Past Classes

Past Classes

A two week class on “preparing for the High Holy Days”  The class will focus on the themes of the holy days services, especially as they differ from the liturgy of the rest of the year, and it will involve a discussion of some “do’s and don’ts”  to make the holy days more meaningful.  Be sure to take advantage of this class to get yourself ready for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur…and the days between.

At United Community Church: Judaism and Christianity: Siblings. A 6-week class considering the origins, commonalities, differences between the two “Abrahamic faiths”, as well as the structure of the two communities.

At Community Church College: “Issues in Christian-Jewish Dialogue”

This course explored select issues confronting both Christianity and Judaism. Discussion issues:

  • Biblical Inerrancy
  • Development of Anti-Judaism/Anti-Semitism because of the fall of Jerusalem and the schism between followers of Jesus and Orthodox Judaism in 70CE
  • Ethics and Morals
  • Meaning of Messiah
  • Worship  

Worship 101...will attempt to answer questions about the what/why/when/where/how of Jewish worship. This class is for those who never learned these things, or for those who want to understand the practices of this congregation.
The class will be presented in one session of 2 hours’ duration.

What Happens After I Die…an examination of various answers to that question that have been (and are) espoused by various groups of Jews over the course of our history. Text: what Happens After I Die by Soncino and Syme.

Strong as Death is Love –   We studied some of the shorter books in the Hebrew bible. Using Robert Alter’s most recent book, Strong As Death Is Love, we read Song of Songs, Esther, Ruth, Jonah and Daniel. These Late Biblical books differ from each other and from the rest of the Bible, with themes that may seem at odds with what is usually regarded as sacred Scripture.

Song of Songs is a series of frank erotic poems. Esther is about a plot to wipe out the Jews of Persia, and features a beautiful, assertive woman as its heroine; neither of these two books mentions God. Ruth is a tale of loyalty, love and righteousness. Jonah is about a prophet who is reluctant to accept his assignment, and the trials he endures as a consequence. And Daniel, believed to have been written during the Maccabee uprising, is an apocalyptic vision that accords well with other non-Jewish writings of a later time. All of these books except Daniel are associated with Jewish holy Days: Passover, Purim, Shavuot and Yom Kippur, respectively.

Who Wrote the Bible?uses the book by the same name, by Richard Elliott Friedman, to examine the evidence from the Torah which suggests that multiple authors, living at various times and in various places, each with his/her own agenda, wrote parts of the Torah. This class challenges the conventional thinking that the Torah is a divinely revealed unified whole, though students are not required to accept either theory of the provenance of the Torah. Because of the complexity of the material, this class is now closed to new students.

The Exodus…How It Happened and Why It Matters …used the book by Richard Elliott Friedman to explore the mystery of the exodus.

“Evolution of Judaism”...looked at what Judaism is, how/when/where it began, what factors have influenced its evolution, and how it became what it is today. 

Beth Israel’s Scholar-in-Residence program’s purpose is to bring to our congregation, experts on topics of Jewish interest for a weekend of intense study. Since its inception in 2005, we have had yearly weekends dedicated to such topics as: Esther, The Megilla of Exile; Good and Evil: Jewish Detectives in Literature; The Jewish Love affair With Food; An Overview of the Hebrew Bible; The Joy of Jewish Music-American Songbook, Klezmer; A Different Kind of Mitzvah: Judaism in the 21st Century, The Spirituality of Love and “The Bible Doesn’t Say That” and “The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing from your Bible”.

The Scholar Weekend takes place in late February or March. The format for the weekend is usually a Shabbat Service followed by an Oneg Shabbat, Saturday Service and Kiddish, or Torah and Dinner, and on Sunday, Brunch and Learn.

Beth Israel has had the pleasure of hosting the following guest scholars: A Musical Weekend with “The Band” featuring Paul and Kathy Storfer and David Kane, Rabbi Gustav Buchdahl, Rabbi Frank Sundheim, Rabbi Larry Maher, Rabbi Daniel Levin, Cantor Riselle Bain, Kevin Frye and the Mike Eisenstadt Klezmer Band and Dr. Joel Hoffman.
Beth Israel gladly accepts contributions to the Scholar-in Residence Fund.