Adult Education 5781

Temple Beth-El promotes life-long learning and therefore offers learning opportunities for every stage of life. In addition to exceptional youth educational opportunities, Temple Beth-El also offers a robust adult education program. Our programs range from guest speakers to study of Torah, Mussar, Hebrew and Literature.

Courageous Conversations: Candid Dialogue about the Role of Race in America

“Let us be God’s witnesses: strong enough to stand in discomfort and listen, honest enough to acknowledge the discrimination around us,
and brave enough to overcome our fear of change.” -Rabbi Mara Nathan (Yom Kippur 5781)

Join us as we explore themes of racial injustice and non-white experiences in America through film, music, and literature. By participating in these Courageous Conversations we hope to open our hearts and minds to life experiences that are different from our own, deepen our sense of empathy and discern concrete ways to affect change in our community and in our own lives. Together we will engage in honest, respectful, and constructive conversations about the need for us all to be engaged in anti-racist work.

Click the image above to register for that session.

Visiting Scholars

Temple Beth-El and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Interfaith Study & Dialogue

The second Temple Period, the Roman Period, the time of Jesus: All of the above and more.
This class has concluded.  The class sessions are available for viewing now.
Uri Feinberg is back to lead us in a 4-week exploration of this watershed evolutionary moment in Jewish history, Christianity and the history of the world. Our exploration will begin shortly after the return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, when during the regional reign of the Persians, the Second Temple will be built. Over the course of four sessions together, we will follow the trajectory of the Jewish People as they begin anew in the Land. The fall of the Persians and the rise of the Greeks will provide fodder for rebellion, new leadership, new law and lots of challenge. Once the Romans enter the picture the Jewish world changes forever, in more ways than one. As the dust settles around the destroyed Second Temple, with continued residue yet to fall, the stage will have been set for new paths, both internally and externally.  

Session 1 – Destruction, Exile and Return: When does the period really begin?
We will begin with the Destruction of the First Temple (maybe from the last days of the First Temple), and continue through the end of the Persian period.  Watch the full session     Session 1  Cheat Sheet        

Session 2  – Hellenists, Hasmoneans and…Pompei: An end of sorts.
We will begin with the rise of the Macedonians through Hasmoneans and continue to the entrance of the Romans into Judea.  
Watch the full session.

Session 3 – Herod, Jesus, the birth of Christianity: The seeds of Rebellion.
The reign of Herod through the eve of the Great Revolt, touching on the life of Jesus as a figure within the greater context of the multiple sects of Jews living at the time.  Watch the full session

Session 4 – If you stand for nothing, what do you fall for: The Great Revolt and does it end here?
The Great revolt, Masada with a forward glance to the Bar Kochba rebellion as a symbol of the actual end of the Second Temple Period.  
Watch the full session

Uri Feinberg’s study is made possible through the generosity of the Jean and Jesse Wulfe Religious Enhancement Fund.

Year Long Learning

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.

Blessing for the Study of Torah

Torah Study – Genesis 19:1-3

Stepping Stones to Jewish Knowledge: A Basic Judaism Course

Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 PM – Class will begin on January 20, 2021 

This course will be held on zoom for the time being. If things change in terms of Covid-19, we could switch to in-person classes held at Temple Beth-El.

Registration and Payment for the course is due by January 11, 2021

6:30–7:45 pm | Section 1A – Stepping Stones to Jewish Knowledge

Open to anyone who would like to reinvigorate their Jewish knowledge or begin their journey to conversion. Topics include life cycles, holidays, prayer, history, and theology.

7:45–8:30 pm | Section 1B – Beginning Hebrew, The Aleph Bet

(note: Stepping Stones and Hebrew will be taught concurrently each week)

 Section 2 — Choosing Judaism

Delve deeper into the topics previously learned as well as the more personal conversion process, including group discussions, journaling opportunities, and community partnerships with congregants.

Members interested in attending the Stepping Stones to Jewish Knowledge course are encouraged to do so. This group becomes a community during the course, registration for the entire first section is necessary.

Completion of the Stepping Stones course (including Hebrew) is a requirement for all conversion candidates. If you are interested in exploring the conversion process, please contact Iris Berman-Smith by email or by phone at (210) 733-9135, ext. 106.

