Nourishing Hope and Connection by Exploring the Bounty of our Past

By Linna Ettinger

In an ultimate declaration of optimism, Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts is doubling efforts to nourish lay leaders and future clergy through continued courses this fall. Pivoting quickly in response to COVID19, starting in March, all coursework for 63 Adult Learning classes with over 600 students, went virtual over the course of two weeks, and our students embraced learning in this new format with gusto.

In the late spring, as the pandemic persisted, and everybody’s patience was tested again and again, Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston made it possible for the Community Education arm of Hebrew College to widely expand summer Adult Learning classes, which were enjoyed by people across the country. American Jews are still finding meaning and connection through the informal pursuit of lifelong learning.

This fall, in addition to welcoming more than twenty new students to Hebrew College’s pluralistic rabbinical school, Hebrew College’s Community Education Adult Learning department is rolling out another robust buffet of offerings to please any lifelong learning palate. The public is cordially invited to attend two free Sukkot Community Education events sponsored by Open Circle Jewish Learning, a program of Adult Learning:

Community Education’s Adult Learning online offerings provide opportunities to satisfy all backgrounds and needs:

  • Open Circle Jewish Learning (OCJL), including offerings for community members in their 20s and 30s, as well as learning for all adults. OCJL classes are an ideal entry point or Jewish learning.
  • Parenting & Grandparenting through a Jewish Lens (PTJL), providing insight through the wisdom of the tradition for parents and grandparents.
  • Me’ah Classic and Me’ah Select, two tracks of more intensive college-level style learning for adults seriously committed to lifelong learning.
  • Hebrew Language Ulpan for adults interested in mastering conversational Hebrew through the lens of Israeli culture. There are ten levels of study, to provide entry points for a wide variety of Hebrew language speakers from beginners to full-conversation groups

Open Circle Jewish Learning Fall 2020 courses include:

  • Does G!D Vote? with Hindy Finman
  • Israel: Then and Now with Maya Dalzell
  • Service of the Heart: Wrestling with Prayer with Rabbi Mona Strick
  • Jewish Contemporary Life and Living with Rabbi Lila Kagedan
  • Not Just for Artists: Creative Responses to Jewish Texts for Our Times with Rabbi Carol Glass and Julie Leavitt
  • An Introduction to Talmudic and Hasidic Stories with Rabbi Lev Friedman
  • Exploring God: An Intro For Seekers and Skeptics with Akiva Nelson
  • Biblical Gems – The Stories Behind the Famous Verses with Jamie Stolper
  • Qabalah Qafé with Rabbi David Curiel
  • The Torah of Dreams: Understanding Our Dreams Through the Lens of Pardes with Yael Schiller
  • The Feminine Scrolls and Social Transformation – From Biblical Times to Today with Rabbi Natan Margalit
  • Women Wrote: Biblical Beginnings to Late Medieval with Dr. Rachel Greenblatt

As well as courses for young adults:

  • Jewish Tools for Saturn’s Return with Rabbi David Curiel
  • Zivug: Activist Couples Preparing for Marriage with Rabbi Getzel Davis
  • Shal-Om: Stories and Their Storytellers with Rabbi Getzel Davis
  • Tatti Circle: Fathers of Young Children with Rabbi Getzel Davis

And a suite of mindfulness and meditation courses:

  • Did Our Biblical Ancestors Practice Mussar? with Rabbi Carol Glass
  • Parenting Through a Jewish Lens with Mussar with Rabbi Marcia Plumb
  • The Kaballah of Family with Layah Lipsker
  • Exploring our Soul Curriculum – An Exploration of Mussar with Laila Goodman
  • Mussar for Everyone with Merry Arnold
  • Jewish Mindfulness Meditation on One Foot with Shoshana Cetlin
  • The Jewish Road to Character: A First Trip Down the Mussar Path with Rabbi Eric Gurvis

All course details and descriptions are available in the Community Education Brochure.

Let us all commit ourselves to renewing our efforts to reconnect with our tradition and our past through the shared experience of lifelong learning. Our learning gives us a never-ending connection to other community members in the past, present and future, providing meaning, hope and purpose, which when combined with our social distancing, has helped us endure this pandemic.

Linna Ettinger is Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning at Hebrew College. For more information and to register, visit the Open Circle Jewish Learning page or email opencircleregistration@hebrewcollege.edu. Generous financial aid is available for all classes.