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Continuing Education Opportunities

10/22/2021 11:22:44 AM

Oct22

Dear TBD community,

I hope that you have had a wonderful week. 

During our morning prayers we read the following:

These are the things which a person performs and enjoys their fruits in this world, while the principal remains for him or her in the World to Come: honoring one’s parents, bestowing kindness, arriving at the study hall early in the morning and evening, welcoming guests, visiting the sick, assisting a bride, escorting the dead, contemplation of prayer, and making peace between people. But the study of Torah is equal to them all.

Torah study and engagement, as the prayer above suggests, is the linchpin and cornerstone of Judaism.  Without Torah study Judaism loses much of its effectiveness. However, I also want to suggest that we hold two definitions for Torah in our mind.  The first definition is the Five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).  The second definition, and the one that we mean more often when we use the term Torah study, is any spiritual or Jewish teaching. 

This can include the five books of Moses but does not limit us to those five books.  Torah in this sense can include Mishna, Midrash, Talmud, discussions about God, Religious School, etc.  Therefore, with those definitions in mind let us delve into the idea of the importance of continued Torah study.

Two teachings from Pirkei Avot point to the centrality of Torah study in Judaism.  The first is a teaching from a man named Ben Bag Bag:

Turn it, and turn it, for everything is in it. Reflect on it and grow old and gray with it. Don't turn from it, for nothing is better than it.

The second is from Rabbi Hillel:

Hillel says: Don’t separate yourself from the “tzibbur” (community); and don’t rely on yourself until the day of your death; and don’t judge your friend until you reach his situation; and don’t say something could never happen, for in the end it might happen; and don’t say “When I have [free] time I will learn, lest you never have [free] time. 

Continuing my Torah study is very important to me.  Not only does it enrich me, it allows me to teach and preach more effectively.  With all that in mind I wanted to share with you some of the online resources I use to continue my Torah study:

  1. The American Jewish University is an undergraduate and graduate University in Los Angeles.  It also houses one of the two ordaining institutions for conservative Rabbis in the United states.  Here is a link to their adult learning and speakers: https://learning.aju.edu
  2. The Jewish Theological seminary is the other conservative ordaining institution.  They have many wonderful online classes for learners of all levels: http://www.jtsa.edu/hidden-page/online-classes/
  3. The last of the institutions for ordaining rabbis and the institution from which I received Smicha (Rabbinic certification) is Hebrew Union College.  HUC-connect is their continuing adult learning series.  HUC also hosts The American Jewish archives which is another adult learning program they offer that I have found has some great speakers:

http://huc.edu/huc-connect/huc-connect-2021

https://www.americanjewisharchives.org/news-programs-and-events/

  1. If you are looking for a more spiritual experience, I highly recommend the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.  I am a weekly member of their Torah study classes and have taken many classes with them:

https://www.jewishspirituality.org

  1. In the interest of sharing some non-Jewish sources that enrich my learning and ability to be a Rabbi (and I would definitely count as Torah) here are three favorite sites for learning that I take classes from frequently:

Coursea.org

masterclass.com

https://divinity.yale.edu

I hope these resources are helpful and interesting to you.  If you have other places you go to learn Torah, please share them with me.  Happy studying!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Micah Ellenson

Sat, December 4 2021 30 Kislev 5782