Online Classes Starting Soon!

Image: A laptop sits on a desk at home beside a notebook.

Lehrhaus Judaica is a non-denominational center for Jewish learning, and in recent years, we’ve grown our online offerings.  This winter we’re offering a variety of classes online. Click on the class name to go to the catalog, where you can see a video about the class, get a fuller description, dates and times, tuition figures, and links for registration.

I’m happy to answer questions about the classes; feel free to leave them in the comments section. However, most of the answers you want will be in the catalog, to which I’ve supplied links.

Israel & Texts: A class for those who want to learn more about Jewish texts in the context of Jewish history and the land of Israel.  I’ve written at length about the class here. No Hebrew required.

Beginning Prayer Book / Biblical Hebrew: An introduction to Hebrew basics, taught by Dr. Jehon Grist, whom I can recommend heartily because I learned from him, myself.

Intermediate Prayer Book / Biblical Hebrew: This course will take you from “beginner” status into actually reading Biblical texts. Also taught by Dr. Grist.

Advanced Biblical Hebrew 3: The Book of Esther: Join a group of advanced Hebrew students working on translation of the Book of Esther. Quoting from Dr. Grist’s description of the class: “We will translate and analyze selected passages from this amazing story, visiting both the ancient Persian Empire and additional versions of the text to discover how Esther’s tale developed and what its meaning is for us today.”

Traditions of Judaism: An 8-week spring course on the various expressions of Judaism: Movements, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, American Judaism, etc. I’m the teacher for this one.

Israel at 70: An Ancient and Modern Adventure: This is the recommended pre-tour course for the Lehrhaus/Tiyul Jewish Journeys trip to Israel with an optional extension to Petra, but is also open to those who want to learn more about our original homeland. Dr. Grist, an accomplished archaeologist with deep roots in the land will lead this course.

The Book of Esther(Tuesday evenings) Dr. Jehon Grist and I are studying Esther together. He comes at it as an academic, a translator, and as an archaeologist. I come at it from a rabbinic perspective. Then each of us teaches a course on the book! This link is to my version of the class, available both at Temple Sinai in Oakland or online.

The Book of Esther – (Wednesday evenings) The same as above, but with Dr. Jehon Grist teaching. Our project is to look at the scroll of Esther with new eyes and perhaps get some new insights before Purim. We’ll have one meeting post-Purim to share how our study has influenced our experience of the holiday. Dr. Grist will teach the class at Congregation Bnai Israel in Berkeley, CA, as well as online.

The Jews of Italy: A Journey of 2,000 Years – A web-based course on the history of Judaism in Italy, taught by Dr. Jehon Grist. Whether you’re planning a trip to Italy or simply interested in exploring the topic digitally, we’ll help you discover the people, places and key events that make this one of the most compelling stories of the Jews in Europe.

Traditions of Continuity and Diversity: The Rise of Rabbinic Judaism and Classical Christianity –  Judaism and Christianity have a long and sometimes uncomfortable relationship. The goal in this class is to provide a firm historical basis to begin anew a more fruitful discussion and true dialogue based on mutual respect and appreciation. This course will presume no previous historical knowledge of this era and will use audio-visual, textual, and lecture and discussion formats to carry us through the material. Jews, Christians, and anyone else interested in the topic are encouraged to attend. The class will be taught by the Rev. Bruce R. Bramlett. He is an Episcopal priest and theological scholar. He has spent his academic career exploring and understanding the long, complex , and often tragic history of the Jewish-Christian encounter throughout the west.

 

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Israel and Texts: An Online Class!

Image: Lehrhaus Judaica Logo

Have you ever wished you had a stronger Jewish education? Wondered what people are talking about when they cite “the Talmud” or “Jewish Law”? Have you ever wished you knew more about your heritage and could discuss it with others?

I teach a class called “Israel and Texts” which traces the development of Jewish texts, from the Biblical sources of ancient times, through the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, and on through the development of the Talmud and the great law codes of the 16th century.  We will learn about how “Jewish Law” works, and how it is a living process, still unfolding in the 21st century.

We will discover the ways that Jews engage with texts and do text study ourselves. We will look at the many ways in which Jewish texts are rooted in the land of Israel.

