Talking About Spirituality & Belief:
Our Own Jewish Journeys
A New, Year-Long Curriculum!
new curriculum for 5773 gives us an opportunity to think about and discuss our
beliefs and personal relationship to God. Kick off your own thinking about God
by taking “The God Survey.” * (The survey will remain online until late October, and
results from thousands of American Reform Jews will be published next spring.)
text is Rabbi Rifat Sonsino’s 6 Jewish
Spiritual Paths: A Rationalist Looks at Spirituality. Do some reading
before the course begins -- you may order the print
edition from Jewish Lights Publishing, or, for those who prefer to download an
e-book version, buy it on Amazon for only $9.99.
you’re a regular participant in our adult programs, or simply an aspiring one,
you are welcome to attend one, several, or all of the classes and discussion
opportunities. Come and learn with our rabbis and cantors – see below. Informal
discussions and additional classes will be publicized in the weekly eNews, monthly Messenger, and on this page.
Plan now to explore your own spiritual path
- Take The God Survey
- Get the book 6
Jewish Spiritual Paths: A Rationalist Looks at Spirituality.
- Keep a journal of your own thoughts on
spirituality and God – see how your ideas evolve over the course of this
- Watch your weekly eNews, the monthly Messenger,
and this page for updates on classes, informal discussions, and recommended readings.
God Survey was created by Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro; we are using it courtesy of
Rabbi Shapiro and Reform Judaism
TWO CLASSES WITH RABBI JONATHAN STEIN
|WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY?
MONDAY, OCTOBER 22 at
7:00 pm UPDATE: This class will begin at 7:00 pm and end at 8:30 pm so attendees may get home in time for the 9:00 pm Presidential debate.
We hear the term “spirituality” everywhere. Recent polls by
Newsweek, The Gallup Organization, and Pew Research
Center find increasing
numbers of Americans defining themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” and
this is especially true among millennials. Spirituality may be spoken of in
combination with other concepts: living in harmony with nature, seeking meaning
and purpose in one’s life, searching for God, or looking for ultimate truth.
Spirituality has been equated with the idea of transcendence, sometimes through
self-realization, or as part of connecting with the divine. Rabbi Stein will
discuss acts of transcendence as spiritual moments and the human need for
belief. If you are doing the optional reading in the Sonsino book, read chapters 1-4 (they're short!) in preparation for the class. (Reading not necessary to enjoy this class!)
SIMPLY COLLECTING FACTS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19 at 7:30 pm
Most people engage in study as a means to an end: they want
or need to learn something specific. But some adult learners are in pursuit of
personal insight and illumination. In Jewish tradition, we study text to
uncover ethical and religious values. As we go deeper in our studies, we
sometimes find a spark of inspiration about ourselves or the world around us.
Join the conversation with Rabbi Stein to see how study of Torah can transport us to a higher sphere and the possibility of
finding profound meaning and purpose to existence.
CLASS WITH MICHAEL STARR:
WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED GOD?
MONDAY, DECEMBER 3 at 7:30 pm
If religion is, as many people think, fundamentally about God, then it would seem that critical to any religion is to understand what sort of thing God is. This session in philosophy of religion will explore how we can understand the concept of "God" as something other than as a Being, supreme or otherwise.
TWO CLASSES WITH CANTOR MARIA DUBINSKY
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5 at 7:30 pm
People of many religions have come to view meditation as
the ultimate expression of their spirituality. Eastern meditative practices
have gained immense popularity in the Western world. Young people of all
nations and creeds, including Israelis, travel to the Far
East, trying to discover their spiritual selves. After spending
months or years in meditation, many claim to find God. Other Jews use Eastern
meditation techniques as a powerful tool to attain and elevate spiritual growth.
But is there such a thing as Jewish meditation? How is it different from
Eastern practice? And why are so many Jews fascinated with these meditation
practices, while remaining uninformed about the spiritual richness of their own
tradition? Join this interactive discussion with Cantor Dubinsky.
NOURISHMENT IN JEWISH RITUALS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22
at 7:30 pm
For many, rituals – sacred acts and commandments – are a
major and essential part of their spiritual expression. Why do we need ritual?
