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Congregation Beth Shalom

Jewish Community in Bozeman, Montana

Adult Education at Beth Shalom

Current and Upcoming Classes

Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed

Seven Thursdays, June 1-July 13 from 6:30-8:00 pm

Book to order: The Guide of the Perplexed, 2 volumes. Translated by Shlomo Pines.

Biblical Hebrew for Beginners

Friday mornings, 10:00-11:00 am

This class is for both people who have no background as well as for those who have taken one or more classes. The first half of the class will be aimed at those with no prior experience, while the second half will be aimed at those who have a little background. Both groups are invited to stay for the entire class. Please purchase The First Hebrew Primer, 3rd Edition: www.amazon.com/dp/0939144158. You may wish to also purchase the associated answer key, as well as the Brown, Driver, Briggs dictionary.

Zohar Reading Group

Monday mornings, 10:00-11:30am

The Zohar is the primary text of Jewish mysticism, written in the 12th century. We are slowly winding our way through it, as we learn these deep teachings about the nature of G!d and the world. Although this class began last semester, we are still in the Introduction and the book in non-linear, so it is easy to jump in. Please purchase The Zohar, Pritzker Edition, Vol. 1, by Daniel Matt: www.amazon.com/dp/0804747474. A good intro for beginners is Art Green’s A Guide to the Zohar: www.amazon.com/dp/0804749086.

Weekly Torah Study

Most Saturday mornings 9:30-11am

Our weekly Torah study explores the weekly portion from the Hebrew Bible with the aid of ancient and modern commentators. There is most always a lively and interesting discussion. No prior experience is needed to join in. Coffee, bagels, and other goodies are served.

Interfaith Forum

First Wednesdays of each month, Noon-1:00 pm, September-May

Each month our panelists, Fath Leo Proxell, Reverend Jody McDevitt, Dr. Ruhul Amin, Rabbi Ed Stafman, and occasional guest panelists explain how their respective faith traditions view a particular issue. Following brief presentations, there is an opportunity for questions, answers and discussions.

Past programs

Past Programs

Winter 2017

Heavenly Torah

Seven Thursdays: Jan 26-Mar 9 6:30-8:00 pm

A look at Judaism’s most important ideas through the eyes of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Winter 2016

Fleeing Oppression: The Story of the Israelites, Ruth, Baby Jesus’ family, & the Refugee

Tuesdays, Sep 6-Nov 8 (except Oct 11)
6:30-8:00 pm, at Hope Lutheran

Bringing Jewish and Christian scholarship, as well as their faith perspectives, to this interfaith study, Rabbi Ed and Pr. Stephen, will examine passages and themes, pose questions, and reflect on an ancient truths for contemporary times.  Facilitated by the Rev. Valerie Webster, President of MAC (2016) and an Associate at All Saints in Big Sky, Fleeing Oppression will include presentations on focus passages, discussion questions, and additional resources.

Download the full .pdf for full description and class info:
Fleeing Oppression Description

Spring 2016

The Mystical Teachings of Rav Kook

Three Thursdays: April 28, May 6 & 12 6:30-7:30 pm

Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, was a great mystic who sought to blend enlightenment thinking, Zionism and universalism in a mystical world view. His teachings are full of ah-ha! moments.

Winter 2015

Making Prayer Real

Six Thursday evenings 6:30-8:00 pm
October 8
November 5 & 12
December 3, 10 & 17

Modern Jews are often challenged by prayer, unable to relate. In this nationally recognized class with video teachings of Judaism’s greatest living spiritual masters, we will explore the challenges and learn how to make prayer real and meaningful.Modern Jews are often challenged by prayer, unable to relate. In this nationally recognized class with video teachings of Judaism’s greatest living spiritual masters, we will explore the challenges and learn how to make prayer real and meaningful.

Cost: $36. Remote participation by WebEx available. Sign up online here.

