MANCHESTER - Israel Congregation welcomes Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, as the first Miller Scholar in Jewish Innovation on Aug. 9 and 10. Rabbi Kaunfer, the author of "Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us about Building Vibrant Jewish Communities," will bring to ICM his perspectives as the founder and builder of Mechon Hadar in New York City.

His visit to Israel Congregation is sponsored by ICM members Carol & Paul Miller.

Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. Rabbi Kaunfer will speak about "Innovation and Prayer: A New Way to Read the Siddur (prayerbook)." During the communal Shabbat Dinner following the service, he will expand on the subject and have an opportunity to dialogue with the community.

During lunch on Saturday at noon Rabbi Kaunfer's topic is "Innovation and Community: The Future of Synagogue Life." Brandeis Professor of Jewish History, Jonathan D. Sarna calls Rabbi Kaunfer's thinking "Empowered Judaism," which "represents the latest chapter in this uplifting history of religious creativity." Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. Rabbi Kaunfer will address "Innovative Aesthetics: Praying with the Senses." The service of Separation at the end of Shabbat, havdalah, will happen at sundown.

Food will be served at all three programs.

More information about Rabbi Kaunfer is available online at www.mechonhadar.org. The weekend is being chaired by ICM congregants Dr. David & Linda Sischy. With approximately 180 member units, Israel Congregation is the Northshire's home for Jewish communal life. Unaffiliated with any of the major denominations of American Judaism, the community calls itself "just Jewish," blending traditions from all the streams of mainstream Judaism. Israel Congregation is located at 6025 Main Street in Manchester Center, located between the SVMC Northshire Medical building and Manchester Town Hall. Visit their website at www.icmvt.org.