Beth Emet is a diverse community of individuals with different viewpoints, backgrounds, and a broad range of Jewish learning experiences.
The Beth Emet Adult Programming offers exciting possibilities for meeting new people, exchanging ideas, and embracing Jewish history, ritual, and culture.
Our classes are taught by experienced clergy, teachers and lay leaders from Beth Emet and the larger Jewish community. Offerings range from one-time events to yearlong classes; some have fees and scholarships are available.
The Spring 5782 term features a wide range of classes and special programs. This term will begin remotely, through Zoom, and continue in person as conditions permit. Everyone is welcome to listen, learn, contribute, and share new insights with other members of the Beth Emet community.
View Calendar of Events
Sunday, February 27 at 1:00 pm
Author Riva Lehrer will lead us in a discussion of her book, Golem Girl, a vividly told, gloriously illustrated memoir of an artist born with disabilities who searches for freedom and connection in a society afraid of strange bodies. This program will wrap up our February Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. Although prior reading of the book is not required, we encourage you to read it ahead of time if you are able. Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for Q+A. Several copies of Golem Girl can be borrowed from the Beth Emet office and are available for purchase at Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston.
RIVA LEHRER is an artist, writer and curator who focuses on the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people whose physical embodiment, sexuality, or gender identity have long been stigmatized. Ms. Lehrer’s work has been seen in venues including the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, Yale University, the United Nations, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the Arnot Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Frye Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the State of Illinois Museum. Lehrer’s memoir, Golem Girl, was published by the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House in October 2020, won the 2020 Barbellion Prize for Literature; was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and shortlisted for the Chicago review of Books 2020 CHIRBY Awards. Ms. Lehrer is on faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and instructor in the Medical Humanities Departments of Northwestern University.
Sunday, March 6 at 1:30 pm
This program will address the current security threats to Israel and is brought to us by Yosi Kuperwasser, Brigadier General, IDF Reserves, the Director of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for questions and answers. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center near Tel Aviv focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian terrorist organizations, terrorist threats from hostile states such as Iran and Syria, Hezbollah, global jihad organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, campaigns to de-legitimize Israel, and antisemitic threats to Israel and the Jewish people.
YOSSI KUPERWASSER, Brigadier-General, IDF Reserves, is an intelligence and security expert, who is the Director of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Mr. Kuperwasser previously was the Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Chief of the Israeli Defense Forces Military Intelligence Research Division, as well as Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center. To learn more about this organization, check out their website.
Wednesday, March 9 at 7:30 pm
A continuing lecture-discussion class on contemporary public issues of interest to Jews as citizens. Special attention will be given to the State of the Union message and the conflict in Ukraine.
No fee for members; non-member fee $10
DAVID ZAREFSKY is the Owen L. Coon Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, specializing in argumentation and the analysis and criticism of American political discourse. He is a former president of the National Communication Association, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the Central States Communication Association. In 2012 he received the Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award from the National Communication Association. David is a past president of Beth Emet.
Thursday, March 10 at 7:00 pm
with panelists Rabbi Barry Block, editor; and Chicago contributors Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, Rabbi Seth Limmer, and Rabbi Andrea London
What does the Torah have to say about social justice? This new Commentary presents a diverse array of contributing authors who delve deeply into each week’s parashah, drawing lessons to inspire tikkun olam. Chapters address key contemporary issues such as racism, climate change, mass incarceration, immigration, disability, women’s rights, voting rights, and many more. The result is an indispensable resource for weekly Torah study and for anyone committed to repairing the world. Our own Rabbi London authored the chapter on Parashah Va-et’chanan, “You Shall Not Murder: Gun Violence Prevention.”
Friday, March 18 at 11:00 am
What does the construction of the mishkan — the Jewish people’s first capital campaign and major building project — tell us about community? How can the seemingly endless list of components and techniques bring us to a greater understanding of what it means to work together for the common good?
Member fee $15, or included in Friday morning package; non-member fee $25
AMY REICHERT is an award winning architect, exhibition designer, and designer of Judaica. Her work can be seen on display at The Jewish Museum, NY, The Jewish Museum, Vienna, The Yale University Art Gallery, and The San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum. She received her B.A. and M.Arch from Yale University, and combines her studio work with teaching at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago and lecturing at synagogues. She is thrilled to have been a part of Beth Emet’s renovation design team!
Sunday, March 20 at 10:00 am
Weight stigma causes discrimination against the largest among us… in education, healthcare, employment, and beyond. It is also damaging to the mental health of people of all sizes. Jewish tradition counters fatphobia with this simple truth: All human beings are created in the image of the Divine, and each of us is unique and of infinite worth, no matter our size. As Jews, we are called upon to create a world that reflects this truth. In this session, we’ll learn how weight stigma shows up in our Jewish communal lives and how we can deploy Jewish tradition for the liberation of all bodies.
RABBI MINNA BROMBERG, Ph.D. is the founder and president of Fat Torah. She is passionate about bringing her three decades of experience in fat activism to writing, teaching, and change-making at the nexus of Judaism and body liberation. Her forthcoming book is Belonging for Every Body: a Fat Torah guide to building inclusive spiritual community. Minna received her doctorate in sociology from Northwestern University, with a dissertation on identity formation in interfaith couples. She was ordained at Hebrew College in 2010. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Rabbi Dr. Alan Abrams, and their two children.
Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 pm
This program will begin with a briefing by Israeli Consul Daniel Aschheim to give us clarity about the positions of the Israeli government. Most of the session will be devoted to an opportunity for us to ask questions and express our concerns to the Israeli government.
