Basic Judaism Classes Fall 2009

I will keep a running list of all the basic Judaism classes being offered around the bay this fall.  Check back every week or so as I add more.

Judaism: a Sampler

This 3-session overview of the basics of Judaism is for learners, seekers, interfaith couples and anyone who is curious about what it means to be Jewish.  The course meets August 25 (Jewish Beliefs), September 1 (Jewish Texts), and September 15 (Jewish Identity). Taught by Rabbi Larry Raphael, Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller, and Lisa Erdberg.

Dates: Tuesdays, Aug. 25, Sept. 1 and 15

Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm

Place: Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California Street, San Francisco.

The course is free and open to the public.

To register, contact Gabi Moskowitz, 415-346-1720 ext. 24

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Introduction to Judaism

What do Jews believe? How do Jews pray? How do Jews acknowledge life- cycle events? And what does it mean to be Jewish? This class is for seekers, interfaith couples, Jews who feel like they don’t know enough, and anyone who just wants to learn about Judaism.

Dates: Mondays, beginning Oct. 5, eleven sessions.

Time: 6:30 to 8pm

Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco

Enrollment is free and open to everyone. You will have to buy your own books.

For more information or to register, contact Gabi Moskowitz by phone, 415-346-1720 ext. 24, or by email,

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Discover Judaism

Join this series of classes, designed to help you access the deep meanings of Judaism through a friendly, beginner-level journey. Participants can join one series at a time, and are welcome to begin at any point. Jews and non-Jews are welcome!

Cosponsored by Congregation Netivot Shalom and Lehrhaus Judaica; call Netivot Shalom at 510-549-9447 to enroll.

Torah Discovery

With Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The Torah demonstrates the earliest dynamic conversations that became Modern Judaism. One book of the Torah, each with its unique style and content, will be discussed each session. We will also engage questions of Biblical authorship, interpretation, and theology. No Hebrew is required for this class.

Dates: Tuesdays, Oct. 13, 20, 27; Nov. 3, 10

Time: 7:30 to 9pm

Place: Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley

Class fee: $50-$75 — (sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds)

For more information or to enroll call Netivot Shalom at 510-549-9447

Jewish Holidays

With Rabbi Shalom Bochner

The rhythm of a Jewish year is based on the cycle of Holidays. And while Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur are the days where more people might attend a synagogue, there are many calendar-based moments for Jewish connection that evoke joy, memory, celebration, sadness, commemoration, and pride. Each session in this series will focus on a different “type” of Jewish Holiday, including those based in the Torah, and those that have emerged since. No Hebrew is required for this class.

Dates: Nov. 17, 24; Dec. 1, 8, 15

Time, place and cost are the same as above.

Spiritual Practice and Jewish Law

With Rabbi Menachem Creditor

What is the system of Jewish Law, and is it the same as spirituality? Over the course of Jewish history, communities and individuals have developed many forms of Jewish spiritual practice. Is there a sense of “command” in Judaism today? Can a search for spirituality influence the way Jewish law functions? We will explore these questions, and also engage questions of Denominations and modern community. No Hebrew is required for this class.

Dates: Tuesdays, Jan. 19, 26; Feb. 2, 9, 16
Time, place and cost are the same as above.

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Introduction to the Jewish Experience

This three-part course will equip students to engage with Jewish life and Jewish institutions. We will follow the Jewish calendar, preparing for the holidays shortly before they occur. Students will explore intellectually and experientially: we will visit Jewish institutions, study with panels of local rabbis, and have many opportunities to experience Jewish life in the East Bay first hand. Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar.

Part I: God & Jewish Lifecycle

Jews express our faith more by “doing” than by “believing.” Jewish lifecycle celebrations and rituals express the relationship of the Jew to the world, and Jewish understandings of the Holy. This course will explore Jewish concepts of God and the world as they are expressed through the experiences of Jewish lifecycle events.

Dates: Wednesdays, Oct. 14 to Dec. 9 at 7:30pm

Meets at Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley

Part II: Torah, Memory, and History

As the Jews travel through history, we have recorded our experiences in various texts: Bible, Midrash, Mishnah, Talmud, Codes, and Responsa literature, and the Prayer Book, which Jacob Petuchowski, a scholar of Jewish liturgy, has described as “the diary of the Jewish people.” This course will begin with an overview of Jewish history, followed by an examination of how those texts illuminate Jewish life in the past, as well as in the present day. The class will culminate in a study of the Haggadah, the “script” of the seder, and a model seder.

Dates: Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 6, 2010 at 7:30

Meets at Temple Sinai in Oakland

Part III: The People Israel

Who is a Jew? Who are the Jews? We will explore these questions by looking at Jewish life from many different angles: kashrut, Israel, the Movements of Judaism (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionism, Renewal), Jewish institutions, and the relationship of Judaism and its sister religions, Christianity and Islam.

Dates: Wednesdays, beginning March 17, 2010 at 7:30

Meets at Temple Sinai in Oakland


(all three 8 week sessions)

$240; $195/members

(each individual 8 wk session)

$95; $80/members

Enroll by calling Vernita at Lehrhaus Judaica.  The number is (510) 845-6420.

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As Seen on TV: Jewish Concepts and Popular Media

God and greed, money and miracles, revenge and punishment! We see it all on TV, but what does Judaism teach about these ever present issues? Join Rabbi Judah Dardik to view clips from television and movies and discuss how they do or don’t relate to Jewish teachings.

Dates: Eight Tuesdays, beginning October 27

Time: 7:15pm to 8:15pm

Place: Beth Jacob, 3778 Park Blvd., Oakland


For more information call Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11 or email

You can also contact Rabbi Dardik at Beth Jacob Congregation at 510-482-1147.