A year-long class for people interested in knowing more about Jewish culture, beliefs, history, and practices, starting October 17, 2021 and running through May 2022. Meetings are held on Sundays at 11 am twice a month, mostly on Zoom.
We anticipate this class will be of interest to several different kinds of people:
Topics covered include Jewish holidays, Jewish cultural history and practices both from ancient times and in the US, Jewish values and beliefs, Jewish prayer and religious practices, and controversies and debates in Jewish life today. We’ll be using a combination of presentations, large and small group discussions, and experiential learning. As a Reconstructionist Jewish community, Kol Ami is anti-racist, supports full religious rights and participation of girls and women, and is LGBT-affirmative. In this class, all points of view, and – especially – all questions are always welcome.
The class is free for Kol Ami members (including those in the “friend” category). Others will be asked to consider making a donation of $180 for the year. No one who would like to participate will be turned away for financial reasons.
To Register, please click HERE.
The syllabus for the course is as follows:
Oct. 16 – Opening Session
Oct. 31 — Theology I: God
We’ll look at notions of God in Jewish tradition, ways in which we do or don’t find God in our lives, and Reconstructionist Jewish ideas about God.
Nov. 14 — Jewish Values I: Compassion, Love, and Tzedakah
We’ll be exploring Jewish principles of hesed or lovingkindness, loving one’s neighbor and the stranger, and tzedakah, acting with righteousness.
Nov. 21 — Jewish Values II: Gratitude, Justice, Peace
Right before Thanksgiving, we’ll examine Jewish views on expressing gratitude, achieving justice, and seeking peace.
Dec. 12 — Jewish Values III: Speech Ethics
Judaism has an ethical framework for how we speak to one another. We’ll take a look at the what and the why.
Dec. 19 — Theology II: The Messiah in Judaism and Christianity
What does Judaism teach about the coming of the messiah? How did those teachings become modified as Christianity diverged from Judaism in the 1st century? Do Jews still believe in a messiah or messianic age?
Jan. 9 — Overview of Jewish History and Texts
Four thousand years of Jewish history in one hour! We’ll hit the highlights of four different eras, examine the demographics of Jewish migration, and place key Jewish texts in historical context.
Jan. 23 — Bible Overview + Creation Accounts
How does the Hebrew Bible differ from the Old Testament? And why do Genesis 1 and 2 have such different accounts of creation?
Feb. 6 – A Few Tastes of Talmud
Did you know there are two Talmuds? We’ll cover the basics of these massive works of rabbinic literature, and offer a few tastes of the real thing.
Feb. 27 – Jewish Laws, Customs, Folkways
What is the Jewish fascination with law all about? A speedy walk through 2500 years of Mosaic law, Talmudic arguing, medieval law codes, rabbinic responsa, regional customs, and Reconstructionist “folkways.”
March 6 — Holidays + Purim
The cycles of holidays in the Jewish luni-solar calendar year. How do the holidays reenact the central myths of Judaism? And a closer look at Purim, coming up on March 16.
March 20 – Shabbat
The crown jewel of a Jewish way of life, we’ll look at the spiritual and practical aspects of this “cathedral in time,” including key prayers.
April 3 — Exodus and Passover
What makes the Exodus the central story of Judaism? How is it incorporated into Jewish life throughout the year as well as on Passover?
April 10 – Passover Seder and Customs
A closer look at the Passover Seder and how it reflects the themes and theology of redemption.
May 1 — Synagogues and Prayer
Let’s Zoom in synagogue gems around the world, discuss the different architecture in Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues, understand the sacred objects, and examine Jewish worship practices.
May 15 – Shavuot and Revelation
As we approach the holiday of Shavuot, we’ll explore the nature of revelation in the Torah and Jewish mysticism, and in our own time.
May 22 — Last Class … hopefully to be held at Attmans Jewish deli in Potomac!