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.
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.
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