Open Circle Jewish Learning

Open Circle Jewish Learning, sponsored by Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), brings together small groups of curious, engaged learners with exceptional educators to dive into an array of compelling topics and practices.

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Open Circle Jewish Learning
  • time Adults of all ages
  • location Living rooms, synagogues, and community spaces
  • duration 6 to 18 Sessions
Register

Current Offerings:

Please scroll down for full course descriptions. 

 

Courageous Conversations: Engaging Across Lines of Difference Rabbi Or Rose Temple Israel of Natick Thursdays, 9:30-11:00 a.m., April 23, 30; May 7, 14, 21, 28. Register
Crises of Leadership in the Wilderness: From Exodus to the Book of Numbers (Intermediate Level, Spring Session) Rachel Adelman Hebrew College Mondays, 4-5:30 p.m., February 10, 24; March 2, 16, 23, 30; April 20 and 27; May 4, 11. Register
Cultivating an Authentic Relationship to Self, Others and God through the  Lens of the Hebrew Months (Spring Session) Ketriellah Goldfeder Private residence, Sharon Sundays, 7:30-9 p.m., January 12, 26; February 9, 23; March 8, 22; April 26; May 10, 24; and June 7, 21.  Register
Eser 2020 – Hindsight is 2020: Judaism’s Ten Most Surprising Moments (Young Adult Courses) Various Instructors Various Locations March through May 2020–dates depend upon site. Click here for more details. Register
Feeding the Hungry Simcha Halpert-Hanson First Parish (Cambridge)

Lamplighter Brewing Company (Cambridge)

Tuesdays 5:15-7:30 p.m., January 21, 28; February 4, 11, 18, 25. Register
Israel 101+: Conversations about the History of Zionism and Israel Jonathan Golden and Yoni Kadden Gann Academy, Waltham Mondays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., February 24; March 2, 16, 23, 30; April 20. Register
Jewish Mindfulness (Young Adult Course) Beni Summers Private home in Somerville Wednesdays, 7:15-8:45 p.m., January 29; February 5, 12, 19 and 26; March 4. Register
The Kabbalah of Relationships Layah Lipsker The Vilna Shul Thursdays, 12:00-1:30 p.m., February 6, 27; March 12, 26;  April 2, 23. Register
Mussar–A Jewish Path to Spiritual Development Rabbi Carol Glass Or Atid, Wayland Mondays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., January 13, February 3, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1. Register
Six Jews of Vilna Rachel Greenblatt The Vilna Shul Wednesdays, 7:30-9:00 p.m., January 29; February 12, 26; March 11, 25; April 1. Register
Spiraling Through Time: Radically Rethinking Our Relationship to Land Getzel Davis and Leora Mallach Hebrew College Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:00 p.m., January 21, 28; February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 3. Register
Writing Through
a Jewish Lens:
A Jewish
Women’s Writing
Workshop (Spring Session)
Joan Leegant Hebrew College Tuesdays, 7-8:45 p.m., March 17, 24, 31; April 7, 21, 28. Register
Zivug: From Finding Love to Transitioning to Marriage (Young Adult Class) Rabbi Getzel Davis Private Home in Brighton Mondays, 7:30-9:00 p.m., January 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24; and March 2. Register

If you are current student looking for details on a course in which you are already enrolled, please click here.

Current Course Descriptions

How do we express our deeply held values and convictions while remaining open to learning with and from people who hold different, even opposing, views? Whether internal to the Jewish community or across religious or cultural lines, holding the tension between our particularity and universality is an ongoing challenge. In this course, we will explore a number of case studies relating to religious, political, and ideological challenges, asking both how we would weigh in on the matters at hand and how we might do so with passion and compassion. Our study will also include exploration of a number of Jewish and general sources related to issues of dialogue, humility, pluralism, dignity, and truth and reconciliation.  

Instructor: Rabbi Or Rose

Temple Israel of Natick: Thursdays, 9:30-11:00 a.m., April 23, 30; May 7, 14, 21, 28.

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This course explores crises in leadership in the Torah, from populist revolts to rivalry on high. We will review the sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the Tablets and Moses’ response to the ministering women and their gift of mirrors. We will also address several crises in the desert sojourn: the grumblings for meat, questions of prophecy, the sin of the spies, and Korah’s rebellion. Readings will draw from classic and modern sources. Prior text experience with the Hebrew Bible or Meah course required.

Instructor: Rachel Adelman

Hebrew College: Mondays, 4-5:30 p.m., February 10, 24; March 2, 16, 23, 30; April 20 and 27; May 4, 11.

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These sessions will include Torah text study, mindfulness and body centered exercises, journaling and compassionate listening partnerships to help cultivate an authentic relationship with self, others and God.

Instructor: Ketriellah Goldfeder

Private Home, Sharon: Sundays, 7:30-9 p.m., January 12, 26; February 9, 23; March 8, 22; April 26; May 10, 24; and June 7, 21.

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Looking back on many millennia of Jewish existence, there have been some particularly unconventional and surprising moments in our tradition. In Eser 2020, we’re looking at these moments in relation to current themes and trends within the modern Jewish community, using these past events to offer new insights into how we understand contemporary Jewish identity for young adults.