Cost of Section 1A: $180 + $28-45 for materials (based on your preference)

Materials: Honoring Tradition, Embracing Modernity: A Reader for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Introduction to Judaism Course.

  • Hardcopy Book: $34
  • PDF of Book: $28
  • PDF and Hardcopy Bundle: $45Cost of Section 1B: $100 + $20 book

Cost of Section 2:
$80 + $100 mikvah fee (required for conversion) + $50 Hatafat Dam Brit fee (for male conversion candidates who are interested in this).

Total for the year-long course: $360 plus materials and extra fees.

 Registration and payment for the class is due prior to January 11, 2021.

Adult Hebrew

Class 1: 6:00 to 7:00 pm

Three adult Hebrew classes taught by Rachel Walsh will be offered on Monday and Wednesday evenings (via Zoom) beginning January 4 and 6.  If you want to increase your knowledge of Hebrew, then join Rachel for one of these classes.  Each of the classes is customized to the interest of the class.

Class 1: 7:15 to 8:15 pm – Mondays

A complete beginners class. Knowledge of the Hebrew Alpha Bet is NOT required for this class. Will start from the beginning.

Class 2: 6:00 to 7:00 pm – Wednesdays

A post-beginner class; knowledge of the Alef-Bet and ability to read words is required. A textbook will be used.

Class 3: 7:15 to 8:15 pm – Wednesdays

An intermediate class will focus on learning different aspects of the Hebrew language; basic experience with Hebrew beyond the Alef-Bet is required. A textbook and novel for Hebrew learners are used.

Fee: $80 for members and $105 for non-members. Your registration and payment are due prior to December 24. For online registration and payment, click HEBREW REGISTRATION . For further information, contact Rachel Walsh.

Monthly Mussar 

Thursday  |  7:00 pm
Class will begin September 3 | 10-month course

Temple Beth-El will offer a 10-month course of mussar study with trained mussar facilitator Geri Gregory.

The text to be used for this course is The Musssar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life, edited by Rabbi Barry H. Block. See the article above for information about this book and ordering.

Each participant will be asked to meet once a month on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm in a va’ad (the entire group of participants) and once a month with a chevrutah (assigned study partner), as well as complete the assigned readings from the text. Beginners and seasoned Mussar learners are welcome to participate in this course, however beginners will be required to attend a few extra sessions in the beginning to learn about Mussar practice. The va’ad will meet via Zoom as long as is necessary, and then in person when it is possible.

The cost for this 10-month course is $100 for seasoned mussar learners and $140 for beginners, and all participants will need a copy of the book. You MUST register and pay for this course NO LATER than Thursday, September 3.


Israeli Poetry with Rachel Korazim

Rachel is a freelance Jewish education consultant in curriculum development for Israel and Holocaust education. She engages audiences worldwide through innovative presentations built around the stories, poems and songs of Israel’s best writers.  Her thought-provoking talks open a window onto Israeli society, inviting listeners to engage with the country and its history in new ways.

Register for the Zoom

Tuesdays & Thursdays at 1:00 PM

December 15: In Those Ancient Days at This Season (Songs & poems of Hanukkah)

Source Sheet


December 17: The work of Shlomit Naim Naor

Source Sheet

January 5: Haim Guri (Poems of the 1948 War of Independence)

Source Sheet

January 7: Sivan Har Shefi (Modern Orthodox Feminist Poetry)

Source Sheet

Sunday Scholars Series

Life in the Time of COVID-19…What Should Our New Normal Be?
Sundays | 9:30–11:00 am

The Sunday Scholar Series focuses on a yearly theme and explores a multitude of angles. This year the theme is “Life in the Time of COVID-19….What Should Our New Normal Be?”. Rachel Stern, who in recent years has taught this series will join us again. Rachel holds master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Jewish Non-Profit Management and has been in Jewish education for over 20 years. Rachel currently serves as the Chief Learning and Engagement Officer for Shalom Austin. This year in addition to classes taught by Rachel, we will be offering sessions with our visiting scholar, Uri Feinberg.

The class draws a diverse crowd and while there is great learning, the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable to ensure learners of all levels feel welcome and included. Some participants are parents of religious school students inspired to learn with their children, while others are exploring Judaism for themselves. Some participants attend all the sessions, while others come for the specific topics of their interest. Everyone is welcome, and everyone becomes part of the unique classroom community that Temple has fostered. You will leave with new ideas to think about and happy that you took this time for yourself.

