What is Daf Yomi? Also – an online class for beginners in Jewish text study

Image: A graphic representation of rabbinic literature. Graphic by Ruth Adar, all rights reserved.

There’s a lot of talk online and elsewhere about “Daf Yomi” right now. It means “Page of Talmud of the Day” – actually TWO pages of Talmud per day, for seven plus years until the whole thing is read. If that’s your cup of tea, mazal tov. But as Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) said very eloquently recently on Twitter, Daf Yomi isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK. There are lots of other ways to swim in the sea of Talmud.

If you’re new or nearly new to Jewish texts, I have an an option for you. This coming Sunday, I start teaching an online class called “Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Israel and Texts.” We learn about Jewish text study by studying texts together on one kind of text after another.

Jan 12 – Welcome — A Shabbat Text: the Kiddush

Jan 19 – Ancient Israel — The Land where the Bible is set and where it may have been written

Jan 26 – Torah, Tanakh, and Midrash — What they are, how we engage with them.

Feb 2 — Rabbinic Judaism – The pressure cooker and its cooks.

Feb 9 — Mishnah, Gemara, Talmud and Codes — Lions and Tigers and Bears, O My!

Feb 16 — What is “Jewish Law” – and What it is Not.

Feb 23 — Antisemitism

Mar 1 — Zionism(s) and History

Does this sound interesting? It is an introduction to the texts along with the history that gives rise to them. It doesn’t last seven years, but it will give you the basic information you need to engage in pretty much any Jewish text study class that intrigues you.

Registration is open NOW on the HaMaqom,org website.

The fees are on a sliding scale. Classes meet on Sunday afternoons from 3:30-5 Pacific Time, but many people take the class by following the video recordings of the live classes.

See you there?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Registration goes through the HaMaqom office, which is open M-F. If you sign up for the class on a Saturday or Sunday, I won’t get the information until Monday. However, the class you missed will be available via a recording and I will send you the link as soon as I become aware of you as a student.

Online Class: Meet the Tanach and Other Jewish Texts!

Image: A scroll, a pen, and ink. (Image by zofiaEliyahu from Pixabay)

I teach three online classes on basic Judaism for an organization called HaMaqom | The Place. Registration for two of them just opened up, and I welcome any of you who are interested to join us.

These two classes are accessible for beginners, but they are not what people usually think of as “Intro to Judaism” topics. The first:

Texts, History & Israel

This class offers an introduction to the classical texts of Judaism, from the Jewish Bible itself to the commentaries, the Talmud, the law codes, and the topic of Jewish Law, or halakhah. I use history as the framework for approaching the texts, and we explore the relationship of those texts to the Land of Israel. By the course’s end, students will have gotten a taste of Torah study, Talmud study, and the process known as Jewish Law.

Class meets online on Sunday afternoons, Pacific Time, from 3:30 – 5pm using the Zoom learning environment. You can follow on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.

Tuition is on a sliding scale. Financial assistance is available for those who need a little more slide on the scale – please do not hesitate to request it.

Registration & More information

יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה וְנִתַּאי הָאַרְבֵּלִי קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם. יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה אוֹמֵר, עֲשֵׂה לְךָ רַב, וּקְנֵה לְךָ חָבֵר, וֶהֱוֵי דָן אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לְכַף זְכוּת:

Joshua ben Perahiah used to say: appoint for yourself a teacher, and acquire for yourself a friend and give every person the benefit of the doubt.

Ethics of the Fathers, 1:6

Interested in Learning Talmud?

Image: Logo from Ten Minutes of Talmud. (Blog)

A number of people have asked me about resources for learning Talmud. While the classical way to study is with a teacher and a chevruta [learning partner] there is an online resource I can heartily recommend.

Ten Minutes of Talmud is a weekly offering from Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, a scholar-rabbi who is both an expert with the texts and a superb teacher. Her posts introduce readers to a juicy bit of text, then guide them through the process of learning the text themselves.

Selections are short and simply written. If the reader brings a long experience to the study, that will enrich the learning, but it is also accessible to and worthwhile for a beginner.

Rabbi Scheinerman is the author of The Talmud of Relationships, a recent two-volume offering from the Jewish Publication Society. The book is a 2019 National Jewish Book Award Finalist.

Blog Link

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.

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.