Registration for weekly and twice-weekly courses is now closed.
To sign up for Weekday Prayer, Embodied Mincha, Open Beit Midrash,
or any of our other community programs, click here.
Each course has 2-3 “sections” according to enrollment numbers and Hebrew levels. Faculty are assigned to teach sections based on numbers of enrollees. While we understand many students would like to choose a course based on a particular teacher, we request that you enroll according to your interest in the topic.
Once you register for one of these courses, we will contact you to assign you to a section according to your Hebrew level.
🍏Rabbinics: Tuesdays 10:15am-12:30pm, Thursdays 1:30-3:15pm
The rabbis of the Talmud began to create what we know as Judaism today after the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. The Oral Torah was written down and edited into the Mishna around 200 CE. A few hundred years later, it was expanded vastly into the Talmud- filled with stories, discussions, teachings, recipes, incantations and customs. In Contemplative Rabbinics, we are focusing on understanding, analyzing and practicing rabbinic methods of spiritual cultivation like intention-setting (kavana), gratitude and blessing practice (berakhot), and prayer (tefillah). Our central text is the tractate Berakhot (Blessings).
🍏Kabbalah: Mondays 10:15am-12:30pm, Wednesdays 2-3:30pm
In this class, we will explore the first popular Kabbalistic work and the first work of Kabbalistic Musar, Tomer Deovrah (The Palm Tree of Deborah), written by R. Moshe Cordovero one of the leading kabbalists of 16th century Safed. Combining explorations of the sefirot and the nature of the divine with concrete practices for transforming ourselves and become more loving and forgiving, Tomer Devorah is a rich work that will enable us to explore Kabbalah in all of its aspects.
🍏Hasidut: Mondays 1:30-3:15, Thursdays 10:15am-12:30pm
For our study of Hasidut, the Eastern European spiritual revival movement beginning in the 18th century, we are rooting our learning in the teachings Rabbi Menachum Nachum of Chernobyl. He was a student of both the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidut, as well as the Baal Shem Tov’s key disciple, the Maggid of Mezritch. This class introduces students to Hasidic terminology, theology and practice through a close reading of Menachem Nachum’s interpretations of the moment the Israelites responded to revelation with the words, “Na’aseh ve’nishma” – “we will do and we will listen.” His reading of this passage offers pathways for engaging in dynamic spiritual life – in experiences of lack and distance from God and in its ever-unfolding possibilities of radiant and clear intimacy with the Divine.
🍎Jewish Spiritual Practices – Tuesdays 1:30-3:15pm (June 2, 9, 16)
Teacher: Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels
This course examines a series of spiritual practices from the Jewish tradition varying from love practices to death practices, and movement practices to contemplative practices. Each class incorporates texts on those practices from the tradition and then the engagement in that particular practice we have been studying as well as reflection on our experience of the practice.
June 3, 10 & 17 from Noon-1pm EDT
The life and work of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, known as The Kedushas Levi. – Rabbi Daniel Silverstein
R’ Levi Yitzchak was a key leader in the third generation of Chasidic rebbes, who brought the radical spiritual revival of their revolutionary movement to hundreds of thousands of people across Eastern Europe. He was famous even during his lifetime for his impassioned love of, and his tremendous self-sacrifice for, his beloved people. His teachings offer us some of the most powerful articulations of a Hasidism strongly centered around the cultivation and expression of love.
Avodah Shebalev (Service of the Heart): Jewish Prayer and Liturgy – Rabba Dorothy Richman
Prayer, according to the rabbis of the Talmud, is avodah shebalev, the service of the heart. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel calls prayer “a microcosm of the soul.” Laws regulate the content and organization of the liturgy, yet the prayers are meant to contain the speech of our souls. How can a book filled with prayers other people wrote be a pathway to the individual, idiosyncratic Jewish soul? Over three sessions, we will review the structure of the siddur and examine contributions to Jewish liturgy including piyut, techinos and contemporary prayers.
Emunah as Radical Faith: What the Torah asks of us – Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
The concept of emunah, of faith in the Torah is a full-bodied faith, one that calls on all of who we are and on our ongoing ability to rely on divine sustenance. It is a radical notion of faith different from the more abstract faith described by medieval Jewish philosophers and what develops in modern and contemporary times. We will explore this concept of emunah by taking a deep dive into the Hebrew word root and examine its multiple and varied contexts which include parenting, trust, suckling, fostering/guardianship, and support. Using the work of contemporary scholars and poets, as well as Hasidic wisdom, we will do a close reading of the Torah’s notion of emunah and its implications for our own time and experience. We will also engage in weekly practices that will help foster the promise of faith the Torah holds out for us.
The Sefirot of Sefer Yetzirah – Rabbi/ Kohenet Jill Hammer, PhD
The Zohar has an elaborate system of divine sefirot—realms or facets of God’s persona—existing in relationship and in tension with one another. Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation, a much earlier work, also has sefirot. Yet these sefirot are different; they are cosmic dimensions: elements, directions, and facets of space, time, and perspective. In this class, we’ll explore the sefirot according to Sefer Yetzirah, and discover a view of the world in which the Divine and the physical cosmos “run and return,” connecting and overlapping with one another. We’ll also engage our imaginations, meditating on the imagery of the book to see how it affects us in real-time and space.
June 5, 12 & 19 from Noon-1pm EDT
Nign: Preparing Our Souls for Shabbat – Rabba Dorothy Richman
What is the relationship between song, silence, and prayer? Rabbi Heschel wrote, “In no other act do… (we) experience so often the disparity between the desire for expression and the means of expression as in prayer. The inadequacy of the means at our disposal appears so tangible, so tragic, that one feels it a grace to be able to give oneself up to music, to a tone, to a song, to a chant. The wave of a song carries the soul to heights which utterable meanings can never reach. Such abandonment is no escape…but a return to one’s origins.”
At each of our three sessions, we’ll look at a text unpacking the nign experience and learn/sing a nign together.
Devotional Song: Drawing Near, I Run After Thee! Mashcheni Acharekha Narutzah (Shir HaShirim 1:4) – Rabbi Mira Rivera
From a simple mantra to a complex refrain, devotional song increases longing for the Divine. In Mishna Yadayim 3:5, Rabbi Akiva argued to include the texts of undisguised yearning in Shir Hashirim in the Jewish canon. Rather than dismissing its sensual and earthy language, the text is Kodesh Kodashim, Holiest of the Holy, symbolic of the love between the Divine and the people of Israel that is consummated on Shabbat. Theology and journey allegory aside, come and dive into the world of the unabashed devotee. Awaken, O inner stirrings of my soul.