Intro Class Registration is Open!

Image: Hands putting puzzle pieces together, with the heading “Introduction to the Jewish Experience.”

Are you seeking an online class about the basics of Jewish life? Introduction to the Jewish Experience will be starting a new cycle of classes beginning on October 23, 2022 under the sponsorship of Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

Register for Intro to the Jewish Experience: Jewish Time and Life

The class meets in three terms of eight weeks each:

  • Jewish Time and Life – The Jewish Calendar, Holidays, and Life Cycle events. (Fall)
  • Jewish History Through Texts – Bible Times through Modern Texts (Winter)
  • Jewish Unity and Diversity – Jewish Prayer, Jewish Institutions, Jewish Food, plus the many varieties of Jews: Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and secular. (Spring)

How much does it cost? – Tuition is set at $200 per term. If that doesn’t fit your budget, we offer the option to “Pay What You Can.” I will not know who pays how much.

Do I need to read Hebrew? – I assume that no one taking the class has any Hebrew background. Over the year, you will learn some phrases that you are likely to hear in Jewish environments, some of them Hebrew, Yiddish, or Ladino.

How much homework is there? – The syllabus lists readings for each week and you will receive a book list if you’d like to learn more. You decide how much homework you want to do, but remember that you get out of the class what you are willing to put into it.

What if I have to miss a class? – I supply short recordings of the lecture content for anyone who needs to make up a class. However I discourage people from taking the class from recordings only.

Can I take this class for conversion to Judaism? – For conversion, you need to work with a sponsoring rabbi. Many Reform, Conservative, and other rabbis send students to me for “Intro” classes, but the classes are only a part of the conversion process. I can help you find a rabbi, if you need one. This class is not a “conversion class” but it can be part of your process.

Can I take this class if I’m not Jewish? – Certainly! People have taken the class for many reasons: they are curious about Judaism, they love someone Jewish, or they have gotten a job at a Jewish institution and need to learn the lingo.

Do you take late registrations? – Sorry, no. It is better for the class if we all begin together at the same time. Registration for this class closes the same day the class begins, Oct 23, 2022. If you register on time but have to miss the first class, let me know and we can work that out.

Register for Intro to the Jewish Experience: Jewish Time and Life

Got more questions? Contact me at coffeeshoprabbi -at- gmail -dot- com and I will be glad to address your questions about the class.

Registration is open for Intro to the Jewish Experience: Traditions of Judaism

Image: Two hands fit puzzle pieces together, with the heading “Introduction to the Jewish Experience”

Registration is open for the Spring Term of Introduction to the Jewish Experience. The spring topic is “Traditions of Judaism.” We will look at the things that unite Jews worldwide, and at the vast diversity of Jewish practice and experience.

This is an eight week course, beginning March 6 and concluding on May 1, meeting on Sunday afternoons from 3:30 until 5 Pacific Time. (The Eventbrite page has an incorrect date for the last week.) We meet via Zoom, and welcome students from all over North America and (occasionally) the world.

Students may take this class as a stand-alone experience, or may take it as one part of the three-part Introduction to the Jewish Experience, a course in the basics of Judaism. Tuition is $200 per term, but we have a “pay what you can” option — no one is ever turned away for lack of funds, nor do we question need.

The last day for sign-up is March 6, the first day of class.


Topics, week by week:

3/6 Welcome & Shabbat – Shabbat is the great unifier of Jews worldwide, whether individual Jews observe it or not.

3/13 Jewish Community & Institutions – The synagogue and other Jewish institutions have evolved over time, but they are the primary ways Jews organize ourselves.

3/20 Jewish Public Prayer – Jewish prayer services follow the same basic outline all over the world, whether they are orthodox or liberal. The goal this week is to help students get a feel for the outline and purpose of the service, so that wherever you go, you won’t feel lost, even if you speak no Hebrew.

3/27 Sephardic Judaism: History & Culture – What is Sephardic Judaism? We will explore this rich and beautiful Jewish tradition both in the past and today.

