Qabbalat Shabbat: Friday, 6:00 p.m. Torah Study: Saturday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Weekday Minyan: 6:15 p.m.

Center for Adult Jewish Learning

Welcome! Scroll down to explore our current classes and events.

Adult Jewish Learning

Since its inception in 1854, Temple Israel has been known as a place committed to deep Jewish scholarship, a community that is unafraid to ask the difficult questions, and think about Judaism in new and exciting ways. Temple Israel is a synagogue where some of the greatest Jewish teachers, preachers, and learners have gathered to find deeper meaning, understand our shared history, and incubate ideas for a new generation.

The Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Israel of Boston continues this tradition as a hub for intellectual discovery, cultural exploration, and personal meaning-making for the Greater Boston Area with a diverse offering  of classes, community events, and trips. Whether you are learning about Judaism for the first time, embarking on a new stage in your Jewish life, or a life-long learner looking to connect with local scholars, there is something for you.

Everyone is welcome here. Join us, spread the word, and invite your friends. We never want cost to be prohibitive to your participation in our programs. To inquire about scholarships, or to learn more about the Center, please contact Brigid Goggin, Managing Director, at

We look forward to learning with you

All classes and events listed below meet virtually on Zoom and are open to everyone. Explore below and register today.
If you have any questions, please contact Brigid Goggin, Managing Director, at

Summer 2021 Classes

The TI Yeshiva: Learn to Read the Talmud

with Rabbi Suzie Jacobson
Tuesdays, 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.
Meets weekly
No cost

God? Self? Other? A Jewish Philosophical Exploration

with Rabbi Suzie Jacobson
Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Meets weekly
No cost

Baking and Breaking Bread Across the Diaspora

with Sara Gardner, Culinary Historian
Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
June 8 – 29, 2021
Join 1 or all 4!

Lunch with the Librarian

with Temple Israel Librarian Ann Abrams
Tuesdays, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Meets weekly
No cost

The Open Door and Jewish Living

Introduction to Judaism

with Temple Israel Clergy
Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
March 11, 2021 – June 24, 2021

Learning to Read Hebrew

with Debbie Betesh
Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
4 sessions, March 3 – March 24, 2021

Upcoming Events

All commuity events listed below are free, virtual, and open to the public. Contact Brigid Goggin at to learn more.

Chagall and the Bible

with Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, HUC/New York

Tuesday, June 8 at 3:00 p.m. 

Marc Chagall was profoundly inspired by the Bible throughout his career, producing biblical works in a broad array of mediums, including paintings, etchings, sculptures, mosaics, tapestries, stained-glass windows, ceramics, and stage set designs. Discover how memories of his youth in Vitebsk, his 1931 visit to Palestine, the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, his personal religiosity, and his admiration for the old masters, informed his imagination to create uniquely modern visual interpretations of the core text of the Jewish people.

Kol Kahol: Jewish American Bluegrass

5781 Annual Wyner Lecture Guest Artist

Friday, June 25 at 6:00 p.m. Qabbalat Shabbat

Join us for our annual Wyner Lecture Series, featuring the Jewish Bluegrass band Kol Kachol.

Formed right before the pandemic, Kol Kahol seeks to push the boundaries of contemporary Jewish music and traditional American Roots music within the context of Jewish prayer. In combining these two musical identities, they tell their story through music; not only proud of their Eastern European Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish traditions, but also of their American heritage and its influence on their lives and musical style. In doing so, they offer a unique spiritual experience to those who are wrestling with their own identity, particularly regarding what it means to be an American Jew.

Recent Past Events

Missed an event? Click below to watch the video recordings of recent past speakers.

Ready to Turn the World Upside Down: Radical Feminism and Jewish Identity

Steinbaum Lecture with Professor Joyce Antler

Friday, November 20 at 6:00 p.m.

Jewish women were movers and shakers—and originators—of women’s liberation, one of the most significant social movements of the twentieth century. In myriad ways, they transformed the culture and politics of our time, adding their imprint to a long line of Jewish activists.  Their courage, struggles, and triumphs deserve a central place in our histories of American Jewish life.

