Register here for the Bay Area Community Talmud Circle.
A long time ago in Jerusalem, a rabbi passing through where I was studying advised us baby rabbis-to-be that the secret of survival is to find a subject we each wanted to continually study and build an adult class about it.
So, I did. Twenty-two years ago, I began a downtown lunchtime Talmud group that continues to this day. Through the ups and downs and outright loonies and vicissitudes of congregational life, I had a place to go every Wednesday where sanity would be found for an hour. We began and continue to use the Steinsaltz edition. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has said, “Dealing with Talmud is like doing psychoanalysis. At least you’re beginning to understand what you are.”
There you have it, weekly psychoanalysis in the company of very fine people whose only skill requirements are curiosity, the ability to read English, and unconditional mutual regard.
Do you need to believe in God? No, people wrote the Talmud.
Do you need to be Jewish? No, it is about the human condition.
Do Jews need to engage in it? Yes, Steinsaltz says, “No part of Jewish culture, on any level, is without some sort of connection to the Talmud.”
So, imagine how I felt when in 2011 when the Aleph Society of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Lehrhaus Judaica created the Bay Area Community Talmud Circle. We would save more lives. We are creating a community of adult students enabled and empowered to encounter the Talmud with confidence.
Yes, I mean confidence (a very Lehrhaus/Rozenzweig idea). The Talmud is an ocean, and no one can claim to know the ocean. But anyone can go to the beach and tip-toe in. Or dive.
With the additional assistance of Kevah and the generosity of our Bay Area Jewish Community Centers, we were able to establish Talmud circles in San Francisco, the North Peninsula, Palo Alto, Berkeley, and Marin. About 180 students learned with a fabulous faculty: Dr. Deena Aranoff, and Rabbis Dorothy Richman, Lavey Derby, and me.
So, join us in a Talmud Circle. The water is warm and calm, an oasis of sanity awaits you.
Register here for a Talmud Circle in one of six locations. The program for first and second-year students meets once a month from October to June, and includes a variety of special events and webinars.