Class will begin on Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 3:30pm Pacific Time and meet for 90 minutes.  Our text will be Settings of Silver: An Introduction to Judaism by Stephen M. Wylen, with supplementary texts provided. Tuition for the class is $90; you can register using the Lehrhaus Judaica online catalog. No Hebrew is required. All you need is Internet access and a computer or tablet. We will use the Zoom platform for teaching, with supplementary material distributed via Dropbox and Facebook. A private Facebook group provides a forum for discussion and questions.

The class is 8 sessions, and is offered both as a stand-alone class and as a term of our Introduction to the Jewish Experience classes.

I hope you’ll join me to learn about Israel and Texts!

Online Basic Judaism Class Open NOW!

Image: Logo of Lehrhaus, Judaica, a school for Adult Jewish Learning.

This coming Sunday October 22 is the first class meeting for Intro to the Jewish Experience, 5778. If you want to get a basic Jewish education, here is your chance to get it in the comfort of your bunny slippers. Classes meet on Sunday afternoons at 3:30 Pacific Time, or at your leisure via class recordings.

  • In the Fall term, Oct-Dec, we cover Jewish Holidays and Lifecycle Events.
  • In the Winter term, Jan – Mar, we study Israel and Jewish Texts: Torah, Bible, Talmud, and the many connections between the land, the documents, and the history. We also will take a look at anti-Semitism, both its history and its present-day manifestations.
  • In the Spring term, Apr – June, we look at the many Traditions of Judaism: Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, and American Judaism.

The class is designed for anyone who would like to feel more comfortable in a Jewish environment or deepen their knowledge of Judaism. The Fall Term is basic, but Winter and Spring will have fresh information and challenges for anyone whose Jewish education stopped after high school.

You can sign up for the entire series for $225, or for one of the three terms that interests you, for $90 per term.  Register at http://catalog.lehrhaus.org/series/2017/fall/I100-OL/

This class will be taught via the Zoom teleconferencing platform and should be accessible from most computers and tablets. The class also includes access to a private Facebook page where students can network and have ongoing discussions.

For those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there will be an in-person class that mirrors the online class. It will meet on Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm at Temple Sinai in Oakland. You can register for the Wednesday evening class here.

I will be your instructor. For more information about me, see About the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

Oakland Pride March, 2016
Rabbi Ruth Adar (center) with friends from Temple Sinai, Oakland, including “Intro” graduates and Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin. Oakland Pride March, 2016.

Dates for Intro to the Jewish Experience, 5778/2017-8

Image: Intro class at Temple Sinai, Oakland, CA.

The dates for my “Intro to the Jewish Experience” class have been set for the upcoming year!  Here are the dates for online classes:

Fall Term: Jewish Lifecycle & Holidays – Sundays, October 22 – December 10, 2017

A very basic introduction to Jewish lifecycle events and the yearly cycle of holidays.

Winter Term: Israel & Texts – Sundays, January 21 – March 11, 2018

An introduction to Jewish sacred texts and to the land of Israel through those texts. We will briefly study Torah, Bible, Midrash, Mishnah, Gemara (Talmud), and the process of Responsa.

Spring Term: Traditions of Judaism – Sundays, April 8 – June 3, 2018

This class examines the vast diversity of the Jewish world: Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi, Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, American Judaism, as well as Jewish food customs and culture.

The terms may be taken in any order. Tuition is $225 for the full series, or $90 per term.  Classes meet from 3:30pm – 5pm Pacific Time online.

Terms are structured as follows:

Register through the Lehrhaus Judaica website.

This class parallels a class offered on Wednesday evenings at Temple Sinai in Oakland, CA. For more info about that traditional class and to register for it, check the Lehrhaus online catalog.

Online Classes for Winter 2017!

Image: Lehrhaus Judaica Logo

I’m teaching two online classes this winter:

The Book of Ruth  

This brief but fascinating text touches so many bases in our understanding of the Biblical world: daily life, family, clan and national identity, and the roles and limitations of women. It also serves as a foundation for expanding on the story in later ancient and rabbinic era literature. Finally, it informs our own modern ideas of what constitutes Jewish identity.

The four-session class will delve into each of the four chapters of this brilliantly concise yet expressive text, both revealing the world of Ruth and linking its timeless meaning to our world.

