Temple Beth Elohim Lifelong Learning Experience

 Get yourself a teacher and find yourself a friend.  -Pirke Avot 1.6    

FALL 2017 SESSION DATES: October 17, 24 & 31, November 7 & 14  This is a five week session.


Different from anything else currently offered at the temple, classes are led by fellow congregants who are willing to share their knowledge and interests in a relaxed, fun learning experience. There are limited spaces within each class, so please sign up ASAP! Classes begin at 10:00 am or 12:45 pm and last for an hour and fifteen minutes. Between sessions there will be a "lunch and learn" speaker from 11:30-12:30 (click here to view the list of lunchtime speakers). Come for the morning class and stay for lunch (please bring your lunch); come for lunch and stay for the afternoon class; or come for all! There is no charge to attend and all are welcome. 



MORNING SESSION (10:00-11:15)

THE BOOK OF GENESIS:  A Literary Approach, Rabbi Bob Orkand

Genesis is an extremely rich text that can be approached from a variety of perspectives, including literary, historical, theological, and archaeological. Most of the stories in Genesis are very familiar, but many crucial issues in the study of the book are less familiar to general audiences.

The course will speak to the different perspectives listed above.  First and foremost, we will approach the text as a piece of literature, highlighting the many literary devices and techniques employed by the ancient author(s) of the book. In the process, we will learn that literature played a central role in the life of ancient Israel.

We will talk about the history that lies behind the book of Genesis. And, we will delve into theological issues:  Did the ancient Israelites believe in one God?   Most importantly, we will deal with questions of authorship.  Is the book the result of a haphazard compilation of disparate sources? Or does it present itself as a unified literary whole, suggesting a single author?

Finally, we will explore topics that emanate from our reading of Genesis.


SPEAKING and LISTENING: Celebrating the Power and Pleasures of Storytelling, Ellen Glazer

In this course we will come together as storytellers and as listeners. No one is required to speak. Everyone is invited to listen.  Our stories will vary from light hearted and good humored to serious and poignant.  Storytellers should speak without notes and for under 8 minutes.  No topic is off limits but here are some of the ones we are looking forward to: The Pleasure of eating one’s words, small world stories,” Jewish antenna” stories (how we determine who is Jewish and what happens when we are wrong), moments of holiness, travel tales, restaurant travails (and pleaures), Never Say Never, Chance meetings, forks in the road.  

We will explore the power of telling our stories and of listening to the stories of others. The popularity of The Moth, Modern Love, and This I Believe all speak to interest in story telling—and in story listening.  

This is a first time course for T Belle so we don’t know where it will lead. Our hope is that participants will find it both fun and meaningful, that one story will lead to another, that participants will get to know each other in new ways.   We hope that this course will be yet another way that TBE members deepen their connection to our warm, lively and sacred  community.



We will learn much more about Rahav & Tamar; were they harlots or heroes? Who was the hidden Esther; The R-rated, adult version of her story....and several interesting others. We will explore little known female characters and discover new views of what we thought were familiar faces, and what it means for us.





AFTERNOON SESSION (12:45 - 2:00)

FROM BACH to BEETHOVEN: Listen and Learn, Art Gerstenfeld

For many of us, classical music is all too serious---something we study in school or hear played by cultivated musicians at fancy gatherings" That quote is from a new book by a preeminent composer and music scholar.  In this course we will share surprising stories about our most beloved pieces.  For example, did you know that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, today one of the most admired pieces, was at first taken as a joke because the entire opening movement is based around its first four notes.

We will discuss and listen to Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (one in each of the five weeks).  Each week will be based on a chapter from the new book "Language of the Spirit"  Each chapter is only about ten pages and we are going to urge the participants to buy the book and read the ten pages as preparation for that week.  However, if schedules are too busy for some, it will be perfectly fine to attend each class and still participate in the discussions and listen to the composer's music of that week.



Mah jong has become a game for all ages, blending healthy competitiveness with strategy and, most of all, history.  Players of all ages have been gathering together at tables to play this old but popular game. If you have always wanted to learn…or if you need a refresher, sign up for this series of classes.

We will start with the basics and after a short while we will be playing together!

Class size will be limited.  For additional information please contact Sandy Goldstein.




Last term our CANASTA class was a huge success! From that, we have since put together a weekly canasta drop in program that has been very well received.  We now have more new players, and invite you to join our casual drop in canasta group.  Play away the afternoon with fun, interesting company while honing your skills. All canasta players are welcomed.

Should you have any questions, please contact Bunny Cohen.



LUNCH & LEARN PROGRAM  11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Open to the TBE Community, reservations are not required. The program runs from 11:30-12:30 pm. Bring a bag lunch and join us in the Beit Midrash.

October 17

Speaker:  Cantor Shanna Zell

TOPIC:   Making the Secular Sacred: How secular music is holy


November 7

Speaker:  Jim Kaufman

TOPIC:   Antique Collecting & The History and Creation of Dedham Pottery

October 24

Speaker:  Carolyn Kohlman

TOPIC:   A Genealogy Presentation


November 14

Speaker:  Rabbi Debra Goldstein

TOPIC:   My Jewish Journey & Conversations about Dealing with Challenge and Change

October 31

Speakers:  Judy Zorfass & Rosalie Snyder

TOPIC:   Consumer Helpline: Call for Action



Contact Lynn Burke (781) 235-8419 x211 with questions or for additional information.