Open Circle Jewish Learning

Approachable discussions on inspiring Jewish topics. Explore mindfulness and meditation, politics and history, arts and culture, social justice, or texts and traditions or form your own Open Circle with seven friends or colleagues.

  • time Adults of all ages
  • location Living rooms, synagogues, and community spaces
  • duration 6 to 18 Sessions

Open Circle Jewish Learning Classes

Find meaning in Jewish sources of wisdom through conversation groups in living rooms, synagogues, and community centers through our many offerings below or create your own salon on any topic ranging from Israel to the Torah. You can also visit Classes and Registration to search for a class by topic or instructor.


Mindfulness and Mysticism Circles

Discover meditation, mysticism, and mussar, a Jewish spiritual discipline through which to nurture the soul, the spirit, and the capacity to live mindfully.

During this series of 10 classes you will create and/or reinvigorate a daily Jewish practice that is mindful, compassionate and that supports you to develop a more authentic relationship to yourself, others and God. These classes will include Torah text study, mindfulness and body centered exercises, journaling and compassionate listening partnerships. This intimate group of women will be supported between classes with a private/secret Facebook group as well as one private personal coaching session with Ketriellah.

Fall Semester: Instructor: Ketriellah Goldfeder; Location: Private Residence, Sharon; Fee: $200. 

Spring Semester: Sunday evenings, Jan. 6, 20; Feb. 3, 17; March 3, 17; April 7; May 5, 19; June 2, 16. Instructor: Ketriellah Goldfeder; Location: Private Residence, Sharon; Fee: $220. 

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Those of us in our fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond can count ourselves as part of a history-making generation—pioneers in understanding and making the most of this “third chapter” of life. These years of aging are full of opportunities for learning, growth and finding new meanings and connections. The Wise Aging program provides resources and support to live the later years with spirit, resilience, and wisdom, drawing upon Jewish texts and traditions as our guides. Topics include: exploring this stage of life; a life review; relationship to one’s body; revitalizing and nourishing relationships; practicing forgiveness; learning to live with loss, change, and death, cultivating wisdom, and leaving a legacy.

Fall Semester; Instructor: Debra Rosenblum; Location: Private Home, Arlington; Fee: $120.

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It is time to shatter the complacency of the modern age! We need to address the loneliness and isolation of living a life without God by allowing Heschel to help us once again feel the presence of God’s living light and teaching. This involves both learning how to think and how to read religiously in such a way as to allow us to respond more effectively to the ultimate questions of our lives. This will require a careful reading and study, an ambitious reading over a ten week period, of the two leading works of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel — Man is Not Alone and God in Search of Man. We will quickly recognize that Heschel, even in his prose, is a poet. And we will find a “blazing fervor” where Heschel will reintroduce us to the experience of wonder so as to provide a life-long resource for reflection and prayer. This is the goal of the class!

Fall Semester: Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., October 4, 11, 18, 25; November 1, 8, 15, 29; December 6, 13. Instructor: Rabbi Dov Y. Bard; Location: Boston Synagogue, Boston; Fee: $200.

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Through text study of the Shabbat home blessings, with an emphasis on the Friday night kiddush and Saturday morning kiddush, we will deepen our understanding of what we are already doing at home on Friday evenings and/or Saturdays. We will learn texts from Talmud, Midrash and Zohar, which help us to address the following questions: How is Shabbat foundational to the Jewish concept of time? What do the blessings ask of us? What do all the words that we say actually mean? What do these rituals have to do with our lives? What insight can they offer to our own spiritual connections and calling?  Using music, reflection and meditation, we will delve together into the richness of Shabbat lore, Shabbat practice, and Shabbat community.  No Hebrew skills required, but certainly useful.

Winter/Spring Semester: Wednesday evenings, January 2, 9, 26, 23, February 13, 20, 2019; Instructor: Lev Friedman; Location: Private Residence.

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An introduction to Mussar, the study and practice of Jewish ethics and self-development. Mussar offers a practical approach, rooted in Jewish teachings, to enhance our lives by studying and thoughtfully working on traits we wish to develop or improve in ourselves. These range from lovingkindness to curiosity, honor to humility. Join us as we work toward becoming the people we’d like to be!

Fall Semester: Thursdays, 7:15 p.m. – 8:45 p.m., October 4, 11, 18, 25; November 1, 8. Instructor: Merry Arnold; Location: Temple Sinai, Brookline; Fee: $120

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In our confusing and contentious time, many are seeking to find a greater sense of grounding in core virtues which can guide us, uplift us, and inspire us to become the best persons we can be. In this series, we will delve into the study and practice of some of the Mussar tradition wisdom for our lives in our times. Come travel Mussar’s “Jewish Road to Character” into a profoundly meaningful and nourishing spiritual practice for our Jewish souls, hearts and minds