4/3 Ashkenazi Judaism: History & Culture – Ashkenazi Judaism is the Jewish culture most familiar to Americans — we will look at its origin and history and current expressions.

4/10 Mizrahi & Other Jewish Communities – We will learn about the historic Jewish communities of the Middle East, of Africa, of India, of China, and of Central Asia. Some of them still flourish in those places, and some have worked to maintain their distinctive cultures in new places. Some have nearly disappeared.

4/17 – No class, since this is both the second day of Passover and Easter Sunday.

4/24 North American Judaism & the Movements – North America has become home to all of the communities above, and in the process acquired its own history and culture, too. We will look at the intersection of Jews and politics, the history of Jews in North America, and at the movements of Judaism.

5/1 Jews & Food – Food practices are one way we Jews express both unity and diversity. We will talk about kashrut (keeping kosher) and other Jewish food traditions.


After this class, I am going to break for summer. We’ll resume in the fall with the rest of the series:

Introduction to the Jewish Experience

  • Fall: Jewish Holidays & Life Cycle
    • Begins after High Holy Days
  • Winter: Jewish History through Texts
    • Begins after January 1
  • Spring: Traditions of Judaism
    • Begins in March

If you would like to be notified of the upcoming class, email CoffeeShopRabbi (at) gmail.com with your name, email, city, and the name of your rabbi, if you have one.

I look forward to learning with you!

Registration for Winter “Intro” Now Open!

Image: Two hands fit two puzzle pieces together, with the words “Introduction” above and “To the Jewish Experience” written below. Artwork from pixabay, modified by Rabbi Ruth Adar.

On January 2, 2022, Introduction to the Jewish Experience will begin its winter session. There will be two separate classes offered every Sunday afternoon, Pacific Time:

Jewish History Through Texts

What is the Torah? Where did it come from? What are Midrash, Mishnah, and Talmud? What is “Jewish Law”? Where did antisemitism come from? How did the modern State of Israel come into being? How are these questions all connected?

This class is a look at Jewish history from the earliest times through about the year 1000 CE, with a quick look forward to the 20th century.  Sessions will alternate between stories about history and the texts of the Jews in that time. In the text weeks, we’ll experience the ways that Jews study text. 

No Hebrew is required, and no previous knowledge is assumed. This is one of three terms of Introduction to the Jewish Experience, but anyone is welcome to take this class.

Tuition is $200 for 8 sessions, or pay what you can. 

Class dates & times: January 2, 9,16, 23, 30 and February 6, 13, 20. Sundays, 3:30-5:00pm Pacific Time, via Zoom.

Please note that registrations will close–no exceptions!–before class on January 2. Please register before the end of 2021! Jewish History Through Texts will be offered again in January, 2023.

REGISTER HERE for Jewish History Through Texts.

Traditions of Judaism (Jewish Diversity)

Some things hold the Jewish world together, things we all share. Other things express the cultural, historical, and geographic diversities of Judaism. This class looks at both. Topics include those things we share, such as Shabbat, the synagogue, and the prayer service. Then we’ll look at the diversity of Jewish traditions: Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and other groups, as well as North American Judaism. We’ll look at the movements of Judaism: Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal. We finish up by looking at Jewish food customs, which are both shared and diverse.

No Hebrew is required, and no previous knowledge is assumed. This is one of three terms of Introduction to the Jewish Experience, but anyone is welcome to take this class.

Tuition is $200 for 8 sessions, or pay what you can. 

Class dates: January 2, 9,16, 23, 30 and February 6, 13, 20. Class dates & times: January 2, 9,16, 23, 30 and February 6, 13, 20. Sundays, 1:30-3:00pm Pacific Time, via Zoom.

@Please note that registrations will close–no exceptions!–before class on January 2. Please register before the end of 2021! Traditions of Judaism will be offered again from March – May, 2022.

REGISTER HERE for Traditions of Judaism.

Registration will close with the beginning of each class – no late registrations. After January 2, write to me at CoffeeShopRabbi -at- gmail.com to get on my mailing list for the next classes, which will begin in March, 2022.

