Cerebral Celebration

(left to right) Rabbi Schwartz, Rabbi Fink, and Rabbi Landau (Photo by David Stuck)

(left to right) Rabbi Schwartz, Rabbi Fink, and Rabbi Landau (Photo by David Stuck)

Some 400 people are expected to turn out for four weeks of Jewish learning, packed with courses taught by Baltimore rabbis from all denominations.

The 65th Annual Adult Institute of Jewish Studies, organized by the Baltimore Board of Rabbis, begins Oct. 1 and will run every Tuesday through Oct. 22 at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (7401 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore).

In its heyday, according to Beth El’s Rabbi Steven Schwartz, as many as 1,200 people would attend classes. This year, he said, the rabbis expect about 400 people to take part. He said the audience skews older people — mostly over the age of 60 — but the conversation is vibrant.

Rabbi Schwartz has been teaching for the Adult Institute for 15 years. This year, he will examine whether the land of Israel has any intrinsic, sacred qualities.

The Adult Institute, he said, “is a terrific view of Jewish Baltimore.”

Board of Rabbis President Rabbi Chaim Landau seconded that notion. He said it is a rare event in American Jewish society where rabbis representing the full spectrum of the Baltimore rabbinate come together for a common purpose of teaching.

The keynote session is a panel discussion between Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Rabbi Floyd Herman, Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen and Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro on the topic of Tikkun Olam 2013: The Jewish Community as Catalyst to Social Change. Rabbi Landau will moderate it.

“The goal of the panel discussion is to air how Judaism, seen from the viewpoint of different-thinking minds and strands of the Baltimore rabbinate, responds to a very pertinent and topical concern and to allow the audience to see and hear that the Torah speaks in many languages through many prisms of interpretation and thought,” explained Rabbi Landau.

Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, immediate past president of the board, said the discussion is both “interesting and important,” because “from a Jewish perspective, [social change] is fulfilling a mandate as we understand [what] God wishes the world to be and [what] God wishes Israel as a people to be in the world.”

Rabbi Scheinerman will be teaching a course on Jewish perspectives on gender and sexuality. Like Rabbi Schwartz, she returns each year to teach.

“The rabbis who teach are doing it because they want to,” she said. “They love teaching. [The people who attend] will have a wonderful time — both learning and interacting with the rabbis and with each other.”

Cost for the four-week series is $30 per adult, $12 per student. To register, visit baltimorerabbis.org.

Five Reasons to Attend the Adult Institute

» If you love learning
» If you find a topic that intrigues you
» If there is a particular rabbi you enjoy learning with
» If there is a rabbi you have not learned with but would like to
» If you are looking for a nice social venue

Source:
Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

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