Community Blog What Hebrew College “Open Circle” Means to Me

By Deborah Feinstein
open circle drawing

To be able to be a lifelong learner and to study with a true, authentic teacher is a blessing. When I sit with my study partners who have had a wide range of learning experiences—from Me’ah to a Masters in Jewish Studies at Hebrew College, and from different religions as well—I find other ways to see, to listen, to understand. My world opens.

As a visual learner and an artist, I have made here an expression of what “Open Circle” means to me.

To me, our study is 2 circles, intertwined. It does not matter the “subject” of the course; what matters is the interchange of ideas, of perceptions, of thoughts. The circles are as endless as our ways of interpretations. This endless circle reflects the never-ending life of the Torah. And indeed, the Torah is brought to life as I sit in my class, learning how to be a better person. Chapter 12, “ Why was the Torah given in the desert? To teach you that unless one makes oneself “hefker” (open, ownerless, free) as the desert, one will not merit the words of the Torah.” The Torah was given to all in an ownerless desert and received by those who will make themselves open like the desert.

Surrounding this word and forming an interior shape are rose flowers, connected by dynamic lines that reverberate in all directions reverberating between each other. These roses are my study partners, interacting. Lastly, each circle shows a road that goes into the mountains. There is sunset and sunrise… the continuing cycles of my Jewish journey.


Deborah Feinstein was a museum director, educator, and curator for over 25 years. Feinstein has a graduate degree in Islamic art and has lectured on religious, historical, and cultural connections of the three major religious through the visual arts at numerous universities and museums. She completed a master’s program in Jewish Studies at Hebrew College, as well as Hebrew College’s Me’ah program, and has been studying in an Open Circle class with Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld for the last few years. She is President Emeritus of the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture.

Hebrew College Open Circle Jewish Learning is one of our many community learning programs for all ages and stages, taught within a pluralistic environment of open inquiry, depth, creativity, and compassion. 

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