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The mission of Hebrew Seminary is to train rabbis and Jewish educators to serve all Jewish communities, including the deaf community. Hebrew Seminary has been an inclusive and egalitarian community for the study and practice of Judaism since our founding in 1992.

We hope that within this blog you will discover moments of insight and inspiration, practical and spiritual guidance, as well as a path to further study.

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Yom Kippur 5782

YOM KIPPUR

By Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

A central theme of Yom Kippur is teshuvah, repentance or return to God. And within the command to do teshuvah in Parshat Nitzavim, which we read in our temple on Yom Kippur is the verse, “Vahashevota el levavecha” “And you shall return to your heart.” (Deuteronomy 30:1) The Torah considers the heart as our “God Connection.”

Rabbi Norman Lamm emphasizes the importance of teshuvah, and the recognition that each of us embrace heart transformation on Yom Kippur. We are commanded to transform our heart so that it becomes a storehouse of courage, ethics, and moral strength. Each one of us should participate in a spiritual heart transplant; looking back over the past year and creating within ourselves a new heart that is wide open to the Presence of God.

There is a wonderful Kabbalistic meditation based on this Torah portion, Nitzavim, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts…so that you will love the Lord with all your heart.” (Deut. 30:6) I see circumcising our hearts as the opportunity for us to create a spiritual transplant. We open our hearts to the extent that we become more accessible to Hashem every day. The heart has a covering or sheath that keeps us separate from the four chambers of the heart, which are connected to Hashem. When we erase this sheath through meditation, through bittul ha yesh, we then can have direct access to the Deity and learn more clearly what God wants to tell us in our lives, our purpose and our path. This comes about through a spiritual heart transplant, by returning to our heart, by doing a highly spiritual activity of teshuvah.

1. We begin by sitting quietly, being aware of our inner and outer breathing. We should do this meditation and all other meditations in a special room in our house, which we call the miat meek-dash. When we meditate in a special room on a regular basis, divine energy is built in this space. I see this happening all the time when I meditate regularly with my parishioners in front of the Ark.

2. Close your eyes and imagine you are in an open field. Visualize everything you can about the field – some farmhouses, cows, horses, maybe even some farmers tending to the animals.

3. Imagine there is a ladder right next to you. It is firmly entrenched into the ground, and reaches high into the sky. It is a very sturdy ladder. Don’t be afraid to climb it. But if you do decide to climb it, first think how it would feel to climb the ladder and how you are feeling at this time.

4. You can either open your eyes and end the visualization, or you can climb the ladder. If you climb the ladder, you see at the top of the ladder a gate, with a guard. Perhaps he is a guardian angel. You intuitively know the right word that allows the guard to open the gate and invite you in. You are in the most luscious beautiful garden you have ever seen. And as you are walking through this amazing garden, or replica of Gan Eden, you feel the Presence of God, sharing with you a purpose in your life. You are amazed and inspired. You have made contact with the inner chambers of your heart. And by so

doing, you have made greater contact with God. You are doing what Scriptures says you should do—you are returning to your heart.

5. You now see another gate, with an angel, protecting its entrance. Again, you intuitively know the right word that allows the angel to open the gate. Do you wish to enter? Or do you wish to end your visualization, and go back to the first gate and climb down the ladder into the amazing open field. If you wish to go deeper into your heart, to participate more fully in this Yom Kippur spiritual transplant, you give the angel the mystic word that allows you to enter the second chamber or second mystic area. You decide to walk through the gate, and you see before you a most wonderful academy of Hebrew scholarship. There are thousands and thousands of books, lining the walls on such subjects as Kabbalah, Torah, Talmud, philosophy and Hebrew languages. You are spellbound. As you spend much time looking at, and even reading these texts, you discover another sacred purpose that Hashem has planned for you when you were born. You are overwhelmed with joy and inspiration. And further overwhelmed by your being able to intuit God’s Presence within you, because you were able to do bittul ha yesh, to nullify the sheath that separates you from the depths of Divinity. But you are proud and overjoyed that you have done a spiritual heart transplant.

