“Amish” Yisrael?— Technology, Radical Simplicity, and Jewish Freedom of Choice

Regina Sandler-Phillips

What happens to freedom and community in the proliferation of technology and media? This course will begin with consideration of the simple (“plain”) living practiced within the “peace churches” of the Amish, Mennonites, Brethren and conservative Quakers. We will relate such Christian choices to those of both insular and integrated Jewish communities, especially in the decision-making context of musar (ethical discipline). Finally, we will listen to how “freedom calls” in the traditional observance of Shabbat, as we consider the individual and communal choices facing us as 21st century Jews. Come prepared to combine midrash (study, teaching) with ma’aseh (practical action).


Prerequisites: None. Most texts are in English, with translations provided for those that aren’t (such as selections from Mesillat Yesharim and Ahavas Hesed).


  • Spiritual and Religious Life
  • Text for Everyone
  • Afternoon Course

Regina Sandler-Phillips grew up in contact with the insular Jewish communities of Monsey, New York, which informed a number of her subsequent life choices.  She is the founding rabbi of Kehillat Tikvah, a trans-denominational Jewish “Community of Hope” in Jackson Heights, Queens and also serves as a hospice bereavement chaplain in her home borough of Brooklyn.  Regina believes that we teach what we most need to learn, and has done both at 10 previous NHC Summer Institutes. 

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