Ethan Kuniyoshi, a Palo Alto resident, has been immersed in Talmud study for eight years as an original member of the Lehrhaus Talmud Circles.

Ethan was introduced to Talmud study when he spent a summer in Jerusalem at the Conservative Yeshiva. Talmud Circles, which has eight groups throughout the Bay Area, enriches Ethan’s life and helps him set a good example for his children to always make time for learning.

While it’s hard for him to recreate the level of focus he experienced engaging with Talmud study in Israel, Ethan is happy to have found a welcoming community of dedicated learners through Lehrhaus.

“The Palo Alto Talmud Circle feels like a family – many of us have been together for years,” Kuniyoshi said. “As new people join, the group does a great job of welcoming them in while at the same time connecting with the people who’ve been a part of the group.”

Ethan and his wife, Monica, and their children, Avivah and Michal, are active members of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. Monthly Talmud study at the Oshman Family JCC has expanded Ethan’s community connections.

“One of the things I really like about Talmud Circles is that it brings people together from other communities who I wouldn’t necessarily see,” Kuniyoshi said.

When Lehrhaus launched its Talmud Circles program in 2011-12, Ethan and Monica both enrolled to continue
their education together. Monica left their circle after a few years when the couple welcomed their first child.

Approximately 100 participants annually enroll in Talmud Circles to study a common curriculum produced by our high quality team of faculty which includes Prof. Deena Aranoff of the Graduate Theological Union, and Rabbis Dorothy Richman and Jennifer Clayman.

Ethan looks forward to returning yearly to reconnect with his circle, and to explore how the rabbis of the Talmud interpreted their inherited textual traditions and responded to the challenges of their times.

“Each session, when I sit in class, I’m filled with ideas, and I’m inspired to learn more,” Kuniyoshi said.

“One of the things I really like about Talmud Circles is that it brings people together from other communities who I wouldn’t necessarily see.”

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, our Chief Program Officer and the Palo Alto Talmud Circle educator since the program’s inception, has been a good match for Ethan.

“Peretz seems like a kindred spirit traveling along the path of life,” Kuniyoshi explained. “He inspires me to be the best person I can be – never losing sight of what matters.”

Ethan’s fellow Talmud participants also motivate him during chevruta study (partner study). Each person brings a wealth of knowledge and adds to his understanding of the material.

A busy principal consultant for a technology firm, Ethan is committed to Talmud Circles because he knows if he doesn’t make time for study, he won’t do it.

“Studying Talmud helps put current Jewish issues in a historical context,” Kuniyoshi added. “The fact that I have some fluency with how the rabbis disagreed with one another makes it easier to see how flexible our tradition is.”


By Debbie Rosenfeld-Caparaz, Director of Communications (Winter 2018 YourHaus)