Congregation Beth El to Launch New Adult Ed Series in January

by The Village Green
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The following is from Congregation Beth El:

In January, Congregation Beth El will launch two new learning series for adults and teens, to which the public is invited.

Beth El Beit Midrash: Paired Study Course

Paired (chevrutah) learning has been a part of the Jewish rabbinic tradition for centuries. Judaism teaches that one should not learn independently, but rather, one needs a “sparring partner.” With that in mind, Beth El is partnering with Project Zug, a leading learning organization run by the New York-based educational institution, Mechon Hadar, to offer a Beit Midrash (House of Study) for local residents in an 11-week program, from January 10 to March 31. Participants may join the program at any time during the course.

Learners may choose a partner to study with, or may sign up and Beth El will find them a study partner based on their interests. The program is for learners of all skill levels, and no previous background or knowledge of Hebrew is required. Participants will have the opportunity to choose from over 15 wide-ranging and diverse topics, including art, philosophy, social justice and rabbinic literature. Available courses can be viewed at, by clicking on the “Courses” link. Study sheets, materials, guiding questions and videos will be emailed to each pair weekly to guide that week’s discussion. There is no set time for each pair to study. Instead, learners are welcome meet when it is convenient for you — at synagogue, at home, at a restaurant; or study remotely via phone, Skype or FaceTime — at any time over 11 weeks. Those who cannot complete 11 full sessions are welcome to participate for are welcome to participate for any part of the program.

The Beth El Beit Midrash will kick off with an in-person breakfast and learning session on Sunday, January 10 at 10:00am. Rabbi Avi Kilip of Project Zug will introduce the program and answer questions. The session will be made available on video for those who cannot attend. The Beit Midrash will conclude with dinner on Thursday evening, March 31, where each pair will teach a little bit of what they learned.

More information and registration is available at:

The program is free to Beth El members, and is available at a cost of $36 if both of the participants are non-members.

Essentials of Judaism: Learning with “Ask the Rabbi” author, Rabbi Ron Isaacs

Beth El is also launch an “Essentials of Judaism” course, co-taught by Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, Beth El’s spiritual leader, and the renowned author of the “Ask the Rabbi” series, Rabbi Ron Isaacs.

Rabbi Isaacs is the author of more than 100 books. Among his titles are the Every Person’s Guide series and the How-to Handbook trilogy. Ask the Rabbi (Jossey Bass, 2003), contains hundreds of answers to questions that have been posed to him over the past 25 years. Rabbi Isaacs’ books are designed to provide the layperson with easily accessible educational material covering all aspects of Judaism, from holidays and rituals to Jewish law, Jewish sexuality, and prayer.

According to Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, “ ‘Essentials of Judaism’ is for anyone who is interested in learning more: those who are interested in conversion, those of another faith who are in a relationship with someone who is Jewish or who are raising Jewish children, those who grew up Jewish but don’t remember much from their own religious school experiences ,and those who simply desire to learn more. These classes are meant to be an introduction to many topics as a way of exposing students to the deep sea of Jewish thought, history, theology and practice.”

All classes meet on Thursdays at 7:30pm, and are free and open to the entire community, and will be held at Beth El, 222 Irvington Avenue, South Orange.  The class dates and topics are as follows:

January 14: Jewish Identity

February 4: Spirituality and God

February 25: Our Holy Books

March 17: Rhythms of Jewish Life and Living

March 31: The Jewish Lifecycle

May 5: An Introduction to Ancient, Medieval and Modern Jewish History

May 19: The American Jewish Community and Synagogue Life

June 2: Israel, Zionism and the Jewish State

June 16: Jewish Ethics and Values


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