6. After many hours of study, you see another gate. This time you wish to go back. You leave the library fully filled with another purpose Hashem has for you. You then travel through the lush, magnificent garden remembering how you made contact with Hashem, and discovered one of His goals for you in your life here on earth. You go through the gate, climb down the ladder. You are back in this wonderful meadow and you make a promise on this Yom Kippur, that you will spend the New Year accessing all four chambers of your heart and learning and practicing and doing what Hashem wants you to do with your life. You make a vow to Hashem that you will regularly do this meditation throughout the year, transplanting the sheath for a fervent desire to know your relationship with Hashem more fully. And “you shall return to your heart” shall be your mantra throughout the New Year.

Gut yontif.

Academic Calendar 2021-2022

2021– 2022 Academic Calendar (5781 – 5782)

October 2021

3       Sunday                                          Fall 2021 Semester begins

November 2021

25 – 28      Thursday-Sunday                 Thanksgiving weekend, no classes

December 2021

Dec. 24 – Jan.1  Friday-Saturday                   Winter break

January 2022

2       Sunday                                          Classes resume

Jan 16 – 20 Sunday-Thursday                Exam Week (exam or class required)

Jan 21 – Jan 29  Friday-Saturday          Semester break

Jan 30        Sunday                                 Spring 2022 Semester begins

February 2022

March 2022

17     Thursday                                       Purim – no classes

April 2022

15 – 23       Friday – Saturday                 Pesach – no classes

2021 – 2022 Academic Calendar (5781 – 5782) con’t

May 2022

8                Sunday                        Mother’s Day – no classes 

22-26         Sunday-Thursday        Exam week (exam or class required)

May 27-June 12 Friday-Sunday   Semester Break

June 2022         

13              Monday                       Summer 2022 Semester begins

July 2022

4                Monday                       4th of July – no classes

August 2022

7                Sunday                        Tisha B’Av – no classes

8 – 11         Monday-Thursday      Exam week (exam or class required)

Aug 12-Sept 3 Friday-Saturday    Semester Break

September 2022

6                Tuesday                       Fall 2022 Semester begins

Sept. 23- Oct.10 Friday-Monday  High Holidays – no classes

October 2022

11                                                  Classes Resume

16 – 18       Sunday-Tuesday         Shmini Atzeret & Simchat Torah – no classes

Fall Semester 2021

October 4, 2021- January 20, 2022
(No Classes November 25-28, December 24 – January 1)

All courses will be held online. Cost is $150 to audit and $750 for Rabbinic students.

Rabbinic Students – Select Class

Open to Public – Select Class


Course Descriptions:
Sundays 11:00 – 12:30 pm (Begins October 10)   
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer & Rabbi Shari Chen                                     
Know God- Hear God- Speak with God- Through our Morning Shacharit Prayers       
We have always been fascinated with how the Rabbis created the Shacharit (morning service) for us to communicate with HaShem, and feel his presence, and to hear HaShem’s voice, through our morning prayers. Come and learn with us as we explore ways to connect with HaShem through the prayers of our traditional Shacharit service. (Tefillah in Hebrew means to connect and we are excited to connect with HaShem through prayer.)

Sundays 2:00 – 3:30pm (Begins October 10)         
Rahmiel Hayyim Drizin
The Zohar on Bereshit — In the Beginning

This Semester we will continue to delve into the beginning of the Holy Zohar, with teachings tied to Creation and the theme of
Bereshit–in the Beginning. We will learn from the wonderful Pritzker Edition translation by Daniel Matt in English by focusing on the nuances of the original Aramaic text and relating it to our current life. Please join us as we begin our journey back to our own origins, with purposeful intent to recognize where we came from and where we are going now.

Mondays 6:00 –7:30pm (Begins October 4)
Rabbi Shari Chen
Bereshit – An In-depth Study of its Defining Stories

The first book of our Torah Bereshit (Genesis) is full of stories that define us as a people. From the Creation of the world through the story of Joseph, these stories connect us to our Judaic roots, as they teach us about our relationships with God, with one another & with this world that God created, IN THE BEGINNING! We will read primary texts, from the Torah, and then not only study the biblical Hebrew used, but also the significance of the who, what, where, when, and most importantly the why behind each story. We will also explore how these stories have been used in the past and are still currently being used to guide us in Judaic ethics and practices.

Wednesdays 10:30 – 12:00pm (Begins Oct 6)        
Rabbi Michael Davis
Biblical Hebrew

Prerequisite: Two years of Hebrew at Hebrew Seminary or equivalent

Wednesdays 12:30 – 2:00pm (Begins Oct 6)        
Rabbi Michael Davis
“Meaningful Midrash”

One and a half millenia ago, the early rabbis inspired, consoled, and gave guidance through sparks of wisdom that were gathered into the Midrash. This class will glean meaningful texts from this compendium of ancient lore. Meaningful Midrash continues the timeless tradition of Jewish learning, claiming from the past inspiration and instruction for the present moment.

