Open Circle Jewish Learning Winter/Spring 2022 Courses

20s & 30s

 Moses: Man, Midrash and Mystery (4 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Shani Rosenbaum
Dates: March 22, 29 April 5, 12, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Eastern
Cohort: Temple Beth Shalom, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Location: In person, Temple Beth Shalom, Cambridge MA
Fee: $60
Register: Register now

 Perhaps the most central human figure in the Hebrew Bible, Moses famously—and perhaps, characteristically—disappears from the story on seder night. What might emerge when we cast a spotlight on “the most humble man on earth” (Numbers, 12:3)? Through close reading of the Biblical text and midrashim that dig beneath its surface, we’ll ask: Who was Moshe—the prophet, and the person? Who were his teachers, and what might we learn from them as we prepare for our own liberation? 

 

Rethinking Reproduction: New Approaches to an Ancient Jewish Conversation (4 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Shani Rosenbaum
Dates: May 3, 10, 17, 24, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Eastern
Location: Online via Zoom
Fee: $60
Register: Register now

What does it mean to have or raise a child—or not to? What is the status of a fetus? What values, questions, hopes and fears arise from the command to “be fruitful and multiply”? (Gen 1:28) With a potentially momentous Supreme Court decision pending, we’ll open a dialogue with classical Jewish texts and with each other, seeking fresh language for approaching this ancient and urgent set of deeply human questions. 

Dreamweaver: The Stories of Rebbe Nachman (4 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Getzel Davis
Dates: January 19, 26; February 2, 9, 2022
Day and Time: Wednesdays, 8-9:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Online via Zoom
Fee: $60
Register: Register now 

Come and dream along with Rebbe Nachman of Breslev this winter as together, we explore Rebbe Nachman’s stories. Rebbe Nachman was an amazing storyteller, weaving tales that were often fairytale-like in their construction and filled with the most esoteric Kabbalistic symbolism. These stories mirrored his personal dreams and often reflect our own. The Rebbe designed his stories intentionally, to arouse us from our spiritual slumber and connect us on a pre-intellectual level to the Divine. They are also fun, wacky, and represent some of the first Jewish fiction. All are welcome to join, regardless of Jewish background, Hebrew/Yiddish skills, or faith. There will be an expectation of about 30 pages of reading in preparation for each session. All will be invited (but not required) to bring their own dreams or daydreams for spiritual inquiry.

 

From Miriam to Marlee Matlin: Brave and Brilliant Jewish Women (8 sessions)

Instructor: Elisha Gechter
Dates: March 21, 28; April 4, 11, 25; May 2, 9, 23, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays 8-9:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Online via Zoom
Fee: $120
Register: Register now  

Come study with us about eight women throughout Jewish history who broke barriers, lead with creativity, and examine their legacies. From the Biblical prophetess Miriam who led the newly freed Jewish slaves in song and dance, to Marlee Matlin who didn’t listen to all the “no’s” she received on her way to stardom. We will discuss politicians, artists, educators, businesswomen, philanthropists, scholars, rabbis and leaders and consider how their lives and actions inspire us. Building on a class last semester (no prerequisites required) we will spend 2 months digging into the stories of women across identities, observances, regions and time periods with an amazing group of students from a range of geographic locations and ages. Exploring Jewish texts that illuminate these women’s challenges and triumphs we will discuss how the brave actions of these women and the brilliant ideas they nurtured apply to our own lives.

 

Inner Journeys with the Omer (8 sessions)

Instructors: Rabbi David Curiel and Rabbi Getzel Davis
Dates: April 12, 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays 8-9:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: On-line via Zoom
Fee: $120
Registration: Register now

After the sweet heights of Pesach, we count the Omer—the 49 days between redemption from Egypt and the revelation at Mt. Sinai—an invitation to do the spiritual work that opens the pathways from humanity to Divinity (and back). Join rabbi David Curiel and guest teacher Getzel Davis in a deepened exploration of the lower sefirot—the qualities of God, self, and world found in the mystical Kabbalah.  Each week we will explore that week’s sefirah through text, soul, and self, including spiritual practices to enrich the journey. Our first session, before Pesach, will serve as an overview of the sefirotic system. Over the following seven weeks, we will explore all seven ‘lower sefirot’ in depth and introduce the higher worlds as well. Open to all!

