Now’s the time for Jewish Learning!

The building may be closed but Bet Torah is still open! We have many virtual opportunities for you to connect to learning and community. Here are some of our “socialize-at-a-distance” offerings (zoom links included below, password emailed separately. If you need it again or have other issues accessing our virtual events, email our Technology helpline):

MONDAY, OCTOBER 12

  • “Monday Morning Mindfulness and Movement” – 9:15 – 10:15 am Join Rabbi Sacks and Robin Wald for a morning gratitude practice with gentle movement and space for sharing. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/93075611640

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14

  • “The Museum” Film Discussion – 5:00 pm. Watch the film on your own and then we’ll gather together to discuss. The Museum is available on Kanopy for free. Newcomers always welcome. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/97855377887
  • 929 Study Group – 8:00 pm. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/932825197

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15

  • Happy Hour Meditation – 5:00 pm. Join together with other Bet Torah members for contemplative practice and discussion. Bring your refreshment of choice. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/95769395791

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16

  • Women’s Torah Study – 10:00 – 11:30 am. Come check out what you’ve been missing. Newcomers welcome. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/767261001
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17

MONDAY, OCTOBER 19

  • “Monday Morning Mindfulness and Movement” – 9:15 – 10:15 am Join Rabbi Sacks and Robin Wald for a morning gratitude practice with gentle movement and space for sharing. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/93075611640

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23

  • Women’s Torah Study – 10:00 – 11:30 am. Come check out what you’ve been missing. Newcomers welcome. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/767261001
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25

MONDAY, OCTOBER 26

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27

  • Author Nessa Rapoport – 6:30 pm. Her new novel, Evening: Day by day as a family sits shiva, stories unfold, illuminating the past to shape the present: two sisters, lost youth, youthful obsessions… Organized by day as the family sits shiva, Evening unfolds the paradoxes of love, ambition, siblings, and the way the past continues to inflect the present, sometimes against our will. Zoom Link

Nessa Rapoport is the author of a novel, Preparing for Sabbath, and a collection of prose poems, A Woman’s Book of Grieving. Her memoir, House on the River, was awarded a grant by the Canada Council for the Arts. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

Note: This book is available on Amazon and Scattered Books in Chappaqua (info@scatteredbooks.com) Contact Liz Schonfeld (lizschon@aol.com) with any questions.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29
  • Torah in the Trees. 9:00 am. Meet in the parking lot of Rockefeller State Park. Masks required.
  • Happy Hour Meditation – 5:00 pm. Join together with other Bet Torah members for contemplative practice and discussion. Bring your refreshment of choice. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/95769395791
  • Great Jewish Books Club. 8:00 pm. Discussion of “Concealed” by Esther Amini led by Esther Amini herself. This book is about an amazing journey from Iran to America and a journey of a young woman finding herself.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23

  • Women’s Torah Study – 10:00 – 11:30 am. Come check out what you’ve been missing. Newcomers welcome. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/767261001
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24

Highlights from previous Lifelong Learning activities:
Movies from our Film Discussion Group:
  • Ushpizin
  • The Spy
  • Baba Joon
  • Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Praying With Lior
  • Footnote
  • In Between
  • Chasing Portraits
  • Foxtrot
  • The Samuel Project
  • Maktub
  • The Cakemaker
  • An Israeli Love Story
  • 93 Queen
  • Very Semi-Serious
  • 1945
  • The Two Popes
  • Abe
  • The Women’s Balcony
  • The Wedding Plan
  • The Other Story
  • The Light of Hope

Most of our regular adult learning has moved on-line. Previously scheduled groups and classes such as the Small Groups, the Torah study and 929 groups, the Adult B’nai Mitzvah group, and the Mussar groups will all be meeting via Zoom. If you are a participant in one or more of those groups and you did not receive a Zoom link, please be in touch with Rabbi Sacks (rabbisacks@bettorah.org). 


Need to talk?

As always but especially during this stressful time, your rabbis are available to meet you for a virtual coffee or pastoral visit. Be in touch with Rabbi Brusso (rabbibrusso@bettorah.org) or Rabbi Sacks (rabbisacks@bettorah.org) to schedule a time to talk. And please let us know if there is someone in our community feeling isolated and in need of outreach.


Other Virtual Learning Resources: Events, Courses, and Readings


Last updated October 1, 2020, 7:30 pm

Regular Class Offerings

IENGAGE, Together and Apart: The Future of Jewish Peoplehood, A Hartman Video Learning Series taught by Rabbi Aaron Brusso 

The curriculum examines the forces dividing the Jewish people today: nationalism, antisemitism, dual loyalty, and identity politics. We will consider what it means to be a member of the Jewish people, the core values that animate Jewish peoplehood, the contemporary challenges to Jewish unity and imagine new conceptual frameworks that can help sustain and grow the story of our people for a new millennium.

