Class Offerings and Descriptions

Class Offerings and Descriptions

All our classes are currently meeting virtually. Contact Ali Drumm, Director of Informal Education, for more information about adult education and Marcie Eskin, Informal Education Coordinator, for Zoom links and phone numbers.


Classic Jewish Texts

Talmud: Tractate Berakhot with Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00 am via Zoom, beginning August 25
Rabbi Schwab takes students on a journey through the Jewish oral tradition, its rich history, structure and famous personalities.
Session Fee: Fall

Beyond Dispute: Debates That Shape Jewish Life with Rabbi Alex Freedman
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Tuesdays, 11:00 am – Noon, beginning October 20
Debates—philosophical, spiritual, ethical, and cultural—are at the heart of Judaism and Jewish life. Are religion and reason compatible? Can Jewish law change based on context? How do we teach and talk about the Holocaust and the State of Israel? Should we prioritize Jewish causes or universal causes in our giving? Is Jewish tradition intrinsically patriarchal and ableist? Is our relationship with God defined by human obligation or divine compassion? Rabbi Freedman will facilitate communal conversations to go beyond the conflicts themselves to uncover the essential questions that underlie them, and to build a more inclusive view of the Jewish past, present, and future. The curriculum includes videos featuring JTS faculty and other expert scholars and practitioners in the field.

The Ethics of Business: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Michael Schwab
Thursdays, Noon – 1:30 pm (3 sessions); October 22, November 19, December 17
Each of the three study sessions is centered on the ethical issues of our lives as applied in the business world. Relying on source material from biblical and rabbinic texts, there will be discussion of the principles and interpretation of Jewish law over the centuries and how to apply these responsa to contemporary dilemmas. Free.

Rabbi Akiva: His Life, Love and Family with Rabbi Dr. Vernon H. Kurtz
Sundays, 10:30 am (6 sessions), beginning October 25
Rabbi Akiva was one of the outstanding scholars of rabbinic Judaism and one of the great teachers of our tradition. We are grateful to him for his scholarship and his leadership. However, like many other great teachers and leaders his personal family life was not so tranquil. We will study the sources of the life of Rabbi Akiva as told to us in Rabbinic sources with special concentration on his family life including his relationship with his wife(wives) and sons. Using this material, we will attempt to draw a picture of family life during the era in which he lived.

This class is offered through the Schechter Institutes. For pricing, to register and for more information:

Hebrew Language

Beginning Ivrit: Beginning Conversational Hebrew Class in Partnership with Moriah Congregation
Silvi Freedson

Wednesdays, 9:30 – 11:00, beginning September 9
Through this partnership class with Moriah Congregation in Deerfield, we will begin speaking Hebrew. We look forward to the chance to practice knowledge of letters, pronunciation, and the basics of reading and conversation.
Fee: $100, $60 discounted tuition for NSSBE members and free to Moriah members. Register by contacting Judy Alex at or 847-948-5340.

Café Ivrit: Intermediate Conversational Hebrew with Silvi Freedson
Tuesdays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, beginning September 8
This Intermediate level course will help you improve your conversational and reading skills.
Session Fee: Fall

Sicha Ivrit: Advanced Conversational Hebrew with Silvi Freedson
Thursdays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, beginning September 10
Join this Advanced level course to study Israeli literature and culture in Hebrew! New students are always welcome.
Session Fee: Fall

Conversational Hebrew with Dr. Alicia Gejman
(Sisterhood Torah Fund)
Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:00 am

Designed for adults who have basic fluency in reading and writing Hebrew.

Open Conversational Hebrew
Sundays, 9:30 – 10:30 am

Practice Hebrew conversation and reading informally with other participants.
Free. For information, contact Judy Farby at or 847-372-1700.

Jewish Life and Culture

Follow the Moon with Fran Alpert and Dr. Betsy Dolgin Katz 
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Mondays, 10:00 – 11:30 am (first Monday of the month), beginning October 5
Explore the Jewish life and literature that emerge from the weeks of each new month of the calendar. Fran and Betsy will select readings and illustrations and guide discussions of Torah, literature, history, art and archeology. The topics will develop from the participants’ thoughts and questions. Join us in finding new insights and understanding of the Jewish calendar, Jewish life, and your Jewish heart and soul.

Breaking Jewish News & Views: Jewish News Update with Carl Schrag
Wednesdays, 9:45 – 11:00 am (10 sessions), beginning October 14
This weekly discussion-based class zooms in on local, national, and global news through a distinctly Jewish lens. We’ll talk about Covid-19 and how we’re adapting to our new reality, politics, Israel, anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, rifts in our Jewish community, local and global Jewish affairs, campus life, and the intersection between these topics (and more). Every session will challenge everything you thought you knew or believed on a wide range of subjects. You’ll learn new things, reconsider old ideas, feel joy, surprise, and even a little frustration. The class is led by Carl Schrag, who formerly was the Editor of The Jerusalem Post and brings a journalist’s probing questions to every topic.
Quarter Fee: Fall