Jewish Wisdom for Life’s Great Questions (Rabbi Rachel Putterman) (6 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Rachel Putterman
Dates: April  13, 20, 27; May 11, 18, 25, 2022 (Please note these new dates reflect a one-week postponement from the originally published start date of April 6)
Day and Time: Wednesdays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: On-line via Zoom
Fee: $90*
Register: Register now 
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

What is the role of gratitude in our lives? Is forgiveness important? How do we present ourselves to the world? Who am I responsible for? What is my relationship with God, and who is the God I don’t believe in? Join Rabbi Rachel Putterman for a Jewish exploration of these questions and other  pressing issues such as the uses and abuses of social media, protest versus. prayer,  being spiritual but not religious, and vocation. Drawing inspiration from traditional Jewish texts and contemporary sources including music and poetry, we will engage in lively conversations that will help us find meaning and connection during these tumultuous times. All that’s required to participate is a healthy dose of curiosity.  No prior Hebrew or Jewish learning necessary.

Jewish Practice & Creative Practice: A Search for Congruity (6 sessions)

Instructor: David Mahfouda
Dates: March 30; April 6,13, 27; May 4, 11, 2022
Day and Time: Wednesdays, 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: On-line via Zoom
Fee: $90*
Registration: Register now
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

How can Jewish text and Jewish practice inform our ability to live creatively in this time? How can creative practice help us understand and access our spirituality more generally? Is creativity integral to living just and fulfilled lives? In this discussion and studio course, we will look at themes that have occupied art production and the Jewish imagination for millennia: the presence and absence of the Author; what happens when creations go out of control; the tension between discipline, practice, spontaneity, and inspiration; and the poetics of darkness and light. We will also make small optional weekly experiments in our own lives and artistic practices. This class welcomes all artists and art lovers!

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Rest in the Seventh: Shabbat, Shmitta, and the Sabbatical Cycles of Redemption and m (6 sessions)

Instructors: Rabbi Getzel Davis and Leora Mallach
Dates: May 4, 11, 18, 25; June 1, 8, 2022
Day and Time: Wednesdays 8-9:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Online via Zoom
Registration: cancelled

This Hebrew year 5782 is the Shmita year, a sabbatical year of rest and release. How might we personally and collectively prepare for a year of rest, reset, and radical rejuvenation? Starting with the study of Shabbat, each week we’ll ground ourselves in text and conversation around our weekly, holiday and yearly cycles and explore what “release” might truly mean. We will delve into Biblical, rabbinic, and post-modern wisdom and draw on our own experiences as we vision what is possible.

Sex, Intimacy, and Relationships: Toward a Postmodern Jewish Sexual Ethic (6 sessions)

Instructor: Emily Rogal
Dates: February 22; March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Eastern
Location: In-person at Harvard Hillel (please note: all participants will be required to follow Harvard’s Covid testing regimen as required ahead of each session).
Cohort: Harvard Hillel Graduate student network                                                         Fee: $90*
Registration: This class is full. We are no longer accepting registrations for this class.
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

Sexuality and intimacy are central to our identities and experiences as human beings, yet we have few opportunities to speak about them in a frank, open, and explicitly Jewish way. In this class, we will read — broadly and generously — traditional Jewish texts on intimacy, gender, sexuality, and other related topics.

There Is a Season: Through the Jewish Calendar (6 sessions)

Instructor: Sara Klugman
Dates: March 30; April 6, 13, 20, 27; May 4, 2022
Day and Time: Wednesdays, 6:30-8 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Online via Zoom
Fee: $90*
Registration: Register now
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

How does the Jewish holiday cycle work? What are the animating ideas, themes, and visions of its practice? Are there spaces for dissent, doubt, or disaffection in the calendar, or is practicing tantamount to “believing?” These questions and more will be the subject of our time together.

