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Adult Ed: Jewish Humor

01/21/2022 10:56:27 AM


This week we are looking at 19-20th century Jewish comedy, particular in the United States of America. 

Jackie Mason brings Borscht Belt Humor all the way to the end of the 20th century

What happened to the Borscht Belt?

An Hour Long Video from the Forward about the "Rise of American Jewish Comedy"

Rabbi Lizz's Notes on Jewish Humor by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

A Parallel Story: Performing...

Adult Ed: Jewish Humor

01/14/2022 02:05:03 PM


This week we are looking at medieval and enlightenment-era humor. 

Examples of Medieval Sense of Humor

Jewish comedy in the medieval and early enlightenment periods were often fairly directed at the issues of antisemitism and assimilation. They tended to particularly poke fun at the idea of conversos ever truly believing in Christianity and at the attempts of the Christian-influenced humanists and deists of the...Read more...

Book Club: January

01/08/2022 02:16:20 PM


On January 26th we will meet via Zoom at 10:30 am to discuss The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer. 

From the author's website: 

Chron­i­cal­ly-ill Rachel Ruben­stein-Gold­blatt is a “nice Jew­ish girl‚” with a secret: she loves Christ­mas. As the best-sell­ing author of over twen­ty Christ­mas romance nov­els, and four made-for-TV movie spin-offs, she’s kept her stel­lar career secret from her...Read more...

Adult Ed: Jewish Humor

01/08/2022 02:02:25 PM


In our second class, we will start at the beginning. What are the Biblical roots of Jewish comedy, and how did Jews invent sarcasm in the Talmud? 

Rabbi Lizz's Outline of Jewish Comedy: A Serious History

Text Study of Biblical Laughs

Humor as an Act of Faith

Talmudic Comedy

Elijah Invented Sarcasm

Why Jews Laugh at Themselves

Alan King's Great Jewish Joke Book


Adult Ed: Jewish Humor

12/27/2021 11:12:40 AM


Each Sunday afternoon in January, we will be meeting on Zoom to discuss the history, purpose, and stylings of Jewish Humor. Reach out to or for the zoom links. 

Steve Allen called American comedy "a Jewish cottage industry", and attempts to define Jewish humor have come up short. Still we will try! Prepare for our first class by checking out some of these links:

My Jewish...

Book Club: December

12/01/2021 11:39:51 AM


We are now reading The Last Rose of Shanghai. We will meet on Zoom at 10:30 AM on December 29th to discuss.

From Goodreads:

In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music...

Book Club: November

10/27/2021 11:45:42 AM


Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the November book will actually be discussed on December 1st. We will still meet at 10:30 am on zoom.

This month we are reading The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman. From Goodreads:

The Sassoons and the Kadoories--two Jewish families from Baghdad--had long been successful in business, politics, and society. They kept up their intrigues and opium smuggling while helping to rescue...Read more...

Adult Ed: Apocrypha 

10/24/2021 04:06:32 PM


For our final class on this unit (10/31) we will be reading Ben Sira/Sirach/Ecclesiasticus

Ecclesiasticus, written by Ben Sirach (בן סירא)

Also known as Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sira, Sirach was written around 200 BCE in Hebrew by Ben Sira. The work was then translated into Greek by his grandson who added a prologue for...Read more...

Adult Ed: Apocrypha 

10/17/2021 04:21:14 PM


On 10/24 we will discuss The Life of Adam and Eve: 

Life of Adam and Eve (ספר אדם וחוה)

Expands on the life of Adam and Eve after the expulsion from Eden, including Eve’s perspective. All known manuscripts date to well after the 2nd Temple period, and different versions have been found in several languages, none of them Hebrew or...Read more...

Adult Ed: Apocrypha

10/10/2021 03:58:57 PM


For next time (10/17/21) we will be discussing the Book of Tobit.

