Adult Education 2018 – 2019

Say not: When I have time I will study because you may never have the time.” Hillel. Lifelong learning resonates through the halls of Beth El. We offer classes and speakers for adults who love to learn. These are this year’s opportunities with additional classes and speakers added as we find them. Check the calendar and the weekly announcements for more.


Sunday Morning Programs

Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers by Rabbi Arthur Green

led by Rabbi Josh Breindel and Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler

Using his book, Rabbi Arthur Green guides us through the underpinnings and core teaching that can bring light and strength to our search for meaning and purpose in our world. We’ll share copies of Rabbi Green’s book and choose topics for each Sunday of study.

Begins Sunday Sept. 30, 9:00 – 11:00 AM

Year-long Learning

Adult Hebrew Learning

Janet Buchwald

For those who have a firm grounding in Hebrew grammar and want to dig more deeply into text. Through Torah and prayer, we focus on the nuances of language and work to develop a richer, more personal understanding.

Mondays from 7:30 – 8:30 PM, beginning on October 15

Learning in the Library


Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler


Our study together combines Torah text study, round table discussion, one-on-one learning, meditation, and song. So many paths help us explore the power of cultivating our individual and communal soul traits (middot); always growing to become more of the people and community we can be.


Wednesday mornings, 11 AM – 12:30 PM, beginning October 3


Middot Classes

led by Rabbi Eric Gurvis

The many middot, or soul-traits, such as patience, gratitude, trust, and humility, are the lenses through which our soul expresses itself. For some of us, this class is a continuation of three years of personal and communal study and practice of middot, mindfulness and meditation. For some, we hope this class can be a beginning step into growing personal soul traits to guide one’s  everyday life. We look forward to new directions through the guidance of Rabbi Eric Gurvis. This class is partly subsidized by a grant from CJP through Hebrew College, and it is open to non-members for a small fee.

Wednesday evenings, bi-weekly, 7 – 9 PM beginning October 3

Shabbat Morning Torah Hevras

The Power of Narrative:

The Torah through a Midrashic Lens with Rabbi Breindel

Join our new rabbi to explore the stories of the Jewish people. This new study group will approach the weekly Torah portion through the lens of midrash (narrative interpretation of the Torah). After exploring a segment of the portion, we’ll unpack a Rabbinic source (in both Hebrew and English) that stimulates conversation and provides insights into the text’s enduring power and relevance. All are warmly welcomed as we embrace this new year with a new way to celebrate Jewish literature, spirituality and traditions!


Torah Study with Cantor Zar-Kessler


Come join Torah study in the foyer with Lorel and an array of open-hearted learners of Torah. We focus on a few verses from the weekly portion, learn from traditional commentators, and mostly learn from one another as we all strive to put our hearts into Torah and the amazing teachings of Torah into our hearts.


Hassidic Text: a lay-led group

 Explore Hassidic commentaries on the weekly Torah portion, wrestling with issues as timely as they are timeless. Torah text and commentary are studied in Hebrew with English translation Knowledge of Hebrew is not necessary to be a full participant.


Classic Texts: a lay-led group


This group will be studying Sefer Ha-Aggadah, The Book of Legends, a collection of Talmudic madras. They will start each week with a selected midrash, then explore the Talmudic context in which it appears.


Special Events

An afternoon with Rachel Kadish, author of the acclaimed novel The Weight of Ink   

Sunday October 14th  2:00 – 4:00 PM with introduction by author and member Anita Diamant

Rachel will speak about her inspiration and process in writing this novel. Refreshments and books will be available. A few weeks following Rachel’s talk, On Wednesday, November 7 at 7:30 PM Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler will lead a book group discussion for those who have read, are reading or plan to read the book.

Transgender Rights = Human Rights: What’s at Stake in Ballot Question #3?
Sunday, October 21st, 2;00-4:00 PM, with introduction by Rabbi Breindel

Learn about transgender peoples’ experience of discrimination. Question #3 in November’s election will ask MA voters whether to uphold a law that protects transgender people from discrimination in public spaces. Learn about the history of this ballot question, its national significance, and what’s at stake. Explore why this is a Jewish issue and why Congregation Beth El’s Board of Directors endorses voting “Yes on 3”.This panel discussion is co-sponsored by Keshet and the Beth El Adult Education and Tikkun Olam Committees.

Arts Matter Shabbat – Friday evening, October 26 

An exploration of Jewish theater with Annette Miller, actress and original star of Golda’s Balcony and Stuart Hecht,                             associate professor of theater at Boston College. 

Sh’ma Salon

led by Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler

A journal of engaging conversation on important topics of our day and time, as Jews and as citizens of the world. Includes Sh’ma journal articles for class and your own study. We’ll talk, eat, and learn – with hope and open hearts. 

Monday evenings at 7:30, November 5, February 4, May 6 with Cantor Zar-Kessler

Dancing the Midrash of Our Lives

led by Julie Leavitt, Body-centered Psychotherapist and Spiritual Director

Led by Beth El member, Julie Leavitt, we will dance from whatever experience or lack of experience we have. We will explore our stories, as our personal Torah, with movement/and or words.  We will learn to move as a way of expression and connection finding stories from our lives and bring life to them through the theme will be Change.

Four Tuesdays, November 8,15, 29 at 7:30 PM

Clínica de Migrantes Film on Healthcare for Underserved Populations                                                                                              Sunday, January 6 at 5:00PM

This event will include a screening of an HBO film about a health clinic in Philadelphia that is similar to the MetroWest Free Medical Clinic in that it serves a largely undocumented immigrant population. Discussion with MetroWest Free Medical Clinic staff to follow.

Contemporary Israeli Culture Through the Arts

3 Thursday evenings – January 17, 24, 31 at 7:30 PM

Three-part class taught by Beth El’s Director of Teen Education and Engagement, Shoni Aronovich

Shekhinah, Empathy & The Body of Creation with Rabbi Nancy Flam – Sunday, March 17

Rabbi Flam, Founding Director of The Institute for Jewish Spirituality and a pioneer in the world of Jewish healing will explore the central, challenging and radical Hasidic idea of “praying for the needs of Shekhinah” to discover what it has to teach us about how to live as interconnected, empathic, responsible beings of the 21st century. Courtesy of Kivvunim from the Institute of Jewish Spirituality.


Institute for Jewish Spirituality Prayer Project

Join us for important learning online and in small group discussion in two workshop series, each including 4 sessions of individual online study and 4 discussion sessions at Beth El. These workshops are designed to help our community understand and begin to investigate prayer as practice and investigate different modalities of Jewish prayer.

November and December 2018: Receiving and Extending Love: Jewish Prayer Through Meditation with Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
March and April 2019: Praying In and With the Natural World with Rabbi Mike Comins


Class on Job

Spring of 2019

led by Beth El member, Professor Bernie Horn

Time and content TBD