While this word has traditionally meant the five books of Moses and essentially all forms of Jewish study, we understand this today any kind of intellectual development as Torah. It’s how we grow, it’s how we know about the world around us, it’s how we get better at the art of living and it’s how we find meaning in our lives.
Naturally, as a synagogue and Jewish Community center, much of our educational programming covers texts, concepts and issues that have some direct connection with Judaism. But our approach to Jewish tradition is by no means limited to ancient and medieval sources and includes the culture and religious thought that continues to grow here in North America, in the rest of the Jewish Diaspora, and in particular, in the State of Israel. To be sure, it is impossible to imagine any kind of Jewish Identity today without some sort of engagement with our sisters and brothers in Israel and in other parts of the world.
Our focus on text study helps create a situation in which the individual, whether Jewish or not, become part of the conversation in a relatively unmitigated way.
We look at the texts of the Bible and the Talmud - rabbinic texts from the first millennium - as as an opportunity to enter an ongoing dialog, not only with each other around the table, but also with authors and wise people that have lived in the generations before us.
Please come and try-out one of our ongoing study groups:
- • ExploraTorah - every Wednesday, 3:00-4:15pm in the Temple Isaiah and JCC library. Rabbi Lazar leads us in the “close reading” of part of the weekly Torah portion. This is a walk-in class, there is not fee and no prior knowledge is needed.
- • On One Foot - every Thursday, 6:30-8:30pm in the rabbi’s office. Rabbi Lazar is using the American Jewish University’s Miller Introduction to Judaism course curriculum for both those who would like to convert to Judaism or those who simply want to get solid foundation for their Jewish learning. Pre-registration is required.
- • Short Lecture Series - Four academic talks scheduled each fall/winter on issues of contemporary Jewish interest. 2015-16 lectures included Scott Miller, of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on the fate of the passengers of the US St. Louis; Rabbi Elie Spitz, of Congregation Bnai Israel, on Does the Soul Survive; Rabbi Rachel Sabath Bet Halachmi of Hebrew Union College, on the Future Covenant of the Jews; Dr. Michael Alexander, of UC Riverside, on Jewish Studies in the 21st Century; Dr. David Jassby, of UC Riverside, on Is Water Desalination the Answer? What California Can Learn From Israel. Please look out this summer for publicity regarding the upcoming 2016-17 season.
- • Judaism for the 21st Century Lecture Series - Four rabbinic talks scheduled for the 2016-17 season on the topics of New Understandings of Jewish Mysticism, Non-Orthodox Religious Expression in Israel, New Modes of Jewish Practice, New Ways of Thinking About God.
- • Four-Part Mini-Series on Biblical Literature - Last season we celebrated February as the Month of Love with a series entitled, Alternative Love in the Bible, given by Temple Isaiah member, Joy Silver and Rabbi Lazar. There will be two such series in the coming 2016-17 season: The Book of Judges as a prerequisite for understanding modern-day Israel and King David: The man who could not love.
- • Reading with the Rabbi - each season we pick a short recently published book of Jewish interest to read together in a group setting. This last year we chose Rabbi Arthur Green’s, Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas.
- • Psalm Springs - we are currently planning an interfaith study group on the book of Psalms in the Jewish and Christian interpretative traditions.
Please be in touch with Rabbi Lazar if you have ideas for additional study opportunities.