Online Class: Intro to the Jewish Experience!

Image: Two hands fit two puzzle pieces together, with the words “Introduction” above and “To the Jewish Experience” written below. Artwork from pixabay, modified by Rabbi Ruth Adar.

CLASSES BEGIN SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 26.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience, or “Intro,” is a 24-week online class in Basic Judaism. The series is for anyone who hasn’t had a basic Jewish education, or who wishes to learn as an adult.

We study in three terms of 8 weeks, which students may take in any order:

In Jewish Holidays & Lifecycle, we learn about the Jewish year and Jewish time as we explore the important days in the Jewish year, as well as the life ceremonies of Judaism. (Offered Sunday afternoons, 3:30-5pm Pacific Time, via Zoom, beginning 9/26/21)

In Jewish History Through Texts, we learn the history of the Jewish people through approximately 1000 CE, along with the literature of Rabbinic Judaism (Torah, Hebrew Bible, Midrash, Talmud) and we explore the concept of “Jewish Law.” We also explore the origins and history of antisemitism and Jew-hatred. (Offered Sunday afternoons, 1:30-3pm Pacific Time via Zoom, beginning 9/26/21). Will also be offered in January 2022.)

In Traditions of Judaism, we explore those things that the Jewish People worldwide share (Shabbat, the prayer book, the worship service) and we learn about Jewish history through the lens of the varieties of Jewish communities: Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and others. We learn about modern-day streams of Judaism (Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist) and the history of North American Judaism. We finish with an exploration of Jewish food customs. (Will be offered in January and March 2022.)

TO REGISTER: Send an email to CoffeeShopRabbi@gmail.com, with:

  • Your name
  • The class(es) you want to attend
  • A phone number
  • The name of your rabbi, if you have one.
  • Late signups will be accepted until October 1.

TUITION: The cost of classes is $200 for each 8-session term. However no one will be turned away for inability to pay.

Payment takes place through Eventbrite. Click the class link below, and when you get on the page, click the green box “Tickets.” That will take you to a page where you can choose between “Full Tuition” and “Pay What You Can.” Payment is processed by Jewish Gateways, the sponsor of the class.

Jewish Holidays and Lifecycle

Jewish History through Texts

I have had students from the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist traditions. I welcome students from many places: curious about Judaism, converting to Judaism, just want to understand Jewish relatives better, and some who just began working for a Jewish nonprofit. I welcome students from marginalized Jewish backgrounds: persons of color, LGBTQI persons, and students with disabilities. I am myself a fat woman, a lesbian with disabilities, and I became a Jew as an adult. I am a member in good standing of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Women’s Rabbinic Network, and the Northern California Board of Rabbis.

Yemima: An Elul Opportunity

Image:

Naama Sadan is offering a wonderful online class this Elul. She is a teacher of Yemima, which she learned from her grandmother. What’s Yemima? This is Naama’s account of it:

Yemima Avital was a contemporary Moroccan-Israeli healer and a feminine Hasidic Rebbe. Her teachings help the learners build stability and groundedness and develop personal mastery.
The practice includes dictation, journaling, discussion, and self-inquiry. She teaches us tools to help us come back to ourselves with acceptance and compassion. Classes are taught in English and require no prior knowledge. 

“In fact, it is an awakening, to an understanding to renewal. Act to your ability and make many errors. You are allowed to make mistakes and as many as you want. Here she makes a mistake, here she repairs. The power of repair is greater than the power of the error. “ (Yemima)

— Naama Sadan

The art of effortless change. Elul is a time of introspection, the high holidays are coming to remind us that one year has passed and another is about to come. They ask – what has changed?

This question can be intimidating since we often have a complex relationship with the idea of change. 

Yemima suggests a different way: inner work isn’t about change but about connecting. My job is to connect with the soul instead of trying to correct what is wrong. The focus of this series is to prepare for the new year by learning Yemima’s teaching about connecting with our inner world, our source of renewal. 

My name is Naama, I was born in Jerusalem, I learn and practice Yemima for 11 years and it grounds and nourishes me every day. I want to share it with anyone who can benefit from it.

