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.

Special Events

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 7:30pm: November 5, February 4 and May 6.

Contemporary Israeli Culture Through the Arts
Shoni Aronovich

Come explore how matters such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, Jewish identity, Holocaust remembrance, and racial tensions in the Israeli society are bing reflected and portrayed through modern poetry, film visual arts and popular culture. Shoni Aronovich, Beth El’s Director of Teen Education and Engagement, will lead the class. — Thursday evenings, 7:30–9:00pm, on January 17, 24 and 31. Please click here to register by Monday, January 14.

Shekhinah, Empathy and the Body of Creation
Rabbi Nancy Flam

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. —  Sunday, March 17

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 7:30-8:30pm, 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.
— Wednesdays from 11am–12:30pm, beginning October 3

Shabbat Morning Torah Hevras

The Power of Narrative: The Torah Through a Midrashic Lens
Rabbi Josh 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
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.

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.
— Sundays from 9:00–11:00 a.m. starting on September 30


Adult Jewish Literacy classes
Rabbi Josh Breindel

On five Sundays starting on January 27, we’ll explore the themes of:

  • Jewish prayer (and a guided tour of our prayer service)
  • God and divinity (with a special focus on post-Holocaust theology)
  • Key Jewish stories (biblical and rabbinic)
  • Jewish life-cycle rituals and customs

Sessions will be held from 9:15–10:45am on January 27, February 10, March 10, April 28 and May 12. At the close of this series, we’ll plan for the possibility of summer study and look ahead to the next year for a full and robust schedule.

Institute for Jewish Spirituality Prayer Project

Join us for important learning online and in small group discussion in two workshop series, each including four sessions of individual online study and four 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. March and April 2019: Praying In and With the Natural World with Rabbi Mike Comins.