ADULT EDUCATION

We teach a number of different adult education classes every week. Please browse our calendar to book your place for a single class or scroll down to book a full course.

You can also find out more about our past courses.

Wednesdays: JLI Adult Education Course

Beyond Right: The Values that Shape Judaism's Civil Code

18 May - 22 June 2022

6 Wednesday evenings, 19:30-21:00

Location: Community Centre, 1-3 Elliott's Place / Zoom

Price: £60 / £45 Supporters Club members

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Course Overview

Talmudic analysis and mind-bending logic have long been a hallmark of Jewish scholarship. But buried beneath much of the discussion and legalese are core Jewish values that fuel so much of the debate. This course examines a number of key legal issues that disclose fundamental ethical considerations that serve as the engine of Jewish civil law.

Lesson Details 

Lesson 1 Beyond Good Neighbours

Most laws are designed to protect the rights of people and their property. But Judaism’s civil code is driven by a different goal. Explore how laws of damages and disputes support a uniquely Jewish view of the human mission.

 

Lesson 2 Beyond Restitution

In seeking to restore the rights of plaintiffs, Jewish courts actively assist offenders in achieving full repentance too. Why? Discover the advantage of properly undoing damage over mere compensation.

Lesson 3 Beyond Taking Offense

You may feel a moral urge to speak up against an offensive action. But might you have a legal responsibility to deter someone from certain behaviors? Judaism says: Yes. In this lesson, we discuss why and when.

Lesson 4 Beyond Personal Freedom

With 613 commandments in the Torah and myriad rules expounded in the Talmud, can Judaism ever be called “liberating”? Let’s delve into the Exodus, the covenant, and the ways in which laws can lead to the purest human freedom.

Lesson 5 Beyond Lawful Ownership

Is the claim of ownership anything more than a subjective social agreement? A foundation of Chassidic thought is that material possessions contain spiritual energy that is specific to their owners. Let’s consider the owner’s rights and responsibilities through this lens.

Lesson 6 Beyond Presumption of Innocence

While a presumption of innocence can protect defendants from liability, it is not quite a declaration of uprightness. Jewish law goes so far as to presume every person’s core goodness. See how this view can lead us to a truly upright world.

 

Fridays: Great Debates in Jewish History

 

6 Fridays from 29 April 2022

Time: 9:00-10:00

Location: Zoom / in person at our Community Centre, 1-3 Elliott's Place

Price: free

Course Overview

Debate is not only encouraged within Judaism but resides at the very heart of our history and theology. Great Debates in Jewish History explores six fundamental conflicts that pitted the greatest Jewish minds against each other—six instances of divergent perspectives, including several that are still debated today.

Discover stirring and surprising accounts that span two millennia of Jewish disputation, reflecting the panorama of Jewish history and its monumental political, ethical, and spiritual challenges. Encounter the gripping narratives of six fascinating eras, the intellectual tension and points of view they unearth, and the light they shed on the most fundamental of Jewish beliefs.

Course Details

Lesson 1 Dead Sea Scrolls - Dead Sea Sect vs Rabbinic Interpretation

Unlock the secret of the Dead Sea Scrolls by contrasting their writings with Talmudic texts, and unearth a fundamental debate about rabbinic authority and interpretation. What led the Dead Sea Sect to break away from the Temple and the Jewish establishment? What were their theological views? And why were they so opposed to the Pharisaic approach?

 

Lesson 2 Suicide at Masada - Militant Nationalism vs Religious Institutionalism

Glimpse into the minds of those who took their lives at Masada in 73 CE. Discover a view of Judaism that believes it cannot survive without autonomy in Israel and prefers to die rather than live under a foreign nation’s rule. What role does nationalism play in Judaism? What is the Jewish perspective on taking up arms when defeat is inevitable?

 

Lesson 3 The Maimonidean Controversy - Faith vs Reason

In the 13th century, Maimonides’s major philosophical work, the Guide for the Perplexed, was banned and even burned. Condemnation of his writings divided the Jewish world: Is rationalism an acceptable approach to Divine worship? What role does reason play in Judaism? And how do we resolve the conflict between faith and reason?

 

Lesson 4 Renewal of The Sanhedrin - Active Messianism vs Passive Messianism

In the wake of Spanish expulsion came a proposal to reinstate the Sanhedrin, in an effort to herald the messianic era. The idea catapulted the Jewish world into a frenzy: some with jubilation, others with uproar and outrage. Can we force the Divine hand to hasten the redemption? Should we? And what about recent attempts at renewing the Sanhedrin?

 

Lesson 5 Chasidism - Divine Transcendence vs Divine Immanence

In the 1700s, the Ba’al Shem Tov introduced a focus on joy, prayer, and the simple Jew’s relationship with G-d. But this endeavor was met with resistance. What motivated Chasidism’s opponents? What issues lay at the heart of the debate? And what historic tensions set the stage for this upheaval that divided families and communities?

 

Lesson 6 Separation of Church and State - Religion in Public vs Religion as a Private Affair

A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, permitting public menorah displays, deeply divided the Jewish world. Is religion designed to be a personal and private affair, or one to be paraded in the public domain? What presents a greater challenge to Judaism: the supremacy of a conflicting religion, or the predominance of irreligiosity? Where does Judaism stand on the separation of church and state?

Wednesdays: Read It In Hebrew

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Next course: 5 Tuesdays from 31 May 2022, 12:15-13:00

£30 (textbook included)

Location: Zoom / in-person at Elliott's Place

Read It In Hebrew is a cutting-edge five-week Hebrew reading crash course.

 

In your spare time you will be able to practice with a specially-designed app.

Past Courses

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