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The Schwarz-Kurz-Zeller Adult Education Institute

Helene Geiger & Arleen Barisa

Adult Education
Committee Chairs

For more information contact:

Learning has no age limit. Something for Everyone! Check out our weekly, monthly and special classes/programs below.

We’re starting the new year with a range of educational programs to fit your interests and schedule.  There’s something for everyone! Check out the listings below and join us!

The Adult Education Committee welcomes your feedback and help as we continue to plan our 2022-2023 season. All volunteers warmly welcomed! 

  • Is there a topic you’d like to learn about or teach?
  • Are you good with social media?
  • Do you have art, photography or writing skills?
  • Do you enjoy planning events?

Weekly Classes

Current Events
Discussion Leader: changes weekly

Come and discuss the latest news with a Jewish slant; there will be a different topic and discussion leader each week.

Click here for upcoming topics.

Jewish Discussions & Watch Party on The Good Place
Discussion Leader: Rabbi Cantor

"The Good Place" is a very funny show based on serious theology. Come and laugh through each episode together, then join rabbi Cantor as we discuss the Jewish themes behind the humor. 

Click here for upcoming session topics.

Jewish Experience in America
Instructor: Harriet Freidenreich
Cancelled until further notice.

This course will provide an overview of American Jewish history in the late 19th and 20th centuries.  Topics to be discussed include: Eastern European immigration; Jews and the Labor Movement; World War I and antisemitism; Jewish women, suffrage and birth control; Jewish religious denominationalism; American Jews, the Holocaust and the State of Israel; suburbanization; Jewish activism and feminism; Jewish identity and intermarriage.

Click here for recordings.

Walking with God...Series
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor

The Walking With series has been created by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in partnership with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, and the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. For more information, visit

Click here for recordings.

Prayerbook Hebrew Class the Easy Way
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor
21 week session

Understanding Hebrew is the key to experiencing the richness of Jewish prayer. Prayerbook Hebrew the Easy Way teaches the Hebrew found in all Jewish prayer books. Designed for students who can read Hebrew words but do not know what they mean, this text explains grammar so simply that the non-academic community can easily understand it.

Tropes (Torah Chant) Class
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor
8 week session

In the ancient synagogue, the person honored with an Aliyah didn’t just say the blessings over the reading of the Torah. In the same way that one says a blessing before performing an action, the person invited to read said a blessing over their reading. But when many people could no longer read their Torah portion for themselves, the Torah Reader was invited to read the portion for them, and that is the practice today. If you can read Hebrew, you can read Torah. Join me on Wednesday evenings to learn to read the Torah for yourself and for others, and to enhance your enjoyment of the Torah service.

Judaism for Grown Ups 
Hebrew School, the PG-13 version
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor

Rabbi Cantor will teach Judaism for grown ups. Whether you are Newish-Jewish, an old Yeshiva Bocher, or anywhere in-between, this series will refresh your knowledge.

Torah Study on going
Saturday mornings, 9:00am - 9:25am
Rabbi Cantor

Join Rabbi Cantor every Shabbat morning to discuss the week's Parsha.

Rethinking Jewish Women's History*
Instructor: Harriet Freidenreich

A NEW* look at Jewish Women’s History in historical perspective from Biblical times to the modern era, focusing on the impact of social, economic, cultural, and religious changes on Jewish women’s lives in different regions over the years. Optional weekly readings will be
recommended to facilitate class discussions and student participation will be welcomed.

*For those of you who have attended Harriet's previous Jewish Women's History classes, you will find that this is a different class with a new perspective on the topic!

Click here for recordings.

Learn to Read Hebrew
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor

Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew Book  is required for class.

Click here for more information.

Rabbinic Stories
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor

The human experience can best be understood through a narrative lens. The stories we tell – about our past, our present, our future – help to define who we are, both individually and collectively. The Rabbis of the Talmud were master storytellers, and the stories they helped to shape our understanding of what it means to be Jewish. Join Rabbi David Cantor for a weekly telling of some of his favorite rabbinic tales.

Click here for recordings.

