Community Offers Online Summer Learning Opportunities

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Has COVID-19 placed a hold on your travel plans or favorite summer activity? Why not fill up some of that free space on your calendar with an online learning series offered by some of the area’s local synagogues?

Temple Isaiah began their Tuesday Evening Study Series on June 9, with additional classes scheduled June 23 and July 7 and 14.


“The initial idea came from wanting to be able to provide adult education on a regular basis, especially during this period of a pandemic,” said Rabbi Daniel Plotkin, Temple Isaiah’s rabbi educator. Plotkin said that it is normal for Temple Isaiah to have a few adult study series taking place during the summer, but that current circumstances made it all the more important to hold them this year. With social distancing measures keeping the community largely indoors, Plotkin hoped the series would serve as a way to keep members simultaneously occupied and safe.

The June 9 class focused on the Shema prayer and its blessings, as well as the history of how it became included in the Friday evening service, Plotkin said. The June 23 and July 7 classes will also be oriented around Shabbat services, focusing on the Amidah prayer and the Kabbalat Shabbat portion, respectively. The July 14 class, though, will look forward to some of the High Holiday prayers, such as Kol Nidre and Avinu Malkeinu.

Meanwhile, Beth Tfiloh Congregation has several different options for those with a passion for learning and time on their hands.

One course, titled “What’s On Our Minds,” will unfold over the course of four separate classes. The first class, held June 15, was led by Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg, and focused on such current events as COVID-19 and the present state of race relations, according to Chana Slavaticki, Beth Tfiloh’s director of the Mercaz Dahan Center for Jewish Life & Learning. Zipora Schorr, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School’s director of education, will head a class June 22, as will Rabbi Chai Posner on June 29. The course will end July 6 with a roundtable discussion between Wohlberg, Schorr, and Posner.

Other courses offered by Beth Tfiloh include “Sage Advice,” “Parsha Perspectives,” and “A Bissel of Shtisel,” Slavaticki said. Taught by Slavaticki, “Sage Advice” includes four classes on June 15, 22, 29, and July 6, and focuses on Pirkei Avot, a book of Jewish ethics, and on the lives of different Jewish sages.

Taught by Posner, “Parsha Perspectives” takes place on June 17 and 24 and July 1 and 8, and aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of specific Torah portions, Slavaticki said.

And lastly, “A Bissel of Shtisel,” which meets June 17 and 24 and July 1 and 8, is taught by Rabbi Dr. Eli Yoggev, and uses the Netflix series “Shtisel” as a springboard for a discussion on Halacha, Slavaticki said.

Slavaticki noted that people had been logging into some of these classes from as far away as Texas, California, and Israel, and that Beth Tfiloh’s “goal is to create a feeling of community, and help people feel connected with others, because a lot of people are feeling isolated right now, and a great way of connecting people is through learning opportunities.”

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