  • Belmont: Mondays, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., October 22; November 19; December 17; January 7; February 4; March 4; April 1, 29; May 20; June 3; Instructor: Rabbi Eric Gurvis; Location: Beth El Temple Center, Belmont; Fee: $200. 
  • Lexington: Mondays, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., October 8, 29; November 5, 26; December 3, 10; January 14, 28; Instructor: Rabbi Eric Gurvis; Location: Temple Isaiah, Lexington; Fee: $160. 
  • Newton: Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., October 4, 18; November 1, 15, 29; December 13; January 3, 17; Instructor: Rabbi Eric Gurvis; Location: Temple Emanuel, Newton; Fee: $160. 
  • Needham: Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m., September 13, 27; October 11, 25; November 8; December 6, 20; January 10, 24, 31; Instructor: Rabbi Eric Gurvis; Location: Beth Shalom, Needham; Fee: Fee: $200. 
  • Sudbury: Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., October 3, 17, 31; Nov. 14, 28; Dec. 12; Jan. 9, 23; Feb. 6, 20; March 6, 27; April 10, 24; May 8, 22; June 5, 19; Instructor: Rabbi Eric Gurvis; Location: Congregation Beth El, Sudbury; Fee: $360. Register.

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  • Lexington: Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., October 9, 23; November 6, 20; December 4, 18; January 8, 22; Instructor: Nina Piken; Location: Private Residence, Lexington; Fee: $160. 

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  • Winchester: Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m., October 23; November 13, 27; December 18; January 8, 29; February 19; March 12; Instructor: Rabbi Marcia Plumb; Location: Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester; Fee: $160.

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  • Sharon: Instructor: Ronit Ziv-Kreger; Location: Private Home, Sharon; Fee:  $160. 

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  • Sharon: Instructor: David Jaffe; Location: Private Residence, Sharon; Fee: $160. 

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Lexington: Instructor: Nancy Weiss; Location: Lexington; Fee: $140. 

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  • This class is based on Alan Morinis’ book Everyday Holiness. It is for those who are new to Mussar or who would like to revisit the middot of Humility, Anger, Trust, Gratitude, Honor and Alacrity.  Fall Semester: Thursdays, 7 p.m. – 8:45 p.m., September 25; October 9, 23; November 13, 27; December 11, 18; Instructor: Caryl Shaw; Location: Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland; Fee: $140.
  • Theses classes are for those who have completed Season of Mussar I and are ready to dive deeper into their study and practice. Fall Semester: Thursdays, 7 p.m. – 8:45 p.m., September 27; October 11, 25; November 15, 29; December 13, 20; Instructor: Caryl Shaw; Location: Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland; Fee: $140. 

    >> REGISTER

Contact Rabbi Jordan Schuster, Associate Director, Open Circle Jewish Learning, at jschuster@hebrewcollege.edu or 617-559-8674.


Art and Culture Circles

Experience Israeli film, poetry and short stories; examine the works of Jewish authors and artists around the globe; and analyze the connections between literature and the Bible.

  • Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m, October 10; November 14; January 16; February 13; March 27; April 10. Instrutor: Lila Kagedan; Location: Private Home; Fee: $120 (FILLED)

Wednesdays, 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m., September 26; October 24; November 28; December 12; February 6; March 6. Instructor: Lila Kagedan; Location: Private Home; Fee $120. (FILLED)

Contact Betsy More, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at emore@hebrewcollege.edu or 617-559-8736.


Texts and Traditions Circles

Explore Jewish rituals, practices and values, such as those surrounding Shabbat, death and grief, the start of a new month, and ritual immersion. Or delve into vibrant Jewish texts, including the Torah, Talmud, and contemporary Jewish thought.

  • Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., October 23; November 6 and 20; December 4, 11, 18. Instructor: Layah Lipsker; Location: Hebrew College, Newton; Fee: $120. (FILLED)

  • Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m., Dec. 3, 10, 17; Jan. 7, 14, 28,; Instructor: Rabbi Ariel Burger; Location: Congregation Sha’aray Shalom, Hingham; Fee: $120.>> REGISTER 

  • Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m., October 23; November 6; December 4; January 8; February 5; March 5; April 2; May 7. Layah Lipsker; Location: Hebrew College, Newton; Fee: $160. (FILLED)

Contact Betsy More, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at emore@hebrewcollege.edu or 617-559-8736.


Politics and History Circles

Delve into Jewish history around the world, from antiquity through the present; understand the intertwined histories of Judaism and other religions; and discuss debates within Israeli politics today.

Contact Betsy More, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at emore@hebrewcollege.edu or 617-559-8736.

Social Action Circles

Join together with your peers to learn about the importance of the practice of tikkun olam (repair the world), tzedek (justice), and tzedakah (charity) in Jewish tradition, work with community organizers in local advocacy organizations, and make a difference through a meaningful social action activity on a specific theme.

Contact Betsy More, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at emore@hebrewcollege.edu or 617-559-8736.

The insights from my class continued to provide spiritual and intellectual nourishment throughout the week, enhancing my personal conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and even spilled over into social media posts

– Arinne Braverman, Jewish educator and consultant

Want to learn more about Open Circle Jewish Learning?

If you need additional information, want to create your own salon, or have questions about registration, please contact Betsy More, Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning, at emore@hebrewcollege.edu or 617-559-8736.