Hebrew Center series focuses on ‘healing a broken world’

The six-part speaker series will start on Thursday, starting with Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin.

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin will be on the Vineyard this week for a talk —Courtesy House Creative Services

The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute will begin on Thursday, July 6, with a talk by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin.

For more than 20 years, the Summer Institute has hosted thought leaders from various fields such as politics, government, the arts, journalism, and science. 

Summer Institute chair Keith Heller says the speaker series embodies the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, meaning “to heal a broken world.”

“When we get speakers like [Beth Macy] talking about the tragedy of drugs in America, when we get Susan Eisenhower, who’s a foreign affairs expert and whose real area is Russia … these are areas where the world is broken,” Heller said. “In that sense, these speakers are totally consistent with Reform Judaism.”

According to Heller, this summer’s programming has six speakers on consecutive Thursdays, concluding on August 10.

On July 6, Congressman Raskin will present on democracy, gun violence, and the Constitution.

Susan Eisenhower, policy analyst and national security expert, will arrive July 13 for her talk, “The Second Cold War: Was It Avoidable? What Will It Mean?”

Journalist Beth Macy, author of “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” will speak on July 20. Her talk focuses on America’s overdose crisis.

The former director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi David Saperstein, will explore various controversies of religious freedom such as abortion and LGBTQ rights. His talk will occur on July 27. 

On August 3, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic Deborah Borda will present “The Best Seat in the House.”

The speaker series will conclude on August 10 with a talk by economist and retired president of Harvard University Lawrence Bacow. 

Heller says that they typically invite unique voices to join them. “We tend not to invite Vineyard personalities,” the institute chair said. “We get speakers from off-Island … we want them to experience the Vineyard.”