Session 1: When Prayer “Works” and Mochin d’Gadlut & Prayer as a Practice
Session 2: Yearning: Psalms and the Stirrings of the Heart
Session 3: The Life of Gratitude
Session 4: Bringing Our Bodies into Prayer
Session 5: The Art of Blessing
Session 6: Creating Sacred Space and Response Blessings

Fall 2014-Spring 2015

Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship


Enroll now!  Cost: $36 per person, $54 per couple.  Enroll in both Engaging Israel and Chai Mitzvah and receive a discount: $50 per person or $80 per couple.

Beth Shalom will offer the adult ed class now in use by scores of synagogues and community groups across North America and the United Kingdom, focuses on the critical questions facing world Jewry with regard to Israel.

We will join the many communities and thousands of concerned individuals in establishing a new narrative of Jewish values and ideas that encourages Jews to engage with Israel and to act on a vision of what they believe can and ought to shape the modern Jewish nation and its policies.

The program is sponsored by the Hartman Institute allowing is to bring the excellence of Hartman scholarship directly to our community. Providing relevant, contemporary approaches to the most urgent challenges facing the Jewish people today, the class will enrich the Beth Shalom adult learning experience.

  • October 8: From Crisis to Covenant explores the foundations of the current relationship between Israel and world Jewry and why the Jewish community is so committed to maintaining it. What directions should a new narrative about Israel take, given new realities thatquestion Israel’s significance and even its egitimacy?
  • October 29: Religion and Peoplehood: Israel as the sovereign expression of Jewish peoplehood matters only to the extent that peoplehood is viewed as essential to Jewish identity.  In a world of individualism, can Judaism be redefined as a primarily personal experience? How does a sense of belonging to a Jewish collective affect the meaning of contemporary Jewish life?
  • November 19: Sovereignty and Identity: The establishment of the State of Israel represents the decision of the Jewish people to grant their collective identity a sovereign form. Is sovereignty significant for Israelis only, or does it contribute to the self-understanding of Jews worldwide?
  • December 17: Power and Powerlessness: Like other sovereign nations, Israel uses military power—or its ability to exercise this power—as the foundation of its independence and a means of safeguarding it. In the face of the modern critique of power as a corrupting force, how does Judaism perceive the moral foundations, responsibilities, and challenges of power?
  • January 28: War and Occupation: How can Israel respond to the moral challenges of exercising power in a way that is consistent with the highest standards of morality and Jewish and democratic values, balancing its legitimate right of self-defense with values of peace and the rights of others? How should Israel determine what constitutes a just war? What are the moral obligations and consequences of occupation?
  • February 11: Morality on the Battlefield: Once in a state of war, the integrity of one’s moral compass shifts to the battlefield. What Jewish values do Israeli soldiers carry with them into battle? How do complex moral responsibilities meet the horror of war and the morally ambiguous reality of asymmetric conflict and terrorist tactics?  (Note: Unit 6 features a half-hour interview with Professor Moshe Halbertal instead of a lecture by Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman)
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  • February 25: Jewish and Democratic State: What are the defining features of a Jewish state, and are they compatible with the principles of democracy? How can Israel’s aspirations to be both Jewish and democratic be brought together in the realm of policy?
  • March 18: Religious Pluralism and Human Rights: As a democracy, Israel is committed to being religiously pluralistic and to providing equal rights to all of its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. Does Israel’s Jewish dimension serve or hinder these commitments?  What principles and ideas ought to govern Israel’s policies on these issues?
  • April 8: Values Nation: Israel is the project of the Jewish people, in which Jewish values and ideals meet the challenges of governance and everyday life. What resources within the Jewish tradition can contribute to the shaping of Israel as a paragon of moral and democratic values and help fulfill the aspiration of Israel to be a nation of values?

Chai Mitzvah: Grow Your Judaism

9 Sessions – Enroll now!  Cost: $36 per person.  UPDATED: Enroll in both Engaging Israel and Chai Mitzvah and receive a discount: $50 per person or $80 per couple.

