Adult Education 2015 – 2016

Throughout the year we offer a wide variety of classes and speakers for adult learners. The following is an overview of this year’s offerings. Additional classes and speakers will be added during the year so be sure to check the calendar and the weekly emails.


“Not In God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence”  –  A discussion of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ latest book, facilitated by Arnold Zar-Kessler  Four consecutive Thursday evenings at 7:00, beginning May 12th.

Is religion itself the real problem in religious violence?
And wouldn’t we solve the problem by just having less religion?

 If religion is perceived as being the problem – or even part of the problem – of religious violence, then it must also form part of the solution, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues in his new book, Not in God’s Name.

In this class series we will use the book to explore the roots of violence, and the relationship of violence to religion. In particular, we will consider Rabbi Sacks’ claim that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreading of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths.

We will employ close reading of Sacks’ text, attempt to listen carefully to each other, and maybe even leave with a morsel of hope for the future, and the work before us.

Click below for audio recordings of the classes:

Class #1  (May 12, 2016)
Class #2  (May 19, 2016)


Adult Hebrew Learning
Beth El’s Hebrew program is for adults of widely varying abilities. Whether you have just learned the aleph-bet or are a proficient reader, there is an opportunity for you to advance your knowledge of Hebrew. This year, we offered classes both for people who have some reading ability as well as for those who want to improve their grammar through text study. Classes spanned 18 weeks beginning the week of October 20th.


Beit Midrash – A Community of Adult Learners
Sunday mornings, 9:00 AM

Our Beit Midrash is a place where adults with a wide range of interests and backgrounds come to learn together while forming and deepening friendships. Our study is open-ended and participatory with a chevruta-style (partnership) of learning.

Beit Midrash with Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler: Prayer –
What Is It Good For?

December 20, January 10, March 6, April 3

Beit Midrash with author Joel Segel: Big Sky Judaism –
The Teachings of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

January 31, February 7 and 28, March 13 and 27, April 10, May 1
Learn more…

Tikkun Middot – Cultivating Qualities of Heart and Mind
– Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler

Beth El was selected to participate in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Tikkun Middot Project: Cultivating Qualities of Heart and Mind, to encourage the learning and integration of Middot and Mindfulness practices. The project was supported by a grant from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and the Templeton Foundation. Together we studied, practiced and learned basic ethical and spiritual qualities toward enlivening our own lives and the life of our community.


Torah Study: every Shabbat morning at 8:45 AM
and Wednesday mornings at 11 AM

Three Torah study groups (hevras) simultaneously examine the week’s Torah portion. Meeting before Shabbat services and open to all, participants can choose from sessions are led by Rabbi Thomas, Cantor Zar-Kessler or congregant Michael Murphy. Learn more…


An Evening with Rabbi Ebn Leader
Saturday, January 23rd, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Join us for song and study with Rabbi Ebn Leader on reincarnation in
Lurianic Kabbalah. Learn more…


An Evening with author Tova Mirvis
Saturday, January 30th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Join us when Tova Mirvis shares with us how her Jewish life influences her writing along with details about her writing process. Learn more…


An Evening with historian and curator Ellen Smith of Brandeis
Sunday, February 28th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Learn about the Jewish history of Boston and its ties to today’s issues such as intermarriage, relations with Israel, and women’s status.

Upcoming Events
Coming from a reform Jewish background with an emphasis on ethics, my understanding of Torah and ritual has been enriched at Beth El. The fact that my grandchildren are more observant than I is a source of great comfort.
— Paul R