Weekly Shabbat Study
Shabbat AM Talmud Study
Saturdays, 8:15 – 9:15 AM (year around)
The Talmud is one of the most important collections of Jewish law and lore in Jewish history. All backgrounds are welcome. No previous Hebrew knowledge required.
Chevre Torah Study with Rabbi David Kline
Saturdays, 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM (year round)
An engaging weekly discussion and exploration of the stories, themes, and lessons from the weekly Torah portion. New students are always welcome!
Shabbat Morning Study with Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Purim in Depth
Shabbat morning, 11:30 AM, March 3, in the Sanctuary
We dress in costumes, eat hamentashen, come to a carnival with our children, hear the megillah read. What is the deeper meaning of this holiday? Come have a conversation with adults about what’s really going on with this wacky celebration.
A Closer Look at Pesach
Shabbat morning, 11:30 AM, March 24, in the Sanctuary
In this hour, we will take a closer look at the haggadah, the Torah roots of the holiday, and the deeper meaning of the seder.
Pirkei Avot with Rabbi Timoner
Two Shabbat mornings, 11:30 AM, April 14 and May 12, in the Sanctuary
During the period of the Omer, from Pesach to Shavuot, the Jewish people work to improve and spiritually refine our character. One way we do this is through the study of Pirkei Avot, the ethical writings of our Sages. Come take a look at this beautiful and thought-provoking set of short texts.
Jewish Home Practices with Rabbi Timoner
Two Shabbat mornings, 11:30 AM, June 2 and 9, in the Sanctuary
What if you woke every morning with words of gratitude on your lips and found 100 occasions each day to say thank you? What if each night your forgave yourself and others? How might you work tzedakah practice into your family routine? What kinds of blessings around meals could add meaning to family dinner? How might a mezuzah remind your family of the values of your home? Judaism has an array of offerings for daily practice and opportunities to infuse your home with meaning. Come see for yourself.
Join us for a discussion of a book or books determined by this lay-lead group. All are welcome!
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists. When Liat meets Hilmi on a blustery autumn afternoon in Greenwich Village, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Charismatic and handsome, Hilmi is a talented young artist from Palestine. Liat, an aspiring translation student, plans to return to Israel the following summer. Despite knowing that their love can be only temporary, that it can exist only away from their conflicted homeland, Liat lets herself be enraptured by Hilmi: by his lively imagination, by his beautiful hands and wise eyes, by his sweetness and devotion. Together they explore the city, sharing laughs and fantasies and pangs of homesickness. But the unfettered joy they awaken in each other cannot overcome the guilt Liat feels for hiding him from her family in Israel and her Jewish friends in New York. As her departure date looms and her love for Hilmi deepens, Liat must decide whether she is willing to risk alienating her family, her community, and her sense of self for the love of one man. Banned from classrooms by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dorit Rabinyan’s remarkable novel contains multitudes. A bold portrayal of the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, All the Rivers (published in Israel as Borderlife) is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us.
An instant New York Times Bestseller “It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future… At once terrifying and … oddly hopeful.” –Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review “Moving, audacious, and indelibly human.” –Entertainment Weekly, “A” rating “A breathtaking novel…[that] arrives at an urgent time.” –NPR.org As featured in the Skimm, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Fresh Air, PBS Newshour, the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and more, an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands. In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . . Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Winner of The 2017 Man Booker International Prize The award-winning and internationally acclaimed author of the To the End of the Land now gives us a searing short novel about the life of a stand-up comic, as revealed in the course of one evening’s performance. In the dance between comic and audience, with barbs flying back and forth, a deeper story begins to take shape—one that will alter the lives of many of those in attendance. In a little dive in a small Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a comedian a bit past his prime, is doing a night of stand-up. In the audience is a district court justice, Avishai Lazar, whom Dov knew as a boy, along with a few others who remember Dov as an awkward, scrawny kid who walked on his hands to confound the neighborhood bullies. Gradually, as it teeters between hilarity and hysteria, Dov’s patter becomes a kind of memoir, taking us back into the terrors of his childhood: we meet his beautiful flower of a mother, a Holocaust survivor in need of constant monitoring, and his punishing father, a striver who had little understanding of his creative son. Finally, recalling his week at a military camp for youth—where Lazar witnessed what would become the central event of Dov’s childhood—Dov describes the indescribable while Lazar wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s story of loss and survival. Continuing his investigations into how people confront life’s capricious battering, and how art may blossom from it, Grossman delivers a stunning performance in this memorable one-night engagement (jokes in questionable taste included).
