Hadar NY: Is Judaism About Love?

Rabbi Shai Held Rabbanit Leah Sarna Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld Dr. Elana Stein Hain

In Person
Date and Time


A common misconception is that love is a “Christian idea” and not a Jewish one. But what if we have it all wrong? Join Rabbi Shai Held as he introduces the central themes of the book, then joins Dr. Elana Stein Hain, Rabbanit Leah Sarna, and Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld in a conversation on the centrality of love to the Jewish vision of ethics, spirituality, and theology. What can Judaism teach us about love, and what can a renewed focus on love reveal to us about Judaism?

About the Book
A dramatic misinterpretation of the Jewish tradition has shaped the history of the West: Christianity is the religion of love, and Judaism the religion of law. In the face of centuries of this widespread misrepresentation, Rabbi Shai Held—one of the most important Jewish thinkers in America today—recovers the heart of the Jewish tradition, offering the radical and moving argument that love belongs as much to Judaism as it does to Christianity. Blending intellectual rigor, a respect for tradition and the practices of a living Judaism, and a commitment to the full equality of all people, Held seeks to reclaim Judaism as it authentically is. He shows that love is foundational and constitutive of true Jewish faith, animating the singular Jewish perspective on injustice and protest, grace, family life, responsibilities to our neighbors and even our enemies, and chosenness.

Ambitious and revelatory, Judaism Is About Love illuminates the true essence of Judaism—an act of restoration from within.

Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar are excited to co-sponsor this first event in their new building.


6:45 PM - 7:00 PM

Doors open and registration 

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Teaching and dialogue on Judaism is About Love

8:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Light refreshments and book signing

9:00 PM - 9:15 PM


Faculty Bio

Rabbi Shai Held

Rabbi Shai Held, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers and leaders in America, is President and Dean of the Hadar Institute in New York City. Rabbi Held received the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the most influential rabbis in America and to the Forward's list of the most prominent Jews in the world. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (2013), The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion (2017), and Judaism is About Love (2024).

Rabbanit Leah Sarna

Rabbanit Leah Sarna is the Associate Director of Education and Director of High School Programs at Drisha. She previously served as Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, a leading urban Orthodox congregation. She was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in 2018, holds a BA from Yale University in Philosophy & Psychology, and also trained at the SKA Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, Drisha, and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership. She has been awarded the Pomegranate Prize in Jewish Education by the Covenant Foundation and was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Rabbanit Sarna’s published works have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Lehrhaus and the Jewish Review of Books. She has lectured in Orthodox synagogues and Jewish communal settings around the world and loves spreading her warm, energetic love for Torah and Mitzvot with Jews in all stages of life.

Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld has been president of Hebrew College since 2018. She came to Hebrew College in 2005 and served first as Dean of Students for one year and then as Dean of the Rabbinical School for 11 years, from 2006-2017. Rabbi Anisfeld graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1990 and subsequently spent 15 years working in pluralistic settings as a Hillel rabbi at Tufts University, Yale University, and Harvard University. She has been a regular summer faculty member for the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel since 1993. She is co-editor of two volumes of women’s writings on Passover, The Women’s Seder Sourcebook: Rituals and Readings for Use at the Passover Seder and The Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom. From 2011-2013, Rabbi Anisfeld was named to Newsweek‘s list of the Top 50 Influential Rabbis in America and, in 2015, one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post. She writes and teaches widely, weaving together Torah, rabbinic commentary, and contemporary poetry and literature in her wise and compassionate approach to the complexities of the human experience and the search for healing and hope in a beautiful but fractured world.

Dr. Elana Stein Hain

A widely well-regarded thinker and teacher, Elana is passionate about bringing rabbinic thought into conversation with contemporary life. To this end, she hosts TEXTing, a bi-weekly podcast that considers issues relevant to Jewish life through the lens of classical and modern Torah texts; she also teaches Talmud from the Balcony, an occasional learning seminar exposing the big ideas, questions, and issues motivating rabbinic discussions. Elana is the author of Circumventing the Law: Rabbinic Perspectives on Legal Loopholes and Integrity (Penn Press, 2024), which uses loopholes as a lens for understanding rabbinic views on law and ethics. Elana also contributes to For Heaven’s Sake, a bi-weekly podcast with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi that explores contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish world. She earned her doctorate in Religion at Columbia University and is an alumna of the Yeshiva University Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) as well as the Consortium in Jewish Studies and Legal Theory Graduate Fellowship at Cardozo School of Law. She also served for eight years as a clergy member on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at both Lincoln Square Synagogue and the Jewish Center, has taught at the Wagner School at NYU, and sits on the board of Sefaria: A Living Library of Jewish Texts.

Judaism Is About Love: R. Shai Held in Conversation with Elana Stein-Hain, Rabanit Leah Sarna, Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

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