What role does ritual play in Judaism? What is the tension between kevah – a pre-designed set of religious
actions that one is commanded to perform – and kavanah – an instant and uninhibited drive of the soul? Are rituals
an essential part of our spiritual growth, or do they stand in our way and
prevent us from a sincere encounter with God? We will attempt to answer these
TWO CLASSES WITH RABBI DEBORAH HIRSCH:
||THE FEMININE FACE
OF SPIRITUALITY (Parts 1 and 2)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9 and MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11 at 7:30 pm
Judaic studies professor, Ellen Umansky, wrote, “Jewish
spirituality . . . can be seen as an expression of individual and/or communal
yearnings toward the divine and a life of holiness.” The Hebrew word for
spirituality, ruchaniyut, is not
found in the Torah. Indeed, Jewish spirituality has evolved over
the centuries and is reflected through the lens of traditional, Kabbalistic,
and modern teachings. The majority of writings on spirituality have been penned
by men. Rabbi Hirsch will turn to essays and poetry in Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s
Spirituality (available from Brandeis University Press) to explore the feminine voice (bat kol) embedded in our Jewish tradition and to reveal how Jewish
women have hungered for a personal relationship with God.
STUDY / NOSH / LEARN: SNL @ SHAARAY TEFILA
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4 at 7:00 pm
If you plan to attend this special evening, RSVP to Casey Talmas
Here's an opportunity to participate in informal conversations related to our Spirituality & Belief curriculum. Join fellow congregants for a stimulating evening!7:00-7:45 pm: Attend the topic of your choice (see below)
7:45-8:15 pm: Mingle at our Dessert Buffet
8:15-9:00 pm: Discuss your chosen topic in Informal small groups
PERMISSION TO BELIEVE - Bob Levine:
Jewish spirituality does not require you to check your brains at the door! Bob will present the case for God's existence in a manner that could appeal to a rational, liberal Jew.
WHAT IF YOUR CHILD ASKS YOU ABOUT GOD? - Sari Luck Schneider:
When children raise the "big" topics, we need to take time to try to understand what is really being asked. It's a wonderful opportunity to build trust while developing an honest and open relationship with your child. Even when you don't know exactly what YOU think, you have to decide how to translate that to your child. Let's talk about how we do it.
JERUSALEM: SPIRITUAL ANCHOR FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE - Dan Adler:
How did Jerusalem come to be our spiritual anchor? With an eye to Biblical texts, recent archaeology, and the writings of Flavius Josephus, follow the historical and spiritual evolution of the City of David and the 2,000 year exile of the Jewish people.
FINDING SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH THROUGH TORAH - Hal Gutstein, MD:
How is it that Abraham lived to 175 years, Moses to 120, and Sarah had a baby at age 90? What can we learn from Torah
to help us live longer, stronger, thinner, and happier lives? Combining modern medicine and Biblical stories, Hal will show how to add years to your life and life to your years!TWO CLASSES WITH RABBI JOSHUA STROM
TWO CLASSES WITH CANTOR TODD KIPNIS
|SEEING GOD IN ONE ANOTHER
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 at 7:30 pm
Many have felt it at one point or another in their lives. Some
may call it the Presence of God, a revelation, or a transformation. Virtually
all of us have had moments when we felt a part of something much larger than
ourselves, something we might call transcendent. Many of those moments have been
experienced with or because of other people. Sometimes we’re with family or
friends; other times, we may have been with strangers whom we never saw again.
Join Rabbi Strom for some study and a conversation about how our connections
and interactions with each other can be and often are the points in our life
where we most tangibly feel spirituality and God’s Presence.
|WHAT I DO VS. WHAT I BELIEVE
TUESDAY, MAY 7 at 7:30 pm
How do you know if you are a good person? Most of us consider ourselves to be “good” based on how we conduct ourselves in our personal and professional lives. But have you ever stopped to think about why you do good things? What do you believe—about the world and humanity—that informs your daily life? Reform Jews hold a wide range of beliefs about God that may impact the way we behave and the kind of person we hope to be. Rabbi Strom will discuss some of the greatest theologians and thinkers from our rich tradition, and we’ll also draw on our own experiences. Perhaps you’ll find you’re more of a believer than you thought!
||CONNECTING WITH GOD THROUGH PRAYER AND LITURGY
MONDAY, APRIL 22 – Part 1 and WEDNESDAY, MAY 1 – Part 2 at 7:30 pm
Part 1: We pray for many different reasons -- from prayers
of thanksgiving to prayers of petition or repentance. With a focus on the
various motivations for prayer, Cantor Kipnis will explore how we form a connection
with God through prayer. We’ll discuss the difference between kevah (the fixed prayers) and kavanah (the intention of our hearts
that we bring to our prayers).
Part 2: Our liturgy is very effective at providing us with a
variety of ways to connect with God. By looking at different texts, we’ll
discover the many ways that God is portrayed in our liturgy, from Ruler to
Protector to Redeemer. We will consider texts such as Adon Olam and Yih’yu L’ratzon,
and we’ll hear and discuss their various musical settings.