Congregation B’nai Israel strives to ensure that Jewish learning is constantly occurring because we know, as Jews, that learning is essential to the maintenance of Jewish values, identity and continuity. Our goal is to create a community where people can share in experiences of Jewish learning and become energized by it.
We provide opportunities for individuals and families to develop a spiritual, educational and social connection to Jewish life and to the Congregation, as well as to integrate Judaism into people’s daily lives. This page begins by listing offerings by category. A monthly listing of the same courses follow. The program is still being developed, so return here once in a while to see what is coming up!
Regular Ongoing Learning
The rabbis told us to make learning a habit.
One way is to be a part of a group of learners that meets regularly!
Adult Round Table
First Thursdays every month at 12:30 p.m.
Ilene Goby facilitates a discussion about current events for anyone who wants to go beyond the headlines. Join us the first Thursday of every month, and bring a sandwich, your opinion and an open mind.
Thursday, January 23, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Join with women from across the B’nai Israel community each month for conversation, laughter and learning as we celebrate the start of each new moon and soak in the wisdom of our female ancestors. Women of all ages are welcome to participate. Our gatherings will be held at Congregation B’nai Israel from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise announced. Questions? Contact Rabbi Sarah Marion at email@example.com. Future meetings will be 2/13, 3/19, 4/16, 5/14 and 6/25.
Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. in the Natt Family Library
Rabbi Ben Bag Bag said “Turn it (the Torah) over and over, for everything is in it. Each week we read from the Torah. Each year at Simchat Torah we start over from the beginning. Each time we revisit a portion, we learn something new. Some of us have been learning together for decades. Some of us joined recently. All of us are teaching and learning from one another! Join us!
Fearless Females in the Bible! Twenty Minutes of Torah
Sunday, February 23 at 9:35 – 9:55 a.m. in the Natt Family Library
Bite-sized Torah returns this month. Join Rabbi Schultz or Rabbi Marion for a brief but meaty Jewish conversation! This year we will explore some of the women central to the TaNaKh (Hebrew Bible). Drop in! This month Rabbi Marion will help us learn about Miriam, prophet of Israel and sister of Moses and Aaron! We will also meet 3/8 and 4/5.
Midrasha is another name for a learning center and usually for adults.
The American Jewish Paradox
Monday, January 13, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the Natt Family Library
What does it mean to be Jewish in 21st century America? Join with Rabbi Schultz for a discussion on the many complexities of American Jewish identity. Who is Jewish? Do you have to believe anything to be Jewish? How do we think about complicated questions such as intermarriage and our relationship to Israel as liberal Jews? We hope you’ll join for this important and complex discussion!
Pirkei Avot: The Wisdom of the Sages
Fridays, February 7 and 14, noon – 1:00 p.m. in the Natt Family Library
Join with Rabbi Schultz for a two session course on Pirkei Avot, an important collection of rabbinic insights written in the period after the destruction of the ancient Temple in 70 CE. Many of these teachings and maxims focus on morals and ethics. All ages, abilities, and levels are welcome and encouraged to join!
Book Discussion at B’nai Israel of the Federation For Jewish Philanthropy
Community Read of kaddish.com by Nathan Englander
Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m. in the Natt Family Library
kaddish.com is a sharp, irreverent tale of a son who makes a diabolical compromise that brilliantly captures the tensions between tradition and modernity. Join us for an exploration of kaddish.com, moderated by B’nai Israel congregant and professional book-discussion leader, Kelle Ruden. This community read is part of the Federation’s community-wide program series, Judaism: A 2020 Vision – Ancient Traditions through a Contemporary Lens.
Adult Learning in the Community
While we offer many wonderful opportunities for Adult Jewish Learning at B’nai Israel, there are other places to find the class or lecture you were seeking!
The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy is partnering with all of the area congregations in creating Vision 2020, a collection of cultural events and learning opportunities. You can find all of the offerings here.
The Bennet Center
The Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University offers an array of fascinating lectures and performances that are open to the wider community. The full listing and instructions for reserving your place may be found by clicking here.
Torah Study @ 9:30 a.m.
Becoming a Soulful Jewish Parent – Zoom Class
The rabbis also told us to never stop learning. Whether you are retired or your work allows you to be free on Fridays at noon, this collection of courses may fit your needs!
How We Prepare for the High Holy Days
Fridays, September 6, 13, 20 at Noon in the Natt Family Library
Get an inside look at how each of us personally prepare for the upcoming New Year!
Rabbi Schultz – September 6
Rabbi Marion – September 13
Ira Wise – September 20
The Insecurity of Freedom
Fridays, October 11, 18 and 25 at noon in the Natt Family Library
We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That is a big part of way many of our ancestors (or we ourselves) came here from somewhere else. We celebrate that freedom in many ways – by voting, running for office, speaking out for ideals we believe in and against things we find abhorrent. In 1954 Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote an essay in which he cautioned the Jewish people about freedom. He suggested it was a blade that cuts in more than one direction and that we would have to work hard to maintain our unique identity and connection to our heritage and to God. Join Ira Wise in examining where we are with that. What are the challenges to being Jewish today and what should we do to ensure that we thrive in the future?
