Adult Education at Temple Beth El by Rabbi Asher Knight

At Temple Beth El, our Jewish learning helps to create sacred connections inspired by Jewish wisdom. Temple Beth El has been proud of our strong adult Jewish Education offerings. From our “Pathways to Jewish Learning and Living,” to Adult Hebrew, and Anshei Mitzvah, to South Park and Uptown Talmud, to scholar-in-residences, to S.P.I.C.E. and Senior Sage, Temple values adult Jewish learning and we have appreciated the clergy and teachers who have helped us engage in dynamic learning. In recent years, the dedicated members of our Sacred Study committee desired to expand participation in the Sacred Study offerings.

In the Fall of 2016 Temple’s President, Ginny Rosenberg, established an Adult Education Task Force. Chaired by Ken Katz, then the Vice-President of Adult Education and Youth Engagement, the Task Force members included a broad spectrum of Temple Beth El leaders. We thank Jill Blumenthal, Sara Bryan Markovits, Matt Kelly, Bob Wolf, Elliot Tate, Kent Novell, Susan Proctor, and Susan Jacobs, our Director of Education for listening, learning, researching and writing a compelling report to our Board of Trustees.

The Adult Education Task Force began by exploring where adult Jewish learning is happening at Temple. We found that adult learning is taking place in a myriad of venues and formats, from formal to informal, structured to impromptu.  Here is an example, albeit an incomplete list, of committees, classes and opportunities to engaging in learning:

  • Elements of Judaism
  • Choosing Judaism (conversion classes)
  • Shabbat Morning Torah Study
  • Jewish Living / Affinity Groups
  • Shabbat Supper Clubs
  • Jolt of Judaism
  • Uptown and South Park Talmud
  • Wildacres
  • Big Jewish Ideas – Congregational Shabbat Learning Seminar
  • Comparative Religion Series
  • Choir
  • Scholar in Residences
  • Senior Sage
  • S.P.I.C.E.
  • Brotherhood
  • Sisterhood
  • Book Club
  • Adult Hebrew Reading Class
  • Anshei Mitzvah

The breadth of our offerings highlighted to the Task Force the need to create connective tissue between Temple Beth E’s Sacred Study and the myriad of groups where learning is taking place. Further, the Task Force encouraged Temple to better unify the education topics, ideals, or goals across the synagogue. The Task Force also wrote a new Adult Learning Mission Statement, and recommended to the Board of Trustees that a new Adult Education Council be established. The new Council will be designed to create an education plan and an effective communication strategy for the entire synagogue’s adult learning opportunities.  I invite you to read the Adult Education Task Force Report and Recommendations.

We are now preparing for the next stage of implementing the recommendations of the Task Force. Adult Jewish learning empowers us to increase our Jewish literacy, provides us with intellectual challenge, moral guidance, spiritual enrichment, and the opportunity to form deep and sustaining relationships.  The new Adult Education Council will help us to more purposefully fulfill that commitment. Jewish engagement means connecting with each other and with the depth and richness of Judaism as a spiritual tradition. Temple Beth El will continue to strive to be a learning and spiritual center in our member’s lives by creating compelling pathways for personal growth.

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