Adult Education 5780 (2019-2020)

Being Jewish in a Non-Jewish World…
Locating Ourselves in the Mirror of History

All life is a very narrow bridge, but the essential truth is not to be overcome by fear.   
 —Reb Nachman of Bratzlav
History is a narrow bridge. We are naturally afraid of our memories… And yet, if memory is to make a moral difference, we need to locate ourselves within it.
—Elie Wiesel

WHAT are the opportunities and challenges of engaging in the secular world as Jews?
HOW do we find space for Jewish practice in our modern lives?
HOW do we reconcile the history of our people with the realities of the 21st Century?

Join us for a year of considering why Reform matters.

Visiting Scholars 



November 15-17, 2019

Uri Feinberg*

How does the modern State of Israel fit into our Jewish identity today? After the ’68 War, the State of Israel was the darling of the Western World. Today, we face a much more complicated reality. However, from biblical to modern times, Israel’s history has continued to create foundation posts for our Jewish lives. Where do we stand and why? How do we speak with our children, our Jewish friends and our non-Jewish neighbors about our people’s promised land? Through a proverbial ‘connecting of the dots,’ Uri Feinberg will help us better understand ‘how the Jewish people got here’ and more importantly, our own place in this narrative.

Uri Feinberg has been a Jewish Educator for almost 25 years. With an MA from Hebrew University in Contemporary Jewish Studies and as a licensed tour guide since 2000, Uri uses his talents as a storyteller, historian and astute political observer to help provide clarity in the midst of an ever-changing international reality.


rabbi-dvora-e-weisberg-phd.jpegDecember 5-8, 2019

Rabbi Dvora E. Weisberg, PhD, **
Rabbi Samuel Stahl Scholars Weekend

After the Fall of the 2nd Temple, in 70 C.E., the Jewish community adapted out of necessity to a diaspora existence. The rabbinic law and literature that evolved over the next several hundred years is as much a window into the Jewish practice of our ancestors as it is a blueprint for how to live a Jewish life in a non-Jewish world. Join Rabbi Dvora Weisberg for a deep dive into various aspects of our rabbinic literature, highlighting the many ways that the Jewish community has continued to adapt to its secular surroundings.

Dvora Weisberg is the Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professor of Rabbinics and the Director of the School of Rabbinic Studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.


evan_kent.jpgShabbat Shirah—February 6-9, 2020

Cantor Evan Kent, Musician in Residence*

“Shards: Putting the Pieces Together,” a one man show, chronicles Cantor Kent’s aliyah to Jerusalem from Los Angeles in 2013 and his grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the United States at the beginning of the 20th Century. Through song, storytelling, and a bit of puppetry, we get to meet his grandparents and learn of their perilous journey from Russia to Ellis Island. We will spend the weekend with Cantor Kent exploring how music, literature, and history bind our mutual stories together.

Evan Kent serves on the faculty of Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. For 25 years he was the cantor at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to his ordination as cantor from HUC-JIR, he has a doctorate in music education from Boston University.

anat-hoffman.jpgMarch 13-14, 2020

Anat Hoffman*

As a Founding member of Women of the Wall and the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Anat Hoffman is at the forefront of the battle for social justice, religious pluralism and the status of women in Israel today. Hoffman will give us an update on our continued push for religious parity for the Reform Movement in Israel, as well as explain the greater mission of IRAC which fights for the civil rights of all Israelis regardless of religion or race.

Anat Hoffman is the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center. She served on Jerusalem’s City Council for 14 years and is a founding member of Women of the Wall. She speaks regularly for government offices, colleges, and social justice organizations in Israel, as well as Jewish communities and organizations abroad. Similarly, she is invited to discussions on the status of women in the Knesset.

rabbi-carole-b-balin-phd2.jpgApril 2-4, 2020

Rabbi Carole Balin*

We live in unprecedented times. On the one hand, American Jews’ sense of safety has been shaken to the core by the shooting deaths of congregants at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, CA—a murderous expression of the rising wave of anti-Semitism in our country and abroad. On the other hand, Jews continue to thrive disproportionate to their numbers in nearly every sector of the economy, the arts, and education. How do we explain this dichotomy? How are Jews depicted in our society? Rabbi Balin will lead us through a variety of conversations involving history, Jewish ritual, and popular culture. 

Carole B. Balin is Professor Emerita of History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, her topics of publications range from Jewish women under the Tsars to the Maxwell House Haggadah. Balin curated the national traveling exhibit “Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age” and wrote and narrated the animated short “The Click Moment: Jewish Feminism 101.” She appears on PBS’ regularly-aired “The Jewish People: A Story of Survival,” blogs for the Huffington Post and lectures at synagogues and universities throughout the world. Balin is a member of the board of the Jewish Women’s Archive and is currently at work on a book on bat mitzvah in an increasingly gender-fluid world.

    *    Funded by the generosity of the Jean and Jesse Wulfe Religious Enhancement Fund.
  **    Brought to Temple Beth-El by the generosity of the Rabbi Samuel Stahl Lectureship Fund.

Sunday Scholars Series

Monthly Adult Learning Focused on Our Congregational Theme 

Sundays  |  9:30–11:00 am

October 20  |  Rabbi Samuel Stahl

How Can the Ten Commandments be Controversial?  Jews have long been activists in maintaining the separation between Church and State. How do we maintain the sanctity of the Decalogue while acknowledging the Judeo-Christian origins of the United States? 

