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Temple Israel & JCC

Temple Israel & JCC

Two Congregations, One Community

Temple Israel & JCC

Adult Education

The Torah, Temple Beth El, Santa Cruz, CA

One of the cornerstones of the Temple Israel Community is a passion for education and life-long learning. Whether it is holiday programming for preschoolers, teens preparing for b’nai mitzvah or adults studying the contours of Jewish life past and present, young and old are able to enrich their Jewish experience through formal and informal avenues of Jewish literacy.

The Adult Education Committee works to create a dynamic program — one in keeping with our synagogue’s mission to provide educational opportunities that enhance knowledge of the Jewish People, Jewish traditions, customs and culture, as well as the wider contemporary Jewish world in ways interesting, enriching and meaningful.

Classes, lectures, discussions and other educational events, such as book signings, and film screenings, are taught and led by our professional staff. Among the most popular programs in recent years has been the Monday evening Lecture Series with Rabbi David J. Fine, PhD. With a doctorate in modern European history from City University of New York (CUNY), Rabbi Fine brings university-level depth to his engaging lectures in Jewish history. Lectures run an hour-and-a-half on Monday evenings throughout the academic year.

Rabbi Leiah Moser will be team-teaching with Rabbi Fine as well, with a look at Jewish history.

Spring 2022 Join Rabbi Fine for a journey through history as we trace the evolution of anti-Jewish hatreds from ancient temple times through to our own day. Attend any or all of these fourteen talks, in person at  Israel or on Zoom. All dates are Monday evenings at 8pm. 

Dr Rabbi David Fine Class Schedule

  1. December 6, 2021: Introduction: How Do We Define  Antisemitism? 
  2. December 13, 2021: Pharoah, Haman and Other Biblical  Adversaries 
  3. December 20, 2021: Judea against Greece and Rome 

  1. January 3, 2022: Anti-Judaism in the Christian Bible:  History and Legacy 
  2. January 24, 2022: Church Fathers Against the Jews 6. January 31, 2022: The Jewish Minority in Islam 
  3. February 7, 2022: The Jewish Minority in Medieval  Christendom 
  4. March 14, 2022: The Jew in Medieval Christian Art 9. March 28, 2022: The Catastrophe in Christian Spain 

  1. April 4, 2022: Luther On the Jews and Early Modern  Europe 
  2. April 11, 2022: Antisemitism Comes of Age in the  Industrial Age 
  3. April 25, 2022: The Legacy of the Holocaust 13. May 2, 2022: Zionism and Israel 
  4. May 23, 2022: Antisemitism in America



Rabbi Moser also teaches a weekly Mystical Parashat Ha’Shavua on Thursday afternoons, using texts from the Zohar to look at weekly Torah portions; a bi-weekly “The David Story” reading group, and other classes.

In the past several years, with Rabbi Fine we’ve studied:

  • German Jewish history, followed by a congregational tour of Germany
  • History of the State of Israel, followed by a congregational trip to Israel
  • History of Christianity and the Interrelationship of Christian and Jewish faiths
  • History of Jewish Life in Muslim Lands
  • The History of American Judaism. You can view past sessions here: YouTube
  • The History of AntiSemitism, anti-semitism, Anti-Semitism, antisemitism. That’s right, Google!

This lively, seminar-style informal text study draws an eclectic student mix — inter-generational and of varying backgrounds in formal Jewish education. Rabbi Fine generally ends class on a cliff-hanger, inspiring everyone to come back for more. Check the Temple calendar for changes and cancellations to the weekly schedule.

 We also learn from expert guest speakers and scholars, some of whom are drawn from the ranks of the congregation. Past appearances by outside scholars and speakers have included Scholars-in-Residence Dr. Benjamin Gampel, Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History at Jewish Theological Seminary; Dr. Seth Schwartz, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization at Columbia University; Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at Jewish Theological Seminary; and David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

Three endowments help underwrite adult education: the Adele Rebell Memorial Scholar-in-Residence Fund; the Rabbi Selig Salkowitz Memorial Speaker Series (undertaken in partnership with Temple Avodat Shalom, a Reform congregation in River Edge); and the Max Aaron Strachman Memorial Author Talk. The Strachman Endowment Fund also benefits the Temple Library, which contains a wealth of knowledge in its shelves of reference works, non-fiction, fiction, children’s and recorded literature and films.

Most Adult Education programs are open to the community, free of charge. Be sure to check our weekly emailed announcements, TI-JCC Tidbits and online Calendar for up-to-date information.

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