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beit: Adult jewish learning

Adult learning at Congregation Beth El welcomes everyone, aware that we each come to Jewish learning from our different personal backgrounds. For us, adult Jewish learning is about applying our intellectual and spiritual curiosities in order achieve new personal insights and Jewish literacy. For each of us to strive according to our own interests for deeper understanding about our Jewish identities, renewed religious or spiritual character, heightened ethical awareness, and a love of Judaism. As we each may desire, to be able to see the experiences of our lives through the lens of the Jewish People’s story, ideas, and values.

Beth El Is Thursday, our BEIT Midrash program, offers courses that tell the Jewish story. Classes rotate throughout the year selected from a variety of subjects including Bible, Rabbinic Texts, Jewish Ethics and Values, Liturgy and Synagogue Skills, Celebrations and Observances, History and Modernity, Jewish Thought, Arts and Culture, and the Hebrew language. Throughout the year we welcome and learn with a variety of scholars and guest speakers.

We hope our courses intrigue, our teachers inspire, and our learning is meaningful.

beit: beth el is thursday

Welcome to BEIT: Beth El Is Thursday
All are welcome to join us for our BEIT Midrash on Thursday evenings. On each Beth El is Thursday evening you’ll choose from a variety of experiences and courses. Come for dinner at our BEIT Café, create your own schedule, do as much or as little as you like. Sign-up to dine on a weekly themed menu at our BEIT Café, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. You may register on-line for dinner $8 in advance, $10 at the door. From 7:30 to 7:45 pm enjoy coffee, conversation, and nosh during our BEIT Break.
BEIT learning experiences take place during two time slots. At 6:30 pm choose one from a number of experiences. At 7:45 pm attend the weekly BEIT feature: Rabbi Shulman’s class, a guest lecture or presentation, or a special program.
Weekly schedules are available online and are emailed. Session locations are available at the BEIT Café each week.
BEIT is sponsored in loving memory of Paula & Jerry Mandell, devoted to Congregation Beth El and dedicated to Jewish scholarship.

beit CAFE | 6:00-7:00PM

Dine at our new and improved BEIT Café! You may register online for dinner $8 in advance, or $10 at the door. From 7:30 to 7:45 pm enjoy coffee, conversation, and nosh during our BEIT Break. Sign up for dinner here



Rebellion, Rupture, Renewal: A Journey Through Modern Jewish Literature
Rabbi Philip Graubart
January 16, 23, 30 & February 6

What is the essence of Jewish identity? What are the challenges to living a fully realized Jewish life? How should modern Jews respond to intermarriage, assimilation, Israel, the Holocaust, alienation, anti-Semitism? We often look to sacred Jewish texts for responses to these existential questions, or to political writings, or even sometimes to rabbis. But in Modern Jewish Literature – a hidden and essential source of wisdom - brilliant Jews have been producing a body of work for over two centuries responding to our deepest dilemmas. In this course, we’ll study some of the most interesting and valuable works of Modern Jewish Literature, from Sholem Aleichem to Peretz to Philip Roth to Cynthia Ozick, Ayelet Tsabari and more. We’ll study this exciting genre for its own sake, but also to develop a richer understanding of the challenges of modern Jewish life.
Rabbi Philip Graubart served as our Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth El for fifteen years. Most recently, he was a vice president at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and director of Jewish life and learning at the San Diego Jewish Academy.
Together and Apart: The Future of Jewish Peoplehood
Dr. Ray Fink
January 9, 23 & February 6

Using the latest iEngage curriculum from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, we’ll explore a new narrative regarding the significance of Israel for Jewish life. This narrative serves as a foundation for a new covenant between Israel and world Jewry, elevating the existing discourse from a crisis-based focus to one rooted in Jewish values and ideas.
Dr. Ray Fink is a Past President of Congregation Beth El, a respected physician in our community, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Freud, Adler, and Frankl: Thinking About Existence
Dr. Oded Shezifi
January 9, 16, & 23

Come explore the insights of three great 20th Century psychologists, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Viktor Frankl, who influenced the way we understand human existence.
Dr. Oded Shezifi is a clinical psychologist who also teaches at UCSD-Extension. He is a play therapist supervisor and a certified Jewish mindfulness teacher. Oded has served as a medic and aviation physiology instructor at the IAF and has worked as a clinician at Jewish Family Service where he supervised and taught clinical interns the History of Psychotherapy.
Creating An Art Piece with Sustainable Objects In Honor of Tu B’Shevat
Shana Lew & Helen Segal
January 16, 23, & 30

The holiday of Tu B’Shevat (Jewish Arbor Day) is the impetus for this art class . This holiday reminds us of our connection to the earth as well as our responsibility to the environment as caretakers. In this three part class, participants will have the fun and challenging opportunity to create a piece of art from used, found, and sustainable objects. The instructors will provide materials but participants are encouraged to bring in small pebbles, sea glass, or small found objects to include in their piece.
Shana Lew has a BA in Jewish Studies from UCLA and a MAED from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. She is on the board of the Woman’s Philanthropy (UJF) as well as the Board of the Wheelchair Dancers Organization. Shana also spends time creating sustainable art for Jewish and Medical causes. Shana and her husband Bill are members of Congregation Beth El and they have two grown sons.
Helen Segal graduated summa cum laude in Fine Arts. She has been inspired by the vibrant colors and patterns used by artisans around the world especially by how beautiful objects can be made from the most mundane of materials. She works in all media and her artistry extends from creating large architectural installations and murals to smaller idiosyncratic and imaginative pieces.

