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?
Registration is open for the Winter session of Intro to the Jewish Experience, “Israel and Texts” and it includes an online option! Class meetings will take place at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 – 9pm (PST) beginning January 14. For those who cannot attend in Berkeley, we offer the option of attending via Adobe Connect, a cloud-based classroom. All meetings are recorded, so that students also have the option of watching the class recordings.
All classes are taught by me except for Jan 21 and 28. I’m honored to welcome Dr. Jehon Grist as our guest lecturer on Israel.
Jan 14 – Welcome & Introductions: Jews, Texts, and Shabbat Jan 21 –Ancient Israel – Guest: Dr. Jehon Grist Jan 28 –Modern Israel & Zionism – Guest: Dr. Jehon Grist Feb 4 – Torah, Tanakh & Midrash Feb 11 – Beginnings of Rabbinic Judaism Feb 18 – What is the Talmud? Feb 25 – Codes, Responsa and Jewish Law March 11 – Jewish Values, Jewish Ethics
Lehrhaus Judaica is a unique non-denominational Jewish studies adult school. Every course is open to the general public, and all interested adults are welcome, regardless of age, religion, or ethnicity.
Normally I save my writing about film for the Jewish Film blog, but I want to alert readers to a new film I saw this past week. American Jerusalem tells the story of the first 66 years of Jewish settlement in Northern California, specifically in San Francisco.
The Jewish community is unique in Jewish history, in that nowhere else in the Diaspora were Jews in the majority during the early settlement period of a city. The Jewish community developed differently as a result of this, without the need to buttress itself against anti-Semitism until a much later period. Jewish families were “society” in early San Francisco, and they did not eat or live separately from their gentile neighbors. Even today, Jews in San Francisco have a curious mix of firm Jewish identity with a low rate of synagogue and other Jewish institutional affiliation. While some outsiders look at the demographics and say, “Wow, Judaism is in trouble in San Francisco,” in fact the Jewish community there is vibrant and diverse. It was influential in shaping the past of the city and continues to be engaged with San Francisco’s future.
The filmmakers were extremely selective in their choices, which may leave some old San Franciscan families wondering, “What about my ancestors?” but I think the choices allow viewers to appreciate the forest without losing their way in the trees. Certainly American Jerusalem is a tantalizing springboard from which one can launch into deeper reading (Fred Rosenbaum’s book, Cosmopolitans, a Social and Cultural History of the Jews at the San Francisco Bay Areawould be a great next step.)
My Sunday morning classes at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA will begin on January 5.
Jewish History: Exploring Judaism begins a five week look at Jewish Texts and History. Yes, five weeks, five hours for thousands of years of history, also known as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through Jewish History. If you have wondered what the rabbi means by mishnah or how that’s different from midrash, this is a great short survey class. Class starts at 9am sharp and runs to 10am. We have coffee, and if you want to bring your breakfast along, no one will mind. Members of the class include people in the adult b’nei mitzvah program at Temple Isaiah, folks considering conversion, and some friends-of-Jews who are interested in learning more about Judaism – a great class! Join us!
Text Study: The same morning, January 5 at 10:15am we’ll begin a Jewish Ethics class which will take a look at Ethics of the Fathers, a first-century document of homespun advice from the sages. This is perhaps the most accessible book in rabbinic literature, and we’re going to read parts of it together. The class will have a read-and-discuss format, exactly the opposite of the Wild Ride in the previous class. Hebrew proficiency is not required.
Both classes meet in the Contra Costa Jewish Day School building, at the top of the Temple Isaiah parking lot. The building is completely accessible.