Adult Learning


The Jewish Learning Project (JLP) is Congregation Beth Yeshurun's Adult Learning Program. Our JLP sessions offer a variety of spiritual, intellectual, and stimulating topics for you to choose from. Sessions are held mostly on Sunday mornings and are open to the public and free of charge. (Some classes may have materials fees.) Sunday classes will be held through December at the ERJCC. For information contact Lisa Unsell, or call at 713-666-1881

Spring 2018 Class Schedule

Printer Friendly Version



Jewish Wonder Women with Rabbi Sarah Fort (7:00-8:00pm: Feb. 6, 13, 20) 

Our matriarchs are the most well-known yet there are other women in Jewish texts throughout the ages who have shaped our history and values. From prophetesses to military leaders, judges to simple folk who did the right thing at the right time, theses women’s lives deserve to be learned and remembered. Breathe new life into these Jewish wonder women’s stories. 

A Closer Look at Israel with Rabbi Morgen with Israeli Sheliach Herut Gez (7:00-8:30pm: Feb. 27; March 13)

Join Rabbi Morgen and Israeli Shaliach Herut Gez for two special programs about Israel at Rabbi Morgen’s home.

Israel: Religion and State – The challenges of being a Jewish and also a democratic State. How can Israel accommodate varieties of Jewish expression.

Songs of Israel – Israel is a fountain of Jewish culture including a plethora of Jewish music. How do popular Israeli songs both reflect and shape Israeli culture. 




UnOrthodox Jewish Belief Part II with Rabbi Steven Morgen (7:00-8:30pm: Feb. 15, 22; March 1, 8, 15)

Are Jews the Chosen People? Why do bad things happen to good people? How does Judaism understand the concepts of sin, repentance, atonement, and forgiveness? What are Jewish beliefs about Heaven, Hell, the Afterlife, Messiah, Resurrection and Reincarnation? Maimonides famously elucidated “13 Principles of Faith” – but did he really believe in all of them himself? This class will explore these ideas and more – using classical and modern Jewish texts. 


A Jewish-Christian Dialog with Rabbi Steven Morgen & Prof. Matthias Henze (7:00-8:30pm: Jan. 11, 18, 25) 

Prof. Henze is the founding director of Rice University's program in Jewish Studies, and the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism at Rice University. His recent book, Mind the Gap, discusses how we can better understand Jesus in the context of the Jewish world in which he lived. Topics to include:

Judaism and Christian Beginnings - We will explore the world of Judaism at the time of Jesus to understand better what his followers believed and wrote about his life and teachings, including some passages in the New Testament that have unfortunately led to antisemitism. 

The Messiah in Judaism and Christianity - The concept of Messiah originated in the Hebrew Scriptures (what Jews call the Tanakh). But it had developed in the centuries after the Bible was written. In this session we will discuss how Jews and early Christians viewed this concept in different ways.

Comparing the Essence of our Prayers and Our Hopes - The Lord's prayer and the Kaddish are each central prayers of our respective faiths. How do these prayers express central beliefs of each of our traditions? What is the essential message that each of our faiths teach? Despite our differences in approach, do we strive for the same things?



Invitation to Judaism for Adults with Rabbi Steve Morgen (9-10am: year long class)
Beyond the Aleph Bet Hebrew with Cantor Diane Dorf (9-10am: year long class)

Students will learn simple conversational Hebrew appropriate for tourists to Israel, as well as core vocabulary for basic Hebrew prayers. This class is especially for people who already know the Hebrew alphabet. The textbooks include the Hebrew University beginning Hebrew ulpan book (!), and a book especially designed for learning the meaning and vocabulary of our prayers. 



Pirkei Avot - Jewish Wisdom from the Past Made Relevant for Today with Rabbi Danny Horwitz (10:00-11:00am: year long class)

Our Sages of 2,000 years ago lived at a time of great social upheaval. Greek philosophy had become part of the culture of most of the world. In the wake of the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish world was dealing with crises of faith and morality. Pirkei Avot is a collection of jewels of wisdom from our Sages of that time. Rabbi Horwitz will lead a discussion that will demonstrate their relevance for us today.

Begining Hebrew for Adults with Cantor Diane Dorf (10:00-11:00am: year long class)

Learn to read Hebrew and to recognize essential prayer vocabulary.  No prior knowledge is necessary. The textbook is Shalom Hebrew Primer, and can be purchased from Beth Yeshurun for $13.00. This course is open to everyone but is a requirement for Introduction to Judaism students. This is a year-long course. 

