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Jewish Studies & Hebrew Classes

Adult Education Courses Fall 2016 To Be Announced.

Hebrew Courses
Judaic Studies Courses
•  Exploring Judaism
•  Mussar Study with Rabbi Shanks
•  Judaic Studies Courses with Rabbi Roberto D. Graetz & Cantor Leigh Korn
Judaism and Wellness

Fall 2015-Spring 2016 Hebrew Courses

Beginning Hebrew
Designed for those with little or no previous exposure to Hebrew, this introductory course will focus on developing the foundation for reading comprehension and a basic Hebrew vocabulary. We will learn the basics of prayer-book Hebrew, beginning with the alphabet and moving through the basic grammar and vocabulary of the siddur (prayerbook), including the key texts and melodies of some prayers and blessings found in the siddur. Required text: Prayerbook Hebrew the Easy Way. This textbook is not included in the price of the class. Beginning Hebrew will be offered again in the Fall of 2016

Intermediate Prayerbook Hebrew
A continuation of our introductory Hebrew course, designed for those who can sight-read Hebrew texts with vowels and understand noun-adjective relationships.  This course will continue developing the building blocks of Hebrew grammar and vocabulary of the Siddur (prayer-book).  We will continue translating passages from the siddur as well as biblical text.
Prerequisite: Temple Isaiah’s Beginning Hebrew or the equivalent
Required text: Prayerbook Hebrew the Easy Way.  This textbook is not included in the price of the class.
Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Oct 11 through May 1 (No class: 11/29, 12/20, 12/27, 1/3, 1/17, 2/14, 3/27, 4/3)
9:00-10:00 a.m. in Room 206 of the CCJDS Building
Instructor: Ophira Druch
Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members
Click here to register.

Ophira Druch is the former associate director of education at Temple Sinai and has taught Biblical and Modern Hebrew in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. She’s currently teaching b’nei mitzvah students at Temple Sinai and teaches Hebrew at the Contra Costa Jewish Day School. Ophira is the winner of the 2003 Helen and Sanford Diller Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and is a graduate of the Mandel Teacher Educators Institute (MTEI).

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Fall 2015-Spring 2016 Judaic Studies Courses

Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Students are encouraged to expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew.  Books for the course will be Stephen Wylen’s Settings of Silver and Michael Strassfeld’s The Jewish Holidays.
10:00-11:00am, Room 207 of the CCJDS Building (Note start time change from 9:00 to 10:00)
Instructor: Rabbi Oren Postrel
Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members for the year
Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Oct 11 through May 1 (No class: 11/29, 12/20, 12/27, 1/3, 1/17, 2/14, 3/27, 4/3)

If you would like to sign up for 1 or more blocks of Exploring Judaism (instead of registering for the whole year), we welcome you to do so. Tuition is $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.

  • Jewish Calendar & Holidays: How we Celebrate Together – 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15
  • Jewish Life Passages and our Homes: How Jews Do Jewish – 11/22, 12/6, 12/13, 1/10, 1/24
  • Jewish Text and History – 1/31, 2/7, 2/21, 2/28, 3/6
  • Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music – 3/12, 3/20, 4/10, 4/17, 4/24, 5/1

Click here to register.

Midrash, Mysticism and Prayer

Please join us for a 6-week class on Shabbat mornings!

How do we understand the complexities of Torah for today? We head back to our medieval past and find new understanding. These sessions will explore iconic passages from the Midrash and their authors.

What are mystical practices in Judaism, where do they come from, and how are they different?

We will explore the structure of the Siddur (prayerbook) and find the differences between prayer, services, meditation and worship.

6-week Course: Saturdays June 11, 18, 25 ; July 9, 16, 23

Time: 9:15-10:15am
Location: Room 201 of Temple Isaiah’s Talmud Torah Center
Instructor: Rabbi Oren Postrel
Tuition: $36/members; $75/non-members
Click here to register

Rabbi Oren Postrel was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1993. In NYC for many years, he taught Introduction to Judaism at the URJ (Union of Reform Judaism) headquarters and co-founded an Italian Jewish learning institution called Centro Primo Levi. He’s worked in synagogues in Paris, Toronto, Napa and San Rafael at Rodef Sholom, where he joyfully served as sabbatical rabbi teaching adults and leading services.  In 2014 Rabbi Postrel completed his clinical chaplaincy training at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and at CPMC in San Francisco.  Today Rabbi Postrel is on the faculty at Berkeley Ballet Theatre having founded Spiritual Care in the Performing Arts and has loved dance, Hebrew arts & calligraphy for decades.

Mussar Study with Rabbi Shanks
Sundays at 11:15am
Oct 18, Nov 15, Dec 13, Jan 10, Feb 21, Mar 20
Free of charge
Mussar is a Jewish path to becoming a better person, a “soul-curriculum” guiding us to take small steps toward having more patience, more tolerance, more open-hearted gratitude for the blessings in our lives.  This year Mussar and Meditation services will take place on first Saturday of every month, and Rabbi Shanks will be leading a Mussar study class on Sunday mornings throughout the year. Mark your calendars now!

Judaic Studies Course with Rabbi Roberto D. Graetz
Sundays at 11:15am
Jan 24, Jan 31, Feb 7 (2016)
Free of charge

Judaic Studies Course with Cantor Leigh Korn
Developing a personal prayer practice
Sundays, April 10, 24 and May 1 at 11:15am in the Sanctuary
Jews have found great meaning adopting practices such as meditation, yoga and Mussar as spiritual disciplines. Prayer, however, is more often regarded either as something that happens at a service or something that happens spontaneously without forethought.  Some even posit that it is uncommon for Jews to delve into daily prayer outside the walls of the sanctuary. And yet, prayer is something that Jews can engage in on a daily basis as a spiritual practice - something we engage in with great intention, with specific aims, forms and techniques to refine and elevate our conscious connection with God. Through text study, discussion and personal experimentation, we will focus on ways that we can incorporate prayer into our daily routines and heighten our spiritual awareness through a variety of modes of personal practice. No fee to participate.

Click here to register.

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Judaism and Wellness with Kendra Fried

Sunday January 10, 9:10am
Free of charge

How can the ancient wisdom of Torah inform our modern day health practices? In this session we will explore the simple yet profound ways in which we can enhance our physical and spiritual vitality. Just one new daily practice could change the trajectory of your health for the better! Kendra Fried leads our popular N’shamah Yoga program on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Adult Lounge. For more information about Kendra, please visit
Click here to register.

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