Organizing and Resilience: A Workshop for Jewish Urban Educators (Open Circle Social Action)

The question of how we can stay resilient and committed to teaching in the midst of a challenging, at times demoralizing, world is one that deeply preoccupied the ancient rabbis.  It is a question that continues to concern those of us invested in education and justice work today.

This six-session course, open to educators of all backgrounds, will explore how the rabbis navigated, renegotiated and reinvigorated their identities as teachers and activists.  In addition to applying rabbinic frameworks to reflect on our own contemporary realities as public educators in Boston and Cambridge, this class will help us to think and strategize about how to organize our colleagues more effectively in an effort to bring about meaningful institutional and structural change.

Organizing and Resilience will be facilitated by Rabbi Leora Abelson and co-taught by Rabbis Shahar Colt, Laura Bellows and Daniel Schaefer.

This class is organized by Open Circle Social Action, a Hebrew College adult learning program supported by CJP.

Eser DIY Haggadah Workshop

Tired of the same old Passover haggadahs? Want to infuse your seder with creativity and put your personal spin on the Passover story? Always wanted to learn the history and significance of the elements of the seder? Join Eser for a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Haggadah Workshop!

The haggadah is the text that outlines the order of the symbolic meal of Passover, the seder. We’ll be discussing the various elements of the haggadah as we help you create your own unique booklet to take home and use for your Passover seder (or to bring to any you attend). No prior haggadah or craft knowledge necessary. Cost includes craft materials and snacks provided at the event.

The event will include haggadah-related learning with R. Eliana Jacobowitz (of Somerville’s Temple B’nai Brith) and a stamp making workshop with local artist Kit Collins.

Come for a fun learning and crafting afternoon, stay to have a drink, a bite, and a walk around the awesome Bow Market. With your amazing Eser friends, of course!

Space is limited for this event (we’re capping it at 40 people) — please register ahead. We won’t be accepting walk-ins. Thanks for understanding!

PLEASE NOTE: This event is for Eser 2019 participants and those participants of the Riverway Project’s Seder Squad, a training, support, and funding program for those in their 20s and 30s to host seders in their home. For more information on Seder Squad including applications, other sessions, and seders participating in the Squad, check out The Riverway Project’s websiteIf you are interested in participating in this event and are not a current participant in Eser 2019 or the Seder Squad, please contact Sara.


Date: April 7th
Time: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: The Canopy Room at Bow Market, in Union Square, Somerville.
Questions? Email Sara.
Cost: $10

Trip to Israel: “The Synagogue Then and Now: Israel Experience and Unity Mission”

Join Me’ah instructor Dr. David Bernat on a trip to Israel! “The Synagogue Then and Now: Israel Experience and Unity Mission”

Cosponsored by the Synagogue Council of MA, Keshet Educational Journeys, and Hebrew College

This trip is an ideal experiential complement to the Me’ah Classic curriculum, as well as to the substance of many Me’ah Select and Eser offerings.

Our Trip

  • Take an immersive historical approach to the topics of “Peoplehood and Pluralism,” from antiquity to modernity.
  • Visit the earliest physical centers of assembly and religious practice for the emerging Israelite and Jewish communities — shrines, temples, mikvaot, and the first synagogues.
  • In these contexts, study texts at, and appropriate to, the various locations.
  • Bring a modern lens to the same questions, with visits to innovative congregations, and cutting edge urban Kibbutzim.
  • Meet with leadership from institutions such as Oranim Educational College, The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies, and The Weizmann Institute of Science.
  • Connect in-depth with Boston-Haifa partners.
  • Take advantage of the top notch wine and food scene of Israel, practice yoga in the sun, and run the hills of Jerusalem and the banks of the Jordan.

Full itinerary



Our Guides

David Bernat is the Executive Director of the Synagogue Council of MA and a sought after Me’ah faculty member since 1998. David is an experienced guide, having planned and led our original Me’ah Israel trips from 2004-2007, along with teen and college trips to Israel and Nicaragua. He has a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Brandeis with publications in the areas of ancient Jewish ritual, especially circumcision, and the rhetoric of violence in Jewish tradition. Bernat is also a wine buff and avid outdoors-man who has completed two Boston Marathons and has an obstacle course racing team name The SavaJews.

Dudu Cohen is a veteran and master guide with a PhD in Biblical Archaeology from Hebrew University, and expertise in the geography of ancient Israel and the Levant. Among many achievements, he discovered a Roman road and was featured in Bruce Feiler’s book and PBS special “Walking the Bible.”  Dudu and David co-led two Me’ah tours and have collaborated on other scholarly and travel endeavors.

The trip is managed by Keshet Educational Journeys, the premier provider of Israel tours with an educational focus. Among many examples, Keshet facilitates the Gann Academy Israel experience, and the Hebrew College Educators’ tour.

Picnic in the Park: Yachad With Eser

In partnership with Yachad and Eser, come converse and connect with other folks in their 20s and 30s while we picnic in the park and talk about gratitude in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

If the weather is nice, we’ll be meeting at the Fenway. Use “The Fenway Garden Society” as the location when finding your way!

In case of rain, we’ll advise about a location change.

Feel free to bring your own dairy or parve lunch. Snacks and beverages will be served. Kosher dietary laws will be observed.

Annual Lecture on Jewish Genealogy

“Credit to the Nation: East European Jewish Immigrant Bankers, Mass Migration and American Finance” with Rebecca Kobrin – co-sponsored by Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Boston and Hebrew College. Jewish immigrant bankers helped shape the mass migration of Jews from Eastern Europe and the development of 20th century American finance.  Entrepreneurial Jewish immigrants formed small banks to facilitate purchasing passage to America. Their innovative credit mechanisms gave immigrant Jews, who could offer no collateral, access to basic financial services. They encouraged immigrants to invest in new homes, contributing to the immigrants’ economic success and the expanding U.S. economy.

Dr. Rebecca Kobrin is the Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History at Columbia University.  Her book Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora (2010) was a National Jewish Book finalist.  She is editor and author of multiple books on Jewish history and its impact on American capitalism. Her next book, Credit to the Nation: Jewish Immigrant Bankers and American Finance, 1870-1914, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2019. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

Torah Godly Play Training

Torah Godly Play © is an accredited Torah-telling practice used in religious education throughout the world designed to enhance the spiritual lives of children. Its application to Jewish education has been pioneered by the Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education at Hebrew College and a community of practice led by Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire. Teachers in Jewish Education settings are invited to participate to enhance their repertoire of teaching Torah. There will be an opportunity to practice the art of Torah Godly Play, experience newly written stories on Jewish holidays and Torah stories and to enroll in a community of practice designed to support practitioners of Torah Godly Play. There will be an opportunity to take home materials to tell your first story. Learn more