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

Lech Lecha, Go to Your Authentic Self


From the pen of Hebrew Seminary Executive Director Alison Brown

First thing every morning my mind begins its chatter. What is the order of my day? What needs doing at work? What needs doing after work? In my mind tasks skirmish for priority. On the occasion that I disengage, I pat myself on the head with compassion. The mind works loves to conjure up problems and solve them. We are master puzzlers! It is no wonder that we are drawn to the practices of meditation and mindfulness.

People need space. We need space to Lech Lecha, to “go to yourself” in the words of Genesis 12:1. Jewish practices can support this effort to get in touch with our best self, our piece of the divine truth, to then go forth moment-by-moment, interaction-by-interaction to make a better world, if only through kindness. I hope to get in touch with myself so that I can act as often as possible from no-self.

Chaim Vital wrote that, “Every person must search and discover the root of his soul, so he can fulfill it and restore it to its source, its essence. The more one fulfills himself, the closer he approaches his authentic self.”

Our authentic self can be radically free and empty. In this state of consciousness there is no me and you. I am you.

After school yesterday my daughter shared something of her workload with me. Sometimes, having practiced lech lecha, I am able to listen from my authentic self. If I spoke from my chattering self, I would proceed to direct my daughter. When you get home do this, don’t take a break until you get this done, be sure you get plenty of sleep, so on and so forth. Speaking from my authentic self, my empty and full of wonder self, I empathize and offer the thought that she be compassionate with herself. I am confident that she will be her best self. She has no need for my chattering self.

A wise man knows nothing – well, maybe one song — Ikkyu