Our scholar in residence, Elana Zaiman, loves connecting with people. In her book, The Forever Letter she encourages us to deepen, heal, and uplift our relationships with the people who matter to us most. Elana is the first female rabbi from a family spanning six generations of rabbis. She travels throughout North America as a scholar-in-residence, inspirational speaker, and workshop facilitator. She’s a chaplain at The Summit at First Hill, a retirement community in Seattle; a certified Wise Aging instructor (IJS), and Adjunct Faculty at Seattle’s Harborview Hospital CPE Program. In addition, she is the Ethics and Spirituality columnist for LivFun, a publication for Leisure Care retirement facilities in 10 states, and she has been published in The Gettysburg Review, The Sun, Post Road, American Letters & Commentary, and elsewhere. Elana also volunteers as a co-partner in the Seattle Limbe Sewing Circle, an intergenerational and interracial community which brings together Jews, Muslims, and Christians to create feminine hygiene kits for girls in Cameroon, Africa. Elana lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and their son.
The Forever Letter
Inspired by the medieval tradition of the ethical will, forever letters are heartfelt letters we write to the people who matter to us with the hope that, even if our letters aren’t kept forever, the wisdom and love that we share will be.
Schedule and topics
Friday Morning: Temple Emanuel
10:00 a.m. Parenting and Grandparenting Through Story
Friday Evening: Temple Emanuel
6:00 p.m. Shabbat service
6:30 p.m. The Transformational Power of Forever Letters
Rabbi Zaiman will be our guide on a journey into forever letters—what they are, why write them—and how they can be powerful tools to connect us with the people we love.
Saturday Morning: Ahavas Israel
9:30 Shabbat service
approximately 11:15 a.m. D’var Torah
Text Study Workshop after lunch
12:45 p.m. Letters Old and New
We will look at excerpts of letters from medieval and modern times as templates for the forever letters we will begin to craft during Sunday’s forever letter writing workshop. We will pay particular attention to tone and content; values, wisdom, and experiences shared; and what does and does not resonate for us as we read these letters imagining ourselves as the intended recipients and as writers of our own forever letters.
Sunday Morning: Temple Emanuel
10:00 a.m. - Bagels and coffee
10:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Workshop, Forever Letter Writing Workshop
You don’t have to be a writer. You don’t have to love to write. You don’t even have to know to whom you will write. The only requirement: show up and be yourself. We will talk about tone, content, and how to write to be heard. We will write to prompts to reflect on ourselves, the people we love, and our shared relationships. Feel free to bring a special notebook and pen you like to write with or your laptop.