Winner of the 2014 National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction For readers of This Is Where I Leave You and Everything Is Illuminated, “a brilliant and compelling family saga full of warmth, pathos, history and humor” (Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here) When the greatest female mathematician in history passes away, her son, Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch, just wants to mourn his mother in peace. But rumor has it the notoriously eccentric Polish émigré has solved one of the most difficult problems in all of mathematics, and has spitefully taken the solution to her grave. As a ragtag group of mathematicians from around the world descends upon Rachela’s shiva, determined to find the proof or solve it for themselves–even if it means prying up the floorboards for notes or desperately scrutinizing the mutterings of her African Grey parrot–Sasha must come to terms with his mother’s outsized influence on his life. Spanning decades and continents, from a crowded living room in Madison, Wisconsin, to the windswept beach on the Barents Sea where a young Rachela had her first mathematical breakthrough, The Mathematician’s Shiva is an unexpectedly moving and uproariously funny novel that captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to achieve the impossible.
February 27, 2018- “The Glass Room” by Simon Mawer
Honeymooners Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a rich Jewish mogul married to a thoughtful, modern gentile, are filled with the optimism and cultural vibrancy of central Europe of the 1920s when they meet modernist architect Rainer von Abt. He builds for them a home to embody their exuberant faith in the future, and the Landauer House becomes an instant masterpiece. Viktor and Liesel pour all of their hopes for their marriage and budding family into their stunning new home, filling it with children, friends, and a generation of artists and thinkers eager to abandon old-world European style in favor of the new and the avant-garde. The radiant honesty and idealism of 1930 quickly evaporate beneath the storm clouds of World War II. As Nazi troops enter the country, the family must leave their old life behind and attempt to escape to America before Viktor’s Jewish roots draw Nazi attention, and before the family itself dissolves. As the Landauers struggle for survival abroad, their home slips from hand to hand, from Czech to Nazi to Soviet possession and finally back to the Czechoslovak state, with new inhabitants always falling under the fervent and unrelenting influence of the Glass Room. Its crystalline perfection exerts a gravitational pull on those who know it, inspiring them, freeing them, calling them back, until the Landauers themselves are finally drawn home to where their story began.
January 23, 2018- “Judas” by Amos Oz
Short-listed for The Man Booker International Prize. “Oz pitches the book’s heartbreak and humanism perfectly from first page to last, as befits a writer who understands how vital a political role a novelist can play.” “An old-fashioned novel of ideas that is strikingly and compellingly modern.” 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abarbanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. At once an exquisite love story and coming-of-age novel, an allegory for the state of Israel and for the biblical tale from which it draws its title, Judas is Amos Oz’s most powerful novel in decades.
December 19, 2017- “Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family” by Najla Said
A frank and entertaining memoir, from the daughter of Edward Said, about growing up second-generation Arab American and struggling with that identity. The daughter of a prominent Palestinian father and a sophisticated Lebanese mother, Najla Said grew up in New York City, confused and conflicted about her cultural background and identity. Said knew that her parents identified deeply with their homelands, but growing up in a Manhattan world that was defined largely by class and conformity, she felt unsure about who she was supposed to be, and was often in denial of the differences she sensed between her family and those around her. The fact that her father was the famous intellectual and outspoken Palestinian advocate Edward Said only made things more complicated. She may have been born a Palestinian Lebanese American, but in Said’s mind she grew up first as a WASP, having been baptized Episcopalian in Boston and attending the wealthy Upper East Side girls’ school Chapin, then as a teenage Jew, essentially denying her true roots, even to herself—until, ultimately, the psychological toll of all this self-hatred began to threaten her health. As she grew older, making increased visits to Palestine and Beirut, Said’s worldview shifted. The attacks on the World Trade Center, and some of the ways in which Americans responded, finally made it impossible for Said to continue to pick and choose her identity, forcing her to see herself and her passions more clearly. Today, she has become an important voice for second-generation Arab Americans nationwide.