November 3  |  Rabbi Samuel Stahl

Do Jews Still Consider Themselves the Chosen People?  Exploring the tension between the particularistic origins and the universalistic ideals of our faith in the 21st Century.

January 5  |  Rachel Stern***

Trials and Tribulations of Navigating a ‘Friendly’ but Fraught Jewish life in San Antonio Today

February 9  |  Cantor Evan Kent*

The Distorted Mirror of History: How the stories we tell about our families and ourselves change and are modified over time.

March 22  |  Rachel Stern***

Jewish Philanthropy and Social Impact on the World Around Us  How Jewish organizations have supported Jews and non-Jews in San Antonio and beyond.

April 5  |  Rabbi Carole Balin*

From Dirty Dancing to Mrs. Maisel: Jews on the Screen  How are Jews depicted on the big and little screen? Why amid a rising wave of anti-Semitism in the US and abroad has the American public fallen for a 1950s Jewish housewife moonlighting as a stand-up comedian?

April 26  |  Rachel Stern*** 

Impact and Influence  What is the footprint that modern-day Jewish philanthropists, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and advocates contribute to the world around them? 


    *    Funded by the generosity of the Jean and Jesse Wulfe Religious Enhancement Fund.
***    Funded in part by the generosity of the Gilbert & Ruth Lang Human Development Fund.

Year-Long Learning

Monthly Mussar with a Social Action Component 

Sundays  |  9:30 am
Class will begin October 6  | 9-month course

Mussar is an age-old Jewish practice for becoming a better human being, not for the sake of oneself, but rather for the sake of Tikkun Olam—making the world a better place for the sake of others.
Beginning in October we will offer Monthly Mussar with a Social Action Component—for those more advanced Mussar learners. The group will plan a social action activity to match each month’s topic or middah.
This course will be facilitated by Geri Gregory, a trained Mussar Facilitator and the Temple’s Member Services Coordinator. The per-student cost for the course is $10 per month, or $90. To register, pay and for information, contact Geri.

Rosh Hodesh 

Wednesdays  |  7:00 pm  |  TBE Library 
Oct. 30  |  Nov. 20  |  Dec. 28–Saturday  |  Jan. 29  Feb. 26  |  April 22  |  May 20

Rosh Hodesh, the celebration of the new moon, has long been a holiday reserved for women. Join us monthly at Temple for social connections and spiritual inspiration. The Rabbis and Cantor, along with some participants will lead a discussion based on the book Listen to Her Voice: Women of the Hebrew Bible by Miki Raver, and light refreshments will be provided. RSVP to attend one or all.

Torah Study

Saturdays  |  9:00–10:00 am 

Join with other dedicated learners as we continue to make our way through the entire Torah text. For more than 20 years we have gathered on Saturday mornings to engage in a close reading of the Hebrew Bible. All learners are welcome to share in the dialogue and discussion.

The Bendiner Library Book Club

September 19  |  7:00 pm

The Magnificent Esme Wells by Adrienne Sharp. 

November 14  |  7:00 pm

Modern Loss. Edited by Gabrielle Birkner and Rebecca Soffer. A joint event with the Chesed Caring Community. 

February 27  |  7:00 pm

Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow. A joint discussion with the Holocaust Museum and other synagogues. 

Adult Hebrew with Rachel Walsh

Wednesdays | 10 sessions | beginning October 16

Classes will be customized to the interest of the participants. 

Class 1: 6:00 to 7:00 pm

Beginner class; basic knowledge of the Alef-Bet is required. 

Class 2: 7:15 to 8:15 pm

Intermediate class; experience with Hebrew beyond the Alef-Bet is required. This class will focus on learning different aspects of the Hebrew language. 
Fee: $80 for members and $105 for non-members. Your registration and payment are due prior to October 14. For online registration and payment, go to or call Edith Vanderventer at 210-733-9135 ext. 107. 
For further information, contact Rachel.

Inter-Faith Dialogue

The Book of Exodus

Discovering Modern Inspiration in Ancient Stories of Redemption and Revelation

Wednesdays  |  7:00–8:30 pm

(at Temple Beth-El — childcare will be available)

The story of the Exodus can be seen as the starting point of the formation of monotheism, the defining concept of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and as author Richard Elliot Friedman claims, the cradle of global values of compassion and equal rights today. Both Judaism and Christianity consider this a foundational scripture to understand both our heritage and our current spiritual context and practices.
Join Reverend Beth Knowlton, Rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Rabbi Mara Nathan, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth-El for a monthly exploration of this sacred and inspirational text. 

October 23 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 1:1-9:35

The heavy weight of servitude—leaving slavery and exile to claim a new kind of freedom.  

November 20 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 10:1-17:16

Power, Plagues and the redemption from slavery. 

December 18 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 18:1-24:18

The excitement of Revelation vs. the reality of maintaining the covenant.  

January 15 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 25:1-27:19

A Place for God—Instructions for preparing the Holy Sanctuary.  

February 19 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 27:20-30:10

Holy Vestments and Sanctuary Rituals—the role of clergy as a conduit to God.  

March 4 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 30:11-34:35

The Golden Calf—Mediating the relationship with God. 

April 1 | Temple Beth-El | Exodus 35:1-40:38

Making a Place for God—the Tabernacle as a metaphor for letting God into our lives.