I am a believer that we all have a desire to continue our own growth as human beings, to make our personal journeys meaningful. But I also see that we are pulled in many directions that often distract us from the experiences we would like to have.

 

I would like to encourage you this year to try something that perhaps will be new. The idea of a “class” doesn’t really describe what it is that we do when we offer our adult learning opportunities. When I think of a class, I think of a school setting where information is being shared and we take the data.

 

Our adult learning “classes” are really opportunities to have our own encounters with our own faith tradition’s ideas and values. We meet others within our community to become familiar with traditions, to learn about ideas from texts, but ultimately, they are challenges to be better, to do better, and to be inspired to try harder.

 

I love learning together because there is an intimacy that we can get with other people that draws us closer to one another. And yes, it draws many of us closer to God. As Rabbi Chananya ben Teradyon teaches: “When two sit together and exchange words of Torah, then the Divine Presence dwells with them.” (Pirkei Avot 3:2) It isn’t just about the learning that brings God’s Presence closer… it is the sharing, it is the openness to new ideas, it is the closeness we can have with another person to help us grow. When we engage in real relationships that aren’t hierarchical, but communal, then we invite God to be a part of them. That has always moved me when I teach… because I receive at least as much as I give from those who are learners with me.

 

So here is the pitch…  Try it. Let us know if you’d like to attend a class by sending an email to rsvp@bethtikvah.com. We have an abundance of opportunities. Here are just a few:

Monday, August 4 at 7:30 pm

Join me in the Library to mark Tisha B’av, the 9th Day of Av, which marks the Destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples in Jerusalem.  We will explore its meaning in Jewish history and its meaning for Reform Jews today.

Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 pm

I will be leading a session on “Preparing Your Hearts for the Days of Awe.” What do we need to do to show up on Rosh Hashanah ready for atonement and healing?

Sundays, August 24 and September 14 at 10:00 am

Let’s explore the Days of Awe together! We will have a book discussion about the book:  This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Alan Lew.   From Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur to Sukkot, we will journey together and emerge fresh and whole again.  Meeting dates:  8/24 (Chapters 1-5) from 10-11:30 am in the TBT Library; and 9/14 (Chapters 6-10) from 10 -11:30 am at the Coleman Village Starbucks at 930 Marietta Hwy.

Our discussion leader will be Cindy Getty.  This book is available from Amazon as a hardcover or on Kindle. For more information or with questions contact Cindy at rsvp@bethtikvah.com.

September 20 at 9:00 pm – Selichot are “penitential prayers” (prayers asking for forgiveness). We call the Saturday night prior to Rosh Hashanah Selichot as a special day. Before our brief, late night service that includes changing the covers of our Torah scrolls, we learn about the themes of the Days of Awe – why are they so holy, ideas of teshuvah/turning and acts of atonement, and prepare our hearts for the Days of Awe later that week.

New: On Yom Kippur, after the Late Service (of our Morning Services), we will have a conversation on Forgiveness with a very special panel. Cindy Getty will be moderating and participating, so will Rick Winer, a psychiatrist and our Gabbai. More to be confirmed. Watch for details.

What else is in store? We are planning to continue our partnership with the The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning through the Brill Institute at the MJCCA (Monday nights). We are organizing our Women’s Study Group that will meet monthly. Rabbi Donald Tam, our Rabbi Emeritus, Cantor Kassel and I will be announcing our classes shortly. We owe great thanks to Cindy Getty, our chair of adult education, for putting all of these pieces together. You can contact Cindy directly with any question or if you would like to get involved (her email is in our newsletter).

May this year not only be a great year of learning, but one where we permit ourselves to return to our truest Selves – seekers who are journeying towards truth, contentment and meaning.

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