Sign In Forgot Password

Spring 2019 Adult Learning

Jewish Mysticism of the Early Hasidic Masters
With Mary Jane Suzman

Thursdays, April 11, 18, 25, May 2 and 9, 10-11:30 a.m., $18
Jewish mysticism had its roots in Medieval Kabbalah, but then spread like wildfire through Eastern European Jewish communities during the 18th and 19th centuries. This discussion course will begin with some background in Kabbalah. Then, we’ll study texts from the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, and other early Hasidic masters. Throughout, we’ll be seeking to discover what meaning these teachings may have for us today.Register now.

Fall/Spring 2018-19 Adult Learning


21 Lessons for the 21st Century
With Rabbis Abrasley and Berry
Downtown Study: Nov. 7, Dec. 5, Jan. 2, March 6, May 1, noon, $75
Lunch and Learn: Nov. 14, Dec 12, Jan. 9, March 13, May 8, noon, free

“In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.” – Yuval Noah Harari

Join Rabbis Abrasley and Berry in the reading and analysis of the latest book by one of the most innovative thinkers on the planet. Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into some of today’s most urgent issues: democracy, God, immigrant, terrorism, climate change, fake news and so much more. Harari is a historian and best-selling author who currently lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in world history. His work is thought provoking and engaging. This course will read selections of Harari’s book in order to discuss his ideas and their impact on our Jewish lives and community Read what Temple President Scott Birnbaum has top say about Downtown Study.

Past learning opportunities

2018-19 Adult Learning

Lights in the Dark: Mussar Lessons for our time

With Rabbi Eric S. Gurvis
Thursdays, Feb. 28, March 7, 14, 28, April 4, 7:30-9 p.m.
In our confusing and contentious time, many are seeking to find a greater sense of grounding in core virtues which can guide us, uplift us and inspire us to become the best persons we can be. For the Jewish world, asking such a focus is hardly new. Yet, in our time, we are witnessing the uncovering of a rich part of our Jewish heritage, which was nearly lost to our people – the study and practice of Mussar. Each week session will explore teachings on one middah (soul-trait), such as trust, truth and anger, as illuminated by teachings from Mussarclassics and more contemporary Mussar teachings. No prior experience with Mussar is necessary! 

Jewish Mysticism of the Early Hasidic Masters
With Mary Jane Suzman

Tuesdays, Nov. 13, 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11
Jewish mysticism had its roots in Medieval Kabbalah, but then spread like wildfire through Eastern European Jewish communities during the 18th and 19th centuries. This discussion course will begin with some background in Kabbalah. Then, we’ll study texts from the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, and other early Hasidic masters.

Israel 101+: Exploring the history of Zionism and the modern state of Israel
With Drs. Jonathan Golden and Jonah Hassenfeld
Thursdays, Oct. 11, 18, 25 and Nov. 1, 2018
Israel is a remarkable country with a long history and unique relationship to Judaism. This four-session course will the role of the land and its people. Sessions will cover pivotal moments in history, a little bit of politics, media literacy, current events, Arab/Israeli/US relations and more. The course will be primarily team-taught by two of Gann Academy’s most popular faculty members, The last session will be team-taught by Rabbis Berry and Abrasley.
Dr. Jonathan Golden is the Israel Curriculum Coordinator and an American history teacher at Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school in Waltham where he has taught since 1999. Dr. Jonah Hassenfeld is the Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning at Gann Academy. He teaches world history and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Seductive Haftorah
With Cantor Peter Halpern
Sundays, Oct. 28, Nov. 4, 18, 2018
During last season’s Cantillation course, we touched on Haftarah trope, possibly the most beautiful of all. As promised, we will focus entirely on mastering this magnificent trope system and prepare to chant at a Saturday morning minyan service.

Intro to Judaism
Tuesdays,  Nov. 13, 2018, 7-9 p.m.,18 sessions
Explore a modern take on Jewish life with Rabbis Abrasley and Berry. Engage with Jewish values, celebrations, spirituality and community. Ask questions, discover multiple perspectives and find what could be meaningful to you in liberal Judaism. Everyone is welcome. This 40-hour class is perfect for interfaith couples, those raising Jewish children, spiritual seekers, individuals considering conversion and Jews who want a meaningful adult Jewish learning experience. The course is offered through Reform Jewish Outreach Boston.

Israeli Kitchen Encounter
Saturday , Oct. 13, 2018
Israel has a unique and fantastically delicious culinary culture. From shwarma to shakshuka, spicy Moroccan fish to Ethiopian injera – Israeli cuisine tells the story of the diverse cultures and peoples who play vital roles in modern Israeli society. The event included  a hands-on cooking class, dinner and boutique Israeli wine tasting with innovative and well-regarded Israeli chefs, Nir Margalith and Guy Marom from Puzzle Israel.