Understanding Genesis with Dr. Nahum Footnick (10:00-11:00am: year long class)

An ongoing class dedicated to learning valuable lessons from the Torah verse by verse. 

Three American Jews with Rabbi David Rosen (10:00-11:00am: Jan. 7, 14, 21)

The American Jewish community is very different from Jewish communities in Europe and even in Israel. Three American Jewish thinkers helped shaped the course and direction of Jewish life in America: Isaac Mayer Wise, Solomon Schechter and Mordecai Kaplan. We will look at these iconic figures and see what each one did to make our Jewish world what it is today.  



Where Heaven meets Earth - An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism with Rabbi Danny Horwitz (11:00am - Noon: year long class)

Jewish mystics throughout the centuries yearned to come ever closer to our Creator, to penetrate the great mysteries of our world and the meaning of our existence. Using Rabbi Horwitz’s engaging new book, he will explore the various methods and opinions that the mystics uncovered in their quest for Ultimate Truth. Highly recommended to buy Rabbi Horwitz’s book: A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader (JPS, 2016).

Pirkei Avot [class taught in Spanish] with Rabbi Diana R. Siegel (11:00am - Noon: Jan. 7, 14, 21; Feb. 4)

En esta clase vamos a analizar en profundidad las enseñanzas éticas y morales, espirituales y prácticas de nuestros Sabios del Período de la Mishná. Nuestras discusiones interactivas y los comentarios clásicos y contemporáneos nos ayudarán a reconocer la intemporalidad y la relevancia de esta influyente y significativa compilación de máximas. In this class we will analyze in depth the ethical and moral, spiritual and practical teachings of our Sages in the Mishna Period. Our interactive discussions and classical and contemporary commentaries will help us recognize the timelessness and relevance of this influential and meaningful compilation of maxims

"La Soledad Del Hombre De Fe" Por Joseph B. Soloveitchik with Rabbi Diana R. Siegel – (11:00am - Noon: Feb. 11, 25; Mar. 11, 18, 25; Apr. 8, 15, 22, 29; May 6)

En este conmovedor y profundo libro el gran Rabino Ortodoxo Moderno, Soloveitchik investiga dilemas familiares a la soledad de la persona de fe. Esta soledad se aplica también a las vidas de los individuos dentro de cualquier tradición de fe e incluso "pertinente a la persona laica."  El autor ofrece profundas ideas espirituales sobre los desafios que enfrenta una persona fe en nuestra  sociedad moderna, ego-centrada, pragmática, tecnológica y materialmente orientada. In this poignant book the great Modern Orthodox Rabbi, Soloveitchik, investigates dilemmas familiar to the loneliness of the person of faith. This loneliness applies also to the lives of the individuals within any faith tradition and even "to pertinent secular man."  The author offers profound spiritual insights about the challenges faced by a person of faith in our modern ego-centrical, pragmatical, technological and materially oriented society.

The Jews of Spain Before the Inquisition with Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin - (11:00am - Noon: Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28)

Was it a Golden Age for Jews? We’ll see why many consider Jewish life in al-Andalus, Muslim Spain, the convivencia: for example, some of the finest Hebrew poetry dates from this period, and Jews rose to prominence as royal advisers, doctors, and scientists. Come to the first class on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 11:00 for an overview of the course. We’ll talk about the 10th century leader Hasdai ibn Shaprut, his diplomatic and cultural successes, and his outreach to the Jewish King of the Khazars. 

In Our Museum with Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin - (11:00am - Noon: Feb. 11, 25; March 11)

Beth Yeshurun has a truly amazing collection of Judaica in our museum. We will look at unique and stunning pieces from our collection that relate to particular holy days in the Jewish calendar. February 11 Shabbat, February 25 Purim, and March 11 Passover.

Famous Rabbis of the Talmud with Rabbi Steven Morgen (11:00am–noon: March 11, 18, 25)

Hillel and Shammai, Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Ishmael, Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and many more. Just as the United States had “Founding Fathers” that created the first-ever constitutional democracy, we Jews had our own “Founding Fathers” who shaped the course and direction of Judaism as we know it today. Who were these great Sages? What stories were told about them? How did their provocative ideas shape Judaism after the calamitous destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the crushing collapse of the Jewish revolt against Rome? 

The Synagogue: Inside and Out with Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin - (11:00am - Noon: Apr. 8, 15, 22, 29

Join us for an in-depth tour of select synagogues in Europe and the United States. Enjoy the beautiful, creative, and intriguing architecture of ultra-modern as well as some historic synagogues on two continents. 


Yahrzeit List


Click HERE to view the FEBRUARY 2018 issue of The Message


Click HERE to view current & previous issues of The Messages