Book of Tobit (ספר טוביה)

Adult Ed: Apocrypha

10/10/2021 02:36:47 PM


Apocrypha from Sefaria

“Apocrypha” refers to biblical-style books from the Second Temple period that were not included in the canonization of Tanakh, including historical works, didactic wisdom literature, and apocalyptic texts, among others. Traditional Jewish approaches to these works have varied throughout the ages, but they are generally viewed as helpful sources of information and literature without much religious significance....Read more...

Adult Ed: Apocrypha

10/09/2021 08:47:16 PM


Below is the list of all the texts considered to be Jewish Apocrypha. That is, they are ancient writings believed to have been written by and for Jews, but for various reasons were not canonized into our Tanakh.

Each title links to their Wikipedia article. For Rabbi Lizz's summaries and links to someplace you can read the text online (where such links could be found), go to this Google Doc.

  In the Torah

Adult Ed: Apocrypha

09/30/2021 12:26:54 PM


The entire process of canonization is murky. Scholars are simply unsure how certain books ultimately became authoritative and others did not. In these 5 one-hour sessions we will explore some theories on how canonization came to be and what was left out.

A Rough Timeline of Biblical Writing and Canonization

Apocrypha are books outside the Hebrew Bible canon, not considered divinely inspired but regarded as worthy of study by...Read more...

Book Club: October

09/29/2021 11:39:41 AM


Our Book Club meets at 10:30 am on Zoom the last Wednesday of each month. This month we are reading The Family Man by Elinor Lipman.

The Amazon summary says:

A hysterical phone call from his ex-wife upends Henry Archer's well-ordered life - and brings him back into contact with the child he adored: Thalia, now 29, an aspiring actress. Hoping it will lead to better things for her career, Thalia agrees to pose as the...Read more...

Book Club: September

09/23/2021 02:03:30 PM


Our next book club meeting will happen on Zoom at 10:30 am on September 29.

We will be discussing Esau's Blessing: How the Bible Embraces Those with Special Needs by Dr. Ora Horn Prouser.


Book Club: August

07/25/2021 04:05:09 PM


Our next meeting is August 25, 2021. We will be discussing The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. The detailed literature summary by also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson is an intriguing novel about three friends, two of whom are Jewish and one who decides to be a Jew. Julian Treslove struggles with his newfound identity as a...Read more...

Book Club: July

06/26/2021 08:30:01 PM


Our next book is A German Life: Against All Odds Change Is Possible by Bernd Wollschlaeger MD. The meeting is at 10:30 AM on July 21, 2021 in person. Please email for more information.     The description of the book follows: When my children started asking questions about my...Read more...

Book Club: June

05/27/2021 01:20:17 PM


We will meet June 23rd at 10:30 IN PERSON to discuss the book Promised Land by Martin Fletcher. Email for details. "Martin Fletcher, who headed up NBC TV’s Tel Aviv News Bureau, knows his territory and it shows on every page. Promised Land is a great sweeping epic, reminiscent of Leon Uris’ Exodus; a moving story of triumph and tragedy, new love and historic hate, expertly told by a cast of unforgettable...Read more...

Adult Ed: Midrash

05/05/2021 01:55:28 PM


This week we'll be writing our own Midrashim!

You may pick any piece of Tanakh you wish for your jumping off point, but since the Tanakh is a voluminous text, here are a few offerings to start off with:

Genesis 12:1-4: This is the first time we see God interact with Abram. All we know at this point is basic biographical information about Abram: his father, brother, and wife; where he was born and where he lives at the time of...Read more...

Adult Ed: Midrash

04/29/2021 02:49:05 PM


This week we'll be reading some Midrash stories about Biblical characters who never died, according to tradition.

Enoch (Genesis 5:20-24); Rami Shapiro's analysis of Enoch Midrashim Elijah (II Kings 2:8-12); Mishnah Eduyot 8:7 Batya/Pharaoh's Daughter (Exodus 2:5-10); Jewish Women's Archive explanation of Batya Midrashim Read more...