Chai Mitzvah is a national Jewish program which encourages deeper engagement in Judaism and community life. Chai Mitzvah deepens Jewish engagement and builds community through 5 simple steps:

  1. Learning about Jewish heritage
  2. Participating in a new ritual
  3. Engaging in social action with a Jewish flavor
  4. Joining a community discussion
  5. Celebrating your achievement

Participants customize their Chai Mitzvah experience by:

  • Picking what they want to study, what new ritual they want to learn, what social action they want to engage in.
  • Deciding how much or how little they want to commit to.
  • Deciding where and how they want to grow.

Visit the Chai Mitzvah website for more information: chaimitzvah.org

  • October 15: Adult Rites of Passage
  • November 12: Tzedukah & Philanthropy
  • December 3: Interpersonal Relationships: The Individual & Community
  • January 21: Interpersonal Relationships: Family & Friends
  • February 18: Mindfulness & Conscious Living
  • March 25: Adding New Meaning & Personal Insights to the Passover Seder
  • April 15: Days of Remembrance
  • May 6: Gratitude
  • May 27: The Environment

 

Fall 2013-Spring 2014

Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class

Most Wednesdays, Oct 2-April 2, 6:30 -7:30 pm

If you never had a bar/bat mitzvah at age 13, or if you had one but it lacked meaning and now you are willing to do it again with an adult understanding, don’t miss this opportunity. Learn about our prayer service, to understand what the Torah is all about, and how it relates to your life story.

Fall 2013

Wisdom School: A Journey with Rumi

Tuesdays, Oct 1 – Nov 5, 7:00 pm
Led by Rabbi Ed, Revs. Glover Wagner (Pilgrim) & Nina Grey (UU) (at Pilgrim)

Led by Rabbi Ed, Revs. Glover Wagner (Pilgrim) & Nina Grey (UU) (at Pilgrim)
Join us for 6 Tuesday evenings of learning and discussion about the poet Rumi, and how his poetry intersects with Judaism and other faith traditions. This class is meant to be preparatory to the November weekend visit and workshop of Rumi scholar, Kabir Helminski.

Winter/Spring 2013

Path of the Upright (Messilat Yesharim)

Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m., June 19-August 28

Do you want to learn how to live a holy life? Not just learn about it, but learn how to develop the qualities we all want to give our lives greater meaning? Join this class for a study of Rabbi Moses Luzzatto’s classical text on Jewish ethics and how to live a holy life.

Download the introduction materials to Path of the Upright here.

Study of “Heavenly Torah”, by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.

A delicious study of Heschel’s classic Jewish text on what is the nature of the Torah and why is it so important to the Jewish people.

Fall, 2012/Winter, 2013

Women’s Interfaith Text Study:  The Book of Genesis

Monday mornings, 9:30-11:00 am at United Methodist Church (9/24-11/12)
Led by Rabbi Ed, Rev. Jennifer Wilson & Rev. Val Webster

Women from all backgrounds gather to learn about the spiritual meanings of the stories in the book of Genesis.

Fall, 2012

Finding Gratitude and Your True Self in Our Sacred Texts

Tuesdays, Oct 2-Nov 6, 7:00-8:30 pm-11:00 am
Led by Rabbi Ed, Rev. Glover Wagner (UCC) and Rev. Nina Grey (UU)

Using the writings of Rabbi Shefa Gold, we will learn to develop practices that connect us to our sense of gratitude and awe on the road to finding our true selves.  This class leads to the weekend visit by Reb Shefa on Nov 9-11

Women’s Interfaith Text Study:  The Book of Genesis

Monday mornings, 9:30-11:00 am at United Methodist Church (9/24-11/12)
Led by Rabbi Ed, Rev. Jennifer Wilson & Rev. Val Webster

Women from all backgrounds gather to learn about the spiritual meanings of the stories in the book of Genesis.

Ongoing classes in Biblical Hebrew, Zohar, and Interfaith Panel.

