Kollel Course Listing - Spring 2019


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Mussar: Becoming More Menschlike, One Step at a Time Howard Brill & Barbara Grosh

Mussar is an ancient Jewish tradition of spiritual growth. Mussar (unlike Kabbalah) is focused on spiritual growth in the midst of our busy involved lives, embedded amongst our families, co-workers and neighbors. The purpose of studying Mussar is to become a better person, more of a mensch. We study character traits (middot) such as humility, patience, gratitude, honor, and alacrity and try on practices to improve our character traits one at a time. Readings come from The Mussar Institute. Participants will discuss and keep journals of their experience with each Middah. All are welcome, whether you’ve just heard of Mussar or you’ve been practicing for some time.  This is a continuation of the same course in the fall.  People are welcome to join at any time.  We will cover different character traits this semester. We will use class discussion based on assigned readings, which will be distributed by the instructors, combined with assignments to practice and journal each middah.

Sundays 11:00am-12:30pm
Mar 10, 31 Apr 14, 28 May 12, 26 Jun 9, 23
No Fee. Registration required.
Location: Temple Beth David Social Hall


Book of Ruth  Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick

The book of Ruth is one of the most fascinating stories in our holy Scriptures. Ruth is the classical convert who demonstrates a loyalty to Judaism regardless of the many challenges and difficulties in her life.  It is her unwavering commitment to her mother in law, Naomi and her people coupled together with her sacrifice and love for Judaism which we are to emulate, especially as we prepare for the holiday of Shavuot when we renew our acceptance of Torah.

***New Day and Time***
Please note this class is on Thursdays
Thursdays 9:30am-11:00am
May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Jun 6

Fee: $60


A Profile of Elie Wiesel: Scholar, Sage, and Survivor Rabbi Peter W. Stein

Wiesel was born in 1928 in Romania.  After surviving Auschwitz, he went on to a life of great significance.  He is the author of 57 books, most famously the memoir Night, but many books of biblical and rabbinic scholarship.  He also became a courageous voice speaking up against discrimination and suffering in all places.  His Nobel Prize citations include this tribute, “Wiesel is a messenger to mankind.  His message is one of peace and atonement and human dignity…” We will survey and discuss his accomplishments in different realms, and consider the importance of his message and example for the world today.

Wednesdays: 10:00am-11:30am
Mar 6, 20 Apr 10, 24 May 8, 22   
Fee: $60


Torah Through the Voice of Women  Rabbi Rochelle Tulik

Since its publication in 2008, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary has brought the voices of women out of the shadows of our biblical text. Join us for a close reading and exploration of Torah, enhanced by the commentary and poetry of notable female scholars. This class is open to men and women. New and returning students are welcome.

Tuesdays: 12:15pm-1:15pm
Mar 26 Apr 2, 9, 30 May 7, 14
Fee: $40


Judas-A Convenient Fiction?  Thomas Driscoll

Who was Judas Iscariot and why did he betray Jesus?  The centrality of Judas in the Christian Gospels has often been ignored. How did Judas come to stand for the Jewish people? How does Judas personify a composite Judeo-Christianity that illuminates ambivalent relationships between Christians and Jews as well as changing attitudes toward the body, blood and money; greed and hypocrisy; suicide and repentance; homosexuality and divinity. Over twenty centuries a figure of disgrace turns into a dignitary.

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Mar 5, 12, 19, 26
Fee: $40

OR (choose one)

Thursdays: 9:30am-11:00am Mar 7, 14, 21, 28
Fee: $40


Direct to you from the 19th Century…Frontiers, Explorations, and the Fear of the Modern  Thomas Driscoll

Europe changed more rapidly and more radically during the 19th Century than during any other previous period - a communication revolution, a population explosion, mass literacy, secularization, urbanization, imperialism. The lives of ordinary folks were changed dramatically. It was in the 19th Century when most of the ideologies of our current time came of age. And yet there was a clear sense of continuity and harmony with the past. Let’s explore the connections together.

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Apr 2, 9, 16, 23
Fee: $40

OR (choose one)

Thursdays: 9:30am-11:00am
Apr 4, 11, 18, 25
Fee: $40


A Brief Look at the History of Christianity  Joe Kelly

In the "now" generation of today's culture, a good knowledge of history is not a top priority. Understandably, many Jews have little awareness of the history of Christianity but sadly, Christians also know almost nothing about their own history. This 4-week series will present some of the major developments in Christian history that have made Christianity what it is today. Special emphasis will be given to events that also deeply effected the Jewish people.

Mondays: 10:00am-12:00 pm
Apr 29 May 6, 13, 20
Fee: $60


Who is Serving Whom?  The Rev. Dr. Christopher Luedde

In this course we will look at the servant songs of Isaiah. These songs have been and are interpreted by Christianity as a defense for Jesus being the Messiah.  We will discuss these songs in their context and the differing understandings of messiahship.  

Tuesdays: 10:30am-12:00pm
May 7, 14, 21, 28
Fee: $40


WPA: Artists of the Works Progress Administration  Eleanor S. Lewin

Marvel at the talented Jewish women and men who were supported by our government programs during the Depression. Learn how important they were to the landscape of America. This course will include an overview of the program’s inception, photos of artists’ work, and discussion.

Thursday: 3:00pm-4:30pm
May 9, 16, 23, 30
Fee: $40


***Sorry, this class has been cancelled***
Jews and Mah Jongg for Beginners
  Juleen Squires

How did a 19th century Chinese parlor game become a favorite pastime for Jewish women? Learn how they kept the game alive and learn to play!  No experience necessary. All are welcome.