A Perspective on the Jewish Voice
Fridays, Noon – 1:00 p.m., November 1, 8, 15 and 22
in the Natt Family Library
Join with Rabbi Schultz for a fascinating look into the Rabbinic perspective on the Jewish voice. What is the implication of making a vow or an oath? When is it OK to gossip about another person? When are we supposed to speak up and when should we stay quiet? Why do Jews love kibbitzing so much? (Not sure we’ll answer that one…) All ages and learning backgrounds encouraged to join!
Midrasha is another name for a learning center and usually for adults. Watch this space for additional offerings.
The Poetry of Yehudah Amichai
Mondays, November 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Widely beloved as Israel’s greatest contemporary poet, Yehuda Amichai touches the soul through his evocative yet universally resonant musings that drift from the sacred to the mundane and everywhere in between. From war to love, from his parents to his children, from loving the Jews and despairing for the Jews, from shopping for groceries in Jerusalem to the politics of Jerusalem, from sex to God and then back again – Amichai’s poetry will take you on a journey that is as distant as it is personal. Join with Rabbi Marion for this four part series as we take a deep dive into the English translations of a selection of Amichai’s greatest writings – discovering, as we go, own stories and our own journeys carefully positioned between the lines.
Some of these offerings are series, others are one-time events. All can be fascinating.
Becoming a Soulful Jewish Parent – Zoom Class
A Weeknight TBD after bedtime Advance sign-up required, see below
Join with Rabbi Schultz and Rabbi Marion for this six-part course designed to give parents an opportunity to pause and reflect on the busyness of family life through a Jewish lens. The course will be taught online over Zoom, so you can put your kids to bed and take the class on your couch (no babysitter required). The class is limited to 8 sets of parents with kids living in the house (For two-parent households the course is designed for you to both participate) and we ask you commit as best you can to all six sessions. We will determine a schedule once everyone signs up. To sign up, please email Rabbi Schultz, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slichot 5779 With Special Guest Adam Greenberg
Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.
At Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Bridgeport
The combined communal beginning to the High Holy Day season kicks off with Havdalah, followed by Guest Speaker Adam Greenberg. Adam was an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball in 2005 and was best known for being hit in the head in his major league debut on the first pitch of his first plate appearance. He has since become a powerful speaker on perseverance and new beginnings. Followed by refreshments and Slichot Services.
Yom Kippur Study Session: May God Bless You and Keep You
Wednesday, October 9 at 1:00 p.m. in the Natt Family Library
Each Yom Kippur we gather to pray, repent and check in with one another. Some of us prefer to spend an hour learning together during the Children’s service rather than leaving the temple. This year we will explore some ideas about God and about ourselves. There is no need to specifically believe in God to join our conversation. Believing in yourself is a very good beginning though. Join Ira Wise as we learn together.
Adult Sukkot Program
Sunday, October 13 at 7:15 p.m. in the Natt Family Library
Join with the Executive Director of Operation Hope, Carla Miklos, to learn about the four decades of their work. Carla will discuss how their work has shifted through the decades and how they are responding to the new challenges of supporting the homeless and the hungry in our area.
Scholars/Musicians in Residence: Or and Feliza Zohar
Wednesday, November 13 Noon and 7:00 p.m.
Many of you enjoyed the visit last year from Rabbi Or and Feliza Zohar. They are returning from Israel to Bridgeport November 13-14 as our scholars and musicians in residence. On Wednesday they will run two adult programs:
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Current Israeli Issues from the Perspective of an Israeli Reform Rabbi
(With Rabbi Or Zohar)
Library concert with Or and Feliza Zohar (Natt Family Library)
December 11-15 in Chicago, IL
Join with Rabbi Schultz, Rabbi Marion, and thousands of Reform Jews from across the country for four days in the heart of Chicago! Biennial is a wonderful opportunity to learn, pray, connect, and experience some of the best aspects of our Movement. To learn more, check
We also like to come together as a community to worship, share a Shabbat dinner and learn together.
Save the Date!
Installation of Evan Schultz
as Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel.
Friday, November 15
6:00 p.m. service with dinner and lecture to follow. Special guest speaker, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman. Details to follow here, in the November bulletin and Hashavua.
3 Adult Round Table at 12:30 p.m.
9 Yom Kippur Study Session: May God Bless You and Keep You, 1:00 p.m.
11 The Insecurity of Freedom at noon, also October 18 and 25
13 Twenty Minutes of Torah – Eve/Lilith
Adult Sukkot Program – Carla Miklos
24 Rosh Chodesh at 7:00 p.m.
1 A Perspective on the Jewish Voice at noon, also November 8, 15 and 22
4 The Poetry of Yehudah Amichai at 7:00 p.m., also November 11, 18 and 25
7 Adult Round Table at 12:30 p.m.
13 Scholars/Musicians in Residence: Or and Feliza Zohar
14 Rosh Chodesh at 7:00 p.m.
15 Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman at the Installation of Rabbi Evan Schultz
24 Twenty Minutes of Torah – Sarah