Jewish texts deal with significant questions about the meaning of life, from the theological and the philosophical to the legal and practical, guiding not just how we look at the world, but how we live in the world. Classes are offered most days of the week, many taught by Rabbi Cohen, several others led by community members. All classes at CBI, unless otherwise noted.
Key Books in Tanach: Book of Samuel: Following the chaotic period of the Judges, the Book of Samuel narrates the centralization of leadership in Israel. The book opens with the birth of the prophet Samuel, who unifies the nation, and crowns the first kings of Israel. The Book of Samuel presents a gripping exploration of political personalities, palace intrigue and the role of God in the lives of kings and nations.
Maharat Victoria Sutton is the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Congregation Beth Israel, Berkeley. She received ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and graduated from Barnard College, with a BA in Biological Sciences.
M. Victoria Sutton — Mondays @ 12:00 pm.
NCSY LNL – Latte & Learning (for teens in grades 9 to 12): Our Special Blend: Coffee & Torah every week. In addition to coffee, NCSY’s Latte & Learning initiative serves up Judaism in a relaxed, inspirational, and fun environment. L&L is the place for teens to ask questions, voice their feelings, and connect with each other.
Mondays at 7:30-8:30 pm, @ Starbucks 2128 Oxford
Embodied Chassidis ‐ A Men’s Dance Group: Come join us as we embody chassidis through learning, song and dance. We will begin by learning a piece of chassidis from Rebbe Nachman that relates to movement. We will then put on music and dance! The hope is to draw a relationship between what we learn with our minds and what we do with our bodies. Come explore how to turn our bodies into vessels of joy and break the boundaries in our relationship with G‐d.
Facilitated by Aryeh Canter. Reach out to him if you have a song to request! This event is for men only. Light refreshments provided.
Aryeh Canter —Monday, March 16 @ 7:30 pm‐9:00 pm
Inner Light, Sacred Fire: Embracing the Whole Self in Hasidic Mysticism: This class explores Hasidic teachings on the emotional life and the importance of cultivating aspects of the self beyond the intellect. The first session will be devoted to Hasidic teachings on the importance of joy as a first-order religious value, understood in these sources not as a simplistic commitment to happiness but rather as a contemplative, mindful approach to life in the world. Our second class will take up the theme of tikkun ha-middot, on the process of uplifting and transforming one’s inner spiritual qualities as the key to religious transformation. The third and final session will explore emotion in the teachings of Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, the Esh Kodesh, including: his pre-war spiritual diary, his handbook for a mystical fellowship, his guidelines for emotional work, and, of course, in impassioned wartime sermons.
Ariel Evan Mayse joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, after previously serving as the Director of Jewish Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, and a research fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Michigan. He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from from Harvard University and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har’el in Israel.
Ariel Mayse – Tuesdays February 11, 18, 25 @ 7:30 pm
Vices & Virtues: Mussar is a spiritual Jewish practice focused on virtue-based ethics. Through the cultivation of inner virtues, such as patience, gratitude, and reverence, we improve ourselves. Our sessions will explore various vices and virtues as presented by classical books of Mussar.
R. Yonatan Cohen — Wednesdays @ 12:00 pm
Join in ongoing learning organized around a particular Mussar-related work, from classical to modern.The evening of learning, over hearty soup & bread, will close with an opportunity for participants to share from their learning. Please be in touch with M. Sutton if you have something in mind to learn and would like a hevruta, or for suggestions on what to learn. We have a variety of classical and modern Mussar-related sefarim available.
Two chaburot on contemporary approaches already getting started based on participants’ interests, open to all:
*The thought of Yemima with Naama Sadan: Yemima Avital (1929-1999) was a descendant of a kabbalist dynasty, a psychologist and a Hassidic healer. Her teachings are learned by thousands of Israelis who wish to bring more balance and depth to their life. In this workshop, we will learn the introduction to her teachings and will practice one of her writing exercises (offered in English).
*Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar: Mussar is an illuminating, approachable, and highly practical set of teachings for cultivating personal growth and spiritual realization in the midst of day-to-day life. This book by Alan Morinis offers an accessible and inspiring introduction to this Jewish spiritual path.
Note: A daytime session on the thought of Yemima will be offered on Thursdays beginning in December.
Bimonthly, Wednesday Nights at 7:30 pm, March 4, March 18, April 1, April 22, May 6, May 20
Nine Talmudic Readings by Emmanuel Levinas: Nine readings of the Talmud by the French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas translate Jewish thought into the language of modern times. Here Levinas applies a hermeneutic that simultaneously allows the classic Jewish texts to shed light on contemporary problems and lets modern problems illuminate the texts. Besides being quintessential illustrations of the art of reading, the essays express the deeply ethical vision of the human condition that makes Levinas one of the most important thinkers of our time.
Muni Schweig — Wednesdays @ 8:00 pm @ the Schweig home
Hashiva Hakaratit: As part of the Mussar Shmooze, come and join us in learning what has been termed as the contemporary-Hasidic-female movement! “Hashiva Hakaratit” or the Yemima method is an Israeli spiritual movement that has been growing over the last thirty years, originally taught by Yemima Avital (1929-1999) in Herzelia in the 80’s and 90’s. Her system teaches us how to be connected more to our true essence (“mahut“) and be closer and accepting of ourselves and others. If you really want to learn but can’t in the mornings, there is also a night class offered by Naama Sadan on Wednesdays when Mussar Shmooze meets!
Class is taught in English. Both men and women are welcome; you can always join, even if you missed previous classes.
Rachel Perl — Thursdays, 10-11:30 am. Meets weekly through April 2.
Talmudic Wisdom: Join us for a weekly class on Tractate Chagigah that explores major Jewish questions of practice and thought. We are currently in the midst of the second chapter of the tractate.
R. Yonatan Cohen • Fridays @ 9:00 am