 


Social Action

American Jews and Racial Justice: Where we are now and how we got here-Part Two (4 sessions)

Instructor: Dr. Marc Dollinger (spring)
Dates: March 17, April 7, May 5, June 2, 2022
Day and Time: Thursday evenings, 7:15-8:45 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $72
Register: Register

Part Two: America Jews and Race: A Historical Perspective. This is the second of a two-part course exploring the current status of the Jewish response to ongoing racial inequity and trace its historical trajectory. -Learn about the most important historical moments for American Jews and questions of race. Explore how white-presenting Jews have, and have not, been considered privileged in U.S. history.  Dive deep into the civil rights movement of the 1950s and early 1960s, learning new insights into both southern Jews and northern Jewish participation in racial justice causes. Learn about the apparent break-up of the Black/Jewish alliance in the mid-1960s with a close reading of the Black Power movement and its inspiration for American Jewish public identity. Finally, examine actual historical documents going back 360 years revealing the interconnection between Jews, race, and racism, that show us how “becoming American” often meant participation in racist systems.

The Case for Reparations: Talmudic Text in Conversation with Today’s America (6 sessions)

Instructor: Alona Weimer
Dates:
 February 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Fee:
$108
Register:
Register now

What do Talmudic texts reveal about a Jewish ethic of reparations? How can we read Jewish tradition as insisting upon collective redress of historic harms? What do Black and Indigenous activists mean when they say, “Reparations” and “Land Back?” How do rabbinic ideas about atonement and repair apply to the contemporary moment?

This course will engage with Talmudic texts alongside Black and Indigenous thinkers to articulate our collective obligation to intervene in the historic and ongoing theft of wealth, labor, and land. Using these framings, we will discuss what happens when we inherit a society built on stolen wealth, what Jewish history reveals about the emotional and political implications of reparations, and what communities are doing today to intervene.

From Narrowness to Freedom: Preparing for Passover with Fat Torah (5 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Minna Bromberg
Dates: March 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10, 2022
Day and Time: Sundays 2:30-4 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $90
Register: Register now

This course will explore both how fatphobia can be a barrier to full inclusion (e.g. when metaphors of fatness are used in talking about not eating chametz) and how Jewish tradition itself can be deployed to create a body liberatory approach to Passover—this most central of Jewish observances. Using the Fat Torah approach to Jewish text and tradition—addressing the issues of sacred space, sacred speech, sacred time, and sacred text—we will cover topics including physical accessibility at the seder table, getting rid of anti-fat bias in Pesach metaphors, understanding “yetzi’at mitzrayim” as leaving diet culture behind, and re-reading the Song of Songs (a biblical text traditionally read at Passover) as a body positive text.

Pursuing Justice: Walking Whole-heartedly in a Broken World (Rabbi Navah Levine daytime) (6 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Navah Levine
Dates: March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; April 5, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 12 noon-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $90*
Register: Register now
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

How might Jewish tradition refract an ethos for the kind of commitments we want to make and the actions we want to take to improve our shared society? For whom are we responsible? What do we need to know about ethics, power, and action before we>make those decisions? To address these enduring questions, we will look to classical and contemporary Jewish wisdom, to see what it might offer us as we work toward creating a more just world.

 


Arts & Culture

Amulets, Incantations and the Evil Eye: Jewish Magic and Folklore (4 sessions)

Instructor: Kohenet Dr. D’vorah J. Grenn
Dates: March 1, 15, 29; April 12, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 10-11:30 a.m. Pacific Time; 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $108
Register: Register now 

This class will be an experience in learning about Jewish magic and folk traditions embodied by sacred amulets, incantations and other protective devices we’ve used over the last 4,000 years+ to insure good health, safety, success and more. What constitutes magic? Why has it been denied or officially denounced as being part of our tradition?  Are we appealing to a divine unseen energy when we do “magic” as we do when we pray? What role does faith play in the design and enactment of magical acts? Through a rich array of images, iconography and symbols, attendees will learn about sought-after ritual objects that have been crafted since ancient times by rabbis, priestesses, magicians, scribes, healers, “sorceresses” and laypeople–and those in use today. Students will have the opportunity to share family customs and beliefs around magic and ritual objects, and to create their own amulet in the last class.