Prerequisite: Two years of Hebrew at Hebrew Seminary or equivalent

Thursdays 11:00 – 1:00pm (Begins October 7)
Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub
An Exploration of the Babylonian Talmud

Together we will study selections from the Babylonian Talmud, the text upon which all modern Judaisms are based. We will translate texts from the original Hebrew and Aramaic, work with different commentaries to probe their meaning, and see how these texts form the foundation for modern Jewish life.

Thursdays 2:30 – 4:00pm (Begins October 7)
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Rabbi Shari Chen
Pirke Avot

Rabbis Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Shari Chen will discuss the early ethics of the Talmud, as presented in the classic Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, written circa 300 CE. Traditional and mystical commentaries will expand your understanding of Pirke Avot and reveal its timelessness and importance.

 Thursdays 7:00 – 8:30pm (Begins October 7)
Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub
Aramaic

Join us in learning Judaism’s second holy language: Aramaic. The Targums, the Talmuds, and the Zohar are all written in it, and understanding the Aramaic language is indispensable to being able to read and comprehend Jewish texts of the past two millennia. If you already know Hebrew or Arabic, you will have an easier time of it, but even if you don’t, it is an easy language to learn, and the goal is simple: read, write, and (possibly) speak Aramaic.

The Secrets of Kabbalah Through the Ages: November 2, 9 & 16
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer
Register here ($100)

Rabbi Akibah

There are those who want to learn a new meditation each day instead of learning a new approach to the same meditation. When we do this, we create a special compartment in our mind where we and Hashem meet. Then, together, we work to touch one another. The greatest Rabbi of the Talmud was Rabbi Akibah. He was also the greatest mystic of his time. But did you know that even though Rabbi Akiba was a handsome man, he was completely illiterate in Judaism. He couldn’t read the Hebrew alphabet. He didn’t know any Bible stories.

There are those who want to learn a new meditation each day instead of learning a new approach to the same meditation. When we do this, we create a special compartment in our mind where we and Hashem meet. Then, together, we work to touch one another.

Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer

One day, a shepherd asked him, “When do you do your meditations? In the morning or the evening? When do you do your kavannot?”

Akibah said, “What is a meditation? What is kavannot?” He was 40 years old at that time. He fell in love with a beautiful wealthy man’s daughter who said, “I can’t marry you unless you become a scholar.”

Akibah went to the well. The well was like a singles’ bar. It was the watering hole where not only camels could satisfy their thirst, but so could men, pondering which girl they would marry. Jugs of wine were available to be purchased, at the local watering hole.

Anyway, Akibah went to the watering hole of Lod, and he saw a huge rock, with a large indentation. “Who carved this rock?” And then he realized, “If water can cut through a rock, then the teachings of the Torah and its sacred meditations can cut through my mind.”

We don’t need to constantly learn new meditations; we just need to take a NEW APPROACH to the same meditation. This will bring us even deeper insight, just like the indentation in the rock in Lod.

Twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays, at Congregation Bene Shalom, we have Kabbalistic Shabbat Meditation services via Zoom and YouTube. I am always studying and translating different Hebrew texts so that I can share new meditations. Charlene Clinkman (Brooks) one of our Hebrew Seminary students, and the cantorial soloist of Congregation Bene Shalom, has repeatedly said to me, “Don’t keep introducing new meditations. We need to go over the meditations we have learned. It is very important that we know well the meditations you have already taught us.” After learning this story about Rabbi Akibah, I have to admit that Charlene is right. We don’t always need to learn something new – we just need to look at things with a new perspective.

With that in mind, I invite you to join us at our next Kabbalistic Shabbat Meditation service, where we will go over some important meditations, that I think we need to look at with fresh eyes. And, I invite you to join me on June 22, when I will give a Zoom lecture, sponsored by Hebrew Seminary, discussing the importance of “Vibrations: Communicating with the Angels.”
More information here.