Spring, 2012 Classes

Introduction to Kabbalah & Jewish Mysticism

This class will meet for six successive Wednesday evenings at 6:00 p.m., beginning March 21. Many of us grew up thinking of Judaism in all sorts of ways, but few of us understood at its core, Judaism contains a deeply spiritual path that is found in the Jewish mystical tradition, called kabbalah. Kabbalah contains many overlaps with Buddhism and native American traditions, but is more extensive in some ways. In this class, we will learn both through the head and the heart, examining some texts, but also doing some kabbalistic practices. The goal is to begin thinking about G!d and our relationship with the Oneness in the universe in a whole new way.

Here are comments from a couple of last year’s participants:

“I was kind of intimidated to go to class at first because I thought I would have to know a lot about Judaism. But the way Rabbi Ed teaches and engages everyone is so warm and accessible. It’s more like an interesting discussion about complex ideas in a way that is relevant to everyone. I learned so much and left every class with a deeper connection to my self, my heritage, my community and the universe. It’s very grounding. We are blessed to have these opportunities here in Bozeman.” — Surale

“I might need to take the class again. .. After taking the class, I became more keenly aware of a larger Mystery and I felt gratefully tiny.” — Ellen

“I learned that the paths of the Tree inform the whole of the Jewish calender, that all of our holidays are reflected in the qualities of the Tree. Rabbi Ed rekindled my excitement for our faith.” — Shelly

“Kabbalah or Jewish spiritual mysticism is no longer a hidden mystery. That which is within us, the yearning to know our G!D and come into a deeper relationship is real. Through Rabbi Ed’s class, I have taken a few baby steps with the hopes to run and leap spiritually” — Barb

Pirkei Avot: Sayings (Ethics)  of the Fathers

Pirkei Avot — the 2000+ year old collection of core ethical statements of Judaism —  is traditionally studied in the Spring and summer, from Passover to Rosh Hashanah. We will study these fabulous short sayings, and discuss how they resonate in our lives, on six Tuesday evenings at 6:00 p.m., beginning on March 20.

The main topics of these ancient rabbinic sayings are how we show kindness to others, respect others, ourselves, and G!d, how we seek peace, become humble, use our speech, judge others, and much more. This famous Jewish text contains many of the most frequently-quoted rabbinic sayings, such as “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” Another famous saying from Pirkei Avot: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” And “The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house is insistent.”

With this class, you will learn the ethical backbone of Judaism and become conversant in its most important principles.  We will use the following texts: Pirke Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics, by Leonard Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzkyhttp://www.amazon.com/Pirke-Avot-Modern-Commentary-Jewish/dp/0807404802/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1331098417&sr=8-3, and Ethics of the Sages: Pirke Avot–Annotated and Explained, by Rabbi Rami Shapiro: http://www.amazon.com/Ethics-Sages-Avot–Annotated-Explained-Illuminations/dp/1594732078/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1331098417&sr=8-5

Winter 2011-2012 Classes

The Thought of Emmanuel Levinas

Wedesday evenings 6-7pm, 6 sessions from January18-February 22

Post-holocaust Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas derives a basis for ethics from the experience of face to face encounter with another, a place in which the other person’s proximity and distance are both strongly felt. At the same time, the revelation of the face makes ethical demands on us. Levinas’ strong ethical message has made him one of the most studied philosophers of our time. The books we will use are:  Ethics and Infinity:   http://www.amazon.com/dp/0820701785  and Nine Talmudic Readings: www.amazon.com/dp/0253208769.  Download the curriculum here as a .pdf.

Download readings as .pdf files:
Class #1 here
Class #2 here
Class #3 here and here (second reading will be used in class 3 and class 4)
Class #3 Supplemental reading here
Class #4 here
Class #4 Supplemental reading here

Autumn 2011 classes

The Music of Leonard Cohen & Matisyahu

Wednesday evenings 6-7pm, 2 sessions, Dec 7 & 14

Spiritual master Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, as well as the reggae of Matisyahu, are deeply rooted in Jewish texts. Come explore his sources so we might better understand the teachings of their music.

Calling All Atheists and Theists: Can Judaism Exist Without G!D?

