Every Shabbat morning, congregants meet from 8:45-9:00 for bagels and coffee and from 9:00-10:20 to study the weekly Parasha (portion) together in one of four Torah study hevrot (groups). These groups are open to all who want to come. New participants can begin any time during the year, can try one group or all of them, can come once or weekly.
with Rabbi David Thomas
In this Torah Hevra, we explore Chasidic commentaries on the weekly Torah portion, in which the rebbes of the 18th and 19th centuries wrestled with issues that are as timely as they are timeless. Though we read the Torah portion and the commentaries in the original Hebrew, English translations are at hand, and no knowledge of Hebrew is necessary to be a full participant in these conversations.
Ethical teachings through the eyes of Nehama Leibowitz
with Rabbi Judy Spicehandler
This year the Library Torah Study Group will be taking a literary approach to Torah study. Using the modern Israeli biblical commentator Nehama Leibowitz as a guide, we will look at the literary construction of the portion and the use of literary tools such as metaphor , imagery, and linguistic technique to convey layers of meaning in the Torah portion. In her work, Dr. Leibowitz also makes use of a wide range of traditional commentary and her commentary can serve as an introduction to the many voices of traditional Jewish biblical interpretation, including Rashi, Nahmanides, Sforno, Luzzato and others. Using her commentary (in English translation) as a guide, we will explore the ethical messages that can be gleaned from the Torah text through careful reading of the weekly portion.
Torah and Our Teachers
with Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler
Each week we gather in the foyer of Beth El to study the weekly Torah portion. We begin with an English reading of a section of the portion, to give us an overview and a general way into the text. Next, we choose 2 verses to translate from Hebrew to English, learning more about our sacred language and even throwing in a little musical cantillation study as well!
This year, we are focusing our study on the teachings of the Birkat Avraham, Rabbi Avraham Weinberg, of the Slonim lineage of Chasidic masters. Rabbi Avraham lived from the end of the 19th century well into the 20th century and his focus is on bringing the teachings of Torah to our own process of self-reflection, prayer, and deeper connection to the Holy One of Being. The goal of our study, each and every week, is to bring ourselves fully to the ancient teachings of our tradition, making them come alive as we try to answer powerful questions about the meaning and purpose of our lives and the underpinnings of community to carry us forward. Open and heartfelt conversations bring us together week after week.
Congregant-led Torah Study:Moving Beyond The Torah
with congregant Michael Murphy
This group engages in a wide-ranging discussion of the many books that Jews consider to be Scripture, even those not found in the Tanakh. We analyze the motives and assumptions, both political and theological, of the authors of these books and the characters described therein. For anyone who has wondered what else is in the Bible, this is the group for you.