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Jewish Studies & Hebrew Classes

Click here to register for adult education fees through your online Temple account or call (925) 284-9191.
For classes free of charge RSVP with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (925) 284-9191.

Hebrew Courses
Judaism Courses
Mindfulness and Meditation
Clergy-Led Courses

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.

Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Sept 25 through May 7 (No class: 10/2, 10/23, 11/27, 12/18, 12/25, 1/1, 1/15, 2/19, 3/12, 4/9, 4/16)
10:10-11:10 a.m. in Room 206 of the CCJDS Building
Instructor: Ophira Druch
Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members

Intermediate Hebrew
This course is designed for those who can sight-read Hebrew text with vowels, understand noun-adjective relationships, and are familiar with the present and past tense. After a thorough review of basic Siddur vocabulary, we will continue developing the building blocks of Hebrew grammar and will enrich our vocabulary.  We will translate passages from the siddur and the Torah as well as texts related to Jewish holidays. Most sessions will include a short Hebrew conversation, helping students discover the link between Biblical and Modern Hebrew.

Prerequisite: 2 or 3 years of Hebrew learning (if unsure whether this is the right course for you, please contact Rabbi Greninger at Temple Isaiah at 925-284-9191).

Required text: Prayerbook Hebrew the Easy Way.  This textbook is not included in the price of the class.

Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Sept 25 through May 7 (No class: 10/2, 10/23, 11/27, 12/18, 12/25, 1/1, 1/15, 2/19, 3/12, 4/9, 4/16)
9:00-10:00 a.m. in Room 206 of the CCJDS Building
Instructor: Ophira Druch
Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members

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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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 Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, along with Michael Strassfeld’s The Jewish Holidays and The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel.  The books are not included in the price for the course. 
9:00-10:00am, Room 207 of the CCJDS Building
Instructor: Rabbi Oren Postrel
Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members for the year

Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Sept 25 through May 7 (No class: 10/2, 10/23, 11/27, 12/18, 12/25, 1/1, 1/15, 2/19, 3/12, 4/9, 4/16)
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.
• Basic Beliefs – 9/25, 10/9, 10/16, 10/30
• Jewish Practice –  11/6, 11/13, 11/20, 12/4, 12/11
• Jewish Texts – 1/8, 1/22, 1/29, 2/5, 2/12, 2/26
• Medieval Jewish Life, Modern History and Jewish Ritual – 3/5, 3/19, 3/26, 4/2, 4/23, 4/30, 5/7

Topics in Jewish Mysticism

Jewish Mysticism began as a speculation by the ancient rabbis of what may have occurred before God created light and darkness. In this class, we’ll look at the central ideas of Jewish Mysticism from the greats in Jewish scholarship, such as Moshe Idel and Gershom Sholem.  Among some people, Jewish Mysticism has gotten a bad reputation in the recent years. The 19th Century Reformers discounted it as fundamentalist superstition and simplistic folk teachings, and it’s become somewhat fashionable with certain celebrities. However, Judaism is responding in our time with renewed interest in mysticism, along with Mussar and the Psalms. Today we are asking questions of our tradition we didn’t have the words to form the questions just a few years ago.  This course will expand our vocabulary to ask those deeper Jewish questions. We will approach mysticism in Judaism with some Zohar, a few Hasidic sources, Mussar, piyyut, and contemporary Jewish thought and contemplative Jewish practice.

Teacher: Rabbi Oren Postrel
Dates: 6 Sundays: Oct 30, Nov 6, 13, 20, Dec 4, 11
10:10-11:10am, Room 207 in the CCJDS Building
Cost: $50/members, $100/non-members

Anti-Semitism, Again: What Is It, Why Now, and What Can We Do About It?

Maybe we thought we had overcome it, or thought that anti-Semitism had become socially unacceptable; but here is this ugly oppressor, again. US cemeteries are being desecrated, school busses are being vandalized, our community centers are fresh targets.  This 4-week course with use imagery and primary texts to take a hard look at what makes a prevailing culture institutionalize the hatred of Jews. We’ll drill down and find “The Longest Hatred” has roots as far back as the Persian Empire, Hellenic and Roman times, the Crusaders, and 19th Century Europe.  Then, 70 years after the Nazis’ campaign of mass extermination, we ask again: what can we do about it?  Over four weeks we will rise from despair to hope, from powerlessness to confidence, and dismay to action.

Teacher: Rabbi Oren Postrel
Sundays: March 26, April 2, April 23, April 30
10:10-11:10am, Room 207 in the CCJDS building
Cost: $36/members, $54/non-members
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Rabbi Oren Postrel was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1993. In NYC for many years, he taught Introduction to Judaism at the URJ 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.  Rabbi Postrel is part of the rabbinic staff at Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos.