We are delighted to welcome Profesor Joyce Antler as the 5781 Carl A. Steinbaum Lecturer. Joyce Antler is the Samuel J. Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture and Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Emerita at Brandeis University. She is the author of many books, including You Never Call! You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother; The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America; and most recently, Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Heroes, Villains, and the Jewish Side to Every Story: A Conversation with Author Larry Tye

Friday, February 5 at 6:00 p.m. Qabbalat Shabbat

Larry Tye is a New York Timesbestselling author whose latest book, a biography of Senator Joe McCarthy, was released on July 7, 2020 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His other recent books include Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon and Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero. Tye is currently writing, for Houghton Mifflin, a book entitled The Jazzmen: How Duke Ellington, Satchmo Armstrong, and Count Basie Transformed America.

From 1986 to 2001, Tye was an award-winning reporter at The Boston Globe, where his primary beat was medicine. He also served as the Globe’s environmental reporter, roving national writer, investigative reporter, and sports writer. In addition to his writing, Tye runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship, which helps the media do a better job reporting on critical issues like public health, mental health, and high-tech medicine.

Interested in a connection to Larry Tye’s work with the history of Temple Israel? Explore a 1954 sermon titled “Beyond McCarthy” from past Senior Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn here.

Rachel Korazim: Connections to the Land of Israel

Sunday, February 14 at 11:30 a.m.

The core Zionist narrative of Israel presents an unbroken unwavering connection between the people of Israel and its land. Yet individuals have felt at times, doubts, pain and critique as they were articulating their particular attachment to it. We shall look at works by Yitzhak Shalev, Rachel, Nathan Alterman, Yehuda Amichai, Ephraim Kishon, Balfour Hakak and Amos Oz.

Rachel Korazim engages audiences worldwide through innovative presentations built around the stories, poems and songs of Israel’s best writers.  Her thought-provoking talks open a window onto Israeli society, inviting listeners to engage with the country and its history in new ways. Rachel is a graduate of Haifa University with a PhD in Jewish education. Until 2008, Rachel was the Academic Director of Distance learning programs at The Jewish Agency for Israel, Department of Education.

Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel's Classroom, with Rabbi Ariel Burger

Saturday, March 13 at 8:00 p.m.

Join us for a special evening with Ariel Burger, the author of the National Jewish Book Award winner, Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Ariel Burger is the founding director and senior scholar of The Witness Institute, whose mission is to empower emerging leaders, inspired by the life and legacy of Elie Wiesel. He is an author, teacher, and artist whose work integrates spirituality, the arts, and strategies for social change. An Orthodox-trained rabbi, Ariel received his PhD in Jewish Studies and Conflict Resolution under Elie Wiesel. A lifelong student of Professor Wiesel, Ariel served as his Teaching Fellow from 2003-2008, after which he directed education initiatives at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. As a Covenant Foundation grantee, Ariel develops cutting-edge arts and educational programming for adults, facilitates workshops for educators, consults to non-profits, and serves as scholar/artist-in-residence for institutions around the U.S.

The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again

Burstein Scholar in Residence Lecture Series, featuring Professor Robert Putnam

Friday, December 4 at 6:00 p.m.

This year, our Burstein Scholar in Residence weekend is being extended to a multi-month lecture series, bringing important and meaningful conversation to our community through the work and ideas of prominent scholars.

Join us on Friday, December 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Qabbalat Shabbat for the first lecture of our series, featuring Robert D. Putnam, co-author of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, which analyzes a remarkable confluence of trends that brought us from an individualistic “I” society to a more communitarian “We” society and then back again, and explores how we can learn from that experience to become a stronger, more unified nation.

Eat Something: A Conversation with Cookbook Author Rachel Levin

Tuesday, February 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Rachel Levin is a Boston-raised, San Francisco–based journalist who has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Outside, and Eater, where she was the first San Francisco restaurant critic. She writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle about restaurant regulars and is the author of EAT SOMETHING: A Wise Sons Cookbook for Jews Who Like Food and Food Lovers Who Like Jews (Chronicle Books, 2020)which Eater called “hilarious”,Forbes named a Top 10 Cookbook of 2020, and Taste magazine described as  “Where No Jewish Cookbook Has Gone Before.”

Join us on Zoom to hear Rachel Levin talk about Jews and food with her best summer camp friend (and Temple Israel member) Ali Freedman.