Monday evenings 6-7:30pm on November 14 & 21

Only a third to half of American Jews today believe in an almighty deity. Can there be Judaism without belief in God? Moment Magazine asked 14 thinkers—from philosophers to politicians to poets—to weigh in on this ever-present question. In this two session class, we will explore the question and their responses. Come make your voice heard on this important topic. The column we will be discussing may be found here: www.momentmag.com/moment/issues/2011/10/symposium.html.

Vanity of Vanities: An Exploration of the Book of Ecclesiastes

Wednesday evenings 6-7pm, 5 sessions
October 19-November 16

The Book of Ecclesiastes begins “Vanity of vanity, says Kohelet, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Many people view Kohelet as pessimistic and downbeat, but when the Hebrew is properly understood, the book is infused with a spirit of joy and optimism. We will be using two books which contain the translation and commentaries of Rabbi Rami Shapiro: www.amazon.com/dp/1594732876 and www.amazon.com/dp/B000H2N8VE.

Spring 2011

“Rumi the Poet (as a Jewish mystic) and Seeing Jewish prayer through Rumi’s Eyes”

Each of five sessions will deeply explore some of the writings of Rumi the Sufi poet and see how it ties in with analogous Jewish mystical concepts, as expressed in Jewish prayer. For the seeker and those interested in the intersection of religious traditions, this is the course for you! Mondays, beginning April 4 through May 9 (passing over Passover on April 18).

Wednesday Winter Seminars

Beth Shalom’s Winter adult education program featured Wednesday seminars, from 6:00-7:30pm. The topics spanned the cultural, practical, and theological aspects of Judaism. Each seminar was a stand alone unit, and participants could so come to one or as many they liked.

Kabbalah — The Next Class

Thursday evenings at 6:30-7:45

After two semesters of teaching “Intro to Kabbalah,” Rabbi Ed will offer the next class to those who took the first class. For those that missed the first class, a one-session primer that will allow you to take this class. Please enroll by sending an e-mail to Rabbi Ed atbozemanrabbi@gmail.com with Kabbalah in the subject line.

Taste of Judaism: Are You Curious?

Three Monday evenings, February 21,28 & March 7, 6-8 pm

This class, which is designed by the Union of Reform Judaism and has been successfully offered nationally hundreds of times, will offer “a taste of Judaism” to those with little or no background, especially designed for interfaith couples, unaffiliated Jews, non-Jews with Jewish connections, and others wanting to explore Judaism. The three session will explore Jewish Community, Spirituality, and Ethics. Official enrollment has not yet begun, but you may pre-enroll by e-mailing the class coordinator attasteofjudaismbozemangmail.com.

Study of Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed

Thursdays twice a month at noon — see calendar for dates
Class is Ongoing, But May be Joined at Any Time

Are you perplexed? If so, you’re not alone. For the first time in Bozeman, this is an opportunity to learn together from Rambam’s Guide of the Perplexed, one of the most important philosophical texts within all of Judaism, authored in the late 12th century, but amazingly relevant today. This is a brown bag lunch class, meaning you are invited to bring your lunch. The class meets on two Thursdays per month at noon for one hour, depending on the availability of those enrolled. We read about a chapter a session (about 5 pages) and discuss. To enroll, please send an e-mail to Rabbi Ed at bozemanrabbi@gmail.com with “Rambam course” in the subject line, containing your name and phone number.

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Wednesday mornings at 9:00 am

Have you ever wanted to learn to read and understand simple Biblical (and prayerbook) Hebrew? You can do it. This class meets once per week. If you are interested, please e-mail Rabbi Ed at bozemanrabbi@gmail.com, place “Hebrew” in the subject line, and include your name and phone number.

Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Times and dates to be announced.

Perhaps you did not have a bat mitzvah because you are a woman who grew up in a time when women did not have this opportunity or you grew up in the Orthodox world where women still are not permitted to read from the Torah, lead a service, or have their voices heard in public? Or perhaps you grew up in an environment where bar/bat mitzvah was not considered important? Or perhaps you are a Jew by Choice ready to take the next step and become bar/bat mitzvah? Or maybe you had a bar/bat mitzvah at a time where it lacked meaning for you and you want to do it again, maybe on the anniversary of the first time? Whatever the reason, now is your chance. We will do some Jewish learning together which will culminate in a bar/bat mitzvah for each of the participants.

