmno, Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka camps and, from 1963-65, the major trial of the period, the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial. The most recent prosecution of an Auschwitz guard ended in 2015 and it is conceivable but not likely that there will be still more trials. These cases are brought under the German Penal Code and while that eliminates any claim of improper retroactive application of law or of victor justice, the process has come with its own problems. It has also witnessed a very belated but sympathetic turn towards the prosecution by the German judiciary.                

Sheila Cohen – Thursday, July 7th “Wisconsin’s Jewish History”

Learn what brought Jewish people to Wisconsin and where and why they settled in communities from Milwaukee to Madison and Sheboygan to Stevens Point and Superior. Drawing from the historical information and personal accounts she gathered for her new Wisconsin Historical Society Press book “Jews in Wisconsin,” Cohen will detail the history of the diverse communities of Jews who have made Wisconsin their home and contributed to the rich fabric of the state’s history—including their battles against anti-Semitism, efforts to participate in communities they joined, and their successes at holding onto their cultural identities.

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann – Wednesday, July 20th “Prayer as Revolution: Reclaiming, Repurposing, Restoring Religion for the Next Generation”

When Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann explored the possibility of creating a spiritual community as a way of connecting with Jewish young adults in Chicago, people thought she was nuts. Four years later, Mishkan Chicago connects over 2,000 people every year through music, prayer, learning, social activism and one-on-one relationship building among unengaged Jews in Chicago, its signature event being Friday night Shabbat services. Rabbi Lizzi will share the ethos behind this kind of revolution and what it will take to reclaim Judaism with meaning and spirituality at its center, for the next generation.

Rabbi Dena Feingold – Wednesday, August 10th “Why Less is Sometimes More:  Jewish Life in Smaller Communities”

Rabbi Feingold will speak about the upside of Jewish life and Jewish identity when framed in a smaller Jewish community setting.  She will also address the challenges and changes she has seen over the 30 plus years she has served as a rabbi in Kenosha, WI and in a congregation, which has never topped 130 families.  

Dr. Richard Davidson – Wednesday, August 24th  “Well-Being is a Skill”

This talk will consider scientific evidence that suggests that we can change our brains by transforming our minds and cultivate habits of mind that will improve well-being.  These include happiness, resilience, compassion and emotional balance.  Each of these characteristics is instantiated in brain circuits that exhibit plasticity and thus can shaped and modified by experience and training.  Mental training to cultivate well-being has profound implications for the workplace including its impact on leadership, creativity, employee health, productivity and collaboration.  


Registration is available online at or by phone at 608-278-1808