Appreciating Jewish Art: Gutman, Rubin and the History of Tel Aviv
Guri Stark
January 9

In this session we will discuss two Israeli artists who were the pioneers of a new, distinctive Eretz Israel art style in the days prior to the foundation of Israel.
Guri Stark is a unique artist and musician trapped in the body of an engineer who has been painting in watercolors for over 30 years. Born in Israel, Guri moved to the United States 32 years ago. With his distinctively strong and brilliant watercolors, Guri made a name for himself as an artist in Israel, Denver Colorado, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Creative Writing Workshop
Dr. Sandra Block
January 9, 16, 23, & 30

A writer is someone who writes. In this 4 week workshop we will explore our creative writing skills with the use of Jewish poetry, stories from the Torah and inspiring verbal and visual prompts in timed writing sessions. Participants may choose to share their writing with others or not. All workshop feedback is respectful and, most importantly, non-critical. The workshop is modeled on the Amherst Writers And Artists model pioneered by Pat Schneider. For more information on the philosophy of this writing method please see
Sandra Block, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, a university instructor and a certified AWA workshop facilitator. She has led creative writing workshops nationally for medical and mental health professionals, creative writing workshop leaders, women’s groups in work and social service settings and for senior citizen groups. Her fiction and nonfiction writing has been published in the San Diego Union Tribune, The Writers’ Ink Anthology and local and national newsletters.
Aging in the 21st Century
Jon Schwartz
February 6

What can we do to enhance successful aging? What does it take to live happy and healthy in advanced age? What is the secret of a few regions in the world where there is a high concentration of people that live beyond 100? These questions and many others will be answered in a collaborative, informative and humorous discussion.
Jon Schwartz has a business degree in Entrepreneurship from Indiana University and a master’s degree in Gerontology from USC. At USC, his emphasis was how to reduce admissions to institutionalized care facilities. From 2014-2017 Jon was a contributing writer for the San Diego Jewish Journal where his pieces consisted on a variety of aging issues. At the beginning of 2019, Jon took his decade plus experience in the field of aging and started a company, Partner in Aging.

Synagogue Skills & Song
David Lipsitz
Begins January 9 and continues each week BEIT meets

Learn the melodies and meanings of the weekly Friday evening Shabbat service, Kabbalat Shabbat. Grow in your ability to participate with us and enjoy synagogue prayer and community.
Hebrew Reading
Robin Shulman

Begins January 9 and continues each week BEIT meets
Learn basic Hebrew reading for synagogue services. Discover or rediscover your ability to read Hebrew and participate in synagogue prayer and community.
Intermediate Hebrew Reading & Conversation
Orli Moses

Begins January 9 and continues each week BEIT meets
Strengthen your Hebrew reading and conversation skills.
Torah Reading
Dr. Ran Anbar
Begins January 9 and continues each week BEIT meets

Learn to read Torah or grow your Torah reading skills. If you wish, read Torah on occasional Shabbat mornings as member of our Torah reading squad. We meet on a regular basis to teach Torah trope to beginners, review trope with more experienced readers, and practice upcoming Torah readings.
Women Talking with Women
Renee Ravich and Sandra Block
February 6

Explore what it means to be a Jewish woman today within relationships, community and family-traditional and nontraditional- in a safe and supportive environment. We will provide text from various books and resources as discussion prompts. Women only, please.


Rabbi Avi Libman
January 9, 16, 23, February 6
March 5, 12, 19, April 2

Join us for an educational journey for Jews and non-Jews interested in gaining knowledge of Jewish History, life, and culture. In this course we cover topics like Jewish history, theology, and philosophy, as well as holidays and life-cyle events, practices, and rituals. The course is geared to anyone who wants to learn more about Judaism, in addition to those considering conversion.  

BEIt tefillah: ma'ariv minyan | 7:30PM

Each week BEIT meets
We gather in the BEIT Midrash for Ma’ariv, an evening prayer Minyan. Join us for a brief spiritual break between sessions followed by coffee, conversation, and nosh during our BEIT Break. 

beit experience ii | 7:45 p.m.

What’s Trending?
Rabbi Ron Shulman
January 9, 16, & 23

Explore current concerns within the Jewish community. Each week we’ll take a look at a #timely topic and study Jewish sources to guide our discussion. Our goal is to learn about Judaism, Jews in the larger world, and our personal connections to all of it. Join in for any session, or all three.

January 9

#Are ancient texts still relevant?
#Secular and Religious

January 16
Human Relations

#Jewish Values and Political Community
#Jews and Non-Jews

January 23
Jewish Identity

#Post-Denominational Judaism
#Our Jewish Identity SWOT Analysis

Here All Along: A Reintroduction to Judaism
Sarah Hurwitz
January 30

A renowned political speechwriter rediscovers Judaism, finding timely insights and profound spiritual connection in its ancient practices and ethical traditions.

From 2009 to 2017, Sarah Hurwitz served as a White House speechwriter, first for President Barack Obama and then as chief speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama.

Insights from Biblical Archaeology
Dr. Thomas Levy
February 6

New archeological finds intrigue us as research and discovery cast new light on Biblical lore and history. Join our good friend, Dr. Tom Levy, to learn about the latest finds and their meanings for our understanding of the Bible today.

Dr. Tom Levy is Distinguished Professor and holds the Norma Kershaw Chair in the Archeology of Ancient Israel and Neighboring Lands at the University of California, San Diego. He is a member of the Department of Anthropology and Judaic Studies Program, and leads the Cyber-archeology research group at the Qualcomm Institute, California Center of Telecommunications and Information Technology.

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784