One of the cornerstones of the Temple Israel Community is a passion for education and life-long learning. Whether it is holiday programming for preschoolers, teens preparing for b’nai mitzvah or adults studying the contours of Jewish life past and present, young and old are able to enrich their Jewish experience through formal and informal avenues of Jewish literacy.
The Adult Education Committee works to create a dynamic program — one in keeping with our synagogue’s mission to provide educational opportunities that enhance knowledge of the Jewish People, Jewish traditions, customs and culture, as well as the wider contemporary Jewish world in ways interesting, enriching and meaningful.
Classes, lectures, discussions and other educational events, such as book signings, and film screenings, are taught and led by our professional staff. Among the most popular programs in recent years has been the Sunday Morning Lecture Series with Rabbi David J. Fine, PhD. With a doctorate in modern European history from City University of New York (CUNY), Rabbi Fine brings university-level depth to his engaging lectures in Jewish history. Lectures run an hour-and-a-half on Sunday mornings throughout the academic year. Rabbi Leiah Moser will be team-teaching with Rabbi Fine as well, with a look at Jewish history.
Rabbi Moser also teaches a weekly Mystical Parashat Ha’Shavua on Thursday afternoons, using texts from the Zohar to look at weekly Torah portions; a bi-weekly “The David Story” reading group, and other classes.
In the past several years, with Rabbi Fine we’ve studied:
- German Jewish history, followed by a congregational tour of Germany
- History of the State of Israel, followed by a congregational trip to Israel
- History of Christianity and the interrelationship of Christian and Jewish faiths
- History of Jewish Life in Muslim Lands
- The History of American Judaism. You can view some sessions by clicking on the video at the top of the page or view them here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8NAScVScmIu3qp3EZE1VT55DZGSXnmCE
Another adult ed staple has been Tuesday Evening Talmud with Rabbi Fine. This lively, seminar-style informal text study draws an eclectic student mix — inter-generational and of varying backgrounds in formal Jewish education. Rabbi Fine generally ends class on a cliff-hanger, inspiring everyone to come back for more. Check the Temple calendar for changes and cancellations to the weekly schedule.
We also learn from expert guest speakers and scholars, some of whom are drawn from the ranks of the congregation. Past appearances by outside scholars and speakers have included Scholars-in-Residence Dr. Benjamin Gampel, Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History at Jewish Theological Seminary; Dr. Seth Schwartz, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization at Columbia University; Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at Jewish Theological Seminary; and David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.
Three endowments help underwrite adult education: the Adele Rebell Memorial Scholar-in-Residence Fund; the Rabbi Selig Salkowitz Memorial Speaker Series (undertaken in partnership with Temple Avodat Shalom, a Reform congregation in River Edge); and the Max Aaron Strachman Memorial Author Talk. The Strachman Endowment Fund also benefits the Temple Library, which contains a wealth of knowledge in its shelves of reference works, non-fiction, fiction, children’s and recorded literature and films.
Most Adult Education programs are open to the community, free of charge. Be sure to check our weekly emailed announcements, TI-JCC Tidbits and online Calendar for up-to-date information.