November 21, 2017- “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between” by Hisham Matar
When Hisham Matar was a nineteen-year-old university student in England, his father went missing under mysterious circumstances. Hisham would never see him again, but he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. Twenty-two years later, he returned to his native Libya in search of the truth behind his father’s disappearance. The Return is the story of what he found there.
October 24, 2017- “Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War” by Ian Buruma
Ian Buruma’s account of his grandparents’ enduring love through the terror and separation of two world wars is a family history of unsurpassing beauty and power. During the almost six years England was at war with Nazi Germany, Winifred and Bernard Schlesinger, Ian Buruma’s grandparents, and the film director John Schlesinger’s parents, were, like so many others, thoroughly sundered from each other. Their only recourse was to write letters back and forth. And write they did, often every day. In a way they were just picking up where they left off in 1918, at the end of their first long separation because of the Great War that swept Bernard away to some of Europe’s bloodiest battlefields. The thousands of letters between them were part of an inheritance that ultimately came into the hands of their grandson, Ian Buruma. Now, in a labor of love that is also a powerful act of artistic creation, Ian Buruma has woven his own voice in with theirs to provide the context and counterpoint necessary to bring to life, not just a remarkable marriage, but a class, and an age. Winifred and Bernard inherited the high European cultural ideals and attitudes that came of being born into prosperous German-Jewish émigré families. To young Ian, who would visit from Holland every Christmas, they seemed the very essence of England, their spacious Berkshire estate the model of genteel English country life at its most pleasant and refined. It wasn’t until years later that he discovered how much more there was to the story. At its heart, Their Promised Land is the story of cultural assimilation. The Schlesingers were very British in the way their relatives in Germany were very German, until Hitler destroyed that option. The problems of being Jewish and facing anti-Semitism even in the country they loved were met with a kind of stoic discretion. But they showed solidarity when it mattered most. As the shadows of war lengthened again, the Schlesingers mounted a remarkable effort, which Ian Buruma describes movingly, to rescue twelve Jewish children from the Nazis and see to their upkeep in England. Many are the books that do bad marriages justice; precious few books take readers inside a good marriage. In Their Promised Land, Buruma has done just that; introducing us to a couple whose love was sustaining through the darkest hours of the century.
September 26, 2017- “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker
A chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free. Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.
June 20, 2017 – “The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire” by Laura Claridge
The untold story of Blanche Knopf, the singular woman who helped define American literature. Left off her company’s fifth anniversary tribute but described by Thomas Mann as “the soul of the firm,” Blanche Knopf began her career when she founded Alfred A. Knopf with her husband in 1915. With her finger on the pulse of a rapidly changing culture, Blanche quickly became a driving force behind the firm. A conduit to the literature of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance, Blanche also legitimized the hard-boiled detective fiction of writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler; signed and nurtured literary authors like Willa Cather, Elizabeth Bowen, and Muriel Spark; acquired momentous works of journalism by John Hersey and William Shirer; and introduced American readers to Albert Camus, André Gide, and Simone de Beauvoir, giving these French writers the benefit of her consummate editorial taste. As Knopf celebrates its centennial, Laura Claridge looks back at the firm’s beginnings and the dynamic woman who helped to define American letters for the twentieth century. Drawing on a vast cache of papers, Claridge also captures Blanche’s “witty, loyal, and amusing” personality, and her charged yet oddly loving relationship with her husband. An intimate and often surprising biography, The Lady with the Borzoi is the story of an ambitious, seductive, and impossibly hardworking woman who was determined not to be overlooked or easily categorized.
