Lifelong Learning at Touro Synagogue

BEIT MIDRASH: A HOME FOR STUDY

It is a sacred obligation of our synagogue to be a Beit Midrash, a home for study. Through the courses described below, we will stimulate one another’s minds and hearts through lifelong Jewish learning. Our clergy team is joyfully anticipating sharing this time with the congregation, as well as welcoming many guest teachers to share their wisdom with the congregation throughout the year.

Some of these lifelong learning offerings 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, growth, 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 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.

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.


TOURO’S ANTI RACISM INITIATIVE

Our tradition reminds us of our sacred obligation to turn inward and reflect on our own behavior, to break harmful practices, and to make amends in action. We understand that we must answer the pain and injustice around us with a shofar’s response, ready to learn, listen and act. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) statement on systemic racism in the U.S. states that “Racial healing can only begin to be achieved when systemic oppression is recognized and accounted for.” In their words, the Reform movement must “take active steps to redress the destructive effects of historic and ongoing systemic racism, including through education and conversations within our congregations and communities.” Antiracism starts with education and knowledge. To that end, Touro will embark as a congregation on a journey of intentional antiracism education. This work will be both a communal endeavor and a personal journey. Our Antiracism Steering Committee of co-learners will be disseminating readings, videos, and book options, and will convene discussion groups to reflect on our learning, to situate it in Jewish values, and to provide support for sometimes difficult concepts and conversations.

More details below!

Siddur 101 with Cantor Margolius
Thursdays at 7pm on Zoom

October 22, 29, November 5, 12, 19
What do we mean when we say “Baruch atah…”? Why do we stand for Bar’chu? What’s a minyan? Are we allowed to go “off book” on Friday night? In Siddur 101, we will explore the major building blocks of our liturgy. You’ll learn how to navigate the Siddur, and how individual prayers come together to form the major sections of every service throughout the year. No prior knowledge is required!

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God & Theology with Rabbi Silverman
Wednesdays at 7pm on Zoom

January 13, 20, 27, February 3, 10
Jewish conceptions of the nature of God have been as widely varied as they are enduring. These five courses will explore the basic evolution of Jewish thinkers’ attempts to define and describe God in comprehensible human terms, and examine the nuance and historical circumstances of some of the most significant shifts.

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Modern Jewish Practice with Rabbi Bauman
Wednesdays at 7pm on Zoom

May 5, 12, 19
Modern Jewish practice is the result of a constant tension between the preservation of tradition and the embrace of modernity. During these sessions, we’ll explore how each of the three major Jewish streams – Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform – continue to grapple with that tension and what learnings each of them can bring to our own practice.

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Judges with Cantor Margolius
Wednesdays at 7pm on Zoom
December 2, 9, & 16

The Book of Judges is a collection of short stories about the struggle to find effective leadership in the early years of Ancient Israel. The diversity of this book is astounding, with beautiful poetry, dramatic superhero tales, and even low-brow comedic moments you wouldn’t expect from a biblical book.

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Understanding Siddur Hebrew with Cantor Margolius
Hebrew Rapid Review: Wednesdays at 7pm – January 20, 27, & February 3
Siddur Hebrew*: Wednesdays at 7pm – February 24, March 3, 10, 17, 24, & 31

While learning a foreign language can take a lot of time, a little knowledge can go a long way in making sense of the Hebrew of our Siddur — our prayer book. We’ll learn some of the most essential words, phrases, and grammar to help bring out the meaning of our Hebrew liturgy. *The ability to sound out Hebrew words is required. For those who would like to review their Hebrew consonants and vowels, sign up for the Hebrew Rapid Review.

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Jews in the Age of Black Lives Matter with Dr. Jonathan Judaken
Wednesdays at 7pm on Zoom

November 4, 11, & 18
Dr. Jonathan Judaken, a renowned scholar of racism, will offer a series of discussions on how as Jews we can respond to the challenges of racial injustice in the age of Black Lives Matter. He will ask us to consider how anti-Black racism intersects and differs from anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Judeophobia, teach us about the history of Jews and whiteness in America, and consider some concrete steps we can take individually and collectively to dismantle racism.