March 4, 11, 18, 26 at 8:00 pm       No charge for Bet Torah members

BET TORAH IN THE CITY

Bet Torah in the City returns for its fourth season! Get to know your fellow Bet Torah commuters as we share lunch and opinions over Jewish texts in midtown offices. Rabbis Brusso and Sacks will alternate facilitating the conversations each month. Let us know if you are interested—even if you think you might be able to attend only one or a few of the dates.

Schedule:   6 Wednesdays from 12:00-1:30 pm   Dates: TBD

PAIRED LEARNING PROGRAM

Come Join Our Paired Learning Study Program

Connect with a friend or family member, near or far, by engaging in an exciting course of Jewish learning that you and your study partner choose.

  • Kick-off Orientation: Thursday evening, March 19th @ 8 pm
  • Group Sharing and Celebration: Thursday, May 28th (Erev Shavuot)

10 weeks of study over 11 weeks

How will each pair study? Any way you want: at home, in a coffee shop, at Bet Torah, or via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout. If technology is a challenge, we will teach you how to meet face-to-face over the internet so you can study with your partner whether you are 5 miles or 5660 miles apart (NY to Tel Aviv: 5660 miles).

Topics – Each pair selects from one of the following 8 courses (more selections are available at www.projectzug.org)

  • The Torah of Music – Joey Weisenberg
  • Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Roots of Activism – Rabbi Michael Marmur
  • A Food Tour of the Talmud – Rabbi Aviva Richman
  • Intro to the Jewish Bookshelf – Rabbi Avi Strausberg
  • Theology of Psalms: Praying Biblical Poetry – Rabbi Shai Held
  • Purpose, Conflict, and Resolution: Leonard Cohen’s Vision – Dr. Stephen Arnoff The Prayerbook:
  • New Interpretive Methods – Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
  • Mindfulness and Judaism – Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels

Cost – pay $36 to $180 per person, depending on what you feel you are able to. (Make checks payable to Bet Torah, with “Paired Learning” in the memo.)

LEARN MORE OR SIGN UP – Contact Rabbi Lisa Sacks to sign up or request further information. Sign up is easy: just let Rabbi Sacks know you want to participate and whether you want us to pair you with a study partner. Or fill out this simple form.

ADULT “BAR AND BAT MITZVAH”

Maybe you never had a bat mitzvah because girls didn’t do that when and where you grew up. Maybe you grew up in a secular Jewish home that didn’t believe in celebrating bar mitzvah. Maybe you became Jewish later in life. Maybe you had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah when you were younger but now want to learn how to read Torah and Haftarah, and to deepen your understanding of prayer and Torah from an adult perspective. The good news is that it’s never too late! Join together with other likeminded adults from the Bet Torah community in a very special year of learning, exploration and synagogue skill-building as you work towards celebrating your journey with the broader Bet Torah community at Shavuot services next year. Classes will be held on Sunday mornings. Interested? Please email rherman@bettorah.org. Basic Hebrew reading is a prerequisite.

BEGINNING HEBREW

Thursdays at 10 am  –  Have you always thought about learning Hebrew? Do you wish you could follow along with the prayers, or wish you could help your kids as they prepare for their B’nei Mitzvah, or hope to read the signs when you go to Israel? Well now’s the time learn! Nili Ionascu offers a weekday beginning Hebrew. If you have any doubts about how much fun and how easy it is to learn, just ask her very enthusiastic students from last year’s class! Interested?

FRIDAY MORNING WOMEN’S TORAH STUDY GROUP

Fridays 10:00-11:30 am    Share a morning of study and exploration of the weekly parashah, from the woman’s perspective! Learn how to incorporate the teaching from the Torah into your everyday life. No experience necessary, the only requirement is an eagerness to learn and discover the treasures of Torah. Participants may take turns leading the discussion and providing a light breakfast for the group. New participants are always welcome and encouraged to join in.

MEDIEVAL SEPHARDIC CIVILIZATION – THE CLOSING DAYS

Dr. Benjamin Gampel, professor of Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary, will be joining us again this fall for another one of his fascinating journeys into Jewish history and practice.

Last year we began our study of the Sephardic Jews of medieval Iberia – today’s Spain and Portugal, who have captured the imagination of American Jews.  That these Jews fashioned a civilization within a multicultural pluralistic environment, that these Jews were at home and creative in their Judaism, even as they mixed freely in Christian and Muslim society, is a phenomenon that we wish to understand more profoundly.