Want to learn a bit more? Click here for more information about the series and Yemima.

FREE Passover classes at HaMaqom | The Place!

HaMaqom | The Place in Berkeley, CA is offering free online Passover classes and events over the coming month. Are you ready to learn? Ready to get ready? Worried about how you’re going to get into the mood for Passover this year? Interested in learning some new and interesting possibilities for enjoying the holiday? Help is one the way!

All events are free of charge, but you need to register in order to attend. To register for each event, use this link.

Passover 101 (Tuesday, March 9, 2021, 7-7:30 pm Pacific Time.

Passover, also known as Pesach or Chag HaAviv, celebrates the Israelites Exodus from Egypt and includes themes of liberation, redemption, and renewal. Join us to learn more about this holiday and its traditions in this interactive session with Rabbi Ruth Adar.

Bsisa 101: Celebrating the New Jewish month of Nissan with Libyan and Tunisian Jews (Tuesday March 16 7-7:30pm Pacific Time

The new Jewish month of Nissan brings with it themes of renewal and hope for prosperity and health, as Passover is just around the corner. Join Asher Grinner and Tamar Zaken as they share the home-based tradition of Bsisa, where family members gather to bless and be blessed, celebrating the season of renewal marked by Rosh Hodesh Nissan.

Come to the Seder Table (Thursday, March 18 7-8pm Pacific Time

At HaMaqom, we celebrate and lift up the diversity of our Jewish community and practice. Passover is the perfect time of year to showcase the ways different families celebrate this holiday of liberation and new beginnings. This event will feature 6 family seder traditions from HaMaqom and One Table community members and staff. Get ready for Passover with us!

Community Cafe: Stories of Liberation, Deliverance, Revelation, and Rebellion (Tuesday, March 23 5:30-6:45pm Pacific Time)

Stories connect us and add meaning and depth to our lives. Come to HaMaqom’s community cafe event, where you will hear inspiring, Passover-themed storytelling this Spring. This semester, HaMaqom’s Community Cafe participants workshopped true stories from their lives about liberation, resilience and other Passover themes.  Join us to hear these moving stories as our participants perform them for a live zoom audience.  

Mimouna 101: Moroccan Post Passover Celebration (Sunday April 4, 7-7:30pm Pacific Time)

Mimouna, a celebration that marks the end of Passover, is celebrated in Moroccan and North African Jewish communities. Mimouna includes themes of renewal, joy, coexistence, and inviting in neighbors. Join Ziva Trau as she shares her family Mimouna traditions, featuring special foods, music, and other rituals.

Passover @ The Place is generously sponsored by The Douglass-Pearlmutter Family, the Kabat Family, and Fred Isaac & Robin Reiner.

HaMaqom’s commitment to keeping our learning opportunities affordable and inclusive is a part of who we are and is only possible because of the generous support we receive from our wonderful community.

Are You Curious About Judaism?

Image: Three people learning, and the HaMaqom Logo. (hmqm.org)

Are you curious about Judaism? Have you ever wanted to have a chance to ask a rabbi a few questions?

I’m offering a class titled “Sampling Judaism” online this month and next, three meetings in which I’ll make a 30 minute presentation about:

  • What do Jews think about God?
  • What is Torah, exactly?
  • Who are the Jews and what do they want?

Then in each class, students can ask questions about the presentation or about anything else about which they are curious. This is a very basic class, an introduction to Jewish learning and life, and it is built around YOUR questions. No Hebrew required, no credentials required.

If this is something that interests you, Sampling Judaism is easy to sign up for. Just click the link to go to the HaMaqom website and there you can get all the info about cost, times, and registration.

The class is offered on a sliding scale and financial aid is available. Class will meet on Monday nights from January 25 through February 8, from 7-8pm Pacific Time.  

New Online Class: Sampling Judaism!

Image: Samples of food. Photo by Jose B. Garcia Fernandez | Pixabay

Sometimes a whole loaf is too much. Sometimes we want a sample. I’ve been thinking for a while about offering something for people who want to learn a little about Judaism, without a huge investment of time and money.

