EACH YEAR the congregation creates new adult education programs, and brings speakers to discuss a wide range of subjects. Beth Ami is also home to a long-standing book discussion group, as well as a thriving Israeli Dance program. Other areas that have been explored through workshops, classes and guest lecturers are Hebrew language, History, Philosophy, Yiddish, Bible Study, Art, Jewish living and even Jewish cooking. Please check our synagogue bulletin, the Shofar for specific courses and programs being offered and/or our online calendar.
In the month of Elul we prepare for the High Holidays:
A special learning session at Beth Ami
Remembering Who We Are: Finding Ourselves in Parable
With Noah Arnow, Rabbi at Kol Rinah in Saint Louis MO
When: Thursday Evening, August 19 (11 Elul 5781) at 7:30 PM Pacific Time
Rabbi Arnow came to St. Louis to serve as the head rabbi of the newly formed Kol RinaCongregation which was formed when Brith Sholom Knesseth Israel (my former congregation) and Shaaray Zedek congregations merged. Last year Rabbi Arnow asked a number of former klei kodesh (rabbi’s and cantors) of his congregation (Kol Rina) to share their thoughts during the course of the month of Elul. I was honored to participate. At the time I asked Rabbi Arnow if he would enjoy the opportunity to address Congregation Beth Ami. He really agreed, and this year, I have taken advantage of his generous offer. —Rabbi Mordecai Miller
In this session, we’ll study and read closely one of my favorite Jewish texts ever, a parable from Rabbi Chaim of Zans. We’ll enter deeply into the story, and the characters, and allow them to enter our hearts as well, allowing us to reflect on the question of who it is that we have forgotten that we are.
To join this special session, please use the usual Zoom found in the virtual calendar.
Rabbi Noah Arnow has served Kol Rinah in St. Louis, MO since 2014. He previously served Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, NJ. He grew up in New York, graduated from Brown University and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He and his wife Tammy have three children, ages 14, 11, and 8.
WEEKLY ADULT EDUCATION CLASSES
Although we are unable to gather in person at the Beth Ami building, we have continued to provide all kinds of services using “Zoom.” Using this calendar, we welcome you to participate in study and prayer, to whatever degree you wish. You are always welcome to “check it out” and see if the program meets your needs.
1. Rashi Study: Weekday mornings, Sunday – Friday 7:30 – 8:00 a.m. Also streamed on Facebook and recorded on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtMLk4BGrEQZzGVlc2vOFiA
We examine the text of the coming week’s Torah reading using the original Hebrew text and Rashi’s commentary. A full oral translation is always provided and there’s ample opportunity for discussion. Rashi’s exposition often gives a novel understanding of the words in the Torah. This is “pitched” intentionally for the person who is just starting out a path of traditional Jewish learning.
2. Mishnah Class Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Discover the Oral Torah. Tradition has it that Moses was given two Torahs: one written: that is, the words in the Scroll of the Torah, and the other oral: passed down by word of mouth through the generations until the year 200 of our current era. At the time, the Romans, who occupied the land of Judea, forbad the study of Torah on pain of death.
Extreme situations called for extreme measures. Rabbi Judah haNasi, the leader of the community at the time, took the revolutionary step of committing what had always been kept strictly oral and committed it to writing. In this way he and the leaders of the people hoped to prevent the Oral Torah from being entirely forgotten. The result: the Mishna exists even today!
3. Midrash Class Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. This is a unusual analysis of the text of the Torah. Every significant word is analyzed thorough a lively discussion on the page. Disagreements are frequent between these scholars. The result: we all turn out a little wiser with a depth of understanding that is a source of joy; sometimes even a smile.
4. TaNaCH class: Thursdays, 2:30 p.m. We read through the text in English and pause to take questions and comments. There’s usually a lively discussion. We have just started the Second Book of Kings. As you might imagine, there’s plenty of intrigue and political struggle as we read about wise and poor leadership.
There is no charge for these courses.
ADULT B’NAI MITZVAH
Many of us have experienced our children going through their years of B’nai Mitzvah training, and we appreciate the amount of learning that is involved. We would like to share that experience. We are adults, and thus we bring a lifetime of experience to the rigor of learning Jewish skills. Doing so in a group can be a powerful means to explore our Jewish selves, and to form strong bonds within our community. Applying the discipline to learn Hebrew, study Torah, engage with our fellow students, and to see how it all fits into our 21st century lives is valuable to us as individuals, and to our synagogue as a vital Jewish institution.
And ultimately, participating in an adult B’nai Mitzvah group can allow us to wrestle with the central questions of being Jewish in the modern age. Does an understanding of Jewish ritual and ceremonial law bring us to an understanding of who we are, and the nature of humanity? Is the practice of Judaism essential to being Jewish? What, in fact, does it mean to be Jewish? Is the process of learning Hebrew and studying Torah still a path to understanding and growth?
Becoming a B’nai Mitzvah requires a significant commitment of time and effort, as well as a commitment to a group of peers. But with that commitment comes value and growth, for the individuals involved, and for Beth Ami as a community. If you want to explore this possibility, please contact the office and put your name on the list. It can be an exciting adventure.
Want to learn more about Congregation Beth Ami?