Dates & Time: Thursdays, January 19, February 2, 16, March 2,  7:00 – 8:30 pm Pacific Time

Tuition: $50 or $40 for signups before Jan 5  <- a bargain, if you act quickly

Click here to Register


Israel & Texts

The land of Israel has been central to Jewish history, both ancient and modern. This class will examine the history ancient Israel, the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism, and the modern return to the land. With history as a backdrop, we will learn about the great texts of Judaism, including the synagogue service.

While this class is part of the “Intro to the Jewish Experience” series, it is suitable for any learner who wishes to deepen their acquaintance with the Land of Israel and Jewish religious texts. No Hebrew or Aramaic is required.

Topics: Ancient Israel; Torah, Tanakh & Midrash; Rabbinic Judaism; Talmud; Jewish Law; Jew-Hatred; Zionism & Modern Israel.

Dates & Time: Sundays, January 15 – March 5, 3:30 – 5:00 pm (Pacific Time)

Tuition: $90.  Click here to Register


I teach all classes via either Adobe Connect or Zoom.  No prior knowledge of Hebrew is required. No special computer equipment other than an Internet connection required.

 

Israel & Texts: Coming Attraction

Image: Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem (Dead Sea Scrolls). Photo by Ricardo Tulio Gandelman via Wikimedia, some rights reserved.

Jews are often called the People of the Book. Truth be told, that Book is very large indeed, more of a library than a book. There’s Torah itself, made of five books. Then the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible, 24 books, although some of them are divided into Parts I and II. Then there is the Midrash, the Mishnah, and the Talmud… on and on. Maybe we are actually the People of the Library!

There is also something called halakhah, the Way, which is sometimes translated as Jewish Law. It is distilled from the books and codified in medieval texts such as the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides and the Shulchan Aruch. As with every body of law, it is a living, growing thing, constantly adapting to accommodate the march of history. That’s why I prefer to translate it Jewish Way, rather than Jewish Law – also, that is what the word halakhah actually means, rooted in the verb “to walk.”

Many (but not all) of the components of our library came into being in the Land of Israel, the history of which is bound up with our understanding of the books. That is the reason that I teach the two together, from Biblical Israel to Modern Israel.

Because of the nature of the class, students must be able to name a local rabbi with whom they can confer. Note that the point of view of this class will be that of its teacher – me – a Reform rabbi. I am qualified to address these matters from a progressive point of view. For an orthodox point of view, you should take a class from an orthodox rabbi.

There are two parallel classes that will begin in January. One is an online class, with registration in the Lehrhaus Judaica website. This class runs for 8 weeks, beginning Sunday, Jan 15, 3:30 – 5pm Pacific Time. Click this link for information on the online class.

If you live in the East Bay portion of the San Francisco Bay area, I also offer an in-person class on Wednesday evenings at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA. That class will begin on Wednesday, January 18, 7:30 – 9pm Pacific Time. Click this link for information and registration in the Berkeley class. Tuition is $90 US for 8 weeks.

This class is the winter segment of the Introduction to the Jewish Experience class; it also functions as a stand-alone class. No prerequisites.

Basic Judaism Class Online!

Image: Lehrhaus Judaica logo “Jewish Learning Since 1974”

Have you wished that you could take a class to learn basic facts about Judaism, but haven’t been able to find or schedule one locally? I teach such a class through Lehrhaus Judaica in Berkeley, CA.

The class begins this Sunday, October 23, at 3:30pm Pacific Time. If you cannot attend in “real time,” recordings of each class will be available for registered members of the class.

Hardware requirements: You need a computer and high speed Internet access. Some have been able to use tablets, but I can’t vouch for your success with them – a laptop or desktop computer is a safer bet. We use Adobe Connect, a platform that can be accessed via a Mac or Windows computer.

This is not a “conversion class,” although some of the people who take it may be studying towards conversion. People take the class for many reasons: they are in an interfaith relationship and want to learn more about Judaism, they are born Jewish but want an adult Jewish education, or perhaps they have begun working for a Jewish institution and want to understand Jewish life. If you are curious about Judaism, that’s all you need.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are studying with a rabbi for conversion, ASK YOUR RABBI before signing up for any online “Intro” class. They may prefer or require a particular class.

The class has three 8-week parts, which may be taken in any order:

  • Fall: Jewish Lifecycle & Holidays
  • Winter: Israel & Texts
  • Spring: Traditions of Judaism

To sign up for the class or to read more about it, visit the class page in the Lehrhaus Catalog online. There you will find more info about the class, including the schedule and tuition.