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

Summer Spirituality Series

VIBRATIONS:  Communicating with the Angels
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer
Tuesday, June 22, 7pm cdt

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer, President & Founder, Hebrew Seminary, Professor of Kabbalah/Healing

“If we want to experience the angelic realm, we need to communicate with the Angel’s in their language – the language of Vibrations.  We do this by accessing the energetic power of the Hebrew letters. On June 22, I look forward to sharing with you different modalities to enable us to create a unique relationship with the angels.”

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

Just as Americans speak English to communicate with one another and Israelis speak Hebrew, angels communicate through Vibrations.  So, it is crucially important for us to learn how to enter into a state of Vibration so that we can become a channel for the healing angels and even a channel for the Presence of God, Adonai, within us. The Sefer Yetzirah recognizes that each Hebrew letter is a vibrational element, differentiated from other letters by frequency.  When we learn to raise the Vibrational Level of our cells, through vibrational meditation on the Sefirot, we become in harmony and in balance with God’s corresponding pulsation of Divine Force.     

All Sessions are ASL Interpreted & Free.
Donations are appreciated here.

AWAKENING
Rabbi Tirtzah Israel
Tuesday, August 3, 7pm cdt

Rabbi Tirzah Israel, Kabbalah & Meditation Teacher, Hebrew Seminary Alumna

“In our meditative practice the Awakening manifests itself as an undulating awareness into our consciousness of existence. We learn to “let-go” of the fixed constructs of time and space, thus opening the portal for the artistry of your true being”

Rabbi Tirtzah Israel

Rabbi Tirtzah Israel will share how to enhance one’s spiritual awakening by “simply being.” She will discuss the steps to achieve this goal and demonstrate how to use the breathing cycle as a tool for letting go and allowing oneself to experience the “now.” She will also lead participants in a kabbalistic meditation for this purpose.

You can find the Awakening Meditation here

All Sessions are ASL Interpreted & Free.
Donations are appreciated here.

Summer Semester 2021

June 22, 2021- August 19, 2021

Course Selection

Rabbi Shari Chen
Bereshit – An In-depth Study of its Defining Stories
Tuesdays 10:30am – 12:00pm cdt  

Rabbi Shari Chen, Hebrew Seminary Executive Director, Professor of Hebrew

The first book of our Torah Bereshit (Genesis) is full of stories that define us as a people. From the Creation of the world through the story of Joseph, Bereshit is full of stories that connect us to our Judaic roots, while at the same time teach us about our relationship with God, our relationships with one another & our relationship with this world that God created, IN THE BEGINNING!

In this course we will read primary texts, from the Torah, we will then not only study the biblical Hebrew used, but also the significance of the who, what, where, when, and most importantly the why behind each story. We will also explore how these stories have been used in the past and are still currently being used to guide us in Judaic ethics and practices.

Cantor Rabbi Michael Davis
Jewish Death: a Jewish Perspective on a

Universal Experience
Wednesday 12:30-2:30pm cdt

Rabbi Cantor Michael Davis, Professor of Midrash

Death is the beginning of Jewish community. The first thing a Jewish community is required to do is set aside a Jewish cemetery. And with the first burial, that community is tied to that place. Cemeteries are the last thing that remains of old Jewish communities. At no time in living memory has our mortality been so much part of everyday concern for such an extended period time at the last year plus. Jewish burial is the most universally observed Jewish ritual, much more than any other Jewish ritual, lifecycle or otherwise. The Jewish textual engagement with the subject of death is vast.

In this course we will study traditional, primary texts about death including Tanakh and Rabbinic literature. We will study texts from the Tanakh and Chazal.

Some questions to ponder: – How odd that the first death in the Tanakh is not a natural one. The first death is a violent one, an act of murder.  Who was the first figure in Tanakh to know he was going to die soon and what did he do with that knowledge? What does Torah teach us about what is a good death? What do the final utterances of the great rabbis of the Talmud on their deathbeds teach us about what is a good life? – How have Jewish attitudes to death changed over time?

                                                            
Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub
Eclectic Teachings of the Talmud
Thursday 1:00-3:00pm cdt      

Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub, Professor of Talmud

Curriculum guided by student’s curiosity, past studies, and the times we live in. An exploration of how the wisdom found in our ancient texts can not only give us insight but can support us through these difficult days in our lives.

With pre-registration, tuition for non-credit, non-enrolled students is $150.
Please note which session you are registering for.

Course Selection

All summer classes are online and open to rabbinic and non-credit students.
To register by phone contact: 847.679.4113 or info@hebrewseminary.org.