Feasts, Fasts, and Fakeries: The Scroll of Esther through a Photographic Lens (6 sessions)

Instructor: Leann Shamash
Dates: February 13, 20, 27; March 6, 13, 20, 2022  >Note new dates<
Day and Time: Sundays from 10:30 a.m.-12 noon Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $162
Register: Register now 

Megillat Esther is a short scroll with a story of great drama, color and intrigue that reads like a novel. The book is full or rich themes and motifs, including sumptuous parties and feasts, court intrigue, bravery, strong women, beauty, heroes, and villains, and much more. How can we create a visual dive into Megillat Esther, specifically through photography? In this class students will be asked to read the Megillah closely, examining chapters weekly week by week. Participants will be asked to find a theme in the reading that they will then explore through photographs. No prior photography experience is required, but experienced photographers and avid hobbyists are enthusiastically welcome! The class itself will involve sharing our ideas, sharing our photos and some text study together.

Jewish Practice & Creative Practice: A Search for Congruity (6 sessions)

Instructor: David Mahfouda
Dates: March 3; April 7,14, 21, 28; May 5, 2022
Day and Time: Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $90*
Registration: Register now 
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

How can Jewish text and Jewish practice inform our ability to live creatively in this time? How can creative practice help us understand and access our spirituality more generally? Is creativity integral to living just and fulfilled lives? In this discussion and studio course, we will look at themes that have occupied art production and the Jewish imagination for millennia: the presence and absence of the Author; what happens when creations go out of control; the tension between discipline, practice, spontaneity, and inspiration; and the poetics of darkness and light. We will also make small optional weekly experiments in our own lives and artistic practices. This class welcomes all artists and art lovers!


Mindfulness

Advanced Mussar Study/Practice Group (8 sessions)

Instructor:  Rabbi Marcia Plumb
Dates: January 25; February 8, 15; March 8, 22; April 5, 26; May 10, 24, 2022 (Make-up session)
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 7:30-9 p.m. Eastern Time
Cohort: Temple Shir Tikvah Winchester
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Register: Register now 

The study group members will use Mussar texts and practices combined with personal interactions to align their daily behavior more closely with their spiritual values.

 Mussar: A Jewish Spiritual Path of Conscious Living (8 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Carol Glass
Dates: February 22; March 8, 22; April 5, 19, May 3, 17, 31, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays 10-11:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Cancelled

How can we grow in compassion, spiritual depth, and moral courage?  How can we deepen our connection to purpose, to the Sacred and to each other?  We can engage in the Jewish practice of Mussar.  Imagine a unique prism-like gem inside every person, refracting out that individual’s interior light. Just as the quality of refraction is impacted by the clarity of facets on actual gems, the clarity of the facets on our internal gems greatly affects how our Divine light shines out into the world.

What is Mussar?  It is a contemplative, Jewish path for mindfully attending to, and refining the facets, or Middot (ethical character traits) of our own gem— which represent our soul.  This process of refining our Middot/character traits, thus enables our unique light to shine as brightly as possible in this world.

Mussar growth happens in a group context, through learning and practice that includes interactive text study, mindfulness practices, sharing of personal insights and experiences, and non-judgmental presence to one another.

No specific background required. Confidentiality, regular attendance, and a willingness to devote small amounts of time between meetings to practice and to checking in with an assigned buddy from the group, are expected.   For those new to Mussar, ‘mentoring’ is available.

