Teaching the High Holy Days

Today I taught an online class on the Fall Holiday Cycle, aka the High Holy Days. I did a demonstration of shofar blowing and gathered a crowd here in the house. The dogs are fascinated by the shofar but a bit shy of its sound.

If you have ritual objects in your home, keep in mind that shofarot smell like fabulous chew toys, as do scrolls and the klaf in your mezuzah. Keep the shofar, etc. out of reach of pets.

Photo by Linda Burnett, all rights reserved.

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Jewish Holidays and Lifecycle: An Online Class!

Image: Passover at the Kepler/Snyder house. Photo by Linda Burnett.

This eight-week online course will introduce you to:

  • The major and minor Jewish holidays
  • Jewish lifecycle rituals, from birth to death

Date & Time: September 15 – November 10, 2019. Classes meet on Sunday afternoons, 3:30-5:00 Pacific Time. I record the classes so that if students cannot attend “live” they can still access the class via recordings.

Tuition: Sliding scale of $240 – $144. Scholarships available.

Platform: I teach the class using Zoom meeting software. You will be able to access your class meeting using a link in the email invitation you receive after registration.

To Register: Go to the HaMaqom website (formerly Lehrhaus Judaica), and look at the class page.

Texts: Settings of Silver, by Stephen Wylen. The book is available both new and used. I use this text because it contains a history and an excellent index; when you’ve finished the class it makes a nice reference book if you choose to keep it.

This class is one part of the Introduction to the Jewish Experience series, a three part series of eight classes each. The classes may be taken in any order, and each also works as a stand-alone class. Part 2, “History & Texts” will be offered in Winter 2020, and Part 3, “Diversity of Judaism” will be offered in Spring 2020.

Your instructor will be Rabbi Ruth Adar, a Reform rabbi, graduate of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, as well as the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. I’ve been a teacher since I graduated from college in 1976; I’ve been teaching this particular class (Intro to the Jewish Experience) since 2009. This blog began as a resource for that class.

I welcome questions via the Comments section here (also, to any previous students, I welcome any comments/reviews/notes you have to offer.)

Shavout is HERE! Shavuot Sameach!

On Saturday night, June 8, 2019, Coffee Shop Rabbi is sponsoring an ONLINE celebration of Tikkun Leil Shavuot, the late-night/all-night study session to celebrate the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

This FREE event will take place via Zoom software – all you will have to do is click on the link I will post on this blog Saturday afternoon, and you can attend via your home computer or your smartphone. The schedule of teachers from 7-11pm Pacific Daylight Time:

7-7:55 pm – Rabbi Deborah GoldmannCongregation Shaareth Israel, Lubbock TX. “Who Was Standing at Sinai?”

8-8:55pm – Student Rabbi Meir Bargeron, MSW, MAHL, Hebrew Union College Los Angeles, “Doing Unto Others: Compassion in Judaism.”

9-9:55pm – Jehon Grist, Ph.D., Lehrhaus Judaica, “The Divine Feminine in the Biblical World.”

10-10:55pm – Rabbi Ruth Adar, Coffee Shop Rabbi, “Stories of Springtime: Visions of Jewish Life in the Spring Holiday Cycle.

The event is free. You need not speak a word of Hebrew. You don’t even need to be Jewish! You can log in from anywhere and celebrate Torah with three wonderful teachers and myself.

Please share this link with anyone who might enjoy it: lovers of Torah, Jews who cannot attend a local event, people curious about Judaism. The link to the Zoom event will be posted here by 6:30pm Saturday evening.


Tikkun Leil Shavuot, 5779 (2019): An Online Event!

Image: Logo, Tikkun Leil Shavuot, on a background of mountains, with a flame.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot is one of the ways we celebrate the festival of Shavuot. It is an all-night or late night Torah study session on Erev Shavuot, in honor of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The holiday this year begins on Saturday, June 8, at sundown.

This year Coffee Shop Rabbi will host an online Tikkun Leil Shavuot from 7:00 until 11:00pm Pacific Daylight Time on June 8. If you have access to local study, I encourage you to take advantage of it – there’s nothing like gathering for study with your community. But if you are, like me, unable to get to a local Tikkun Leil Shavuot event, I’m hosting one here online!

So far, the lineup of teachers looks like this (times are Pacific Daylight time):

Rabbi Goldmann, Student Rabbi Bargeron, Dr. Grist, and Rabbi Adar

7-7:55 pmRabbi Deborah Goldmann, Congregation Shaareth Israel, Lubbock TX. “Who Was Standing at Sinai?”

8-8:55pmStudent Rabbi Meir Bargeron, MSW, MAHL, Hebrew Union College Los Angeles, “Doing Unto Others: Compassion in Judaism.”

9-9:55pmJehon Grist, Ph.D., Lehrhaus Judaica, “The Divine Feminine in the Biblical World.”

10-10:55pm – Rabbi Ruth Adar, Coffee Shop Rabbi, “Tzedakah as a Spiritual Practice.” Rabbi Adar is a contributor to The Sacred Exchange: Creating a Jewish Money Ethic published this spring by CCAR Press.

The program will be FREE to all comers. I will post the link for the Zoom room in a post in a new message on this the blog on the afternoon of Saturday, June 8. All you have to do is look in here, click on the link, and bingo! You will be in our session room. If you have friends who might enjoy joining us, please pass the word to them.

Jewish Diversity: An Online Class

Traditions of Judaism is an introduction to the things all Jews have in common as well as an exploration of the vast diversity in Jewish life. The goal of this course is to acquaint students with Jewish communities worldwide, and equip them to appreciate and interact with Jewish cousins whose customs are different from yours. Some students will also learn more about the histories behind their own family stories.

