JUNE 21-23, 2024 at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine

The Maine Conference for Jewish Life is a pluralistic opportunity for superior Jewish learning and joyous celebration in central Maine. Living far from America’s major urban centers (and from one another), Jews in northern New England rarely gain access to the Jewish world’s finest scholars and cultural innovators, or the experience of being surrounded by a critical mass of other Jews. This conference brings Jews from across the region together in order to gain familiarity with the jewels of Jewish civilization, convene with other Jews from around the state, exchange best practices for crafting successful rural Jewish lives, experience the benefits and challenges of celebrating in a pluralistic environment, and revel in Torah learning.


Please contact Mel Weiss at [email protected] with any questions!

Preliminary Conference Schedule

This schedule will be regularly updated from now through June, so please check back!

(*Please note that Makom programming begins on Thursday, June 20. Please be directly in touch with Rabbi Madeline Cooper with Makom schedule questions.)

Friday, June 21, 2024


5-5:30 PM

Welcome and Kiddush


5:30-6:45 PM



7-8 PM

Kabbalat Shabbat Services

Children’s Services


8:15-9:15 PM

Keynote Address


Saturday, June 22, 2024

8-9 AM



Reform and Conservative Shabbat Services

Kids’ Services

Torah Hike




1:15 PM

One Midrash, Two Midrash, Old Midrash, New Midrash with Rabbi Leah Berkowitz


T‘filah Workshop: Finding Your Why with Rabbi Sam Weiss


The Israeli Diaspora—Betrayal, Contradiction, or Opportunity? with Gahl Rinat


Learn to Tell Your Jewish Climate Story: A Session for Teens and Adults with Samm Kaiser and high school students from the Jewish Youth Climate Network


Maine Roots Programming with Sarah Rockford


Kids’ Programming: Hebrew Games with Raizel McNally, and babysitting


2:30 PM

Everybody Can Trope with Cantor Sheila Nesis


Bringing Local Back to Kosher: Ancient Practices for Modern Times with Robert Friedman of Robariah Farms


Unexpected Lessons from the Cairo Geniza with Rabbi Marjorie Berman


Security, Freedom, and Public Service During Trying Times with Danna Hayes


Seeking Spirituality: The Intersection of Psychedelics and the American Jewish Spiritual Experience with JennyBess Chaim


Cocktail Hour/Seudah Shlishit



6:30 PM

Early Zionist Approaches to the Arabs of Palestine with Lauren Cohen Fisher


Artificial Intelligence, Judaism, and the Peril of Perfection with Rabbi Bill Siemers


Mishnayot of Bava Metzia with Heather Renetzky


Mapping the Journey: the Mourner and the Soul with Jean Berman


Keeping Jewish Communities Safe and Secure (presented by The Jewish Federations of North America) with Debra Grant and Tony Neves

Maine Roots Programming with Shani Mink of the Jewish Farmer Network


Family Storytime with Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

7:45 PM

What does Blessing Do? with David Mahfouda


The American Synagogue and the COVID-19 Pandemic with Julie Levey


Faith in a New World: How Sermons (and Forward articles) Shape our American Jewish Identity with Joe Blumberg


Moshiach: A Modern Understanding of the Messiah throughout Jewish Tradition with Rabbi Andy Gordon


The Shalosh Regalim and Maine with Rabbi Lorin Troderman


Shabbat Connectivity: Ancient and Contemporary Rabbinic Bonds of Love and Friendship with Rabbi Danielle LeShaw


9 PM



Sunday June 23, 2024

8-9 AM

9:15 AM
Hope in a Time of Climate Crisis with Rabbi Daniel Swartz

Caring for the Dead in Ancient Israel with Kerry Sonia

Write Your Own Story: A Megillah Making Workshop with Meryl Troop

An Introduction to the Jewish Farmer Network with Shani Mink



International Law, the International Court of Justice, and Israel’s War in Gaza with Ken Rodman


Kids’ Programming: Fabric Art with Joey Leblanc, and babysitting


10:30 AM
The Rabbi in the Attic: Evolving Images of the Rabbi in Literature, TV, and Film with Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

Battle of the Niggunim with Cantor Sheila Nesis (a special session for past and present participants in the Shlichei Tzibur program)

The Many Faces of Yentl with Sarah Biskowitz


Meet the Artists: a moderated conversation with Heather Renetzky


BeAware – An Introduction to Situational Awareness (presented by The Jewish Federations of North America) with Debra Grant and Tony Neves (please note that this session requires pre-registration)

11:30 AM-12:45 PM


12:45-1:15 PM
Closing Ceremony 


More sessions will be posted soon!



When is the Conference?
The Conference will be held June 21-23, 2024, in Waterville.

Who should I contact with questions?
Melanie Weiss: [email protected]

How can I get updates on the Conference?
Like us on Facebook! You can also scroll to the bottom of this page and register for our monthly newsletter for program information.Gzr

Housing and Transportation

Housing Information:

Dorm rooms at Thomas College are available for the entire weekend. If you would prefer to stay off campus, please make a reservation at one of Waterville’s hotels or B&Bs.

Other Hotels Include:

If coming by bus, Concord Coach does not run to Waterville over the summer. Only Greyhound provides direct service. However, Concord Coach does stop in Augusta year-round, and one can order a taxi from Augusta to Waterville.

Local Information

Colby is located on Mayflower Hill, overlooking the small city of Waterville, Maine, just 15 minutes north of Maine’s capital, Augusta. Waterville is home to 15,000 residents and boasts a downtown district that features a municipal auditorium (the Waterville Opera House), one of America’s great independent cinemas (three screens), and many locally owned businesses including restaurants, bakeries, retail stores, and a brewery. Visitors will also find a half-dozen hotels, two hospitals, a multiplex movie theater, and nationally recognized businesses—Starbucks, Home Depot, and many fast food chains—within city limits.