Yiddish Tkhines & Spontaneous Prayer (5 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Noam Lerman
Dates: February 14, 21, 28; March 7, 14, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays,6:30-8 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $135
Registration: Register now

Did Rebbe Nachman learn hisbodedus, the practice of praying and conversing with G-d in the woods, from his grandma? Come explore the history and practice of Yiddish Tkhines, Ashkenazi supplications that were once regularly written and prayed by women, trans, and gender non-conforming people. While we are together, we will lean into the practice of zogn tkhines, of speaking and writing our spontaneous prayers as grandmothers and trAncestors once did. There will be singing, storytelling, embodied ritual, praying, and writing, as together we discover how spontaneous prayer has been passed down by women, trans, and gender-non-conforming people from generation to generation.


Texts & Traditions

Amulets, Incantations and the Evil Eye: Jewish Magic and Folklore (4 sessions)

Instructor: Kohenet Dr. D’vorah J. Grenn
Dates: March 1, 15, 29; April 12, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 10-11:30 a.m. Pacific Time; 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $108
Register: Register now 

This class will be an experience in learning about Jewish magic and folk traditions embodied by sacred amulets, incantations and other protective devices we’ve used over the last 4,000 years+ to insure good health, safety, success and more. What constitutes magic? Why has it been denied or officially denounced as being part of our tradition?  Are we appealing to a divine unseen energy when we do “magic” as we do when we pray? What role does faith play in the design and enactment of magical acts? Through a rich array of images, iconography and symbols, attendees will learn about sought-after ritual objects that have been crafted since ancient times by rabbis, priestesses, magicians, scribes, healers, “sorceresses” and laypeople–and those in use today. Students will have the opportunity to share family customs and beliefs around magic and ritual objects, and to create their own amulet in the last class.
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B’Simcha: The Myths and Realities of Cultivating True Happiness (8 sessions)

Instructor: Ketriellah Goldfeder
Dates: February 6, 20; March 6, 20; April 3, 24; May 8, 22, 2022
Day and Time: Sundays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Every other month in person in Sharon, MA and alternating with Zoom the other months
Fee: $216
Register: Register now

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us that it’s a great mitzvah to always be happy (Mitzvah Gedolah L’hiot B’simcha Tamid). But what is the happiness he is referring to? People’s assumption about what happiness is might push them toward Happiness Myths. In this class we will move away from those myths towards an exploration of what truly helps us to create a rich, full and meaningful life.

In this course we will explore:

  • Why can it be so hard to be happy?
  • What challenging thoughts, feelings and situations “hook” you and take you away from happiness, and what will help you “unhook”?
  • How can you fully live your life with mindfulness and savor the pleasant moments big and small?
  • How can you calibrate your inner compass to guide you toward your values and goals?
  • Why are acceptance and self-compassion essential when walking on this narrow bridge of life?

We’ll be learning Torah texts as well as exploring the most recent evidence-based practices of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Exploring Talmud through the Daily Daf Yomi

Instructor: Layah Kranz Lipsker
Day and Time: Mondays (or *Tuesdays) and Thursdays 9-9:45 a.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Sessions and Dates:

Daf Yomi WINTER (Dec 6-Feb 28): December: 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 2021; January: 3, 6, 10, 13, 18*, 20, 24, 27, 31; February: 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 22*, 24, 28, 2022. (23 sessions)
Fee: $310.
Register: Register now 

Daf Yomi SPRING (Mar 3-May 26): March: 3, 7, 10, 14, 21, 24, 28, 31; April: 4, 7, 11, 14, 25, 28; May: 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 2022. (22 sessions)
Fee: $297
Register: Register now

This is your opportunity to join Jews around the world in the daily study of Talmud. Layah will lead a 45-minute study two times each week to discuss themes in the daily Daf (page or folio) and its relevance for the modern Jew. This is a beginners Talmud class and is entirely in English.

Feasts, Fasts, and Fakeries: The Scroll of Esther through a Photographic Lens (6 sessions)

Instructor: Leann Shamash
Dates: February 6, 13, 20, 27; March 6, 13, 2022
Day and Time: Sundays from 10:30 a.m.-12 noon Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $162
Register: Register now 

Megillat Esther is a short scroll with a story of great drama, color and intrigue that reads like a novel. The book is full or rich themes and motifs, including sumptuous parties and feasts, court intrigue, bravery, strong women, beauty, heroes, and villains, and much more. How can we create a visual dive into Megillat Esther, specifically through photography? In this class students will be asked to read the Megillah closely, examining chapters weekly week by week. Participants will be asked to find a theme in the reading that they will then explore through photographs. No prior photography experience is required, but experienced photographers and avid hobbyists are enthusiastically welcome! The class itself will involve sharing our ideas, sharing our photos and some text study together.

