Ongoing Classes

Talmud Class with Rabbi Bolton
Wednesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 pm
“Fasting, Praying, Planting, and Walking Through the Rain: Masekhet Ta’anit
This year we are studying Masekhet Ta’anit. In four chapters (30 pages), the Talmud explores ancient ideas about individual prayers, fasts, and communal practices to influence Heaven. Material addressed includes: prayers for rain, our relationship to the natural world (that is, rain, seasons, and agriculture), our power as “pray-ers,” and the Kohanic blessings that were performed in ancient days. A discussion of public fast days allows for a presentation and review of Jewish history.

The Rabbis begin the discussion asking which is more important: a focus on tragedies or a focus on moments of success and triumph? We will see some of the earliest material in the Talmud that deals with communal prayer, which, according to some scholarship, coalesced around public fast days that were declared for the purpose of beseeching God for communal needs.

No previous Talmud study, nor knowledge of Hebrew or Aramaic, is required.

Siddur Class with Rabbi Bolton
Thursdays, 8:40-9:40 am
“To the Finish Line: Prayers at the End of Our Service”
Explore the richness and depth of our liturgy and consider what meaning we make of our Jewish prayer practices. Discussions center on the language of the prayer book, as well as comparisons to siddur manuscripts from throughout the Jewish ages. We also discuss the lived experience of prayer — how to engage, when it feels empty, infusing the minyan experience with meaning. Those wondering about how prayer life can be developed find a place around the table, as much as those whose interests lie in the Hebrew of the siddur and a historical look at our liturgy. Our focus this year is the prayers at the end of the our services. We will look again at Ashrei, and talk about psalms that have been included; the selection “U’va L’Tzion,” with ideas of holiness and redemption at its core, and Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish. When are we ever done with prayer?! Come join the Siddur Class on Thursday mornings.