Topics include:

  • Discovery of Ethopian Jewry (1867)
  • Baruch Spinoza (1655)
  • Trefa Banquet (1883)
  • Mushroom Synagogues shut down (1920s)
  • Golden calf (biblical)
  • Abraham’s Circumcision (biblical)
  • G*D of Vengeance arrests (1923)
  • Stars banned at Dyke March (2018)
  • Revival of Hebrew language (1881)
  • David and Batsheva (biblical)

Named for its 10 sessions, Eser brings together young adults throughout Greater Boston each spring to explore contemporary issues and ideas through a Jewish lens, and to build connection and community through conversation. Eser participants meet  for 10 sessions of facilitated discussion and Jewish learning around a specific “top ten” theme in convenient locations across the Boston area.

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This 6-session course is designed to connect participants to foundational knowledge about Israel and show how these facts affect key stances. Originally developed as part of the My Israel program for Gann students, it is a lively interactive class based on recitation of source material, dual-instructor explanation, and probing group discussions. Each session also includes role-playing demonstrations that bring to life seminal arguments between figures of historical importance, and between supporters of conflicting viewpoints for the future of Israel, and its people and neighbors.

Instructors: Jonathan Golden and Yoni Kadden

Gann Academy: Mondays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., February 24; March 2, 16, 23, 30; April 20.

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Taught by Beni Summers, this 6-part class will look at relevant intersections between Jewish practice and mindfulness, and more specifically, will move through a typical day in a busy life and how we can infuse more moments of life with present moment awareness. We will look at some Jewish texts, the latest research pertaining to mindfulness and its benefits on the brain, and will also play around with creating our own mindful Jewish rituals. No previous mindfulness experiences necessary.

Instructor: Beni Summers

Private home in Somerville: Wednesdays, 7:15-8:45 p.m., January 29; February 5, 12, 19 and 26; March 4.

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Take a mystical ride through Genesis, with text study and discussion on the existential relevance of these familiar stories. Why do we need a creation story that is clearly not meant to be read literally? What is the Garden of Eden really about? Explore themes of identity, boundaries, and an adult version of faith.

Instructor: Layah Lipsker

Vilna Shul: Thursdays, 12:00-1:30 p.m., February 6, 27; March 12, 26;  April 2, 23.

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Mussar asks us: What steps can I take to bring my life closer to my spiritual potential? How do I make lasting changes in my life? What lessons can I learn from previous generations? Mussar is a path of spiritual development. By refining personal soul traits such as patience, humility, trust, and gratitude, you become more aware of your inner life and thus are able to contribute to Tikkum Olam (repair of the world).

Instructor: Rabbi Carol Glass

Or Atid, Wayland: Mondays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., January 13, February 3, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1.

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As the Vilna Shul returns to its renovated, historic location in Beacon Hill, we will seize the opportunity to look, close-up, at Vilna of the Old Country, the “Great City of Israel, Jerusalem of Lithuania,” whose emigres founded this Boston synagogue a century ago. Examinations of six specific lives will provide a window through which to see diverse religious and secular aspects of this East European Jewish cultural center, and to consider what its legacy means for us today. 

Instructor: Rachel Greenblatt

Vilna Shul: Wednesdays, 7:30-9:00 p.m., January 29; February 12, 26; March 11, 25; April 1.

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How could Shabbat, Shmitah (sabbatical), and agricultural cycles disrupt our assumptions about what it means to own, rest, and relate to the earth and each other? We will delve into rabbinic and biblical agricultural wisdom to inform our contemporary understandings and practice.

Instructors: Getzel Davis and Leora Mallach

Hebrew College: Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:00 pm, January 21, 28; February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 3.

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Good writing is an act of discovery not just for the reader but for the writer. In this workshop, we will explore and reflect on our lives through the act of writing. Our texts will be short pieces by Jewish women who will be our teachers in our study of the writer’s craft. Topics will range from childhood to Jewish life to motherhood/daughterhood, work, travel, home, and the nature of memory itself. This class is open to anyone who has a desire to explore life through writing. No prior experience or coursework required.

Instructor: Joan Leegant

Spring Session at Hebrew College: Tuesdays, 7-8:45 p.m., March 17, 24, 31; April 7, 21, 28.

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A Course for Young Adults:

Join Rabbi Getzel for a 6-class series directed toward couples on love, ‘beshert,’ and the conscious transition to marriage. Through Jewish wisdom, text study, guided exercises, and frank conversations, we will explore the growth and maintenance of vibrant relationships. Open to couples (all gender and multifaith expressions of partnership strongly welcome) in the year preceding or following a wedding.

Instructor: Rabbi Getzel Davis

Private home in Brighton: Monday evenings, 7:30-9 p.m., January 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24; and March 2.

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Contact Rabbi Natan Margalit, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning. Please note that while we warmly welcome inquiries from new teachers and groups, we may have to place some interested groups on a waitlist for the spring due to the great interest in the Greater Boston community for our classes.

Want to learn more about Open Circle Jewish Learning?

If you need additional information or want to create your own salon, please contact Rabbi Natan Margalit, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at nmargalit@hebrewcollege.edu.

For questions about registration, please contact Helaine Denenberg, Administrative Coordinator of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at hdenenberg@hebrewcollege.edu.