Jewish Feminist Theology: What Does God Have to do with it? (6 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Rachel Putterman
Dates: February 9, 16, 23; March 2, 9, 23, 2022
Day and Time: Wednesdays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $162
Register: Register now 

We will begin by examining the birth of Jewish feminism in the last century and the context in which Jewish feminist theology arose. Next, we will focus on male God language in both Torah and liturgy and look at alternatives, including prayers written by Marcia Falk and the very recent Beit Toratah project. Lastly, we will read and discuss contemporary feminist theologies. By the end of the class, participants should have an understanding of Jewish feminist theology including its cultural evolution and practical implications. The format of this class will include a combination of slide show presentations, Youtube clips, poetry, class discussions, and hevrutah learning.

Torah for Tough Times: Jewish Wisdom for Life’s Great Challenges  (4 sessions)

Instructor: Deborah Anstandig
Dates: April 4, 11, 25; May 2, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Eastern
Location: Zoom
Fee: $60*
Registration: Register now
*This course is partially funded by the Hebrew College/IYUN Fellowship grant.

Torah for Tough Times: Jewish Wisdom for Life’s Great Challenges

As we look at our world in 2022, we live in what will hopefully be a moment of transition from plague and illness to health. Yet we fear for the civilian lives in a war-torn Ukraine. We have deep concerns about the sustainability of our planet. How can we, like our life-affirming ancestors, live in the uncertain moments with gratitude, intention, and joy?  In this course, we’ll explore questions that respond to this particular moment: What is God and where is God in these moments? How can we respond in moments of injustice?  How do we prioritize our competing obligations?  How do we balance self-care with concern for others?

Mishna Yoma: Horror Vacui (Fear of the Void) (8 sessions)

Instructor: Matt Schultz
Dates: February 21; March 7, 21; April 4, 25; May 9, 23; June 6, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays 7:15-8:45 p.m. Eastern Time
Cohort: Temple Sinai
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Register: Register now

Mishna Yoma reads like a how-to guide for High Priests in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. It details animal sacrifices, incense offerings, and the High Priest’s journey to the inner sanctum of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. Unlike the inner sanctums of other ancient, near-eastern temples, the Holy of Holies housed no idols. It was an empty space yet regarded as a place of fierce and potentially life-threatening spiritual power. But this is 2021. There is no Temple and no High Priest. There is no sacrificial service and no Holy of Holies. So how do we make sense of this today? In this class, we will read the Mishna in tandem with texts exploring the metaphysical, metaphorical, and mythic meaning of the Temple in Jewish thought. Our goal is to enter deeply into the Mishna, discovering how it transcends its historic moment and speaks to us today.

Reading the Rabbis: The Puzzle of Pesach (5 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Natan Margalit, PhD
Day and Time: Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Dates: February 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10, 2022
Location: On-line via Zoom
Fee: $135
Register: Register now 

Have you wished that you could open the sources of the rabbinic tradition and read them for yourself? In this course we will not only learn a lot about the holiday of Passover, but we will gain skills and practice in reading Mishnah, Midrash, Talmud and commentaries in the original languages (Hebrew and Aramaic). This class is for those who already have some Hebrew and wish to gain more skills including: some basic Aramaic vocabulary, reading without vowels, reading Rashi script, learning some common “roshei tevot” (acronyms, abbreviations) and how to put it all together into making sense of these fascinating texts.  We will dive into the Mishnah of Tractate Pesachim (chapter ten) with traditional commentaries as well as midrash and Talmud.