Structure of the Service
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor

The journey between any two places can be better tolerated as a succession of smaller stages. We have all experienced the sensation that – the second time around – it doesn’t seem to take as long to travel. The High Holiday services are long, yet they are made up of many smaller parts that are nearly identical to every service of every day of the year, festival, Sabbath, and weekday. An understanding of the mechanics of Jewish prayer and the components that make up every service can only enhance one’s holiday experience. Join Rabbi David Cantor for a four-week introduction to praying as a Jew.

Monthly Classes

Book club


Beth El Book Club
Sundays, 10:30am or 7:45pm
Check calendar for dates.

Calling all readers!  Beth El’s new book club is open to all adults.  Whether it’s fiction, current events or memoirs, you’ll find something of interest to read and discuss. The book club meets on Thursdays from 7:45pm to 8:45pm through Virtual Beth El.  

Click here for more information

Book nosh



Book Nosh
Sundays, 10:30am - 12:00noon
Check calendar for dates.

Join us in person to discuss all the interesting books, movies, TV shows, art exhibitions, Broadway shows, operas, and any other cultural happenings that have a Jewish theme, a Jewish author, or Jewish characters that you have run across since our last meeting.

Film club

Film Club

Here’s how it works: Every other month, we’ll pick a film for everyone to view. Watch the film on your own or with other club members. Then we’ll meet to discuss the film and pick the next one to view.

What will we watch? Films can be anything from documentaries to first-run movies to classics, in theaters or streaming. Check the weekly emails for further information on our next film!

This will be an organizing meeting to choose the films. Join your fellow movie mavens to discuss films: first-run, classics, in theaters or streaming. We’ll have a few weeks to view the film, then meet to discuss it.

Special Classes, Events & Programs 

Introduction to the Mussar Experience
Facilitator: Ruth Schapira*

Mussar …

  •  is a compelling approach to Jewish spirituality and a powerful system for personal growth and change.
  • movement was founded by Rabbi Israel Salanter in the 19th Century yet speaks to our modern search for meaning and connection.
  • sessions are a unique experience, using a variety of techniques to build awareness and connectedness to each other and to God.

In this short program, you will get a taste of the Mussar experience, and learn why thousands of people worldwide find it life-changing.

*Ruth Schapira is a trained Mussar facilitator and was Director of Leadership and Learning for the Mussar Institute. She currently facilitates online classes combining Mussar practice and parsha study and hosts a bi-monthly podcast (“Inner Judaism”) on Apple and Spotify, of meditations and Mussar teachings.  This past year, she also taught at FJLC, teaching the best 6th grade students in the world!

To learn more about Inner Judaism and sign up for Ruth’s “Inner Focus” newsletter, visit

Introduction to the Mussar Experience
Facilitator: Ruth Schapira*

In our tradition, the month of Elul is an opportunity to commit to making meaningful change in our lives. But how to make that change a reality?

This Elul, join us for a unique course, The Mussar Path. Mussar is a system for daily living that
illuminates our perceptions, informs our interactions, and provides the stepping stones to incorporate Jewish values into our daily lives.

Working in an intimate group setting, through text study and experiential practices, we will take the first steps in a life curriculum for personal change. 

Visit for information about Ruth Schapira.

*see Ruth's bio in the above information about Introduction to the Mussar experience.

Climate Change Series
Instructor: Sheldon Miller

3 Presenta:tions:
1st Basis of Climate Change
2nd Effects of Climate Change
3rd The way forward – Mitigation of Climate Change

Sheldon Miller's Biography:
I spent approximately 40 years in biomedical research of the nervous system in Philadelphia at the Wistar Institute, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Thomas Jefferson University. After leaving research, I taught for 13 years at Chestnut Hill College. The subjects that I taught were biochemistry, chemistry and climate change.

Presently, I am a senior reviewer for AP chemistry, on the board of the Delaware Valley Science Council, and a consultant on climate change to Global Education Motivators (an organization that works with high school students in the United States and foreign countries in collaboration with the United Nations).


Did you know that recordings of many Adult Education classes and programs are available on the Congregation Beth El website? Click here to access our archives or visit the menu bar at the top of the page; click Learn or click on the Archives tab (at the end of the menu bar).

Mon, April 22 2024 14 Nisan 5784