Together & Apart: The Future of Jewish Peoplehood with Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 7:45 pm (9 sessions), beginning October 20
This Hartman Institute iEngage curriculum examines the forces dividing the Jewish people today, including nationalism, antisemitism, dual-loyalty, and identity politics. It imagines new conceptual frameworks that can help sustain and grow the story of our people for a new millennium. Before each class discussion, students will view lectures by senior Hartman faculty, watch interviews with faculty, rabbis, and public intellectuals, and read primary sources and other selections included in the course sourcebook.
Quarter Fee: Fall

Romancing the Stone: Jewish Inscriptions in Greco-Roman Society with Dr. Ana Igornov
Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30 pm (5 sessions), beginning October 21
What would be known of the Jews in Greco-Roman society if there were no texts, no works by Josephus, or other authors? What if Jews were studied only through stone inscriptions? The Jewish stone inscriptions have much to tell us that is of great relevance and that is often unduly neglected.
Quarter Fee: Fall

Conservative Judaism: A Proud and Resonant Intellectual Movement with Jacob Cytryn, Executive Director of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin
Wednesdays, 8:00pm (3 sessions), beginning October 28
Join us for one or more of three connected but independent sessions that will offer an accessible perspective on the core framework of Conservative Judaism. Sessions will explore the halachic process (Session 1), crucial and compelling contributions to our relationship with Judaism provided by the Movement’s intellectual approach (Session 2), and a chance to think deeply about the future of American Judaism and our place within it (Session 3).

Session 1: An Unconventional Introduction to the Halachic Process in Conservative Judaism
Session 2: Context Really Matters: Light, Fire, and a Theology for Pandemic
Session 3: Yamin usmol tifrotzi? Self-Perception of the Conservative Movement and the Future of Denominational Judaism
Class offered for FREE as a gift from Camp Ramah in Wisconsin

EduConcerts: Synagogue Music from Debbie Friedman to Today with Hazzan Ben Tisser
Thursdays, 8:00 pm (4 sessions), October 29–November 19
Have you ever wondered about how Jewish music has evolved from the traditional choral and Cantorial music of the early 20th Century to the wide variety of melodies we sing today? Join Hazzan Tisser as he introduces us to some of the major influencers of contemporary Jewish music through story and song in a 4-part course. Some of the composers/songwriters we will “meet” include: Debbie Friedman, Michael Isaacson, Craig Taubman, Josh Warshawsky, and other recognizable names!
Quarter Fee: Fall

Writer’s Beit Midrash
Wednesdays, 9:30 – 11:00 am (every other week); October 21, November 4 & November 18, December 2 & 16
The NSS Beth El Writer’s Beit Midrash meets every other Wednesday on Zoom until the synagogue building reopens. All fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, and essay writers (published or not yet published) are welcome for discussions, exercises, camaraderie, and critique. Contact Rachel Kamin at or 847-926-7902 for information.

Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club facilitated by Rachel Kamin
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Wednesday, December 2 – 7:45 pm
The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl by Marra B. Gad. An unforgettable memoir about a mixed-race Jewish woman who, after fifteen years of estrangement from her racist great-aunt, helps bring her home when Alzheimer’s strikes. New participants are always welcome! RSVP to Marcie Eskin to receive the Zoom link. Click here for the complete Book Club calendar.



When are these classes?! You choose! Get a minimum of 5 fellow students together and pick the time and place. The teachers will travel or you can meet in the synagogue. This can be your personal havurah or book club or just a group of friends who want to get together and learn! Trimester Fee

Short Stories from The New Diaspora: The Changing Landscape of American Jewish Fiction
Rachel Kamin
Rachel will help to explore a selection of short stories by a fresh crop of Jewish writers who are sharing about the Jewish experience in America.

An “Unorthodox” Class
Rachel Kamin
Each session we’ll listen to segments of Tablet Magazine’s podcast Unorthodox, the world’s leading Jewish podcast. We’ll discuss the news of the Jews and learn more about the interesting guests, books, films, and projects featured on each episode. Fermenting food at Copenhagen’s Michelin-starred restaurant Noma, Jews in prison, etrog farmers in California, the best and worst apologies for Yom Kippur, a Franciscan nun’s first Shabbat dinner, ancient Israeli wine, and more have all been covered on this smart, fresh, fun take on Jewish news and culture. Join us to listen and learn!

Girls in Trouble
Ali Drumm
“Girls in Trouble” is a series exploring women in the Bible through ancient texts, Rabbinic interpretations, visual art, and original songs. New, just-released sessions include Hannah, Sarah, Vashti, the Sotah, and the Daughters of Tzelofchad.

Tough Questions Jews Ask
Rabbi Alex Freedman
Have you ever asked or wondered the following: Why does G-d let awful things happen? Why does Judaism have so many rules? Are the Bible stories true? What happens after we die? This class will explore one big topic after another. We will share our own experiences along with reading texts from the Torah and Rabbinic Literature. Participants are encouraged to ask their toughest questions – and share their experiences and honest opinions – with the rabbi and each other.

Contact Marcie Eskin to begin to set up your On Demand learning sessions.