Fall 2010 classes

Parting of the Ways: The First Century Split Of Judaism & Christianity

This class was taught be Rabbi Ed and offered through Wonderlust. The early first century was a time of religious upheaval in which we find many varieties of Jewish communities. One such movement was Jesus’ movement; another was Rabbinic Judaism. Both religions were birthed out of this turmoil. The two religions struggled with one another. Eventually, the ways parted and the result was modern Judaism and Christianity. We’ll use an historical/sociological approach to explore these religions and their parting.

Introduction to Kabbalah & Jewish Mysticism

This class consists of six successive 1-1/2 hour sessions. Many of us grew up thinking of Judaism in all sorts of ways, but few of us understood at its core, Judaism contains a deeply spiritual path that is found in the Jewish mystical tradition, called kabbalah. Kabbalah contains many overlaps with Buddhism and native American traditions, but is more extensive in some ways. In this class, we will learn both through the head and the heart, examining some texts, but also doing some kabbalistic practices. The goal is to begin thinking about G!d and our relationship with the Oneness in the universe in a whole new way.

Here are comments from a couple of last year’s participants:

I was kind of intimidated to go to class at first because I thought I would have to know a lot about Judaism. But the way Rabbi Ed teaches and engages everyone is so warm and accessible. It’s more like an interesting discussion about complex ideas in a way that is relevant to everyone. I learned so much and left every class with a deeper connection to my self, my heritage, my community and the universe. It’s very grounding. We are blessed to have these opportunities here in Bozeman. — Surale

I might need to take the class again. .. After taking the class, I became more keenly aware of a larger Mystery and I felt gratefully tiny. — Ellen

I learned that the paths of the Tree inform the whole of the Jewish calender, that all of our holidays are reflected in the qualities of the Tree. Rabbi Ed rekindled my excitement for our faith. — Shelly

Kabbalah or Jewish spiritual mysticism is no longer a hidden mystery. That which is within us, the yearning to know our G!D and come into a deeper relationship is real. Through Rabbi Ed’s class, I have taken a few baby steps with the hopes to run and leap spiritually — Barb

Spring 2010 classes

Jewish Eldering

Co-Taught by Dr. Kathryn Borgenicht & Rabbi Ed

This six session weekly offering is designed for the elders among us (and those who will soon be elders) who are willing to explore issues of aging and eldering in their lives. While in much of modern culture, aging is a negative to be avoided, in the Jewish and some other traditions, the elder is revered for his/her wisdom.We will discuss the medical, ethical, and spiritual issues that one faces in the November and December years of our lives. How do we harvest all that we have experienced and learned during a life time and pass it on to those we love? How do we make the most of those years? What work is there to do that must be addressed in the time remaining? As Jews and some other traditions have done for millenia, we will each learn to write, and actually write, our own ethical will, a document designed to pass on our cherished values, hopes, and aspirations to those we love.

Dr. Borgenicht is a member of our congregation and also a geritrician and head of Palliative Care at Bozeman-Deaconess Hospital.
Meeting times TBA based upon interest.

Introduction to Kabbalah

taught by Rabbi Ed

This six week class will give you an introduction to, and an overview of, kabbalah, the world of Jewish mysticism. The Orthodox tradition says that only happily married men (women prohibited!) of age 40 or older and with at least two children may study the real kabbalah, but in the progressive world, we make the real thing accessible to all. Of course, this will only be an introduction, but come learn the hidden part of Judaism. Meeting times TBA based upon interest.

About Rabbi Ed & His Teaching

Rabbi Ed’s academic background includes a B.S. from State University of New York at Stony Brook (1975), a J.D. from Florida State University College of Law (1978), a M.A. in Religion of Western Antiquity from Florida State University (2005), A.B.D. (all but dissertation for a Ph.D) from Florida State University, and Rabbinic ordination from the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, following 8 years of study. All classes are geared towards a discussion style rather than lectures.