Intro to the Jewish Experience classes, 5779 (2018-19)

Fall Term: Jewish Holidays and Lifecycle Events (Oct – Dec)

  1. The Sabbath – Basic Concepts
  2. God, Covenant, & Mitzvah
  3. Spring Holiday Cycle: Purim, Passover, & Shavuot
  4. Fall Holiday Cycle: ElulRosh HashanahYom KippurSukkot, & Simchat Torah
  5. National Holiday Cycle: ChanukahTu B’Shevat, the Yoms, & Tisha B’Av.
  6. Death & Mourning as a Jew
  7. Bar/Bat Mitzvah & Jewish Weddings
  8. Welcoming New Jews: BrisBrit Bat, & Conversion to Judaism

Winter Term: Israel & Texts (Jan – Mar)

  1. The Sabbath – looking at a text of Shabbat
  2. Ancient Israel – History & Archaeology
  3. Torah, Tanakh, and Midrash – Stories about Ancient Israel
  4. Rabbinic Judaism (70 CE – 800 CE) – History of the Rabbis
  5. Rabbinic Texts – What is the Talmud? – with text study
  6. Codes, Responsa and Law – How does “Jewish Law” really work?
  7. Anti-Semitism
  8. Zionism & Modern Israel

Spring Term: Traditions of Judaism (Apr – May)

We begin with the things that all Jews share, and then look at the great diversity in the Jewish world:

  1. The Sabbath: Havdalah 
  2. Synagogue, Siddur, and Service
  3. Sephardic Judaism: History & Culture
  4. Ashkanazi Judaism: History & Culture
  5. Mizrahim: Histories & Culture
  6. North American Judaism and Movements of Judaism
  7. Jews of Color
  8. Jews & Food, Jewish Social Action

As you can see, each term begins with the Sabbath. That will tell you how central I believe the day is to understanding Judaism. In the fall, we look at it as the biggest holiday in the Jewish year. In winter, we learn how to do Jewish text study by studying the Kiddush together. In the spring, it is the first of the three things the Jewish world has in common.

If this sounds like it might be for you, you can find more information and registration links here:

Online Class:

Class meets on Sunday from 3:30-5pm Pacific Time, starting on October 22. To register, visit the course page in the Lehrhaus Judaica online catalog.

Class in the San Francisco East Bay:

Classes will meet at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley on Wednesdays starting October 10 from 7:30 – 9pm. For more information and to register, visit the course’s page in the Lehrhaus Judaica online catalog.


Starting dates for this year’s Intro sessions in Berkeley:

October 10, 2018 –  Fall: Lifecycles & Holidays [REGISTER]

January 16, 2019 – Winter: Israel & Texts

March 27, 2019 – Spring: Traditions of Judaism

All classes meet on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 – 9pm at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA.


Starting dates for this year’s Online Intro sessions:

October 21, 2016 – Fall: Lifecycles & Holidays [REGISTER]

January 20, 2017 – Winter: Israel & Texts

March 31, 2016 – Spring: Traditions of Judaism

All classes meet on Sunday afternoons from 3:30 – 5pm, Pacific Time.

Students can also attend via recordings of the class. If you think you may be attending often online, please register for the online class so that you will receive the mailings.

Students are welcome to enter the class on any of the three starting dates. Classes do not have to be taken in any particular order. For more information and to register, visit the Introduction to Judaism page on the Lehrhaus Judaica online catalog and select the class you wish to take, using the links above.

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