Wednesdays: 1:00pm-2:30pm
Mar 6, 13, 20, 27 Apr 3
Fee $50


Jewish Living with Elliot Fix
(Co-sponsored with the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester)

This course and inclusion program is designed for adults with special learning needs. Participants will be actively engaged in learning about Jewish holidays, prayers, songs, rituals, Torah lessons, and Israel.  Class sessions also include crafts, baking projects, and guest presenters.  Participation in relevant Jewish community events is scheduled throughout the year.

Wednesdays: 7:00pm-8:15pm

Sessions and programs are scheduled on Wednesdays throughout the year from September through June. For fee information and information about joining, please contact Elliot Fix via The Rochester Kollel.


Hebrew Classes

Call or email the Kollel office regarding appropriate placement.

Please note that classes do require the minimum of 6 students.


***Sorry, this class has been cancelled***
Learn to Read Hebrew for Beginners
  Gene Spiro

Learn the basics to read Hebrew. Letter and vowel recognition and development of phonetic skills.

Mondays: 6:30pm-7:30pm
Mar 4, 11, 18, 25 Apr 1, 8, 15, 22 May 6, 13, 20 Jun 3
Fee: $80


Hebrew Prayer Reading and Comprehension for Adult B’nai Mitzvah Students  Gene Spiro

For those currently enrolled in the Adult B’nai Mitzvah class. Improve reading fluency of prayers and learn basic Hebrew vocabulary to facilitate prayer comprehension.

Tuesdays: 2:00pm-3:00pm
Mar 5, 12, 19, 26 Apr 2, 9, 16, 23 May 7, 14, 21, 28
Fee: $80


***Sorry, this class has been cancelled***
Basic Beginning Hebrew  
Orna Korn

Focus on comprehension of basic two-word sentences and progresses to the understanding and usage of complex sentences. Note: maximum of 12 students per class

Tuesdays am: 11:00am-12:00pm
Session 1: Mar 12, 19, 26 Apr 2, 9, 16
Session 2 Apr 30 May 7, 14, 21 Jun 4, 11
Fee: $40 per session 

OR (choose one)

Tuesdays pm: 6:00pm-7:00pm
Session 1: Mar 12, 19, 26 Apr 2, 9, 16
Session 2 Apr 30 May 7, 14, 21 Jun 4, 11
Fee: $40 per session


Advanced Beginning Hebrew  Orna Korn

This class uses the vocabulary learned in Basic Beginning Hebrew to construct short stories of four to six sentences in length.  A great variety of learning experiences are provided.
Note: maximum of 12 students per class.

Mondays: 5:30pm-7:00pm



These classes are generously sponsored by

St. John's Foundation & The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation

and are held at St. John's.


Truth, Heresy, and Blasphemy  David Orange and Rev. Darryl Powell

Spiritual “Truth” begins with a profound, personal spiritual experience. We will review the “Truth Journey” of some major world religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. In the process, we will mark those turning points where concepts of “Truth” become codified into doctrine and how these doctrines are used and misused to control others who don’t share their “Truth” experience. Throughout the course we will consider this simple question:  What is Truth?

Thursdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Feb 28 Mar 7, 14, 21, 28 Apr 4
Location: St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room
No fee. Registration required.


Illusions  David Orange

A personal examination of the illusions we create that obscure us from knowing who we are. What? That's right, this course will merge ancient and current Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist mysticism with recent discoveries in quantum physics to explore the myths and illusions that cloud our existence. The instructor will facilitate vigorous discussions as participants deal with fundamental questions on perception, intuition, separateness, aging and death. This course will appeal to those of you who are spiritually-seeking, willing to open their minds and engage their brains, and explore something that might change your life. There are no pre-requisites for this course.

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Mar 19, 26 Apr 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 May 7
Location: St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room

No fee. Registration required.


Genealogy of God  David Orange and Rev. Darryl Powell

This is a follow-on course to BuJewism 101. In it, we will move the timeline between the Babylonian exile and its effect on Judaism, and progress through history to study the various mystery, or folk Religions, of that era. We will examine the polytheism, dualism, and trinitarianism that was so widespread in these religions, and contrast them with the confluence of Judaism and the emergence of Christianity.  How did these folk religions morph into monotheism? Come study.

Thursdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Apr 18, 25 May 2, 9, 16, 23
Location: St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room
No fee. Registration required.


BuJewism 101 David Orange

The scope of this discussion-led course is to ask whether Judaism was influenced by Hinduism and/or Zoroastrianism, and was Jesus influenced by Buddhism and other religions? We will explore the formulation of these philosophies with an eye towards known historical events, and the influence of trade, commerce, and human interaction. We propose the possibility that these emerging philosophies or religions influenced each other within a relatively narrow period in human history. How did this happen? What occurred to explain this human explosion of enlightenment, philosophy, ethics, civilizations and empires?

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm
May 21, 28 Jun 4, 11, 18
Location: St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room

No fee. Registration required.


Direction for St. John’s Meadow Briarwood Activity Room:

St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room - from Elmwood Ave. - enter St. John's Meadows (1 Johnsarbor Drive West) and bear right.  Briarwood is the first entrance on the left.  Park where permitted and enter the building. Briarwood Activity Room is adjacent to the lobby on the left.




Parashat Beha'alotcha
June 22, 2019

In this Torah portion, the Israelites receive instructions regarding Passover. They journey forth from Sinai and complain to God on several occasions, provoking God’s anger. Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses.