Adult Education 2019–20

Adult Education 2019–2020

Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team has lined up an exciting fall and winter lecture series Alternative Realities in Judaism that draws almost exclusively on experts from within our own congregation or from the Victoria community. The topics will range from magic to shamanism, from art and theatre to philosophy, and from Kafka to Jewish Ḥasidic Renewal. We invite you to peruse our program of classes, lectures and discussion groups for the upcoming year.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Classes

Introduction to Chanting Torah 2020

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Have you ever thought of learning to chant from the Torah? Perhaps you have a family event, or the anniversary of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah approaching? Or, you know how to read from the siddur and follow the prayers on Shabbat, but want to deepen your Jewish practice? If so, this course may be for you!
This beginner course unlocks many of the mysteries surrounding chanting or leyning Torah. It presents both the theoretical foundation plus practical hands-on sessions designed to learn the musical notes (“trop”) essential to singing from our holy book. The course is designed for beginners – or those who’d like a refresher – and who have a basic level of fluency in reading Hebrew and musicality.

Dates: Tuesdays January 7 – May 19, 2020
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Sessions: 15
Location: Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria
Cost: $118 synagogue members; $149 non-members
Prerequisite: Hebrew Literacy 1 and 2, or equivalent
Resource (extra): KINNOR Trope Trainer
Teacher: Aaron Severs
For questions or more information: please email Aaron, or phone him at 250-475-0686.

Modern Hebrew

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Instructor Betsi Boeno covers written and spoken modern Hebrew, with an emphasis on basic Hebrew conversation skills. Betsi is fluent in modern Hebrew and experienced in teaching Hebrew to newcomers in Israel.
Weekly at Congregation Emanu-El on Mondays from 1 to 3 pm:
  • Fall session*: October 28 – December 16, 2019 (8 classes) Fee: $100 (members) / $145 (non-members)
  • Winter session*: January 6 – March 16, 2020 (10 classes) Fee: $120 (members) / 180 (non-members)
  • Pre-register through the office (250-382-0615).
  • There is no class on February 17, 2020 (Family Day)


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Morashah — an in-depth study of Judaism
Participants must have completed the prerequisite class, Judaism – An Introduction. Candidates wishing admission to the Morashah class must meet with Rabbi Brechner to obtain approval for entry into the class. The classes are weekly, at Congregation Emanu-El on Thursdays, 7:00 – 8:30, for nine months starting October 31, 2019.
For further information, please contact Chanah for further information.  

Judaism – An Introduction

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Join Rabbi Harry Brechner from Congregation Emanu-El for this informative 8-week course, which introduces Jewish beliefs, practice and history.
The course reflects egalitarian Conservative Judaism: the topics include holidays, life cycle celebrations, theology and core beliefs, prayer, Jewish sacred texts, history, the Holocaust, and Israel. This course is open to anyone wishing to explore the many facets of Judaism.

NOTE: This class has been completed, and will not be offered again until late 2020 at the earliest.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Lecture Series
All lectures are held at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue. Participation: By donation

Alternative Realities in Judaism Series

  • Sunday, Oct 27, 2019, 4 pm: Magic and the Rabbinate

    Rabbi Harry explores using amulets and healing rituals in the context of liberal and rational Judaism.
  • Saturday, Nov 23, 2019, 7 pm: Creative Midrash

    Join Rabbi Harry and friends in an interactive evening using art and drama to expand on sacred Torah narratives in a search for deeper meaning and insights.
  • Sunday, Jan 5, 2020, 4 pm: Kafka and Secular Jewish Mysticism

    Lee Henderson will take a look at the life and work of the great 20th century Jewish writer Franz Kafka and his relationship to Tanakh, the tales of Rabbi Nachman, the Midrash, Kaballah, contemporary secular political ideologies.
  • Sunday, Feb 2, 2020, 4 pm: Jewish Shamanism

    Francis Landy will discuss aspects of shamanism, a term for a cross-cultural religious orientation which seeks to access alternative states of consciousness, in Judaism from the prophets through medieval and post-medieval Kabbalah to the present day.
  • Sunday, Feb. 23*, 2020, 4 pm: Hit'ḥadshut Hayahadut: Renewing Jewish Spirituality after the Holocaust

    Rabbi Daniel Siegel will guide us as we look at ways to renew our Judaism with a particular emphasis on Ḥasidism and neo-Ḥasidism.

    * Orig. posted date was Feb. 9. This has now changed.

Identity and Memory: A Multi-Media Workshop

Sunday, March 15, 2020 4 pm

Starting with her family stories from Romania, this workshop—conducted by Julia Herzog—is predicated on the idea that collaborative sharing in a facilitated setting can be healing and illuminating.

Aviva Zornberg

Sunday, May 3, 2020, 7 pm

Israel’s renowned Torah scholar, Aviva Zornberg, will be here as part of her annual North American tour.

The Latest on Israel Today

Francis Landy will speak about a May 2019 study tour in Israel organized by the New Israel Fund, which gives grants to about 70 Israeli human rights and civil society organizations.

Enter the name for this tabbed section: Discussion Groups

Mystic Moka

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Join Rabbi Harry Brechner and an eclectic crew of seekers and learners energized by really great caffeinated beverages as they delve into Kabbalistic and Ḥasidic texts in a quest for insight and understanding into self and our relationship with Divine Source.
Weekly at Discovery Cafe , 664 Discovery Street on Fridays, 12:30 – 1:30 pm beginning October 25.
Please check weekly newsletter for class confirmation.
Note: Winter Session will start on January 10, 2020
Participation: by donation

Brown Bag Beit Midrash

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Join Rabbi Harry for a lunch hour opportunity to delve into the world of Talmudic sages and explore foundational Jewish text in a supportive, intellectually honest and spiritual environment.
To launch our exploration of Jewish ethical thought, we will study the Mishnaic tractate Berakhot, which focuses primarily on three liturgical categories:
(1) the Shema;
(2) the Tefillah;
(3) Miscellaneous blessings to be recited on specified occasions, especially on the enjoyment of food and other physical pleasures.
Guided by Rabbi Harry, we will develop an understanding of Talmudic logic, and an appreciation for how Talmudic thought has guided Jews up to the present day in putting Torah into practice. While knowledge of Hebrew and Hebrew texts is not essential and drop-in learners are always welcome, we recommend that participants attend regularly ,so that they can cultivate an appreciation for the subject.
The Mishnah tractate Berakhot can be accessed at Sefaria
Weekly at Congregation Emanu-El on Tuesdays, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, for 8 weeks beginning October 29.
Note: Winter Session will start on January 14, 2020

Ḥug Ivrit

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“Conversational Hebrew with native Hebrew speaker Dahlia Beck”

If your Hebrew is well beyond the beginner level, but you require more practice speaking to improve your listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills—Ḥug Ivrit may be for you. We meet with native speaker Dahlia Beck at her home and, under her careful guidance, immerse ourselves in Hebrew conversation and culture.

Dates: Every second week at Dahlia’s home on Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 pm beginning October 29, 2019. This will be alternating with Francis Landy’s Shiur.
Participation: by donation. For more information email Dahlia.
Note: Winter Session will start on January 14, 2020

Shiur al parashat hashavua; Shiur Tanakh: Book of Job

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This discussion group will complete a full cycle of shiurim (lessons) about parashat hashavua on October 15, 2019.
Following that session, they will shift to a fortnightly shiur on the Book of Job, which contains some of the greatest poetry in the Tanakh, and asks the most profound questions about the meaning of existence.
We will read approximately two or three chapters each class, pointing out ambiguities, wordplays, allusions, and the twists and turns of the argument.
Dates: Every second week at Francis Landy’s on Tuesdays, 7 – 8:30 pm starting October 22, 2019 followed by Wednesday, November 6* (so as not to clash with VJIFF), November 19 and Tuesday, Dec.17. This will be alternating with Dahlia Beck’s Ḥug Ivrit.
Participation: by donation.
Note: Preregister for this program by emailing Francis

* Revised from previous date of Thursday, November 7—due to clash with Kristallnacht.
Note: Winter Session will start on January 7, 2020

Play Club

Art, like the Torah, is meant to be interpreted. Come use your interpretive skills in conversation about plays and their meaning. Instead of asking whether we like or dislike a play, we will investigate how meaning is constructed, and ask questions about the play’s intentions and resonance.

Facilitated by Rachel Ditor, there will be a preliminary meeting on Monday, October 28, 7–8:30 pm at the synagogue to go over scheduling, tickets, and the approach we’ll take in conversation.
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Plays and Discussion Dates:
  • Bang Bang by Kat Sandler, The Belfry Theatre, October 29—November 24, 2019
  • Fado by Elaine Avila, Puente Theatre at The Metro, November 14—16
Group discussion about both plays: Monday, November 18, 7—9 pm

  • Oh My God by Anat Gov, Bema Production/Congregation Emanu-El, opens January 16, 2020
  • Revisor by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young, Kidd Pivot/Royal Theatre, February 7 & 8 at 7:30 pm
Group discussion about both plays: Monday, February 10 , 7—9 pm

Preregister for this program by emailing Rachel Ditor.