BZBI, where you learn

Urban Shabbaton

We invite you to come together in community, celebrating our culture and our history, at the BZBI Urban Shabbaton. Beginning on Friday night, November 3, and continuing through Sunday morning, November 5, we will eat, sing, learn, and dance together. Join us. 

Register here.

The schedule is still in formation and will be updated as details are confirmed. Highlights of the weekend include:

  • Friday night lecture with Dr. Anne Albert on the history of the concept of “community” in early modern Judaism

  • Saturday morning and afternoon sessions, including yoga, meditation, text study, and discussion groups

  • Saturday night Rising Song Concert featuring Aly Halpert and other Philadelphia musicians

  • Sunday morning brunch and lecture with democracy scholar Dr. Sigal ben Porath 

  • Meals throughout the weekend, including Friday night Shabbat dinner; Saturday morning light breakfast; Saturday kiddush; Saturday dinner; and Sunday brunch

  • Board games, singing, religious services, and being in community together

Register here for one all-access pass to the full weekend’s events.


BZBI Urban Shabbaton

Keynote Speakers

Anne Albert

Anne Albert is a BZBI member, Klatt Family Director for Public Programs at Penn’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and executive editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. She is the author of Jewish Politics in Spinoza’s Amsterdam (Littman, 2022) and various essays on early modern Jewish cultural and religious history, political thought, and historiography. She is also the coeditor of Frontiers of Jewish Scholarship: Expanding Origins, Transcending Borders (Penn Press, 2022). She teaches in the Department of History at Penn and taught at Brown University, Swarthmore College, and Bryn Mawr College before coming to the Katz Center.


Aly Halpert

Aly Halpert (she/her) is a young adult queer Jewish musician, educator, and activist living on Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia, PA, USA. A singer, pianist, drummer, and guitar player, Aly writes songs for building community, working for collective liberation, and visioning different worlds. Aly leads music and prayer for Jewish community, including Eden Village Camp, Let My People Sing, Kol Tzedek Synagogue, and Linke Fligl. Her songs have been sung in national gatherings, song circles, and quiet moments of personal prayer, and have moved people all over the world. Aly loves performing and collaborating with musicians such as Batya Levine, Joey Weisenberg, Anat Halevy Hochberg, Molly Bajgot, & Deborah Sacks Mintz. Her first album, Nipple Confusion, has made fans of young people and adults alike. Her first full-band album Loosen was just released in April 2022 with Rising Song Records. Whether her songs are serious or seriously goofy, Aly believes deeply in the power of music to awaken us to the loss and hope we carry, expand our sense of possibility, and connect us to each other and our collective strength.


Sigal Ben-Porath

Sigal Ben-Porath studies schools and colleges as democratic institutions. She received her doctorate in political philosophy from Tel Aviv University in 2000 and was a postdoctoral research associate at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University in 2001-2004. Dr. Ben-Porath has been teaching at Penn GSE since 2004. She is an associate member of the political science department and the philosophy department at Penn. She served as a special assistant to the university president, and as chair of the faculty advisory board to Penn Press, and as executive committee member of the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. In 2010 she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, in 2012-2013 she was affiliated with the Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University, and in 2020-2021 she was a fellow in residence at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.


5:30PM: Candle lighting in Kahaner 

6:00-7:15PM: Welcome and Kabbalat Shabbat in Sanctuary 

7:15PM: Dinner with Icebreakers 

8:30PM: Anne Albert Lecture (20 minutes), Q&A/discussion 

9:15PM: Dessert and Bentsching 

9:45PM: Clean-up



9:00AM – Coffee & Pastries (Kahaner or Chapel)

9:45-11:00AM – Shabbakhti Yoga

9:30AM – 12:00pm – Shabbat Services (R’ Abi gives dvar Torah) 

10:15-11:00AM – Parsha Study (R’ Abe) (Chapel)

10:00-12:00 – Hebrew School 

11:15-11:45AM – Tot Shabbat 

12:00-1:00PM – Kiddush Lunch

12:50PM – Bentsching, orientation to breakout sessions 


1:00PM – Childcare begins 

1:00 – 1:45PM – Session #1 

Rabbi Stone: Who is Emmanuel Levinas and why is he Important?

Avishai Greis, Robin Lebow and Tamar Fox – Remembering the Yom Kippur War

2:00 – 2:45 PM Session #2:

Mort Levine: Jewish Approaches to Tissue and Organ Donation

ADL and Extremism

3:00 – 3:45PM – Mincha

4:00 – 4:45PM – Session #3:

Abi Weber: Pure Waters: A Discussion of the Mikveh in Jewish Practice

David Colman, Dan Eisenstadt: The JDC’s Work in Israel and Ukraine

Nancy Leaderman: Meditation and Spiritual Check-in

5:00 – 5:45PM – Session #4:

David Weinfield: The Development of Cultural Pluralism

Deb Glassman: Yoga

6:00PM – Seudah Shlishit (Chapel)

6:50PM – Bentsching

7:00PM – Maariv (w/ Havdalah) in the sanctuary

7:15PM – Check-in for concert, door sales

7:30PM – RSI Concert ft. Aly Halpert 


9:00AM – Minyan

10:00AM – Brunch in Kahaner 

11:00AM – Sigal ben Porath Lecture, 20 min lecture, Q&A 

11:45AM – Closing program/debrief designed by R’ Abe, Group photo

12:30PM – End of retreat, clean up and leave!