Basic Judaism classes – Fall 2014

Introduction to Judaism classes around the Bay!
Starting September through November

Rabbi Susan Leider, Kol Shofar
Rabbi Susan Leider, Kol Shofar

** Don’t worry about missing the first class. I’m sure they will gladly bring you up to speed. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to sit down and get to know Rabbi Leider – one on one.
Judaism 101
with Rabbi Susan Leider
We warmly welcome all who desire a deeper connection to Judaism, those who are considering conversion, and those seeking their Jewish voice and identity. Our course incorporates an introduction to basic Hebrew, biblical and rabbinic writings, the history and culture, holy days, festivals, the Sabbath, Jewish concepts of God and ethics, life cycle, kashrut: the Jewish dietary laws, our connection to the land of Israel and contemporary Jewish life.

Dates: Sundays, September 14 & 21, October 19 & 26, November 2, 9, 16 & 23, December 7 & 14, January 25, February 1,8, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Time: 9:30am – 12 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost: Kol Shofar members: Free. Public: $10.00 per class or $100.00 for 18-week series. Advance registration is appreciated by contacting Ricki Singer at
More info here.

Rabbi Laurence Milder, Beth Emek
Rabbi Laurence Milder, Beth Emek

Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is an overview of the basics of Jewish beliefs, history, and traditions. This survey course is appropriate for those curious about Judaism, as well as those who would like an adult level understanding of that which they learned as a child. Topics will include Bible, Jewish history, holidays, life cycle customs, prayer, theology, Israel, Jewish peoplehood and Jewish movements. Go here to register. Taught by Rabbi Laurence Milder, Ph.D.

Date: Thursdays, September 4 – December 18 (14 sessions)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm
Cost: $80 members/ $100 non-members
Couples: $ 120 / $150
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton

Arik Labowitz
Arik Labowitz

Judaism for the Beginner’s Mind
Jewish Spirit in the Present with Arik Labowitz
Daily Jewish Practices, Approaches to Prayer, Meditation, G-d, Kashrut, Shabbat, Mikvah, Torah Study, Hebrew Calendar
Whether you are new to Judaism or simply wanting to connect on a deeper level, these classes offer an opportunity to engage with the tradition with fresh eyes and a new perspective. This module, the second of three, is entitled Jewish Spirit in the Present. This series will focus on Judaism as a personal spiritual practice, including the topics of: Prayer and Blessings, Meditation, Tefillin, Kashrut, Shabbat, Mikvah, Torah Study, and the Hebrew Calendar.
There are some participants in this group that are working towards an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony which will take place at the end of the three modules. These participants meet a half hour before each class to study Hebrew and Torah Chanting. If you are interested in joining this group, please speak to Arik directly (

Dates: Tuesdays, Sept. 9 through Jan. 20, 2015 (13 weeks)
Time: 7:00pm-9pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince Street, Berkeley
Cost: $435
Details and registration here.

Rabbi Camille Angel, Sha'ar Zahav
Rabbi Camille Angel, Sha’ar Zahav

Essence & Essentials: Judaism Through the Eyes of Rabbi Angel
Whether you are beginning your Jewish journey and needing the basics or a seasoned, learned Jewish scholar wanting a new twist on an old idea, join us for this special 11 week course.
We will discuss: What is Judaism, God, Ethics, Torah, Prayer & Blessings, Jewish Holidays & Festivals, Life Cycle Events, Synagogue and Jewish Movements, the Holocaust, and Israel
Dates: 11 Thursdays, Sept. 11 through Dec. 4 (no class on 9/25 & 10/2)
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Sha’ar Zahav
Cost: $100 registration fee; no fee for Sha’ar Zahav members; book and materials fees extra.
Register here.

Emanu El SF
Introduction to Judaism
Fall: Seasons of Joy
Join with Emanu-El clergy to learn about the breadth and wonder of Jewish tradition. This class is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover or deepen Jewish knowledge, non-Jews who are marrying a Jewish partner, and those who are considering conversion to Judaism.
Intro to Judaism meets on Tuesday evenings over three trimesters and has rolling admission. A student can begin in any of the trimesters. Trimesters do not have to be completed in a particular order.