This semester we will continue our examination of the multifaceted expressions of Sephardic literary creativity.  Over the course of eight weeks we will read together their philosophical and mystical writings, their Biblical and Talmudic commentaries, their halakhic essays and poetical compositions, and even delve into their polemical works written to combat the influence of Christianity and Islam.  During our class sessions we will provide historical and literary context for these writings, as well as closely read these historical yet compelling texts.  Join us as we explore the landscape of Sephardic civilization and confront Sephardic perceptions of their own society and, in so doing, examine their attitudes towards God, Torah, and rabbinic tradition.

The time period of this year’s class will start with the riots and forced conversions of 1391-2, through the Iberian expulsions of 1492-8, and continuing on – although transformed – in the Sephardic diaspora, which extended geographically from the Near East through Western Europe.

Schedule: Sunday mornings, 10:00AM – 12:30PM

Class sessions: September 22, October 6, 27, November 3, 10, 17, 24, December 8

Class Fee: $400.00

Registration: To register, contact Jerry Fensterstock (jerryf@pipeline.com)

Please note: To assure a quality experience, the class will be limited to 30 enrollees

SATURDAY MORNING PARASHAH DISCUSSION

Each Shabbat at 9:00 AM a group of Bet Torah congregants gets together to discuss that week’s Torah portion before services. Members of the group take turns each week leading what is always a lively and informative discussion. A wide range of Torah knowledge is on display as every participant brings their own perspective and insight to the conversation. Coffee and cake help lubricate the exchange of ideas. No one knows too much or too little to participate. Please join us for this fast half hour of Torah conversation. We meet in the small conference room and look forward to having you share your thoughts and ideas with us. Saturdays at 9:00 am 

SMALL GROUPS

Bet Torah’s ongoing small group initiative is an effort to help people get to know each other better, to explore a challenging topic in a small group, and to deepen people’s connection to the Jewish tradition. In keeping with our theme for this year, these groups of approximately 15 people will share thoughts and ideas about the Rhythms of [Jewish] Life and how people might think about these through a Jewish lens. The groups include people with a wide variety of backgrounds and Jewish knowledge and are facilitated by Rabbi Sacks. If you would like to join a group, or start a group and think you might be able to gather some other interested folks, please email rabbisacks@bettorah.org.

GREAT JEWISH BOOKS CLUB

Why are there so many Jewish opticians? Jews like to read. We are, after all, the people of the Book. Since the 2nd century CE, at least, Jews have been voracious readers – outnumbering much of the world in literacy. So what could be more natural for a thinking synagogue, like Bet Torah, than to have a club devoted exclusively to books of Jewish significance. The Great Jewish Book Club, is devoted to important works that have Jewish Content or Jewish Authors or subjects significant to Judaism. Our selections are as varied as Bintel Briefs (Letters to the Forvarts) and Judah Ha Levy. Each time we meet we select the next book and appoint someone to lead the discussion. I can’t predict what is coming but I can tell you what read in the last year: What Went Wrong, Lewis; Ornament of the World, Menocal; Salafism in Lebanon, Rabil; NY Times Magazine – Middle East, Anderson; Mamelah Knows Best, Ingall; Acts of Faith, Patel; Disobedience , Aldeman; Night, Weisel; Genius of Judaism, Levy; A Horse Walked into a Bar, GrossmanNot all were masterpieces, – some were serious works, some novels, some light and fluffy. But all contributed to our understanding of who we are . Join us. You can select which books you want to participate with and how much you want to do so. We meet Thursday nights every month or so. We start at 8pm and rarely are here after 9:30. You choose what books you want to read and your level of participation. You will gain an expanded mind. You lose nothing but ignorance. To join send your email address to Edgfeinberg@gmail.com. There is no cost and no obligation.

NEW AND EXCITING LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: 929.ORG ONLINE LEARNING PROGRAM AND SHABBAT DISCUSSION

Please join us during Kiddush each Shabbat, as we gather in the social hall, enjoy dessert, and chat about a few chapters from Tanakh, the Jewish Bible.  We are following an on-line program called 929.org (named for the 929 chapters in Tanakh), which provides the weekly text as well as helpful essays and podcasts.  The chapters are not long, and the short commentaries come from a variety of perspectives, some more traditional, some less so.  Choose what you find interesting and bring it to the group to discuss.  Whether you have read all, some, or none of the chapters we will be studying together, and whether or not you have read or listened to the commentaries, please join us for lively and friendly conversation.  All are welcome.