We are a community of lifelong learners, who believe that learning is not just a kids’ endeavor. At Beth El, we offer a variety of learning opportunities that span an array of interests, formats and locations. Learning opportunities for adults have included everything from ongoing Hebrew classes to single-topic discussions on American Foreign Policy. Beth El also holds outreach events a few times each year in Williamstown, MA, Wilmington, VT, or Cambridge, NY where learning topics have included Women of the Wall, Judaism and Human Rights and the Religious/Secular Divide in Israel.
Below are some of the adult learning opportunities of recent times. This list is merely a sampling; topics, locations, formats vary from year to year. The best way to stay informed about upcoming learning opportunities at Beth El is to sign up to receive our weekly e-newsletter Community Connection.
Some of our past programs:
Please let us know if you would like more adult programs like this. Suggestions welcomed!
Jewish Cultural Imagery:
An Archaeological Adventure
In this workshop led by Rabbi Jarah Greenfield, participants become archaeologists in ancient Israel and the Diaspora in search of historic artifacts belonging to Jewish history. Looking at examples from archaeology, they learn about a variety of Jewish cultural images and symbols as well as their historical contexts and meanings, including the Seven Species, Menorah, Lion of Judah, Star of David, Hamsa, and others. Inspired by archaeology, each participant creates a Byzantine-style mosaic depicting a Jewish symbol.
The Gift of a Name - Family Education Program
What's inside your child's name? How did you choose it? What does it mean? In this family workshop, we'll discover the stories behind the children's names (in English and Hebrew, as applicable*) and explore the importance of being a "mensch" -- a good person. Parents and children will work together to create a beautiful, original piece of name-inspired jewelry, made out of precious metal clay.
In preparation for this program, have a conversation with your child about his/her name. What do you want your child to know about the name you gave her/him?
*Curious about the custom of giving children Hebrew names? We'll learn all about it, but having a Hebrew name is not required to participate.
RSVP is strongly recommended for this program, as supplies are limited. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your spot. This event is free. Donations to Congregation Beth El are most welcome and gratefully accepted.
Judaism and Social Justice
Awakening the Jewish Environmental Conscience
As witnesses to an international environmental awakening, people around the world are beginning to understand more profoundly that we cannot exempt ourselves from the responsibility to care for our natural resources. How does our Jewish moral tradition help us respond to the startling realization we now face concerning the health and sustainability of the Earth?
“Gather, Nourish, Grow” - Jewish Responses to Hunger
How do texts from our Jewish tradition speak to contemporary concerns about hunger in our midst? We will study Jewish ethics on the issue of hunger, hear from native experts working on food insecurity, nutrition, and then choose a volunteer experience at on of our project sites where you'll take action to support solutions to local hunger in our area. Organized in partnership with Coalition for the Homeless, Clear Brook Farm, True Love Farm and the Bennington Interfaith Council.
Can you at least read Hebrew phonetically? Do you want to develop a better understanding of Torah text? If so, join us for weekly reading and study of Biblical Hebrew. Please RSVP to the CBE office - , and we will include you on the mailing list for this ongoing group. The Biblical Hebrew study group meets in the Social Hall at 6:00 PM most Tuesdays. Check with the office before you come – 442-9645.
The Biblical Hebrew class, which has met for many years, is an intermediate-level class for those with previous experience in the study of Hebrew. Once a week, we gather to study the weekly Torah portion, doing close readings in Hebrew and focusing on translation and grammatical nuance.
Introduction to Judaism
This multi-week class exposes participants to the breadth and depth of Judaism, engaging core ideas, debates and concerns of the Jewish people. Participants will gain knowledge and skills that will help them participate in Jewish life and build a personal Jewish practice if they choose. The class is geared toward those without prior Jewish learning, whether Jewish, non-Jewish, or considering conversion to Judaism.
Jewish Views on Death and Afterlife
As part of an Interfaith Speakers Series at Bennington College on "The Death Question: An Exploration Of The End," learn about Jewish perspectives on the meaning of death, the nature of the afterlife and what significance they have during the span of a person’s lifetime.
The Jewish Lifecycle
Each session of this multi-session class explores Jewish lifecycle milestones and the rituals, customs and meanings ascribed to them by Jewish tradition, including birth, bar/bat mitzvah, conversion, marriage, aging and death.
Jewish Genealogy Workshop
Over the course of two sessions, learn with one of our Board Members about beginning the process of researching family history and hear some of the exciting discoveries of her 12 years of genealogical research. In the first session, participants will receive information, tools and tips for doing their own research online. The second gathering will be a working session, offering participants guidance and troubleshooting as they begin their own family research. Additional sessions may be scheduled depending on participants’ needs.