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.

Advertisements

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.

Learn about Judaism Online!

I teach about Judaism online. Some of it, like this blog, is free to anyone who accesses it. But if you’d like something a bit more organized, especially if you need a formal “Introduction to Judaism” course for conversion or a wedding, I also offer a class through Lehrhaus Judaica of Berkeley, CA.

This year’s “Online Intro” class will begin on October 23, at 3pm Pacific Time.  We use Adobe Connect, a program that will allow most people to access the class if they have an Internet connection and a computer.

If Sunday afternoons (or evenings) don’t work for you, don’t worry. I will email a link to class recordings to everyone who is registered for the class. I am happy to meet with you via Skype or phone to answer questions, and you can participate in class discussions via the class Facebook page.

The class comes in three parts. You can take one of them, or all three, in any order:

Fall: Lifecycle and Holidays – exactly what it sounds like (begins October 23)

Winter: Israel and Texts – a look at Ancient and Modern Israel via traditional texts (begins January 15, 2017)

Spring: Traditions of Judaism – a look at the vast diversity of the Jewish world: Mizrahi, Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, American, and other possibilities. (begins March 26, 2017)

For more information, check out the class website.

To register, and for class fees, go to our Lehrhaus online catalog page.

 

News & The Book of Ruth

News: I got a new desktop computer and spent the last 24 hours setting it up so it would be ready for class Sunday afternoon. I missed posting my usual Friday message with online links, but I will get back into that routine this week, for sure.

The new computer is very exciting – faster, nicer camera, speakers, audio, etc. I just have to get used to it.

The Book of Ruth is a one-meeting class I’m offering both live and online this coming Thursday, May 19 from 7:30 – 9pm Pacific Time. My focus will be the following question: What insights does Ruth have to offer us today about Jewish community, conversion, and interfaith marriages?

Sorry, the class has been cancelled for lack of enrollment.

Shavua tov!

 

Traditions of Judaism Starts Sunday!

Image: Israeli President Ezer Weizman greeting Ethiopian Jews celebrating the Sigd Festival at Jerusalem’s Haas Promenade. Photo: SAAR YAACOV, GPO. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

A new online Intro to the Jewish Experience class starts Sunday at 3:30pm Pacific Time. As always, I’m excited.

The Spring segment of the class is “Traditions of Judaism.” We look at all the different communities and traditions within Judaism today, and how we came to have those various communities. We’ll look at Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi traditions, the Movements (Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Renewal, etc), American Judaism and why it is unique, the Prayer Book [Siddur] and the service, and finish up with Jewish food customs. Given that this is an election year, we may talk a little about American Jews and politics, too.

The class is also available by via recordings if you have a schedule that makes that time impossible. To sign up for the online class, go to its page in the Lehrhaus Judaica catalog. If you are interested in the offline, Wednesday night class, it has a different page in the Lehrhaus catalog.

This class (either on- or off-line) is the Spring portion of a three part series that can be taken in any order. 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. (Fall: Lifecycle & Holidays, Winter: Israel & Texts, Spring: Traditions of Judaism.)

I love teaching “Intro” – it’s my passion. If the subject above interests you, I hope you’ll join us!