History of the Institute for Contemporary Midrash
1995-1997 – The Formative Stages
- Spring 1995 – ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal (ALEPH) sponsored an experimental 3-weekend Bibliodrama training by Peter Pitzele for a dozen participants in Philadelphia.
- Summer 1996 – Rivkah Walton conceived of and designed a week-long Bibliodrama Training Institute that was sponsored and hosted by Elat Chayyim, and subsidized with discretionary funding from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Peter Pitzele demonstrated techniques; four associates supervised practicum groups.
- Fall 1996 – Rivkah Walton created the Institute for Contemporary Midrash (ICM), to include visual, performing, and literary arts, and was invited to submit a joint three-year grant proposal to the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.
- Spring 1997 – With Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s encouragement, the ALEPH Board committed to serve as the non-profit fiscal sponsor of ICM.
1997-2001 – Program and Publishing Highlights
An ICM Project Executive Board and an Advisory Board were created. ICM received over $300,000 in foundation funding and created a membership/journal-subscriber base. Using these funds, combined with program fees, ICM –
- Offered 5 week-long multi-disciplinary subsidized summer training programs, housed variously at Elat Chayyim Retreat Renter, Isabella Friedman Retreat Center, and Bryn Mawr College.
- Offered 3 week-long Bibliodrama trainings for Christian clergy and seminarians at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.
- Published eight issues of “Living Text: The Journal of Contemporary Midrash,” with numerous individual and institutional subscribers (including, notably, the New York Public Library).
- Held “The Future of Midrash: A Scholars and Artists Convocation,” an innovative day-long program hosted by HUC-JIR in New York in 1999, which brought recognition to Contemporary Midrash as a multi-disciplinary field.
- Sponsored courses in contemporary midrash at ALEPH’s biennial week-long Kallah gatherings.
- Created a grant proposal template that communities can easily use to tap into local foundation funding to bring training to their cities.
- Served as a resource and referral service for individuals seeking information about Contemporary Midrash, and communities seeking artists-in-residence.
2002 – Present
- ICM has continued to –
- In 2011, ICM Director Rivkah Walton’s essay, “Lilith’s Daughters, Miriam’s Chorus: Two Decades of Feminist Midrash” was published as the lead article in a Midrash Forum organized by poet Alicia Suskin Ostriker in the academic journal “Religion & Literature“ (Notre Dame).
New in 2015-16!
- We are pleased to announce our new Web-Based Individual & Group Tutorials.
- a searchable international online repository for contemporary midrashim as pdfs, jpgs, audio clips and video links;
- digitization and electronic sale of the eight back issues of “Living Text” in a single e-volume;
- non-residential training programs at the intersection of the arts, midrash and liturgy.
Please direct inquiries to ICM Director Rivkah Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!