Dr. Judaken is the Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities at Rhodes College, whose scholarship focuses on intellectual representation of Jews, Judaism, race and racism.

This program is part of our larger Touro Synagogue Antiracism Initiative.

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Laws of Environmental Justice with Justin Ehrenwerth
Tuesdays at 7pm on Zoom
January 12, 19, & 26

In South Louisiana, we have built a rich culture and many historic communities in a flood-prone, sinking delta. The impacts of climate change—including relative sea level rise, stronger and more frequent storms, and extreme heat—challenge our way of life. The poorest and most vulnerable among us suffer the most from these challenges, while the wealthy enjoy greater protections for their homes, families, and businesses. In other words, those who continue to suffer the most from structural racism, suffer the most from climate change. Together, we will discuss the factors fueling our existential environmental crisis, how climate change and structural racism exacerbate the challenges facing so many vulnerable communities, and what we might do to pursue a more equitable and just future.

Justin is a member of the Touro Synagogue Board of Trustees. He is President and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf, an applied research institution dedicated to coastal restoration and sustainable communities.

This program is part of our larger Touro Synagogue Antiracism Initiative.

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Jewish Medical Ethics
Select Dates at 7pm on Zoom

November 10, January 28, April 8
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.

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News and the Jews
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. Additionally, on a bimonthly basis, through News and the Jews Presents, we will hear from an acclaimed Jewish journalist and engage with a story of their choosing that is representative of how their Jewish identity informs what they do to bring important issues to the public.

This program is part of our larger Touro Synagogue Antiracism Initiative.

News and the Jews with Rabbi Katie Bauman
Thursdays at 12pm
: November 19, January 14, March 25

News and the Jews Presents:

Josh Levin: Slow Burn
Thursday, October 29 at 7pm

Josh Levin is the national editor of the online magazine Slate. He is the host of Season 4 of the podcast Slow Burn, on the political rise of David Duke, and co-hosts the sports podcast Hang Up and Listen. He is the author of The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth. Levin, a native of New Orleans, graduated from Brown University and lives in Washington, D.C. Click here to listen to Slow Burn

Lee Zurik: Measure of Hate
Thursday, December 3 at 7pm

Lee Zurik is an investigative reporter for Fox 8 New Orleans. Lee is also an active member of Investigative Reporter and Editors, a nonprofit of more than 6,000 members dedicated to improving investigative reporting. Currently, Lee is Vice President of the organization’s Board of Directors. Click here to watch Lee’s report Measure of Hate

Anya Kamanetz
Education Correspondent with NPR
Spring 2021

David Hammer
Investigative Reporter with WWL-TV
Spring 2021

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Lay Led Torah Study
Saturdays on Zoom from 9:00am-10:30am

Community members gather on Zoom 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. Please reach out to Bill Procell at wprocell@aol.com to join.

Planned Giving: A Conversation about Legacy
with DiMeo-Schneider, Investment Advisors for the Touro Synagogue Foundation

Monday, October 26 at 7pm on Zoom
Investment experts will provide an overview of the many ways congregants – of any age or financial status – can continue to support Touro beyond their lifetime. Learn how to simultaneously make a difference and enjoy tax savings by starting your planning at an early age.

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Mission and Priorities of Touro
with Laura Levy, Chair of the Task Force
Sunday, November 15 at 10am on Zoom

Laura Levy, leader of Touro’s Mission and Priorities Task Force, will present the work of the task force during this hour and share more about the renewed mission, vision, core values, priorities, and strategic pillars. All are welcome to come and learn more about this thoughtful process and document that was produced.

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REGISTRATION

  • Please select each class that you would like to register for: