Open Circle Jewish Learning
UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all Hebrew College Community Learning classes are now being offered online. Please disregard locations listed in the table below. For questions, please contact Anna Katsevman.
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.
- time Adults of all ages
- location Living rooms, synagogues, and community spaces
- duration 6 to 18 Sessions
Please scroll down for full course descriptions.
We have recently moved to a new online payment system. If you encounter any problems, including not receiving a registration confirmation via email for your class, please email Anna Katsevman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please be sure to log out of the system and refresh your history once you have paid for your class, even if you are registering for more than one class or for a second person in the same household. Please note that we only accept payment via credit card or e-check, and all are subject to a 4% administrative fee.
Please note: Those who withdraw from a course before the first session will be given a full refund. If you choose to withdraw from a course after the first session, a $50 administrative fee will be deducted from your refund.
|Composting as Spiritual Practice: A Practical Approach to Daily Transformation||Rabbi Natan Margalit and Rabbi Laura Bellows||Temple Beth Zion, Brookline||Wednesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., May 6, 13, 20, 27; and June 3, 10. (Six sessions, $90)||Register|
|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. (Six sessions, $120)||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. (Ten sessions, $200)||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. (Eleven sessions, $220)||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|
|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. (Six sessions, $60)||Register|
|Jewish Paths of Transformation: Find the Hidden Light Within (Young Adult Course)||Matt Ponak||Common Street Spiritual Center, Natick||Sundays, 1-2:30 p.m., April 19, 26; May 3, 10, 24, and 31. (Six sessions, $60)||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. (Six sessions, $120)||Register|
|Loss and Transformation: Maintaining Hope when Optimism Is Elusive (Flash Sale: Reduced Price!)||Rabbi Katy Allen||Temple Reyim, Newton||Thursdays, 7:15-8:45 p.m., March 12 and 19; April 2, 23, and 30; May 14. (Flash sale for six sessions, $60)||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. (Six sessions, $120)||Register|
|Ritual Hebrew Calligraphy: Bringing Change Through Traditional Craft||Rachel Jackson||Private Home in Cambridge||Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., April 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19; June 2. (Six sessions, $90)||Course at capacity|
|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. (Six sessions, $120)||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. (Seven sessions, $105)||Register|
a Jewish Lens:
Workshop (Spring Session)
|Joan Leegant||Hebrew College||Tuesdays, 7-8:45 p.m., March 17, 24, 31; April 21, 28; May 5. (Six sessions, $120)||Register|
|Zivug: Activist Couples Preparing for Marriage||Rabbi Getzel Davis||Online platform||Wednesdays, 7:30- 9:00 p.m., June 3, 10, 17, 24; and July 1, 8, 15. (Seven sessions, $105)||Register|
If you are current student looking for details on a course in which you are already enrolled, please click here.
Current Course Descriptions
Composting as Spiritual Practice: A Practical Approach to Daily Transformation (with Rabbi Natan Margalit and Rabbi Laura Bellows)
What is the connection between composting and redemption? Looking to cultivate a low-barrier daily (or weekly) spiritual practice? In this unique class, we will learn both the practical skills of successful, no-smell composting — whether in an apartment or a backyard, and explore Jewish teachings about the spiritual practice of transforming our food “waste” into new growth. Join us as we draw on Jewish composting wisdom going back to biblical times, and relating to the ecological and spiritual needs of today. All levels of composting experience welcome.
Instructors: Rabbi Natan Margalit and Rabbi Laura Bellows
Temple Beth Zion, Brookline: Wednesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., May 6, 13, 20, 27; and June 3, 10.
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.
Crises of Leadership in the Wilderness: From Exodus to the Book of Numbers--INTERMEDIATE LEVEL (with Rachel Adelman)
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.
Cultivating an Authentic Relationship to Self, Others and God through the Lens of the Hebrew Months, Spring Session (with Ketriellah Goldfeder)
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.
Eser 2020 - Hindsight is 2020: Judaism’s Ten Most Surprising Moments (Various Instructors, Locations)
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.
- 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.
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.
Sometimes when we ignore a problem it goes away, but most of the time it doesn’t. This is true for our outer lives as much as it is for our inner lives. Join Student Rabbi Matt Ponak for an exploration of mystical teachings on facing negativity head-on. For millennia, Jewish spiritual teachers have interpreted sacred texts with the understanding that suffering, if we approach it with intention, can be a blessing in disguise. Along with these teachings, Matt will lead body-centered meditations that can allow the transformation of darkness into light to be felt experientially. Come join us to learn the universal wisdom from this ancient source.
Instructor: Matt Ponak
Common Street Spiritual Center, Natick: Sundays, 1-2:30 p.m., April 19, 26; May 3, 10, 24, and 31.
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.
An interactive class designed to awaken within participants new and deeper awareness of the tools at their disposal for coping emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically with climate disruption, rising levels of hatred, and other global concerns, as well as challenges in their personal lives. Sessions will focus on the inter-connections between personal and communal loss and between loss and transformation and the possibility of moving from chronic toxic stress or post-traumatic stress disorder to post-traumatic growth. Exercises will involve exploring and connecting four kinds of “sacred texts”: the texts of the Earth, the texts of our lives, the texts of our communities, and the texts of our tradition, as a way to find deeper connections to and among all of them, along with options for exploring vehicles for activism.
Instructor: Rabbi Katy Allen
Temple Reyim, Newton: Thursdays, 7:15-8:45 p.m., March 12 and 19; April 2, 23, and 30; May 14.
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.
When you imagine a sofer, a scribe—what do you think of? Is it someone from your community? Often, it is not. This class will have two components, both of which are aimed to shift how we think about our scrolls and holy texts: an introduction to sofrut (ritual Hebrew calligraphy), and discussing the dynamics of the profession, and working to align them with contemporary realities. In short, this will be a conversation about creating a modern approach to an ancient craft.
Instructor: Rachel Jackson
Private home in Cambridge: Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., April 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19; and June 2.
Course at capacity.
Instructor: Rachel Greenblatt
Vilna Shul: Wednesdays, 7:30-9:00 p.m., January 29; February 12, 26; March 11, 25; April 1.
Spiraling Through Time: Radically Rethinking Our Relationship to Land (with Getzel Davis and Leora Mallach)
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.
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 21, 28; May 5.
Zivug: Activist Couples Preparing for Marriage (with Rabbi Getzel Davis)--A Social Action Course for Young Adults
Join Rabbi Getzel for a 7-class series for couples interested in a conscious and healthy transition to marriage. Through Jewish wisdom, text study, guided exercises, and frank conversations, we will explore the growth and maintenance of vibrant relationships. This is a cohort for folks specifically interested in exploring power dynamics, feminism, and how our decisions as a couple interact impact the world. Open to couples (all gender and multifaith expressions of partnership strongly welcome) in the year preceding or following a wedding. In our final class, each couple will draft a contract/ketubah to testify to their values and goals as they mark this transition.
Instructor: Rabbi Getzel Davis
Online platform: Wednesdays, 7:30- 9:00 p.m., June 3, 10, 17, 24; and July 1, 8, 15.
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.