Summer 2018 class

Jewish Life and Jewish Living in Central Europe: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
July 25 and Aug. 8
Back by popular demand! If unable to attend Rabbi Berry’s spring class on Jewish Life in Central Europe, here are two lunch n’ learn sessions focused on the same theme! The class is highly recommended for those planning to travel to Prague, Vienna and Budapest with Rabbi Berry and Rabbi Abrasley in October. Who or what was the Golem of Prague? Why did Klimt paint Jewish Salon women living in Vienna? What piece of Czech music was the catalyst for Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah? All this and more as we learn together about these remarkable Jewish communities.

Spring 2018 classes

She Did What? The Bad (But Kinda Good) Girls of the Bible
Sundays, April 29 and May 6
Take a walk on the wild side with the Hebrew Bible’s femme fatales. We’ll explore some of the fascinating, seemingly subversive women found in our Biblical narrative and the roles they 
played in shaping the Israelite nation and religion. The sessions, taught by Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley, will use traditional and modern commentary to understand these women, their bad (but kinda good) behavior and how these ideas shape our relationship today with these fabulous Biblical characters.

Jewish Life and Jewish Living in Central Europe: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
March 1, 8, 15, 22 and April 5
Jewish life in Europe enjoys a rich, tragic and remarkable history. This course, led by Rabbi Allison Berry, will explore the history of Jewish communal life in Europe prior to WWII, the dramatic reality brought by the Holocaust and the current state of Jewish community in Europe today.


To Every Trope There is a Season
March 4, 11, 18 and 25

Did you know that there are five different systems of scriptural trope or cantillation? Each is meant to enhance the experience of that particular day and reach the minds and hearts of each worshipper. Cantor Peter Halpern will examine all five systems with an eye towards how they create the mood and convey the imagery of each season in the Jewish calendar.

Fall 2017 classes

The offerings include:

Ongoing Mussar Practice
Oct. 17, 31, Nov. 14, 28, Dec. 12, Jan. 2, 16, Feb. 6, 27, March 6, 20, April 3, 24, May 8, 22
This course is designed for those who have already taken one intro Mussar course about the Jewish spiritual practice. Led by

Rabbi Carol Glass. $136.


Adult B'nai Mitzvah Course
mid-October thru mid-May for about 20 sessions starting Oct. 19.
Adult B’nai Mitzvah is a modern ritual for those who either did not celebrate becoming B’nai Mitzvah at age 13 or would like to explore the experience again as an adult. The 18-month group study experience will focus on Hebrew, liturgy, and Jewish knowledge, culminating with a Shabbat morning B'nai Mitzvah service, tentatively planned for January 2019, where
participants will co-lead the service, including prayers, Torah, and Haftarah readings. The cost includes a continuation of course into the fall 2018.Scholarships are available.

Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Practice of Mussar
Oct. 24, Nov 7, 21, Dec. 5, 19, Jan. 2, 16, 30, Feb. 13, 27
Mussar is a Jewish spiritual practice helping us be our best selves. Rabbi Abrasley leads this intro course.

Introduction to Jewish Meditation
Oct. 25, Nov. 1, 8
A step-by-step intro to meditation and Jewish mindfulness meditation led by Temple member Devorah Steinberg.

 Judaism and Justice
Oct. 26, Nov. 2, 9 and 30. The Jewish commitment to social justice is not new and goes back to Deuteronomy. Rabbi Berry explores ancient and contemporary sources about the Jewish imperative for social justice.

The Bible Doesn’t Say That: The Problem and Possibility of Biblical (Mis)translations
 Oct. 19, Nov. 2, Dec. 14, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 8, April 5 and May 3 at Goulston and Storrs law office downtown; Thursdays, Oct. 26, Nov. 9, Dec. 21, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 15, April 12 and May 17 at the Temple
Explore famous Bible stories and challenges with Rabbis Berry and Abrasley to theology, morality and imagery that mistranslation, misconception and misunderstanding have created in this Lunch and Learn Study

Past Classes Include:

  • Downtown Study
  • Lunch and Learn
  • Scholar In Residence Havurah Learning
  • Beginning Hebrew
  • Parenting Through a Jewish Lens
  • Mussar
  • The Spirituality of Cooking and Eating
  • The Magical Niggun
  • Finding Our Roots: A Genealogy Course
  • Yoga for Health and Healing
  • Facing Cancer Together
  • Latin American Jewish Literature
  • Theatre Opportunities
  • Book Club
  • Spirituality Discussion Group
Sun, May 19 2019 14 Iyar 5779