DANIEL ASCHHEIM, a Jerusalem native, is Consul for Public Diplomacy at the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. He was appointed to this Chicago-based post in September of 2020. Aschheim comes to Chicago from West Africa, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.
Friday, March 25 at 11:00 am
Do the plagues in the exodus story have any structure, or are they just ten different ways of trying to get the Egyptians to let the Israelites go? The rabbis suggested that they do have a structure and it is the point of the d’tzach, adash, b’ahav section of the Haggadah. We’ll explore this theory, which was developed in an especially deep and meaningful way by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.
SAMUEL FLEISCHACKER is LAS Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). His writings include Divine Teaching and the Way of the World (Oxford, 2011), and The Good and the Good Book: Revelation as a Guide to Life (Oxford, 2015), and Being Me Being You: Adam Smith and Empathy (Routledge, 2019). Sam received his Ph.D. from the Philosophy Department at Yale University, and taught at Williams College before coming to UIC.
Friday, April 1 at 11:00 am
This past Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish calendar entered the sh’mita year, the once-every-seven-years biblical sabbatical. While in our contemporary Western context sabbatical is generally a personal interruption of the work cycle, for the Torah and Jewish law, it is a societal institution. We will study core biblical texts about sh’mita and some rabbinic texts, enabling us to reflect on economic and ecological justice implications we might learn for today.
RABBI ARYEH BERNSTEIN is the National Jewish Educator for Avodah; Educational Consultant for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA); and Staff Educator for the Jewish Institute for Animals (JIFA). He has spent years teaching Torah to communities across the U.S. and Israel, especially on themes of social justice. A fifth-generation Chicago south sider, Aryeh is very happy to return for a third visit to the Beth Emet adult education community.
Sunday, April 3 at 10:00 am
The Book of Ruth is unique in that its narrative has two women talking with one another. Can it be considered a possible feminist book of the Torah or is there a completely different value being promoted by the text? Join Rabbi Novak for a careful read and review of this megillah to understand its place in the Jewish canon, liturgy, practice, and belief.
RABBI MARIANNE NOVAK received her A.B. in Political Science from Barnard College and her J.D. from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She has served as the Endowment Director at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and also helped start the Women’s Tefillah Group at Bais Abraham. Rabbi Marianne then moved to Skokie, Illinois, became a Gabbait for the Skokie Women’s Tefillah Group, and taught Bat Mitzvah students. Rabbi Marianne is an instructor and curriculum developer for the Florence Melton Adult School of Jewish Learning and taught Tanakh at Rochelle Zelle Jewish High School. She has lectured for many Jewish organizations and Synagogues, and writes a blog for the Times of Israel. Rabbi Novak currently serves as Rabbi and Judaic Studies faculty at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School. Rabbi Marianne lives in Skokie with her husband Noam Stadlan and family.
Wednesday, April 20 at 7:15 pm (postponed from March 24)
Explore your spirituality or connection to the Mystery or the Divine in the world. We will use the prayerbook, poetry, and ourselves as our texts, aiming to deepen our connections and discern meaningful paths in our daily lives. Our tools will include mindfulness practices, journaling, questioning, and conversation. Doubting God’s existence? Come explore.
This session was postponed from the original date of Thursday, March 24
Fridays, April 29 and May 6 at 11:00 am
Islam and Judaism both claim the supreme sacrifice for the eldest sons of their respective traditions. We’ll look at similarities and differences between the quranic and biblical tellings of the story and how they developed over time. We’ll reflect on the significance of those differences for Jewish-Islamic relations.
Member fee $25, or included in Friday morning package; non-member fee $35
DAVID GOTTLIEB is Director of Jewish Studies at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2018. He has written for several publications, including Tablet Magazine, the Journal of Religion, and the Encylopedia of the Bible and its Reception. He is the author of Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press, 2019)
Tuesday, May 3 at 7:30 pm
Current policy and political decisions often reflect or are influenced by events from earlier historical periods.
This ongoing lecture-discussion class investigates these earlier moments and how they relate to the present. The May session will explore the long history of conspiracy arguments.
Prior familiarity with the historical periods is not required.
Fridays, May 13 and 20 at 11:00 am
Jewish settlement in Italy dates back more than 2000 years, and today visitors to Italy can still see some of the magnificent buildings, monuments, and other relics that encapsulate the rich and diverse Italian Jewish experience. This class will offer a virtual tour of Rome and Venice as seen from the vantage point of Jewish history. Even if flights to Europe are grounded, you can experience the sights and sounds of Italian Jewish history from the comfort of home.
DAVID SHYOVITZ (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, and Director of NU’s Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies. He is the author of A Remembrance of His Wonders: Nature and the Supernatural in Medieval Ashkenaz (2017), and has lectured widely throughout the United States, Israel, and Europe.
Tuesday, May 24 at 7:30 pm
A continuing lecture-discussion class on contemporary public issues of interest to Jews as citizens. Stay tuned for today’s particular topic.
Beth Emet Adult Programming is supported in part by a generous grant from the David D. Polk and Marian Polk Fried Adult Jewish Studies Fund of the Beth Emet Foundation. This grant allows us to offer Beth Emet members all of the Friday morning 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. classes during the Fall / Winter 5782 term as a package for the reduced fee of $120.
Beth Emet Adult Programming is also supported in part by a generous the Jewish Education: Lifelong Learning Opportunities (JELLO) Fund of the Beth Emet Foundation.
Reach out to Marci Dickman, Director of Lifelong Learning.