We’ll start with the things we have in common: Shabbat, the synagogue, and the prayer service. While each of these has analogs in other religions, the Jewish approach to Sabbath, to organizing ourselves, and to prayer are quite distinct. I’ll offer a model for understanding the prayer service so that you will be able to attend a service anywhere, in any language, and get something out of the service.

Then we’ll move on to explore many of the communities and traditions within Judaism today, and how they came to be distinct. We’ll look at Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi history and traditions, the Movements (Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Renewal, etc), American Judaism, Jews in Israel, and then come full circle to look at Jewish food traditions.

Here is a list of topics, by week:

  1. Welcome & Shabbat
  2. Synagogue & Siddur
  3. Ashkenazi Judaism: History & Culture
  4. Sephardic Judaism: History & Culture
  5. Mizrahi Communities: History & Culture
  6. North American Judaism (including Canada)
  7. Jewish Communities in Israel
  8. Judaism & Food Traditions / What’s Next for You?

The class is also available by via recordings if you are busy on Sunday afternoons. Lectures are only a part of the class; we use a Facebook group for discussions and all students are welcome to schedule online one-on-one sessions with Rabbi Adar.

Online Class: To sign up for the online class, go to its page in the Lehrhaus Judaica catalog. Begins Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 3:30pm, Pacific Time.

Berkeley Class: If you are interested in the offline Wednesday night class in Berkeley, CA, it has a different page in the Lehrhaus catalog. This class begins on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at 7:30pm. The links will also give you more specific info on tuition, scheduling, and locations.

This class (either on- or off-line) is the Spring portion of a three part series that can be taken in any order.  (Fall: Lifecycle & Holidays, Winter: Israel & Texts, Spring: Traditions of Judaism.) Every class also works as a stand-alone entity, for those who already have some knowledge of Judaism but want to enrich their learning on a particular area. The course is not a conversion class; it is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the varieties of Jews in the world and their traditions.

I love teaching this class – it’s my passion. If diversity of Jewish experience interests you, I hope you’ll join us!

Free Sample for Regular Readers!

Image: Studying from a Torah Scroll with my study partner, Fred Isaac. Photo by Linda Burnett.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I teach an online class called Introduction to the Jewish Experience. In the winter, the topic is “Israel & Texts,” an exploration of the library of books that have shaped Jewish experience since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Tomorrow, Feb 3, 2019, I’m going to open that class to auditors for one meeting only. In other words, you can get a free sample of the class simply by clicking the link below.

Class meets from 3:30 to 5 pm Pacific Time (6:30 Eastern, 5:30 Central, 4:30 Mountain, etc.) The topic will be “Torah, Tanakh, and Midrash.” I’ll explain what those are, and we’ll learn where they came from and what Jews do with those texts.

Why am I doing this? I have several bees in my bonnet about the NFL and American football. I’d like to give anyone who forgoes the annual concussion-fest of “SuperBowl” a little treat, and this is what I have to offer.

I am not going to publicise this via Twitter for obvious reasons – only those who subscribe to this blog or is a friend on Facebook will see it.

Three requests. By clicking on the link below you agree to all three of these requests:

  1. When you click the link and enter the Zoom classroom, your microphone will be muted. Please leave your microphone off during the class and let the registered students do the talking and asking questions.
  2. You are welcome to send me your questions at my email rabbiadar-at-gmail-dot-com, and I will answer them in upcoming blog posts.
  3. Please do not publicise this offer via social media of any sort. I am not set up to wrangle vast numbers of pop-in visitors.

And now, THE LINK.

See you in class!

New Projects, New Priorities

Image: My little office assistant, Jojo, likes to sunbathe when she can. This is a photo of her enjoying the sunshine with the caption, “California Girl.”

I’ve hardly posted in the month of December, 2018. Some of that has been because I was traveling on a family vacation. Some of it has been because I had two different accidents that have taken time for recovery. But the big reason is that I’m starting some new projects, and something had to give.

First new project: This spring I’m co-teaching two terms of “Angels in the Bible and Beyond” with Dr. Jehon Grist through Lehrhaus Judaica. You can find information about those classes in our online catalog, on the page where my classes are listed. Teaching a new class means first doing a lot of reading and sorting: what that I know can be conveyed in x number of sessions and will be both interesting and possibly useful? What can I learn, to add to what I already know, that will make the class better? I love getting ready for a new class, because there’s so much for me to learn and to think over.

Second new project: I’m taking an old interest of mine, ritual studies, and turning that lens on the process of gerut, conversion to Judaism. There are several parts to such a project: my studies in ritual studies stopped in 1981, when I graduated from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, but the field has been perking right along with new ideas and postmodernism and such. So task #1 was to catch up on what I’ve missed. Task #2 was to take a long hard look at the texts that underlie modern-day gerut, mostly but not exclusively in Talmud and in the codes. And Task #3 was to take my own memories of being a giyoret (female of ger) and of being a rabbi guiding people through conversions, to look at the rituals involved. I hope the result will be an academic article, but I’ll just have to see how it all goes.

Third new project: I’m looking at a new format for teaching online. Writing blog articles has been helpful to people, but I’m running out of topics and I have been told there’s a huge audience unlikely to read even short essays. So I am working on moving to video in the near future. Instructions on how to find me will be posted here, of course.

I’m not officially closing this blog, but it isn’t the focus for my creative energy right now. I will post from time to time, so those who subscribe to the blog will get notice of it, and those who follow me on Twitter will hear of it. So no worries!

 לַכֹּל, זְמָן; וְעֵת לְכָל-חֵפֶץ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם. 


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

As the seasons change, and the years turn, we change and turn to new tasks. I wish us all a peaceful conclusion to the old year of 2018, and many good works in the upcoming year.