Warm Place. Cool Shul. 

Adult Education

It’s never too late to educate … to educate oneself in the history, traditions and values underlying the foundation of what it means to be Jewish. With this mission in mind, Adath Israel has organized a varied program of classes and workshops to give greater meaning and relevance to your Jewish heritage, its traditions and value concepts. You are encouraged to register for one or more of these classes and expand your knowledge of Jewish subjects. For more information, please contact Charles Gleich at [email protected].

All classes are free for Adath Israel members and $10/session for non-members. Donations to the Adult Education Fund are appreciated to help defray program costs. Register to attend any of these classes by calling the Adath Israel Education Office at 610-934-1920 or by emailing Barbara Sharofsky at [email protected].

Winter 2018 Classes

Talking to Children About Death: January 30, 2018. Led by Rabbi Eric Yanoff. This session will be held offsite.

Often, unencumbered with pre-conceived notions or social pressures, children ask the most direct, innocent, and clarifying questions about the most difficult topics.  Few topics are challenging, emotional, or unanswerable as questions about death.  How might we talk to our children in an honest and age-appropriate manner about death?  What might this reveal about our own questions and insecurities?  This session will combine a parenting/educator how-to component, a pastoral approach, and a theological investigation of the topic.

How the Bulgarian Jews Survived the Holocaust: February 6, 2018. Led by Joseph Benatov, Ph.D. 

In 1943, Bulgaria complied with German demands and deported nearly 11,400 Jews from occupied territories in northern Greece and Yugoslavia (Macedonia). At the same time, Bulgaria successfully resisted German pressures to deport the 50,000 Jews living in Bulgaria. Dr. Benatov will offer an overview of the facts surrounding these historical events and will focus on the conflicting opinions about the role played by King Boris III, church officials, and politicians in the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jewish population. Dr. Benatov will also discuss the international debate over the way in which this historical moment should be interpreted, remembered, and commemorated.

Dr. Joseph Benatov holds a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches Hebrew. He has written on competing national narratives of the saving of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II; Jewish identity politics in Philip Roth’s early fiction; and the sensationalism of U.S. representations of life behind the Iron Curtain. Every summer, Dr. Benatov leads a Sephardic trip to Bulgaria, Macedonia and Northern Greece.

What Jewish Texts Can Teach Us about Aging and the Treatment of the Elderly: February 13th, 2018. Led by Saul P. Wachs, Ph.D.

It has been said that Judaism and Jewish education are inherently counter-cultural, in the sense that frequently they espouse values and foster practices that are different -- sometimes very different -- from those of the majority culture. We see this in our current world, notably in American society: Whereas the majority culture extols youth, Judaism holds the aging in particular respect, as is reflected in our Bible and in rabbinic literature. In this session we will examine relevant Jewish sources and will consider both the current reality and the ideal application of these sources to contemporary Jewish life.

Dr. Saul Wachs, the Rosaline B. Feinstein Professor of Education and Liturgy and chair of the Department of Jewish Education at Gratz College, recently retired after 42 years of teaching. During the course of his career, Dr. Wachs has lectured in almost 400 communities on five continents, authored close to 90 publications, and served as scholar-in-residence at institutions throughout the United States and beyond.

"The Rabbi and the Ugly Man": February 20th, 2018. Led by Elisha Stein, M.A., J.D.

A chance encounter along the shore of a river takes an unexpected twist and transforms the lives of the two men involved. (Talmud Bavli,Tractate Taanit 20a-b)  In this narrative, the Talmud offers us valuable perspectives on interpersonal relationships, a life of Torah, and the challenges of individual growth.

Elisha Stein is an instructor of Jewish Studies and Bible at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, where he has taught for thirteen years.  He holds an M.A. degree from Hebrew University and a J.D. degree from George Washington University. From time to time he leads the Shabbat morning Torah class at Adath Israel.

Unlocking the Gates of Prayer: February 21, 2018. Led by Rabbi Ariella Rosen.

 In this class, we will discuss the what, how, and why of tefilah (Jewish prayer). In looking at specific parts of the liturgy, we will explore how tefilah fits into the broader context of Jewish history and tradition.

The Book of Jonah, or Steps in Getting it Together and Figuring It Out: Tuesdays, March 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th, 2018. Led by Emilie S. Passow, Ph.D.

The Book of Jonah has many elements of fairy tale – a reluctant hero, a magical whale, and a magical tree – yet we read it on mincha of Yom Kippur, the holiest, most solemn  day of the Jewish calendar, because embedded in this very brief  text are some of the most important guidelines for spiritual growth, especially in our Jewish tradition:  courage, atonement, empathy, forgiveness and humility.  Join us for an exploration of how these themes emerge from such a seemingly simple story.

This four-part course with Prof. Passow is jointly sponsored by Adath Israel and Temple Beth Hillel and will be held at Adath Israel.  The course is free for members of both congregations, but advance registration is requested.