Dungeons,Dragons & Divinity

D

JEWISH MYSTICISM: MAKING IT REAL FOR YOUR LIFE   
Dungeons, Dragons & Divinity: Playing Games for Spiritual Growth, Exploration & Healing Rabbi Menachem Cohen

Tuesday, February 23 @ 7-8 pm CT   

When we meditate, pray, do yoga, chant, and encounter sacred text, we enter a space where the rules of daily living are suspended. We have an experience and leave transformed. The same happens when we play games, where this transformative space is called the magic circle. Participants in this session will learn and experience how roleplaying games (like Dungeons & Dragons)—where players create a character with abilities, personality, and powers, and go on adventures such as finding lost artifacts and rescuing kidnapped villagers—can be used to create these magic circles where transformation happens.
REGISTER TODAY
MenachemPhoto 022321
Menachem Cohen is a spiritual director, rabbi, and tabletop game designer, who has played roleplaying games for 40+ years. Much of his work is in the design and use of games for spiritual work and addressing existential questions. He received his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Seminary in 2003, and is currently Professor of Spirituality and a member of its Board of Directors.  The Forward selected him as one of America’s most inspiring rabbis in 2016.

How One Rabbi Uses Roleplaying Games to Build Community

Spirituality is only one tool in this community leader’s toolkit for bringing people closer together. Character sheets are another. WIRED, 01.21.2021.

AT HIS BAR Mitzvah in his Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue, Rabbi Menachem Cohen hoped to be saved. “I was waiting for God to plunk me on the head and take me on a spiritual trip. A spiritual acid trip, without ever taking acid,” he says.

It never happened. Many of us, especially in our pandemic-induced exiles, hope to be pulled away on a hero’s journey, the term coined and explored by the literary scholar Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The arc fits into many media, from books to popular films. According to Campbell, the myth is that the “hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

We all want to be the person elected to go out and slay the dragon. Unfortunately, we are relegated to our humdrum work lives.

Cohen started playing Dungeons & Dragons at age 10. After his coming of age ceremony, Cohen was hoping to be called away the same way a hero would. “I was playing D&D and was interested in Big Magic. Fireballs, teleporting, flying, psychedelic spiritual journeys.” But his coming of age ceremony was less than magical. “I read from the Torah and made mistakes and no one noticed.” The ritual consisted of parties and monetary gifts.

He strayed somewhat from Judaism after that, seeking but not finding in religion the magic he found instead in role-playing games.

After years away from home, he returned to his home city of Chicago in 1994, pulling up to his mother’s house on the night of Rosh Hashanah, brought back by a job as a sign language interpreter at a temple for the hearing impaired. Soon thereafter, he was introduced to The Jew in the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz, a Jewish Buddhist. The bestselling book captured the ongoing relationship between Jews and Buddhists. “I saw that the esoterica I was longing for in the world was in my backyard,” Cohen said.

The magic he sought he discovered in the every day, in prayers and rituals. It was not Big Magic, but small magic. The wonders in the ordinary. He got more involved in the Jewish Renewal movement, attending retreats and week-long gatherings. Cohen eventually took a 4-week intensive on Jewish shamanism, and soon started blending games with his religious practice.

In one of our Zoom calls, Cohen told me the Old Testament story of Bathsheba and David: The Ancient Jewish king saw Bathsheba bathing and desired her so much that he ordered her husband to the front lines of battle, where the man died. David then took his widow for himself. Nathan, the prophet, reached out to David and told him a story about a poor man with only one sheep who he loved like a child, and a rich man had a huge flock of sheep. The rich man then took the impoverished man’s sheep to serve a guest he cared little for. When asked for his reaction, David says the rich man should be punished. 

“Nathan, I always imagine trying not to smile, says, ‘You are the man.’” From this allegory, the king realizes his mistake. “The fictional distance of the story lets David not throw up his ego and defenses and see the truth. And Nathan keeps his head.” This biblical anecdote sets up a framework that leaders and therapists could use when playing role-playing games.

In academic game design theory, there is a theory called “alibi.” According to a paper by Sebasian Deterding, a researcher at the University of York in England, “Adults routinely provide alternative, adult-appropriate motives to account for their play, such as child care, professional duties, creative expression, or health. Once legitimized, the norms and rules of play themselves then provide an alibi for behavior that would risk being embarrassing outside play.” These adult-appropriate motives allow us the separation we need to tackle important issues, or explore ourselves in a way that we’d normally be too defensive to do so objectively.