Sunday, October 18- Rachel Stern

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?
How does our inability to gather physically together affect the core mission of Jewish communal organizations? How will their missions change to face the new reality?  This class is made possible through the Gilbert and Ruth Lang Human Endowment Fund. 

November mini-mester- Uri Feinberg
Sundays, November 1, 8, 15, 22

Pride and Prejudice: When do we get it right, when do we get it wrong, and does context matter? Waves of Immigration, inclusion and success, discrimination and regress. Join us for four sessions, as we examine the history of the State of Israel through the immigrant lens. Waves of immigration served as the foundation for the birth of the State of Israel, and waves of immigrants who arrived after 1948 allowed the young state to grow. These waves were a miracle orchestrated by the very Rock of Israel mentioned in the concluding line of the Declaration of Independence. This description of entity, deity or people, was chosen in all its ambiguity, for the purpose of allowing the founding generation the freedom to direct the ownership to this miracle that best reflected their ideals. With open arms the founding generations welcomed in their Jewish sisters and brother. This is your home; you face strife; return, we now have a state of our own. We will identify the altruistic and practical reasons behind this call of inclusion, and we will excavate the cracks that represent the failure and the fissure which lead to discrimination and exclusion of the very same sisters and brothers.

Through our sessions we will also be witness to those moments in which ‘all of Israel is [indeed] responsible for each other’, and where we sadly still find ‘causeless hate’.

Uri Feinber’s mini-mester is made possible through the generosity of the Jean and Jesse Wulfe Religious Enhancement Fund.  

SESSION 1 – Video
Transcript from Israeli Documentary
2 Poems

SESSION 2 – Video

SESSION 3 – Video
Im Ninalu/ Ofra Haza
Elohay/ Kobi Oz and grandfather Rabbi Nissim Messika
Ethiopian immigration and becoming Israeli

SESSION 4 – Video

December 13- Rachel Stern

Creating our own Mikdash M’at (a private sanctuary)
We miss coming to Temple to pray and to be together, but the growing familiarity with online worship, learning and programming creates ease of access to endless opportunities. How has our time at home deepened our spiritual lives and connected us to the rituals of our faith?

Pre-registration is required.

This class is made possible through the Gilbert and Ruth Lang Human Endowment Fund.

February 21- Rachel Stern

Holy Isolation….Redemption texts from Jewish tradition 

Our Torah and other Jewish sacred texts prescribe ways to handle infectious diseases and lay out procedures for isolation and reentry. What does our tradition teach about isolation and reintegration? What measures must we take to maintain holy behavior both inside and outside the camp? 

Pre-registration is required.

This class is made possible through the Gilbert and Ruth Lang Human Endowment Fund.

March 21- Rachel Stern

Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof…the role of activism in Jewish community…. 

How do we balance the Jewish prophetic vision of justice in our country with the need to protect our own?  How do we reconcile anti-Zionism/ anti-Semitism within parts of the American Activist community (e.g. BLM) with the need to combat the racism that is baked into our society? Are we prepared to let go of our community’s default assumption that Jews are mostly white and create sacred space for Jews of color? Can we create an anti-racist Judaism? 

Pre-registration is required.

This class is made possible through the Gilbert and Ruth Lang Human Endowment Fund.

January 24 – Jerry Greenspan, Regional Political Director for AIPAC

The US-Israel Relationship: A View From Washington

Join staff from AIPAC’s Southwest Region as we dive into some of the key relationships in Washington, new and old, impacting the US-Israel relationship.  As we welcome a new Administration and Congress, see how AIPAC works with both Democrats and Republicans to create bipartisan support for the Jewish State— focusing our conversation on some of the Members of Congress in our own backyard.   There will be lots of time for questions. 

Pre-registration is required. REGISTER HERE

Temple Book Chavurah

Tuesdays at 7:00 PM

October 20: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

December 22: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

February 23: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

April 20: The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich

June 22: The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

RSVP or ask to be added to the notification list for this group and to receive the Zoom Invitation prior to each session by contacting Warren Lieberman at moc.liamg@06beilgw