Adult Education 2020–21

Adult Education 2020–21

Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education & Events team has arranged an interesting mix of ongoing and one-off sessions for the coming fall-winter term. Of course, the COVID pandemic has made the process a bit more challenging since most of what will be taking place will be on Zoom for the foreseeable future.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Classes

Judaism – An Introduction

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What is Judaism? This class explores the question by introducing the three most important aspects of Judaism: God, Torah, and Israel.
Being Jewish involves not just adhering to a religion but also belonging to a people. Jewish knowledge extends from ancient biblical times to the present through texts, belief, and practice.
Judaism emphasizes actions over beliefs. An overview of the course includes: People of the Book(s); Rhythms of Life (life cycles, Jewish holidays); Ethics & Values; Shabbat, Kashrut, Daily Practice; Ethics & Values; Jewish History; Contemporary Judaism.

The class consists of ten sessions, starting January 14, 2020 on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. The class dates are: January 14, 21, 28; February 4, 11, 18; March 4, 11; April 1, 29. (Dates subject to change.) The sessions will be held on Zoom. Cost is $150 per person payable at the time of registration.

To register: phone Congregation Emanu-El office: (250) 382-0615 Tuesday through Thursday from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. We accept credit card and cheque. E-transfer can be made by request. For further information and/or questions, email Chanah.

Calling All Artists

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A light in a dark and strange time: Calling All Artists returns!

We will begin our monthly meetings with Rabbi Harry on Thursday, November 19, 2020, and continue on December 10, 2020, and in 2021 on January 14, February 11, and March 18.

Calling All Artists is a project inviting artists of many kinds—visual, textile, multi-media, music, poetry—to study a biblical or rabbinical text with Rabbi Harry, and to interpret this learning through their art. A kind of midrash, the Rabbi explains it.

In the spring, the artists, if it is possible to meet again, will celebrate their work with a delicious and gorgeous Gala in the Social Hall.
For more information and to register, contact Barbara Pelman at.
Fees are $70.00 for non-members, $50.00 for members.

Once you are registered, you can pay through the Synagogue Office, and a Zoom link will be sent to you.

Enter the name for this tabbed section: One-off Sessions
All lectures are held by Zoom (Watch newsletter for details)
Participation: by voluntary donation to Adult Education
payable online or through the office

  • Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7 pm: Kafka, Nachman, Kabbalah and Neuroses

    with Lee Henderson. Join Lee Henderson, Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Victoria, as he discusses Franz Kafka, his writing, his life, and the influence of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah on his themes and style.
  • Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 7 pm: Ancient Jewish Astrology: Fatalist or Optimist?

    with Rabbi Matt Ponak. Join Rabbi Matt as he explores Talmudic stories and teachings of how Jews were and were not subject to the fate of the heavens.
  • Sunday, January 10, 2021 at 7 pm: Latin American Jewish writers and Borges

    with Dan Russek. Join Dan, a native of Mexico, and a scholar specializing in modern and contemporary Latin American literature as he presents a brief overview of Jewish life in Mexico and Argentina as seen through four books by Jewish authors, and an examination of Jewish themes in the work of the most important Latin American writer of the twentieth century, Argentine Jorge Luis Borges
  • Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 7 pm: Creative Midrash

    with Rabbi Harry Brechner. Rabbi Harry will use creative mediums and modalities including Bibliodrama to generate new insights into and meaning of classic Torah narratives, to uncover archetypes and emotions that stem from these narratives, and to explore and generate personal and new understandings of them.
  • Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 7 pm: Secret Miracles: Jewish Themes in Jorge Luis Borges.

    with Dan Russek. Expanding on his earlier talk, Dan Russek will focus on the work of the iconic author Argentine Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Though not a Jew, Borges was drawn to Jewish literature, culture and religion since an early age, and his work constantly refers to Jewish themes.
  • Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm: Death and Dying

    with Rabbi Harry Brechner. Join Rabbi Harry in an exploration and survey of Jewish mystical texts and halakha (Jewish law) with the goal of gaining new insight into death and dying and understanding the tremendous wisdom inherent in Jewish mourning practice.
  • Sunday, **May 2,** 2021 at 7 pm: Bad Faith: Why the Jews are not a religion—and should not be

    with Daniel Boyarin,Taubman, Professor of Talmudic Culture and Rhetoric, UC Berkeley, will show that historically Jews did not consider themselves a religion until modernity and will explore some of the negative consequences of this definition.
    NOTE: This date has been revised a second time: Daniel has graciously agreed to switch dates to avoid conflict with another event within the larger Jewish community.
  • Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7 pm: *Beyond Enlightenment: The Best is Yet to Come*