Galeet Dardashti: An Evening of Music and Stories

Friday, March 5 at 6:00 p.m. Qabbalat Shabbat

Galeet Dardashti will join the Temple Israel clergy via zoom for a mizrachi influenced Qabbalat Shabbat, filled with musical worship and stories of Galeet’s fascinating journey; as well as delightful zemirot (song session) immediately following services where Galeet will be able to teach and sing together with all present.

Vocalist, scholar, composer, and cantor Galeet Dardashti, is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. She has earned a reputation as a trail-blazing performer and advocate of Middle Eastern Jewish music as founder/leader of the internationally renowned all-female musical group Divahn, which released its new album, Shalhevet, in 2020. Since studying with her father, Hazzan Farid Dardashti, she has accumulated over twenty years of professional cantorial experience with Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and experimental communities; currently she is Cantor & Musician in Residence at Jewish Community Project in Manhattan. As a scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and her writings examine Mizrahi cultural politics and Israeli music/media. Dardashti has held postdoctoral fellowships at NYU and Rutgers and most recently was Assistant Professor at JTS in Manhattan. She is an Affiliated Fellow at University of Pennsylvania’s Katz Center in 2020/21.

Why We Need Each Other: Tackling the Threats of White Supremacy and Antisemitism

Tuesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Join ADL New England, the Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Israel of Boston, and the Jewish Community Relations Council for an important evening discussing the intersection of White Supremacy and Antisemitism, and what we can do to combat extremism and hate. Rabbi Elaine Zecher, Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston, will moderate a conversation between leading experts Eric K. Ward and Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss. This event is free and open to the public.


Temple Israel’s committed learners are honored with the “Chochmat Lev, A Learned Heart” certificate by completeing five courses over any length of time within our five categories of learning:

  • History
  • Justice, Politics, and Contemporary Issues
  • Bible, Rabbinics, and Philosophy
  • Arts and Culture
  • Spirituality

Temple Israel has been a congregation of tremendous learning for many years. Our dedicated learners honor us, lift us up, and help to define our community. The “Chochmat Lev, A Learned Heart” certificate allows us to honor our Learned Hearts as well as our Generous Hearts (Nadiv Lev), and to see that both are needed in the ongoing work of building this sacred community.

Past Brochures

Sample some of our past programs:

Burstein Scholar-in-Residence

In 1979, Maxwell and Bobbie Burstein endowed an annual Scholar-in-Residence program to broaden Temple Israel’s educational program, recognizing the importance of knowledge to the continuity of the Jewish people. The lecture series brings outstanding Jewish scholarship to Temple Israel and the Greater Boston Jewish community.

Peter Fox-Penner, 2017

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson


Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D.


Rudolph H. and Sara G. Wyner Lecture Series

This lectures series celebrates Rudolph Wyner’s love of Jewish art and folkways. The series was later renamed the Rudolph H. and Sara G. Wyner Lecture Series after his wife’s death.

Dr. Samuel Thomas and ASEFA, 2017

Rose Feinberg Memorial Lecture Series

Rose Feinberg was a religious school teacher at Temple Israel for more than two decades. The Israel-centered program, endowed in 1982 in her honor, serves as a living tribute to a woman with a great love of Israel and Jewish learning.

Joshua Sobol, 2017

Herbert M. Karol Musical Weekend

In 1990, the Karol family endowed Temple Israel’s longtime Annual Music Service in honor of their father, Herbert M. Karol, a trombone player and lover of music. The service is a liturgical celebration of Jewish music and composers.

Saul Kaye, 2015

Noah Aronson, 2016

Joy Ungerleider Jewish Book Month Program

The Joy Ungerleider Jewish Book Month Program is an endowed lecture series established in memory of author, curator, philanthropist, and visionary Joy Ungerleider by the Dorot Foundation, and is under the supervision of the Temple Israel Library Committee.

Barney Frank, 2015

Michelle Ephraim, 2016

Carl Steinbaum Lecture

In 1999, Ellen Steinbaum endowed an annual lecture series in memory of her husband, Carl Steinbaum, who died in 1996, in appreciation of the warmth and intellectual inquisitiveness of the Temple Israel community. The lecture series celebrates Carl Steinbaum’s love of Judaism and history.

Dr. Jacqueline Vayntrub, 2016