Students will have an opportunity to develop their skills starting from where they are, using “hevruta” learning partners, as well as sharing and supporting one another in the(virtual) classroom setting.  In addition to the “nuts and bolts” of learning to read these texts, we will ask: “What are the best strategies for reading these texts?” “What are the rabbis trying to accomplish?” “What is left out of the text which the reader needs to infer?” and more.  Students will get the most out of this course by using time outside of class to prepare the materials. This can be done with a study partner or, if they prefer, on their own. In this way, the class time can be used to learn new skills, get feedback, and of course, engage with the material through analyzing and discussing the texts of Mishnah, Midrash and Talmud.

Song of Songs in the Rabbinic and Mystic Imagination (5 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Natan Margalit, PhD.
Dates: March 24, 31, April 7, 28; May 5, 2022
Day and Time: Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: On-line via Zoom
Fee: $135
Register: Register now

In this class we will gain skills and practice in reading Midrash, Talmud as well as some Zohar and other mystical texts in the original languages (Hebrew and Aramaic). This class is for those who already have some Hebrew and wish to gain more skills including: some basic Aramaic vocabulary, used in the Zohar and in many rabbinic texts, reading without vowels, reading Rashi script, learning some common “roshei tevot” (acronyms, abbreviations) and how to put it all together into making sense of these fascinating texts. The Song of Songs is one of the most beautiful and also most inscrutable of all the biblical books. Its poetry and imagery inspired Rabbi Akiva to compare it to the Holy of Holies. No wonder it nourished the imagination of both the early rabbinic sages and the later kabbalists and mystics. Students will have an opportunity to develop their skills starting from where they are, using “hevruta” learning partners, as well as sharing and supporting one another in the (virtual) classroom setting.

Reading the Rabbis: Pesach and Song of Songs – Combined (10 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Natan Margalit, PhD.
Dates: February 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10, 24, 31, April 7, 28; May 5, 2022
Day and Time: Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location:
Zoom
Fee: $270
Register: Register now 

Use this registration link to register for both 5-session courses being offered by Rabbi Natan Margalit: Reading the Rabbis: The Puzzle of Pesach, and Song of Songs in the Rabbinic and Mystic Imagination. (See full course descriptions above.)

Rebbe Menachem Nachum’s Luminous Torah: The Me’or Eynaim/Light of the Eyes (6 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Lev Friedman
Dates: February 15, 22; March 1, 8, 15, 22, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays 2:30-4 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $162
Register: Cancelled

In this experiential class, we will delve into hidden messages and meanings that lie beneath the simple reading of selected Torah texts through the teachings of the rabbi and mystic, Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl (1730-1787). He is known by the moniker, The Me’or Eynaim (Light of the Eyes) after his best-known work. This rebbe learned from both the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch and was therefore influential on successive generations of Hasidim and instrumental in the growth of the Renewal movement that we now know as Hasidism or Hasidut. Well ahead of his time, he understood that the religious/spiritual experience involves inner transformation. Each text we encounter will offer the possibility of insights into our own psycho-spiritual lives with the aspiration that our own interiority will be illuminated, expanded and transformed. The class will utilize music, meditation, hevruta (paired) study and group discussion. Come learn from a Master of Torah, The Meor Eynaim.

The Soul of a Mitzvah (Wayland) – (8 sessions)

Instructor: Layah Kranz Lipsker
Dates, Day and Time: January 19; February 2, 16, 2022; Wednesdays 4-5:30 p.m. Eastern Time; March 2, 23; April 6, 27; May 4, 2022, Thursdays 12 noon-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Day and Time: Wednesdays 4-5:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Cohort: Wayland
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Register: Register now 

The word Mitzvah means ‘commandment’ but also means ‘connection.’  This course will explore the soul of several Mitzvot such as Mezuzah, Shabbat, and Prayer, through the lens of Kaballah.

The Soul of a Mitzvah (Rashi Moms) – (8 sessions)

Instructor: Layah Kranz Lipsker
Dates: February 7, 28; March 7, 21; April 4, 11; May 2, 16, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays 10-11:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Cohort: Rashi Moms
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Register: Register now

The word Mitzvah means ‘commandment’ but also means ‘connection.’  This course will explore the soul of several Mitzvot such as Mezuzah, Shabbat, and Prayer, through the lens of Kaballah.