    with Rabbi Matt Ponak. Is each religion a path up the same mountain, or do some spiritual traditions climb a summit all their own? Rabbi Matt *will explore different forms of spiritual realization—the end goals of meditative schools—from a multitude of mystical traditions. In so doing, he will paint a picture of what contemporary forms of enlightenment could look like. Contrary to the common view, the later stages of mystical progression vary quite dramatically from system to system. Could it be that new forms of spiritual development are waiting to be discovered?*
  • Sunday, May 30, 2021 at 7 pm: Jewish Music and the Holocaust

    with Suzanne Snizek. Join flutist, scholar Suzanne as she speaks about some outstanding musicians who were suppressed under the Third Reich, and the long-lasting impact this suppression has had on subsequent generations of musicians.
  • May 2021,

    with Avivah Zornberg. CANCELLED


    * New, or revised, details.*
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Ongoing Sessions

Mystic Moka

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Grab your favourite mug, fill it with your favorite caffeinated beverage, and join Rabbi Harry Brechner and an eclectic crew of seekers and learners as they delve into Kabbalistic and Ḥassidic texts, in a quest for insight and understanding into self and our relationship with Divine Source.
Weekly on Fridays, 12:30 – 1:30 pm on Zoom, beginning October 23, 2020.
Participation: by voluntary donation to Adult Education payable online or through the office at
• Join online: CLICK HERE
• Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
• Meeting ID: 826 5893 2465
Please check weekly newsletter for class confirmation.

Brown Bag Beit Midrash

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The Brown Bag Beit Midrash crew has completed Pirkei Avot—an important ethical work containing rabbinic lore from the second century BCE to the second century CE. The work is full of ethical and spiritual gems that serve as intellectual seeds for some fulsome and enlightening dialogue and reflection.
In our upcoming session, we will study the Sefer HaAggadah, aka the Book of Legends—a compilation of tales/lore assembled and edited by Hayim Nahman Bialik and Yehoshua Hana Rawnitzky in the early 20th century. It is a collection of rabbinic teachings and stories that fall into the category of aggadah—tales, legends and stories that are like spiritual rebar serving to strengthen our attachment and love of Judaism and Divine Source.
The group will work through the book with the intention of building skills, knowledge and personal insight. We hope that those who join will become regulars; however the class is always open to drop ins.
We will begin with a consideration of Aggadah and Halakhah and move on to The Work of Creation.

Weekly on Tuesdays, 12:30 – 1:30 pm on Zoom, beginning October 27, 2020.
Participation: by voluntary donation to Adult Education payable online or through the office.

• Join online: CLICK HERE
• Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
• Meeting ID: 849 4761 5582

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, on Zoom for now, and, under her careful guidance, immerse ourselves in Hebrew conversation and culture.

Weekly on Wednesdays 7:00 – 8:30 pm on Zoom beginning October 14, 2020.
Participation: by voluntary donation to Adult Education payable online or through the office at. For more information email Dahlia.

Shiur al haTanakh: Books of Samuel

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The subject for the Shiur al haTanakh for this year will be the books of Samuel—covering the stories and narratives of Samuel, Saul, and David, and the transition from a tribal society to an embryonic kingdom. Our focus will be on the literary quality of the narrative, which is both comic and tragic.

Weekly on Tuesdays 7:00 – 8:30 pm on Zoom beginning October 20, 2020.
Participation by voluntary donation to Adult Education (suggested amount: $50) payable online or by emailing the Shul office
For information or registration, please email the Shul office

Play Club

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COVID-19 has resulted in the members of our Play Club ascending from seats in the audience to a place on the stage.

With expert direction provided by Rachel Ditour, we will read aloud and discuss three plays during the upcoming season; our schedule of Plays & Discussion Dates for the 2020/2021 season is the following:

East of Berlin by Hannah Moscovitch
Monday Oct. 26: 7-9 pm: Group reads aloud
Thursday Oct. 29: 7-9 pm: Discussion

Burning Vision by Marie Clements
Monday Jan. 18, 2021: 7-9 pm Group reads aloud
Thursday Jan. 21, 2021: 7-9 pm Discussion

The Blue Light by Meiko Ouchi
Monday April 19, 2021: 7-9 pm Groups reads aloud
Thursday April 22, 2021: 7-9 pm Discussion.

For more information email Rachel.