Date: Tuesdays, October 7, 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18; December 2, 9
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member $18; non-member $25 (per trimester)
One-time book fee: $65 (for members and non-members)
Register here.

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Lehrhaus
Rabbi Ruth Adar, Lehrhaus

Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Students are encouraged to expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew. Instructor: Rabbi Ruth Adar
Year-long Course (24 sessions)

Date: Sundays, Sept 14, 2014 through May 3, 2015
Jewish Calendar / Holidays (i.e. Jewish “public time”): 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26
Jewish Lifecycle & Home (i.e. Jewish “private time”): 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/23, 12/7, 12/14
Jewish Text & History: 1/11, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/22, 3/8
Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music: 3/15, 3/22, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, 5/3
Time: 10:10-11:10 a.m.
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette, across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah. The class is in the library (Rm 211) upstairs to the right. Follow the voices.
Cost: Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members for the year
If you would like to sign up for 1 or more blocks of Exploring Judaism (instead of registering for the whole year), we welcome you to do so. Tuition is $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
More information is on the website of Temple Isaiah here.
Sponsored by Temple Isaiah of Lafayette.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays
Communal and individual Jewish life dances to the rhythm of two different cycles: Jewish lifecycle events and the cycle of the Jewish year. This class covers a basic introduction to the Jewish lifecycle (weddings, birth, bar mitzvah, conversion, mourning, and funerals). Then we will look at the Jewish year, with its cycles of fall and spring holidays as well as holidays reflecting historical events.
Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar, this class is part of a three-unit series. See the full series here.

This course will be available to registered students via Adobe Connect distance learning software at no extra charge, both live and via full video recording. Students may attend live in the classroom, live online, or anytime via recording.

Dates: 8 Wednesdays, October 22 – December 17 (no class 11/26)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members
Register here.

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, Beth Am
Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, Beth Am

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, mu sic and literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.
Taught by Rabbi Heath Watenmaker.

The fall term of this class runs from Oct. 22 to Jan. 14, 2015. The spring term is from Jan. 21 to March 11, 2015. You can sign up for one semester or for the entire year.
Go here for details.
Date: Begins Oct. 22
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $245 for the public; $230 for members; $105 for Émigrés; $105 Full-time students

Rabbi David Cooper, Kehilla
Rabbi David Cooper, Kehilla

Shabbat Inside Out
A “Doing Judaism” class
More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people. Ahad Ha-am
For millennia, individual Jewish practitioners and communal Jewish culture have been fed and sustained, materially and spiritually, by the practice of Shabbat (in English “the Sabbath” or in Yiddish, “Shabbos”), the “pause that refreshes.” Tradition teaches that this most quintessential of Jewish practices is built into the very fabric of Creation. In the first and second, fourth and fifth classes of this series, Rabbi Diane will guide you in an exploration of the “deep structure” of Shabbat practice, from its roots in Torah and rabbinic tradition, to the intimate secrets of the mystics. Through meditation and chant, text study and conversation, we’ll experience the multiple levels on which Shabbat resonates, delighting and igniting body and soul. In the third class, Hazzan Shulamit will offer an in-depth introduction to some of the most beloved and powerful of the Shabbat z’mirot (songs) and piyyutim (poems set to music). During the last two classes, Rabbi David will connect the dots from the inner essence to the outer world, revealing how Shabbat has always been—and will continue to be—a subversive force for social justice. Not only has Shabbat preserved the Jewish people, it has motivated social change around the planet for everybody. Come and jumpstart your Shabbat practice! We’ll culminate our learning with a freilach (joyful!) Kabbalat Shabbat celebration that evokes the many layers of the Sabbath. Taught by Rabbis Diane Elliot & David Cooper with Hazzan Shulamit Wise Fairman.