TEXT MESSAGES: Jewish Wisdom about Love, Loss and Change (8 sessions)

Instructor: Naomi Gurt Lind
Dates: March 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10, 24; May 1, 8, 2022
Time: Sundays 7:30-9 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Registration:  Cancelled

In each session we will read a few texts in English (with Hebrew alongside to deepen the study), and then explore some juicy questions that relate it to modern life or contemporary situations. TEXT MESSAGES is geared to be welcoming to novices and explorers and does not require prior experience with text study or Hebrew. At the same time, experienced text learners will encounter these words anew, seeing them refracted through their classmates’ lived experience and their own. This course is intended for anyone with an interest in expanding their Jewish learning and joining in the ongoing conversation of Jewish wisdom.

Tzedakah, Taxes and Torah: Dilemmas in Jewish Finance Ethics (6 sessions)

Instructor: Allen Lipson
Dates: March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4, 11, 2022
Time: Mondays 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $162
Registration:  Register now

We all take in and spend money most days of our lives, through salaries, living expenses or savings. While we’re all affected by communal and governmental decisions about money, the vast body of Jewish financial ethics receives scant attention relative to other legal concerns like Shabbat observance and kashrut. This course is geared towards all those interested in examining their convictions around money through the lens of Jewish sources. Whether as a consumer, a financial professional, an organizer, or a retiree, discover what rabbis and other Jewish thinkers have to say about the way we spend and treat money.


The Wisdom of Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg: A Modern Roadmap for the Jewish Way (8 sessions)

Instructor: Rabbi Craig Marantz
Dates: February 15; March 1, 15, 29; April 12, 26; May 10, 24, 2022
Day and Time: Tuesdays 7:15-8:45 p.m.
Location: Zoom
Fee: $216
Register: Cancelled

In this series, we will study the powerful and enduring ideas of modern theologian Irving Greenberg. Rabbi Greenberg, or Rav Yitz as his students call him, is known broadly as a gentle yet brilliant beacon of k’lal Yisrael, a great champion of diverse, inclusive, and responsive Jewish peoplehood. Rabbi Greenberg’s wisdom is accessible, and his mentschlikeit is abundant.

In our time together, we will explore Rav Yitz’s thoughts about Jewish continuity and change, betzelem Elohim (living in God’s image), tikkun olam, holidays, covenantal pluralism and interfaith outreach, the Shoah, and modern Israel. And, to top it all off, we’ll reflect on Rabbi Greenberg’s profound legacy of Torah.

Our sources will include excerpts from Rabbi Greenberg’s The Jewish Way, among other essential writings. All sources will be provided electronically.

Looking forward to welcoming you for this enlightening exploration of a modern-day Torah giant.

Yiddish Tkhines & Spontaneous Prayer

Instructor: Rabbi Noam Lerman
Dates: February 14, 21, 28; March 7, 14, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays, 6:30-8 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $135
Register: Register now

Did Rebbe Nachman learn hisbodedus, the practice of praying and conversing with G-d in the woods, from his grandma? Come explore the history and practice of Yiddish Tkhines, Ashkenazi supplications that were once regularly written and prayed by women, trans, and gender non-conforming people. While we are together, we will lean into the practice of zogn tkhines, of speaking and writing our spontaneous prayers as grandmothers and trAncestors once did. There will be singing, storytelling, embodied ritual, praying, and writing, as together we discover how spontaneous prayer has been passed down by women, trans, and gender-non-conforming people from generation to generation.

The Kabbalah of Mindfulness (6 sessions)

Instructor: Layah Kranz Lipsker
Dates: February 14, March 14, 28; April 25, May 9, 23, 2022
Day and Time: Mondays 10-11:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Location: Zoom
Fee: $162
Register: Register now

This course will address the practice of moving past our ego to a connection with our higher self. By learning to detach from our thoughts, we begin to live in our souls.