Philosophy Circle Mini Course: Readings from HaLevi, Maimonides, Buber, and Heschel

With Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan
Thursdays, February 2, 9, 16, 23 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm
On four very different nights we will dip into the wellspring of the Jewish philosophical library in this mini survey course for Lehrhaus Philosophy Circle.
HaLevi and Maimonides created foundational thought on Jewish identity at the dusk of the Golden Age of Spain. Buber and Heschel addressed modernity at the sunset of European Jewry and the dawn of Israel and America. We will read and discuss excerpts from HaLevi’s Kuzari, Maimonides’ The Guide for the Perplexed, Buber’s Hasidism and Modern Man and Heschel’s The Insecurity of Freedom and more.

This class will meet at Congregation B’nai Shalom for the first two sessions, and at Congregation B’nai Tikvah for the last two sessions.
Cosponsored by Congregation B’nai Shalom, Congregation B’nai Tikvah, & Temple Isaiah.

Cost: $50 for members, $85 for the public

Register through Lehrhaus at

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Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation

October 9, 16, 30
11:00am-12:30pm, CCJDS Makom
The overall goal of this three-session course is to introduce participants to the basic concepts of mindfulness and meditation.  This includes short practices with meditation, defining awareness and why it helps to learn your own style of awareness, introduction to managing strong emotions, and practice with techniques of diffusing strong emotional reactions.  Each session will weave together short explanations, practice, and sharing.  The class is open to people of all experience levels, and the emphasis will be on using simple, practical techniques to maintain mental health and equanimity.
Led by Joani DeVries & Diana MaKieve. Free of charge. Please RSVP with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Clergy-Led Courses

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Clergy Course with Rabbi Judy Shanks
Four Decades of Women Rabbis:  Tectonic Shifts in Jewish Evolution
Rabbi Shanks’ Clergy Class:  November 6, 13, 20, 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in CCJDS Makom
When Sally Priesand was ordained Rabbi by the Reform Movement in 1972, our 4000 year-old Jewish tradition began to change and evolve in ways that could not have been predicted at the time. Looking back over four decades of women in the rabbinate, we can now better evaluate and understand what and who drove the changes, how the larger Jewish world responded, the impact of women’s leadership in synagogues and communal institutions, the recovery and inclusion of women’s voices in ancient texts and modern liturgy, and the theological implications of bringing women’s experience to bear in the search for the sacred.  We will explore these issues and those class participants bring from their experience of living through this evolution and/or being born into a world where there were always both women and men in the rabbinate. Please register with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (925) 284-9191.

Clergy Course with Rabbi Nicki Greninger
Sundays at 11:15am in the CCJDS Makom
Jan 8, 22, 29 (2017)
Free of charge
Dance: Through a Jewish Lens
In three sessions, we will look at the role of dance in Jewish text and tradition.  What do the Bible and Talmud say about dancing?  What can we learn about the spirituality of dance in Judaism?  In what ways can dance enhance our lives as Jews, and in what ways can dance serve as a hindrance?  Come to this energetic and engaging class with Rabbi Greninger to answer these questions and more, as we take a journey through Jewish texts to explore the role of dance in Judaism. Please register with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (925) 284-9191.

How to Lead a Passover Seder with Rabbi Greninger
Sunday, March 26, 2017
9:00am and 11:15am in the Beit Knesset
Free of Charge
Are you leading or helping someone else lead a Passover seder this year? Whether this is your first time leading a seder, or you’ve done it for many years, this is your opportunity to learn some of the best tricks of the trade from Rabbi Greninger. What makes a Passover seder engaging, meaningful, and fun for participants of all ages? How do you stick to the “script” while also going “off-book?” Rabbi Greninger will help you lead a truly outstanding seder. Free to participate. Register with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Clergy Course with Rabbi Jay LeVine
Sundays at 11:15am in the Beit Knesset (Location moved from the CCJDS Makom)
April 23, May 7
Free of charge

Love is in the Air: The Song of Songs & Ruth
Two of the most charming, unexpectedly bold, and undeniably beautiful little books of the Hebrew Bible are read during the spring and early summer each year. The Song of Songs is traditionally read during Passover, and Ruth is read during Shavuot. We will explore each of these in greater depth, focusing on the theme of love.

The Song of Songs surprises us by its unabashed celebration of love - marriage and children are not the point here; rather pure erotic love between two human beings. For a more detailed introduction, see Rabbi Alissa Miller’s Shabbat Shalom. We will focus on selected themes from the poetry. If you want to read the Song in advance, I highly recommend it, although you will not need to have any prior knowledge for the class.

The book of Ruth is quite different than the Song of Songs. It is prose, not poetry - a fun and meaningful story in four chapters (read it in advance - it’s easy!). It focuses on the love of family and friendship, as well as romantic love.

How does love move us? How does love surprise us? How does love heal us? These are the questions our tradition poses. Join Rabbi LeVine for this conversation of the ages.

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