Five of Los Angeles' learned rabbis and teachers will share their wisdom in "Master Class," an advanced Judaic continuing education class open to all at the University of Judaism (UJ), beginning Nov. 9. Each thematic section will meet for three sessions on Thursday evenings over the course of the fall and spring.
Moral questions define the first three elements: Rabbi Mordechai Finley of Ohr Ha Torah Congregation will speak on "Soul and Virtue: Inner Work from the Sources of Mussa and the Kabbalah" and will discuss both moral and spiritual growth; Robert Wexler, president of the University of Judaism, will explore the book of Leviticus, including "priests, sacrifices and the triumph of morality"; and Elliot Dorff, rector and distinguished professor of philosophy at the UJ, who also teaches law at UCLA School of Law, will tackle Jewish medical ethics and moral values.
A more historical approach will define the final two sections, with Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson teaching the medieval masters Saadia, Rambam and Ha-Levi, and Reb Mimi Feigelson discussing Chasidic views from Purim to Pesach.
The class curriculum, said Gady Levy, vice president for continuing education at the UJ, was designed around great teachers and their expertise.
"Great passion is infectious and relating to students makes it possible for enthusiasm to spread," he said.
"The goal," Levy said, "like Judaism itself -- is simple, yet complex. The expert teachers guide students through the deep philosophies of ancient texts. The knowledge that is the result of this journey is then applied to contemporary experience, making it useful in daily life. This jibes with the overall goal of helping our community live richer, fuller lives through Judaism."
This is the second year of the Master Class series; about 140 students participated last year, and approximately the same number are expected this year. Space is still open for registration, which costs $250 for the 15 sessions. Classes are held on Thursday evenings, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Call (310) 476-9777 ext. 473 for registration information.
-- Susan Freudenheim, Managing Editor
Virtual Hartman Institute
Members of Temple Israel of Hollywood have an opportunity to study with some of the top teachers in Israel through a video class with the Shalom Hartman Institute, a pluralistic program of education, scholarship and leadership training in Jerusalem.
Beginning Nov. 12, Rabbis John Rosove and Michelle Missaghieh will together lead eight sessions over the year with a one-hour chavruta (study partners) session on a text chosen by the Hartman Institute, followed by a video lecture and Q-and-A with a scholar.
The theme of "The Foundations of a Thoughtful Judaism: Eight Dilemmas of Faith" will explore the questions of who is God and what is faith.
Missaghieh is particularly excited about this program, because she is participating in the Center for Rabbinic Enrichment, a Hartman Institute program that selects 30 rabbis from across the country to partake in weekly satellite classes, and winter and summer institutes in Israel.
"It's an amazing, amazing gift," said Missaghieh, who is in the third year of the three-year program. "The learning is on such a high level, and the camaraderie and connection between the rabbis is really fantastic."
The video classes being offered to the congregation are an outgrowth of the rabbinic program. "The congregation is supporting us in allowing us to go to Israel twice a year and do this class every Monday for three hours," Missaghieh said. "So the institute developed this opportunity for the lay leadership in our synagogues to understand the high level of learning and to buy into the whole Hartman philosophy and mission of pluralism, of high level learning, of really examining the text from all different points of view."
Along with Missaghieh, Rabbi Sheri Zwelling Hirsch of Sinai Temple in Westwood and Rabbi Don Goor of Temple Judea in West Hills are participating in the rabbinic program, and Temple Judea last year ran the video class.
The Hartman class complements an already full calendar of adult education at Temple Israel, including a documentary film series for women that includes discussion and text study on the topic; Torah through visual and performing arts; Hebrew classes; basic Judaism; adult bar and bat mitzvah programs; and adult education for parents in the temple's nursery, religious and day schools.
-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
Jewish Law Course Offers CLE Credit
More than 20 Southland Chabads, from Thousand Oaks to Huntington Beach, will lawyer up during the second week in November with the introduction of a new class, "You Be the Judge: Behind the Steering Wheel of Jewish Law," a six-week course that explores how secular and religious law relate by examining actual cases brought before a beit din, or court of Jewish law.
The class is modeled after one taught by Jeremy Rabkin, a U.S. government professor at Cornell University, and is being offered for the first time by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI), a worldwide Chabad adult education program. Local attorneys can earn continuing legal education credit for the course, which has been accredited by the National Board of License.
The six classes will examine such topics as the enforceability of immoral contracts, Holocaust-related claims and distinguishing between creative opportunity and crass opportunism through the lens of talmudic law. "You Be the Judge" will be taught concurrently each week at more than 200 locations throughout the United States and at sites around the world, although days and times will vary.
However, once a student is registered, he or she can take the class at any location.
"If you're taking this class in Agoura Hills, and if you happen to be traveling to Las Vegas the next week, you can pick it up there," said Rabbi Efraim Mintz, JLI director. The classes are being taught at Chabad centers, hotels and legal offices, and Mintz said a few judges are even making their chambers available for the class during lunch. So far more than 8,000 students have registered to take the class, and JLI expects that it will easily exceed its record of 10,000 students.
Rabbi Moshe Bryski of Conejo Jewish Academy said he's looking forward to challenging students to connect ancient texts to modern problems. The course, which is being taught in the Conejo Valley by Judge Frank Johnson and attorney Steve Fenster, has inspired Bryski to consider developing more classes for litigators that link secular and religious law.
"I would like to look at Supreme Court cases in the future, especially where Judaic law was mentioned and how it was used in showing differences," he said.
For more information, visit www.myjli.com and click on "courses."
-- Adam Wills, Associate Editor