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Adult Learning

Judaism and Violence

The relationship between religion and violence is a difficult subject, but exploring it leads to insights about what religion is and how it has changed over time. Ancient Israel engaged in a great deal of violence against its neighbors. By the Middle Ages though, Jews were exploring the meaning of martyrdom. We will discuss whether martyrdom is also a form of violence. The course concludes by discussing whether some of modern Israel’s actions constitute Jewish violence. When does Judaism, or any other religion, condone violence?

This class was taught by Robert Morrison, a Bet Ha’am member since 2010, and George Lincoln Skolfield Jr. Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College. A specialist in Islam, Robert also teaches courses on Judaism and on theoretical approaches to religion. His current project is a study of Jewish scholarly intermediaries between the Ottoman Empire and the Vèneto during the Renaissance.

Torah Study

Join us each Saturday morning at 9:00 AM on Zoom to study the weekly Torah portion. Led by Rabbi Saks, this lively group engages in conversation that help us understand the relevance of the ancient words and stories in our 21st century lives. In 5781, we are using The Mussar Torah Commentary to guide our study. You may buy a copy here or here (be sure to choose Bet Ha’am’s Smile account) or from your local book seller. Scholarships are available–please email Karen Hindall in the office. You should also feel free to join Torah Study if you don’t have a copy–we’ll be reading passages aloud. Everyone is welcome.

Online Learning

In addition to in-person classes offered at Congregation Bet Ha’am, we are also pleased to recommend online learning opportunities from Rabbi Saks’s colleague and friend Rabbi Neal Gold.

Scholar-In-Residence Program

Bet Ha’am is fortunate to enjoy an annual weekend of study with a visiting scholar, made possible through the generosity of the Rosalyne S. and Sumner T. Bernstein Memorial Scholar-In-Residence Fund.

Last year, we welcomed Marc Dollinger, PhD, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair of Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University and author of Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s. He explored social and racial justice with us.

Past scholars have included Dr. Nehemia Polen, Dr. Mark Washofsky, Rachael Freed, Rabbi Wayne Dosick, Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy, Rabbi Robert M. Seltzer, Rabbi William Cutler, Rabbi Wendy I. Zierler, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Rabbi Arthur Green, and Rabbi Abi Taylor-Abt.