Dates: 6 Thursdays & 1 Wednesday: Oct 23 & 30; Nov 5, 13, & 20; Dec 4 & 11
Time: 7 – 9pm
Place: Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave, Oakland
Cost: $126 for Kehilla members; $140 for non-members
Register here.

Aubrey Glazer
Introduction to Jewish Thinking & Spiritual Practice
Want to delve deeper into what it means to think and practice as a Jew? Adult B’nai Mitzvah? Conversion? Tefilla with training wheels? Inquiring mind? Meditator? Join the first installment of this comprehensive introduction to framing your exploration into Judaism as a philosophy and practice. All are welcome.

This is basically an ongoing, continuously running class with some breaks. I am told that they are about to start Section 3 and that new students should consider reading the materials from the first two sections. Look at the class description and reading list here. Taught by Rabbi Aubrey Glazer.

For more information, feel free to contact David Wolk at or call 415.221.8736.

Date: Thursday, October 23, ongoing
Time: 6:30-7:30 pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue (near the corner of Clement St), San Francisco

Rabbi Mark Melamut
Rabbi Mark Melamut

What is the next chapter in your Jewish Journey?
Introduction to Judaism and Jewish Living
All are welcome to join us for this unique opportunity to learn together with 3 rabbis of 3 different denominations. In this course we will cover a breadth of topics and invite students to plumb more deeply in individualized reading assignments. Topics include: the Jewish people, Torah, G-d, Israel, History, Life Cycle, Year Cycle, belief, practice and the Jewish Home.

Dates: Thursdays, October 23 – May 28
Time: 7:00-9:00
Location: B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval (46th), San Francisco
Cost: Free
Sponsored by 3 Congregations: Beth Israel Judea, B’nai Emunah, and Ner Tamid

Rabbi Lisa Delson
Rabbi Lisa Delson

Basic Judaism
Basic Judaism is a course for those yearning to learn more about Judaism, whether you were born Jewish, are studying toward conversion, or just want to learn more about your Jewish friends and relatives. Each class will focus on a different aspect of Jewish living and learning, from holidays to Jewish texts, from celebrations to mourning. This class is open to the community. This class is free, books and other materials are not provided.

Dates: 12 Thursdays, November 6, 13, 20 December 4, 11, 18 January 1, 15, 22, 29 February 5, 12
Time: 7-8:30pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
For more information and to register, please contact Rabbi Lisa Delson at

Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos
Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos

Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is offered in partnership between the Reform and Conservative congregations and the JCC of the South Bay. It is for anyone interested in exploring Judaism — individuals, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and Jews looking for adult-level basics.
This class introduces the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice in 20 weeks. Topics include Jewish holidays and life cycle events, theology and prayer, Israel, history, and Hebrew.
Why take the course? Perhaps because:
– you recently discovered you have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about your roots
– your partner is Jewish and you are not
– your adult child is helping to raise Jewish grandchildren
– you are seeking conversion to Judaism
– you are Jewish yet somehow, when you were younger, you didn’t learn what you’d like to know about the culture and religion of the Jewish people and now you seek a way to live a fuller and richer Jewish family life
Whatever you are seeking, Introduction to Judaism offers you a time and place to broaden your Jewish awareness. It can launch you on a path to deeper personal Jewish connection, acquire a basic Jewish vocabulary, and gain intellectual and experiential knowledge of Judaism as well as the skills necessary to “do Jewish.”
In addition to the weekly class and reading, there will be two Shabbat Dinners and two Shabbat Lunches, one at each of the sponsoring congregations.

Dates: Tuesdays beginning November 11
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Place: Synagogues & JCC in South Peninsula: San Jose, Los Gatos & Saratoga.
Cost: The purchase of books is recommended. For more information or to register please contact Jenessa Schwartz at (408) 357-7411
Locations: Multiple Locations: Congregations Shir Hadash, Beth David, Sinai, Emanu-El, and the Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the APJCC. The first class, Nov. 11, is held at Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center, 14855 Oka Rd, Los Gatos.