Lifelong Learning at Touro Synagogue
No synagogue has just one single purpose — especially Touro Synagogue. We are, simultaneously, a Beit Knesset (house of gathering) where we come together to celebrate and acknowledge the ups and downs of life; a Beit T’filah (house of worship) where, throughout the seasons of each year, we mark sacred moments and express our deepest longings through ancient blessings; and a Beit Midrash (house of study) where — in the pursuit of expansive thought, transformative prayer, fearless engagement, and love — we stimulate one another’s minds and hearts through lifelong Jewish study.
Each member of our clergy team is proud to present these course offerings for adults throughout the year. Some are presented as multi-week series of classes that build off each other, while others are offered quarterly, semi-annually, or even just one-off. No matter what you are drawn toward or intrigued by, or how frequently you choose to participate, we sincerely hope that you will consider joining us this year for your own personal enjoyment and enrichment.
Lifelong Learning opportunities at Touro Synagogue are designed to address the broadest possible spectrum of Jewish interests; each offering falls into one of three categories:
- Foundations offer ground-level entry points to a wide range of Judaic topics for new and/or returning learners
- Elevations provide opportunities to strengthen one’s Jewish knowledge base with continued in-depth examinations of topics and ideas
- Explorations allow for on-going dialogue among learners who are drawn to similar Jewish topics through their shared personal interests and/or professional connections
Additionally, some of our offerings are “goal-oriented”, in that they culminate when learners are prepared for major milestones in their Jewish lives: Conversion, Adult B’nei Mitzvah, and recognition as a Touro Chai Scholar. More information about each can be found below.
Whether you are curious about a particular offering, interested in registering for something already, or simply seeking guidance on how to begin your own personal journey of Jewish lifelong learning, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Rabbi Bauman, Cantor Margolius, or Rabbi Silverman anytime.
JUMP TO REGISTRATION
Courses for first-time or returning learners with little-to-no previous knowledge of the topic.
Tuesdays from 7-8pm, Cantor Margolius
10/29, 11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 11/26, 12/3, 12/10, 12/17
Learn to read the Hebrew alphabet and vowels. This course is designed for beginners and those who would like to brush-up on basic decoding skills. For those interested in chanting Torah or adult bar/bat mitzvah, this course will teach the reading skills necessary to take the cantillation class beginning in January. Missed the first session or two? Ask Cantor Margolius about how to jump in!
Jewish Sacred Texts: Torah, Tanakh, and Beyond
Thursdays from 7-8PM, Rabbi Silverman
10/24, 11/7, 11/14, 11/21, 12/5, 12/12
To fully understand and immerse in Jewish life — whether it be prayer services, holiday celebrations, moments of the sacred cycle or life, or anything else — it is vital to understand where our traditions come from, and how they came to be traditions in the first place. To trace the path of how Judaism as we know it came to be throughout the ages, we will examine our most central pieces of sacred literature: Torah (the Five Books of Moses), Tanakh (the entire Jewish Bible), and beyond (Midrash, Mishna, and Talmud). No prior knowledge is needed — this course is designed to be your first exposure to these rich works of Jewish literary art.
Wednesdays from 7-8pm, Cantor Margolius
1/8, 1/15, 1/22
The Jewish Holidays provide a spiritual template for the year, guiding our community through seasons of joy, introspection, remembrance, and celebration. This class will explore the most essential holidays with goals of building familiarity along with spiritual awareness and depth.
Jewish Life Cycles
Wednesdays from 7-8pm, Rabbi Bauman
1/29, 2/5, 2/12
Jewish theology and spirituality manifest powerfully through life cycle observances. Our sessions will explore the sacred moments of birth, marriage, conversion, and death through the lens of liturgy and ritual, focusing on the ways that these elements convey the soul of the Jewish faith family.
Wednesdays from 7-8pm, Dr. Jason Gaines
3/4, 3/11, 3/18, 3/25
Where does Judaism come from? What is the relationship between Judaism and the Hebrew Bible (also called the Tanakh or Old Testament)? Who holds power in Judaism, and where does this authority originate? This course explores the origins of Judaism, from the earliest traditions 3,500 years ago up to the dawn of the rabbinic age. Through the study of religious literature and historical evidence, we will seek to understand the foundations of Judaism.
Courses for those wishing to take their beginner-level knowledge even further.
Chanting the Torah
Tuesdays from 7-8pm, Cantor Margolius
1/7, 1/14, 1/21, 1/28, 2/4, 2/11, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, 3/24, 3/31, 4/7
Experiencing the Torah is one of the most profound spiritual gifts in Jewish life. We hold the Torah, parade it, hear it chanted, and study it. But chanting from a handwritten scroll is an unparalleled experience. In this class you will learn how to understand ta’amei hamikra— the trope symbols — and chant the Torah. This class is an essential starting point for those interested in adult bar/bat mitzvah. Prerequisite: ability to sound out Hebrew consonants and vowels.
Exploration of the Megillot
Tuesdays from 7-8pm, Rabbi Silverman
5/5, 5/12, 5/19
What do you think of when you hear the word “megillah”?
Queen Esther? Hamentashen? A cartoon gorilla?
All of those answers are correct — but that’s not the whole megillah!
Join us for a deep dive into the five (yes, five!) megillot, all of which correspond to a holiday on the Jewish calendar, and all of which encapsulate a small part of the Jewish experience throughout history. We will survey each megillah (scroll) and examine the historical, theological, and philosophical implications that each provides us.
Short Stories by Sholom Aleichem, Peretz, and Malamud
Thursdays from 7-8pm, Cantor Margolius
5/7, 5/14, 5/21
The masters of Jewish Literature give deep insight into the Jewish experience of their times. The motifs and tropes they draw upon have been deeply woven into the tapestry of modern Jewish life. In this class, we will examine short stories by Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, and Bernard Malamud.
Building community, understanding and resilience.
No prior knowledge is required and all are welcome.
Jewish Medical Ethics*
Select Wednesdays at 6pm, Rabbi Bauman
11/13, 1/22, 4/1
Our ongoing series exploring some of the most pressing scientific, social, and health related concerns of our time, through a Jewish lens. Previous topics have included explorations of pain management and the opioid epidemic; political agendas that affect policy in medical care; palliative and supportive care in religious traditions, and the nature of suffering.
*This series is designed for but not limited to medical professionals. Reservations are required for dinner.
Lay-Led Torah Study
Saturdays from 9-10:30am
Community members gather in our Mautner Learning Center to study the weekly Parashah (Torah Portion). The discussions are led by congregants who extend an open invitation regardless of experience with Hebrew or the Torah. Bagels and coffee are served to accompany the lively and informative discussion on what our ancestors had to say about the stories of the bible.
NO RSVP REQUIRED
News and the Jews
Select Thursdays from 12-1, Rabbi Bauman
12/12, 1/30, 3/26, 5/7
The most pressing news stories of our day challenge us as human beings and as Jews. Each session will focus on a story from the recent news cycle, viewed through a Jewish historical, cultural, and ethical lens. Bring a brown bag lunch, drinks provided, and all are welcome.
NO RSVP REQUIRED