As Cohen puts it, “It’s not me. It’s just my character looking into, say, my dead parents.” Cohen uses stories to help people get over personal blocks. Someone who is going through a crisis can explore fictitious storylines to explore questions from a healthy distance. Then, they might discover things and learn about themselves along the way. “You can build neural pathways to help release your issues with imposter syndrome.”

Since playing D&D as a child, he explored independent games that offer more flexibility in character creation. He discovered a group game called Dreamchaser, created by Pete Petrusha, and Cohen is adapting it for one on one use. “As soon as I saw this game, I saw how I could use it for personal, spiritual issues.”

At the beginning of the game, each player gets a bunch of notecards. To start, they each write a goal, or dream, on a card. For example, Overthrow the Empire, Befriend a Dragon, Live in the Woods. Then the group votes and picks one to be the Dream for the game. Let’s say they pick Befriend a Dragon. It goes in the middle of the Dream Map. Then each person picks a role, let’s say Hunter/Tracker, Linguist, and Astronaut. Now I know there are an astronaut and dragon in the game. After this, they pick Milestones that would make the game interesting for them. No one gets to veto these, but the group discusses what order to put them on the Dream Map around the Dream. The Milestones and Dream make up the map for the adventure. Players then finish their characters, giving them skills, strategies, health points, etc. Then we set out!

Cohen contacted Petrusha and started beta testing the game with small groups and at board game conventions. Cohen and Petrusha fielded questions from social workers and therapists on how to use the game in their work. Eventually, Petrusha hired Cohen as lead designer, to adapt the game for one-on-one use in short one-hour sessions. Patients can make the dream or goal a central issue—something they are personally working on. Players can play as themselves or play as fantastical charters, like a wizard or a fighter pilot.

“They can use play as metaphor,” Cohen says. There are also similar tactics to help clients on the autism spectrum.

His goal, in his rabbinate, is to help people one on one with their spiritual and emotional journeys. He also works on himself using games. “As a rabbi, the question of serving comes up a lot. What does it mean to serve?” He creates and then plays characters that serve their deity without any questions just to see what that feels like. He also plays characters who have no gender and were gender non-conforming. “I’ve explored myself and who I am in this world in numbers of ways through the characters I have created. I learned I could be a man without limit, without society’s constraints.”

There are also ways of exploring community-building and growth. Cohen mentioned two games, Dream Askew and Dream Apart. Askew is about a queer enclave trying to survive amid an apocalypse. According to the game’s site, players have to find a “place to live, sleep, and hopefully heal. More than ever before, each of us is responsible for the survival and fate of our community.”

A part is about a shtetl—a village of Jews—in 19th century Europe. According to a 2018 Tablet magazine review, “A ragtag bunch of shtetl-dwellers (who seemed to all have a lot of tsuris, from a runaway daughter to a failing marriage) discovered the body of a gentile in the Jewish part of town and feared suspicion would fall on the heads of the Jews. And so, we set out to find who the man was, and who had killed him (and to hide the body, of course).”

As we enter yet another month of our own slow-moving, personal, isolated apocalypse, we too can use games to explore our journeys and build communities, hopefully leaving our exile, eventually, more complete people.

Eli Reiter is a consultant, writer, and educator. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Esquire, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. Read more at elireiter.com.

WIRED
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 Menachem Cohen (he/his, they/them)
Spiritual Director, Rabbi, Tabletop Game Designer www.whatmakesyoucomealive.net

Spring Semester 2021
February 8 – June 3, 2021

Spring is Zooming
and Talmud, Zohar and the Angels
are calling you!

Make plans today to answer —
see class details below.

Spring Semester 2021
February 8 – June 3, 2021
(No Classes March 28 – April 4; May 9, 16-18, 30-31)

Wednesdays                  
12:00 – 1:30
Translating Isaiah, Cantor Rabbi Michael Davis
An in-depth study of Isaiah’s language in Hebrew and in English translation

Thursdays
11:00 – 1:00 
Eclectic Teachings of the Eclectic Talmud
Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub
Curriculum guided by students’ curiosity, past studies and the times we live in. This is an ongoing class, all are welcome.

Sunday
1:30 – 3:00
Zohar: Beresheet — In the Beginning
Reb Rahmiel Hayyim Drizin
This is an ongoing class, all are welcome.