May 24, 2017: “The Book of Aron” by Jim Shepard
Small and sullen, Aron is eight years old when his family moves from a rural Polish village to hectic Warsaw. At first gradually and then ever more quickly, his family’s opportunities for a better life vanish as the occupying German government imposes harsh restrictions. Officially confined to the Jewish quarter, with hunger, vermin, disease and death all around him, Aron makes his way from apprentice to master smuggler until finally, with everyone for whom he cared stripped away from him, his only option is Janusz Korczak, the renowned doctor, children’s rights advocate, and radio host who runs a Jewish orphanage. And Korczak in turn awakens the humanity inside the boy. “A masterpiece…A story of such startling candor about the complexity of heroism that it challenges each of us to greater courage.” —The Washington Post
April 25, 2017 – “The Meursault Investigation” by Kamel Daoud and “The Stranger” by Albert Camus
A New York Times Notable Book of 2015 — Michiko Kakutani, The Top Books of 2015, New York Times — TIME Magazine Top Ten Books of 2015 — Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year — Financial Times Best Books of the Year “A tour-de-force reimagining of Camus’s The Stranger, from the point of view of the mute Arab victims.” —The New Yorker He was the brother of “the Arab” killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus’s classic novel. Seventy years after that event, Harun, who has lived since childhood in the shadow of his sibling’s memory, refuses to let him remain anonymous: he gives his brother a story and a name—Musa—and describes the events that led to Musa’s casual murder on a dazzlingly sunny beach. In a bar in Oran, night after night, he ruminates on his solitude, on his broken heart, on his anger with men desperate for a god, and on his disarray when faced with a country that has so disappointed him. A stranger among his own people, he wants to be granted, finally, the right to die. The Stranger is of course central to Daoud’s story, in which he both endorses and criticizes one of the most famous novels in the world. A worthy complement to its great predecessor, The Meursault Investigation is not only a profound meditation on Arab identity and the disastrous effects of colonialism in Algeria, but also a stunning work of literature in its own right, told in a unique and affecting voice.
“All Who Go Do Not Return” by Shulem Deen
“On the Move” by Oliver Sacks
“The Yid” by Paul Goldberg
“The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort” by Rabbi Marc Katz
“Confessions” by Rabee Jaber and “The Mehlis Report” by Rabee Jaber
“The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” by Anne-Marie O’Connor
“The Door” by Magda Szabo
“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown
“Honeydew” by Edith Pearlman
“The Hilltop” by Assaf Gavron
“The Post Office Girl” by Stefan Zweig
“The Train to Crystal City” by Jan Jarboe Russell
“An Officer and a Spy” by Robert Harris
“Dora Bruder” by Patrick Modiano
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
“Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life” by Tom Reiss
“Ali and Nino” by Kurban Said
“The Moor’s Last Sigh” by Salmon Rushdie
“The Assistant” by Bernard Malamud
“Hour of the Star” and “Near to the Wild Heart” by Clarice Lispector
“Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
“The Aleppo Codex” by Matti Friedman
“There Are Jews in My House” by Lara Vapnyar
“Stranger in My Own Country” by Yascha Mounk
“Jews Without Money” by Michael Gold
“Adjusting Sights” and “The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale” by Haim Sabato
“Dissident Gardens” by Jonathan Lethem.
Future Book Group dates:
Basic Judaism: An Intro to Jewish Life, Text, and Ideas
Tuesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 PM (25 sessions)
Check our calendar for specific dates
Through ancient texts and modern media, participants learn to navigate Jewish tradition, holidays, history, and life-cycle events and learn how to introduce Jewish rituals at home.
Cost: $275 for CBE members / $375 for non-members
Hebrew Reading Boot Camp
Check our calendar for specific dates
Want to learn to read Hebrew? Tired of reading the transliteration of the prayer book? Participate in a full-day Hebrew reading workshop where you will learn the Hebrew aleph-bet through our interactive program.
Cost: $50, includes lunch and supplies
Please note: this program needs a minimum of six participants to run.
Check our calendar for specific dates
Aural Torah is a music education and performance series with a wide variety of sounds, styles, and artists designed to pique ears, touch souls, and create opportunities for further learning. This year we are pleased to partner with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music for select seasonal events.
Wednesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Check our calendar for specific dates
Mussar is a traditional, Jewish approach to spiritual insight and practical self-Improvement. It aims to bridge the gap between intellect and emotions and establish new bases for personal actions and interpersonal relations.
Tuesdays, 10:30 AM and Thursdays, 7:15 PM
All skills are welcome. Please join us, Mah Jongg is a fun social game and easy to learn.
Jewish Ethics Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Marc Katz
Meets twice a month on Thursdays at 12:30pm
Check our calendar for specific dates
Throughout time, Judaism has had something to say about nearly every topic under the sun. These include organ donation and autopsies, gambling and guns, medical assisted suicide and immunizations. Using Reform Movement writings on these and others we will explore our movement’s position on them and debate our own views. Bring a lunch bag.