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Courses


Think Jewish: Jewish Wisdom for Modern Life

A Jewish Educational Experience
Do you enjoy fun and lively conversations?

Do you want to challenge the status quo?

Do you have questions about Judaism that are important to discuss?

Do you want to discover how Judaism is relevant and forward-thinking?

Do you want to join a warm community?

Then join the club! Sinai Scholars is for you! This learning experience is different from any class you have ever attended!

Sinai Scholars is not a series of lectures; it is a series of interactive discussions. It is not a repeat of what you experienced in Hebrew school; it is fun, stimulating, deep, and relevant. It is not a time to listen; it’s a time to question. It is not geared to tell you what to think; it provides an opportunity to explore Judaism’s rich heritage at your own pace with you in the driver’s seat.

Sinai Scholars is a platform upon which participants explore central elements of Judaism that are relevant, interesting, and empowering for all Jews, irrespective of background, education, and level of commitment. By the end of this journey, you will have a richer appreciation for some of the core elements of Jewish heritage and Jewish identity, along with a deeper understanding about how these interface with modern life.

Session One
A Question of Identity: Perspectives on Jewish Identity in the Modern World

You meet a Jewish person who says, “You know, I don’t know why people consider me Jewish. I do not support Israel; I do not ever visit a synagogue; and I do not celebrate any Jewish holidays.” How would you respond?

What does it mean to be a Jew? Is Judaism a religion, culture, nationality, or some combination thereof?

Since the dawn of time, individuals and groups sought to define and explain their identities, and Jews throughout the ages questioned the meaning of their Jewish identity. Today, the shifting sands of Jewish life require that this conversation persist but with newer insights and profounder definitions.

Session Two
A People with a Purpose: Exploring Foundational Elements of the Jewish Ethos

If you were G-d and you were going to address a once-for-all-time message to all of humanity, what would you say?

What messages does humankind need to hear today?

Mark Twain noted that while many nations filled the planet with sound and splendor, all of them soon faded and vanished. But the Jews are different, he noted. “All things are mortal,” he wrote, “but the Jew.” For Jews, survival is not celebrated for survival’s sake; survival is seen as a call to a purpose. A dialogue about the nature of this purpose is one crucial step in making this world a better place.

Session Three
Reason and Ritual: On the Significance and Meaning of Jewish Observances

In medieval times, a despotic ruler once agreed to release a Jew from jail for one day each year to practice religion. The Jew was now in a quandary. Should that day be Yom Kippur? Passover? Rosh Hashanah? Some other day? How to choose?

What would you choose?

This leads into a broader discussion about Jewish rituals, which often seem foreign and archaic. In what ways can we find meaning and value in some of these observances?

Session Four
An Oasis in Time: The Gift of Shabbat

Life is continuous and unrelenting. Might there be some benefit in a creative pause?

Enter the Jewish Sabbath. It is difficult to imagine a society functioning without a weekend, but this institution was unheard of in the ancient world. What meaning did Jews find in their Sabbath that allowed them to shrug off their cultural isolation?

Examining this question is relevant to those who are troubled that today’s society is insufficiently happy and inadequately connected in meaningful ways.

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Fascinating Facts: Exploring Myths and Mysteries of Judaism

 Fascinating Facts is a four-lesson series in which four major components that sustain and shape Jewish life are explored: our book, our food, our bodies, and the cycle of life. Rather than thoroughly exploring one component of each of these themes, each class surveys various elements within the given topic. This will provide an opportunity to learn many new concepts while simultaneously developing an appreciation for a single larger idea. 

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You Be the Judge: Behind the Steering Wheel of Jewish Law

For over a thousand years, our mostimportant cultural activity has been the study of Talmud. It has sustained us through persecution and exile, shaping the discourse of our people and serving as the crowning achievement of our intellectual tradition. Perhaps you have been curious about the Talmud, but thought it was complex and inaccessible to anyone lacking extensive training. Not anymore. This fall, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is proud to launch "You Be the Judge," an innovative introduction to this magnificent work. You need no prior knowledge of the Talmud and no formal legal training. There are no prerequisites other than an open mind. "You Be the Judge" presents you with real cases brought before Beit Din, the court system of Jewish law. We provide the primary source texts from Talmud and put you in the driver's seat. You will have the opportunity to question, discuss, and argue, based on principle and precedent. You will experience firsthand the exhilarating mental exploration that characterizes traditional Talmud study. Join us this fall in the ancient study halls of Jerusalem and Babylonia. Add your voice to other voices that span the millennia. You take the lead. You Be the Judge. 

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The Land and the Spirit: Why We All Care About Israel

Explore the spirit of a land that has pulsed with energy and mystery since the dawn of time, a land that has captured our imagination throughout history, a land that breathes with the glory of our past and the dreams of our future. Join us as we examine what Israel was meant to be, and what Israel means to us today.

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Soul Maps: Kabbalah to Navigate Your Inner World

 

Perhaps you have struggled before with the elusive search for meaning, and wished you had a personal mentor to guide your growth. What if you had the chance to meet one of the greatest masters of Kabbalah and learn ancient proven strategies for self-realization and contentment?