3:15 – 4:45 
Angels, Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer, Rabbi Shari Chen,
Rev. Rick and Mary Mercer
I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t want to see an angel. Rabbi Chen and I always bring angels down to be with us when we pray with people. This semester we will teach a Jewish vision of the angels- what they look like- where they come from- how God sends them on different missions. We will share Judaism’s vision of angels and how we can be a channel for angelic healing. This class will be taught by Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Rabbi Shari Chen – teaching a Jewish interpretation of angels following the sources. And we are blessed to have Reverend Richard and Mary Mercer joining them to teach a Christian interpretation of the angels. Aren’t they the same? Come and study with us to find out!

All classes are online.
All classes described above are open to rabbinic
and non-credit students.
With pre-registration, tuition for non-credit,
non-enrolled students is $150.
Hebrew and other classes are available for enrolled students.

Fall Semester 2020

October 5, 2020 – January 21, 2021

All classes are online.

For more information info@hebrewseminary.org.

Tuesdays 12:45 – 2:15pm          Cantor Rabbi Michael Davis
Begins Oct 6
Reading the Tanach as a Whole

I once had a teacher of Talmud. He had devoted his life to the study of Talmud. The breadth of his knowledge was encyclopedic. He told us that once his students brought him an end-of-year gift. Before he opened the wrapping his students told him: Rabbi, we know how much you love Talmud. So, we bought you a book that collects one volume all the biblical verses quotes throughout 2,000 years of Rabbinic literature. Every single verse that appears in Mishnah and Talmud, Midrash and Zohar, Medieval and Modern commentators – it’s all in this book!”

So, our rabbi opened the wrapping and holds it up for the class to see It was a Tanakh!

There is a point to this quip. We are so used to reading Tanakh through the Rabbinic lens that we are only vaguely aware – if that – of most of the rest of Tanakh that are not Torah readings, haftarot, liturgy or otherwise included in the rabbinic canon.

The purpose of this survey course is to read all of Torah, Nevi’im and (the non-wisdom parts of) Ketuvim as a whole.

Goals of the course are: 
To become conversant with the Tanakh as a whole.
To develop an understanding of Rabbinic editing of liturgy and the lectionary.
Students will be expected to read the assigned selections and discuss them in class.

Rabbi Davis will present reflections and commentary on the material.


Wednesdays 12:00 – 1:30pm
Rabbis Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Shari Chen
Begins Oct 14
Pirke Avot

Rabbis Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Shari Chen will discuss the early ethics of the Talmud, as presented in the classic Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, written circa 300 CE. Traditional and mystical commentaries will expand your understanding of Pirke Avot and reveal its timelessness and importance in the world today.

Sundays 1:30 – 3:00 pm            Rahmiel Hayyim Drizin
The Zohar on Beresheet — In the Beginning
Begins Oct 14


This Semester we will continue to delve into the beginning of the Holy Zohar, with teachings tied to Creation and the theme of “Beresheet“–“in the Beginning.”  We will learn from the wonderful Pritzker Edition translation by Daniel Matt in English by focusing on the nuances of the original Aramaic text and relating it to our current life.

Please join us as we begin our journey back to our own origins, with purposeful intent to recognize where we came from and where we are holding now.


Sundays 3:15 – 4:45 pm            
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer & Reverend Rick and Mary Mercer
A Jewish and Christian Perspective of the Book of Psalms
Begins October 18

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Reverend Rick and Mary Mercer will interpret a number of the 150 Psalms of David to open a conversation that will include a lively and free-flowing debate in support of understanding both the Jewish and Christian interpretations of the texts.  

In Christian commentaries, the Psalms of David forecasts the advent of Jesus. (Jesus is descended from the lineage of David.) Reverend Mercer is associate minister of the Missionary Tabernacle Baptist Church of Evanston, and Mary Harris Mercer is superintendent of the Missionary Tabernacle Baptist Church of Evanston Sunday school.

Join Rabbi Goldhamer and the Mercers for an entree to understanding how the Jewish and Christian traditions are similar and unique. At the same time, you may find that  you expand and fine-tune aspects of your own personal theology.  

Fall Semester 2020
October 5, 2020 – January 21, 2021
(No Classes Oct 11; Nov 26-29; Dec 20 – Jan 2, 2021)

Open to non-credit students ($150)

October 5, 2020 – January 21, 2021