Book Club: May

04/28/2021 04:56:58 PM


Our next book is A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell. We will meet on Zoom May 26 at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the book. A Blessing on the Moon (9781615735327): Skibell, Joseph,  Rickman, Allen Lewis: BooksRead more...

Adult Ed: Midrash

04/19/2021 04:16:20 PM


This week we will be looking at some of these most famous Midrash stories and discussing how they are functioning.

Midrash Aggadah about Abraham and Sarah

Sefaria Source Sheet of Midrashim

Some brief examples and explanations of Midrash Halakha


Adult Ed: Midrash

04/14/2021 04:47:39 PM


Adult Ed Returns with a unit on Midrash! Join us on Zoom April 18th, April 25th, May 2nd, and May 9th at 1 pm for four classes about Midrash. Don't worry if you can't join all four, just jump in where you can.

For this week, we will be discussing the building blocks of Midrash:

What is Midrash?

Methods of Midrash

Basic Outline of the Encyclopedia Judaica article on Midrash

It's Tanakh FanFiction


Book Club: April

04/12/2021 05:40:52 PM


We will discuss our next book on April 28, 2021 through Zoom at 10:30 a.m. The book is Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. 

One of Sir Walter Scott’s most popular and influential works, “Ivanhoe” is the story of one of the last remaining Saxon noble families. At the beginning of the novel we find its titular character, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who has been disinherited by his father for his allegiance to the Norman king, Richard...Read more...

Book Club: March

03/01/2021 01:10:12 PM


We will meet to discuss our next book, The Way Back by Gavriel Savit on March 31st at 10:30 a.m. on Zoom. The description of the book follows: NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • A SYDNEY TAYLOR NOTABLE BOOK Perfect for readers of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman, a sweeping historical fantasy that follows two teens on a journey through the Far Country, a Jewish land of spirits and demons. For the Jews of Eastern Europe,...Read more...

Choosing Judaism: 36 Stories

02/24/2021 12:46:46 PM


This Sunday, our adult ed time will be devoted to hearing from Bradley Caro Cook and Cameron Vanore about the book Choosing Judaism: 36 Stories. We also hope to incorporate opportunity for Ner Shalom members who are Jews by Choice to share their stories about journeying into and through Judaism.

A bit about our presenters:

Bradley Caro Cook, Ed.D. was born in Atlanta Georgia, where he lived until moving to Israel in 2012....Read more...

Adult Ed: PaRDeS

02/10/2021 11:20:45 AM


The next two Sundays (2/14 and 2/21) at 1 pm we will employ the PaRDeS sacred reading technique to engage with a Biblical verse picked at random.

PaRDeS stands for:

Peshat - the contextual, surface level, or literal meaning of the verse

Remez - the hints in the text at deeper meaning, the sparks of understanding that flicker at you from the text

Drash - your own interpretation or explanation

Sod - the...

Adult Ed: Esther

02/03/2021 12:35:22 PM


The Book of Esther

BimBam's "Go Esther"

HaYehudim Baim's "K'mo Zona"

Esther vs. Vashti

Confronting Megillat Esther's Violent Ending

The Book of Esther is meant to be a Farce

Persian Jews

Source Sheet on Esther and her comparisons with Joseph and Daniel


Adult Ed: Ecclesiastes

01/27/2021 12:49:33 PM


The Book of Ecclesiastes/Kohelet

Kohelet Summary

About Kohelet

Kohelet: Torah for the 21st Century

Bimbam's Kohelet Song

The Jews are Coming! (make sure you turn on your English subtitles with cc option on your own YouTube settings)


Book Club: February

01/27/2021 12:46:25 PM


We will meet on February 24 at 10:30 a.m. on Zoom to discuss our next book, which is Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. The description of the book is:   Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant...Read more...
Wed, January 26 2022 24 Shevat 5782