This fall, you’ll have that chance. Soul Maps, a new course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, investigates Tanya, the fundamental text of Chassidic thought. The course is structured as a six-session consultation with the author of the Tanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. During each session, you will receive insight into your inner world and you will discover new strategies for overcoming obstacles to change and progress. You’ll learn to resolve guilt, conflict, and confusion, and to traverse life’s journey with joy, purpose, and direction.

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The Art of Marriage

Judaism views a loving marriage as a spiritual as well as a human ideal. 

“The Art of Marriage” is a six session course that will show participants how to attain that for themselves and their spouses, with timeless lessons from both modern and ancient Jewish texts such as the Talmud and Zohar.

This course will benefit everyone from newlyweds to couples happily married for fifty years, to those contemplating tying the knot. 

What will be covered:

• The Case for Marriage. Is there still a need for marriage in today’s world? What purpose does it serve, psychologically and spiritually?

• Jewish Bedroom Secrets. Judaism has much to say about the physical side of marriage. This lesson draws upon the wisdom of the Kabbalah and shares practical tools to increase spousal intimacy of heart, mind, body, and soul.

• Will my Spouse Ever Change? What if only one partner is committed to improving the marriage? This lesson examines the ideal of an expectation-free relationship, and how to value your partner for who they are.

• Becoming a Better Half. Marriage can bring out the best and worst in people. This lesson focuses on the individual character traits that influence marriage. We also explore how marriage can be a tool for self improvement. 

• Danger Ahead. How does one defend a marriage from the threats of boredom from within and temptation from without? This lesson shows ways to form and fortify an exclusive and powerful relationship. 

• Make Up or Break Up? How far should you go to make a marriage work? This lesson explores Jewish insights on divorce that provide powerful instruction on how to stay married when the going gets tough.

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Paradigm Shift: Transformational Life Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Paradigm Shift is an elevator ride to the heights of what is possible. Synchronize yourself with the mission for which you were placed on earth, and learn to recognize the inherent goodness and perfection in yourself, in others, and in every circumstance of your life.

Distilled into six succinct lessons, this empowering course offers a revolutionary outlook on life, culled from the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

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Torah Studies 5777

 TBD

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Custom Course

Please contact your instructor for more information. 

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The Jewish Course of Why

Give your Judaism the intellection you know it deserves. Prepare to tackle the quizzical, queer, and seemingly-unanswerable questions about Jewish belief and practice.

Ever wondered why there are so many Jews in Hollywood? Why Jews eat gefilte fish and cholent and wish each other mazal tov and l’chaim? Why the Bible sanctions slavery and animal sacrifices? What is the cause of antisemitism? What does Judaism say about Christianity? About the role of women in Jewish life? You will also gain insight into mysterious Jewish practices, strange biblical narratives, and enigmas of Jewish identity.  

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Wisdom From Sinai: Revolutionary Ideas that Judaism Introduced to the World

Course Overview

The Ten Commandments are one of the most well-known passages of the Bible, and are significant to non-Jewish people as well. During the eight weeks of the course, three primary questions will be explored:

1. What, if anything, is Jewish about the Ten Commandments? Aren’t these ethical principles that have been adopted by most religious communities? Does Judaism understand them in a particular way, or is the foundation of the Jewish religion universalistic in its orientation?

2. Why these ten? There are many possible ways to articulate a foundational  manifesto of purpose. Yet the Ten Commandments select only ten of hundreds of possible commandments to be conveyed by G-d directly to the Jewish people. What is special about these ten? In what way do each of them represent a sphere of significance?

3. How does this commandment make a difference to your life? Most of us don’t grapple with whether to murder or not, and idol worship is currently out of fashion. Are these ten still of central relevance to us today? Do they continue to speak to us today?

Course Syllabus

Orientation Session

In this session, you will review the goals and requirements of the program.

Lesson One: If You Were G-d

In this lesson, you will examine the structure and order of the ten commandments, and explore its role as the foundation of Jewish thought and modern civilization.

Lesson Two: Who Am I?

In this lesson, you will examine the Jewish concept of G-d and the nature of Jewish belief. You will also investigate the contemporary relevance of the concept of idolatry.

Lesson Three: To Be or Not to Be

This lesson concentrates on the Jewish idea of the Sabbath and sanctity in time. You will become familiar with the basic practices governing the Jewish Sabbath, and you will look at the interplay between the Sabbath and the other days of the week.

Field Trip One

You will have the opportunity to observe and participate in a Shabbat dinner with your instructor.

Lesson Four: The Creators

This lesson looks at how Jewish law codifies the requirement to honor and respect 

parents, and invites you to consider the significance of this commandment to our spiritual development.

Lesson Five: The Breath of Life

This lesson examines Jewish life ethics governing such issues as murder, suicide, euthanasia, and abortion.

Lesson Six: Born To Marry

This lesson focuses on the Jewish ethics concerning love and marriage.

Field Trip Two

Lesson Seven: For Love or Money ( Do Not Steal; Do Not Covet)

This lesson will explore the relationship between material wealth and how it can be reconciled with ethical values.

Lesson Eight: The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

This lesson focuses on the spiritual meaning of human communication and the
importance of honest and true words. We also examine classical Jewish thinking
regarding the authenticity and truth of the Jewish tradition.

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Requirements & Benefits