— What do Jews believe about God? How do Jews pray?

— Why are Jews called the People of the Book? Which book? What is Torah? What is in Jewish scripture? What is the Talmud?

— What is the biggest Jewish holiday? How can some Jews insist on their Jewish identity, and at the same time say they are “not religious”?

Starting November 9, HaMaqom |The Place is offering a new class, Sampling Judaism. It will be a three week series of one-hour classes with short presentations by a rabbi (me) with plenty of time for questions.

This class is a short dip into Jewish culture and practice, not intended to be the equivalent of a full “Introduction to Judaism” course. The content will follow a basic structure of Jewish ideas about God, Torah, and the Jewish People, but the details will be driven by students’ questions.

For more information about Sampling Judaism, take a look at its page in the HaMaqom online catalog. Tuition is on a sliding scale, and further financial aid is available to those who need it.

If you are curious about Judaism, or know someone who is curious, please share this information with them. I’ll see you (or them!) in class!

Online Class: Learn About Jewish History and Texts!

Image: A group of people studying together. (Pixabay.com)

Have you ever wished you could take a class to sort out what words like Torah, Tanakh, Gemara, Mishnah, and Talmud really mean? Wondered how “Jewish law” is related to the Torah text? Ever wished you could learn more about the history of Israel and the Jews?  Ever hoped to go to a Torah or other text study class with confidence? Here’s your chance.

Starting on Sunday, October 18, 2020 and running through Dec 13, I will teach a class on the history and texts of Judaism. No Hebrew is required; this class is geared for beginners to Jewish study. Classes will meet from 3:30 – 5pm Pacific Time via Zoom.

Class Sessions:

Oct 18 — Welcome and Shabbat Texts

Oct 25 — What is the history of Ancient Israel?

Nov 1 — What are Torah, Tanakh & Midrash?

Nov 8 — What are Biblical Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism and how are they different?

Nov 15 — What are Mishnah, Gemara, and the Talmud?

Nov 22 — What are Codes, Responsa, and Jewish Law?

Dec 6 — What is Antisemitism?

Dec 13 — History of Zionism & Modern Israel

Besides lecture on the history and concepts, we will also engage in Jewish text study, encountering these texts first-hand.

This class is part of a series, Intro to the Jewish Experience, but students are welcome to take the class as a standalone class.

For more information and to register, check out the class page in the HaMaqom online catalog. Tuition is on a sliding scale, and financial aid is available.

HaMaqom creates inclusive communities through Jewish learning and practice. We have deep roots in the Bay Area. We have been the leading provider of transformative adult Jewish learning experiences since 1974. We offer courses and programs from leading Bay Area Jewish educators and take seriously our responsibility to serve the most diverse Jewish community in the world. We welcome all who wish to learn with us and do not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, sexual identity, or national or ethnic origin. HaMaqom was previously known as Lehrhaus Judaica.

Tehillim: Psalms from the Heart – New Class Starts 7/9/2020

Image: King David with his harp, mosaic from the Gaza Synagogue, 6th c. CE. (Alexander Siviridov, Shutterstock, all rights reserved.)

The Book of Psalms is a treasury of poetry that expresses the full range of human emotion, from despair to ecstasy. Many traditional translations obscure the richness in the Psalms with flowery or euphemistic language, but the original psalms themselves are muscular, even raw, as they express the deepest truths of the heart.

I would like to study this 2500-year-old collection of human expression with you. Each week we will explore another Psalm in English; I will offer some insights from the Hebrew, and from various commentaries. Students bring their own insights to the mix. No Hebrew is required, although students who read Hebrew are welcome. 

Registrants will receive a Zoom link from me the day before the start of the course.

Tehillim: Psalms from the Heart will meet Thursday, July 9, 2020 thru Thursday, August 20, 2020, from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM Pacific Time. For more information, and to register, please visit the course’s page in the HAMAQOM | The Place online catalog. Sliding scale for tuition, and financial aid is available.