Ongoing Classes

Zoom Torah Study
Jewish Ethics, Jewish Wisdom
The Weekly Parsha in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Thought
Mondays, 12:00 pm, beginning Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

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Make time for Torah study during your busy week! Join Rabbi Bolton and Or Zarua community members to explore essays by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z”l, on the weekly Torah portion. Not only will Rabbi Sacks’ big ideas be our focus, but we will examine the classical sources that Rabbi Sacks raises to build his unique and poignant messages. Through his books, recorded lectures, and syndicated columns, Rabbi Sacks, z”l, shared his exquisite understanding of Torah for the modern world as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (UK). After stepping down as Chief Rabbi he served as Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at NYU. His recent death in November, 2020, caused many to reflect on his profound impact in America, in the UK and globally. Come study Torah as an expression of how much we value learning and to honor Rabbi Sacks’ memory.

 


Talmud Class 5782 (online via Zoom)
Punishments In Search of Crimes, Souls in Search of Expiation, and Society in Search of Justice: Tractate Makkot
Wednesdays, 7:30 pm, beginning October 6, 2021

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The chapters of Tractate Makkot deal with laws of the Jewish beit din and the punishments they may administer. The Talmudic discourse moves us into concerns about false witnesses and laws about manslaughters versus murderers. Amid passages about offenses and their consequences we find theological and sociological reflections about crime, criminals and criminality. As policy for Jewish courts is derived, our Sages discuss the place of retribution, rehabilitation and restorative justice. Which offenses are minor breaches? Which more serious infractions? And do more lashes mean more expiation of guilt? Does receiving lashes somehow reverse the severe punishment of excommunication? While the Torah outlawed self-flagellation, Hanina ben Gamliel said, “If by the commission of a sin one forfeits his soul before God, so much the more reason is there for belief that, by a meritorious deed, such as voluntary submission to punishment, his soul is saved.” The possibilities that Talmudic literature raises sometimes lead to particular laws and other times stand as thought exercises to explore important concepts or concerns. Makkot is about crime and punishment, and Makkot is about human nature, sin and pursuing justice.

 


Siddur Class 5782 
Hear Our Sabbath Prayers
Thursdays, 8:40 am, beginning October 7, 2021

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Candlelighting, Kabbalat Shabbat, Lekha Dodi and Ma’ariv (The Evening Service), Shalom Aleichem … Did we always say the unique psalms that make up the preliminary service on Friday night? Sing for our Sabbath meal? Which prayers were central to our ancestors’ experiences of Shabbat? How did poetry woven together from biblical allusions and medieval mystical texts become central to Jewish worship throughout both Ashkenaz and Sephardic lands? How do modern prayerbooks compare to siddurim from ages past, when it comes to Sabbath evening services and table liturgy for Shabbat dinners?
Come explore the history of Shabbat over the Jewish ages and the liturgies that were recited, in addition to those we use today. During Siddur Class we explore the prayers’ language, discuss their meanings and dig into their histories. Our conversations this year will surely take us into exploring the meaning of Shabbat in our lives and what the liturgy suggests as points of focus. Class meets at 8:40 am on Thursday mornings. ZOOM participants are encouraged to have their cameras on, to add their presence on screen to the learning community.