AKSE Academy began last year, recommended and inspired and partly purloined by me as a way for AKSE's Education Committee to avoid having a Shabbat Scholar in Residence. I had found most of them disruptive to our usual non-mechitza style, an invitation for Rabbi Dresin to cast disparaging comments toward us for resisting accommodating our guest and generally not worth the $2K or so and the aggravation of arranging dinner and the like. Thinking that nobody is better than our Shabbaton visitor, we opted for nobody, or in this case a series of nobodies to assemble about eight classes on a variety of subjects. I modeled it partly on nights of learning that other places do and partly on a medical conference that typically has a menu of several simultaneous presentations that those in attendance can select. It went well enough, with an attendance of about fifty and a small financial profit, that there is a consensus to develop this into a unique event in the community.
I've become very possessive of my creation, not wanting anybody to interfere with the content and almost impervious to feedback as I try to push the envelope that will be necessary to make it a signature event for the synagogue. I'm also the most inquisitive person on the committee, which has its pluses and minuses. It is very tempting to create 5 of 8 classes from negative transference reactions from AKSE's Bimah. There's no shortage of them, and some pretty good topics such as the role of self, titles and entitlement, physicians destined for Gehennom, Genevah, misconduct in the name of frum, et. al. I'm also probably the principal laytz in the congregation. There need to be a couple of benign topics, things with little emotional content, like travel or Draft Dodging Tzahal or Sacred Space or money or Talmud study. Maybe the emerging hi-tech industries of Israel. Speakers come later. Imprint comes now.