North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Class Offerings and Descriptions

Class Offerings and Descriptions

High Holiday Boot Camp

Forgiving the Unforgiveable
Saturday, September 14, 12:15 pm post-kiddush
Rabbi Michael Schwab
What do you do when someone does something emotionally hurtful that can’t be fixed? How do you forgive other people for things they did to someone else?

Shofar Sho Good!
Sunday, August 25, 10:00 am
Join us for a free Shofar Workshop for beginners and veteran shofar blowers after morning minyan and breakfast. Beginners (kids and adults) learn the basics of shofar blowing for Elul and the High Holidays. Veterans review the finer points with experts and clergy, and share tips and tricks with the newbies! Bring your own shofar or practice on ours. 

Wine and Wisdom: Rosh HaShanah Seder
Wednesday September 18, 8:00 pm in private home **space is limited to first 20 participants
Hazzan Ben Tisser
Explore the tradition of a Rosh HaShanah Seder with great wine and appetizers and text study. 

Happy Yom Kippur?
Tuesday, September 24, 8:00 pm
Rabbi Alex Freedman
Yom Kippur is often assumed to be a burden, but the Rabbis of the Talmud envisioned it as a gift. What might be joyous about Yom Kippur? How can we each get closer to achieving that state of mind?

RSVP to Marcie Eskin or call 847-926-7903 for each of these classes.

Hebrew Language

Learn to Read Hebrew
Are you looking to improve your skills in Hebrew – either conversational, reading, or prayer?  Educational Staff at NSS Beth El will help to evaluate your level of Hebrew and find appropriate personalized tutoring. Contact Ali Drumm or call 847-432-8126.

E-Tone: News and Ideas from Israel
Silvi Freedson
Tuesdays August 6, August 20, and August 27, 6:15–7:30 pm
Class begins with free conversation in Hebrew and continues with Ulpan-Or’s online Hebrew newspaper E-Tone – an innovative, interactive news digest published on a weekly basis to aid with the studying of Hebrew words and phrases in general, and with accessing the Israeli media in particular. Students read articles and poetry, take virtual trips to Jerusalem neighborhoods, and much more. Trimester Fee: Summer

Café Ivrit: Intermediate Conversational Hebrew
Silvi Freedson
Tuesdays, 6:15 – 7:30 pm; begins September 3
This Intermediate level course will help you improve your conversational and reading skills.  New students are always welcome! Trimester Fee: Fall, Winter, and Spring

Sicha Ivrit: Advanced Conversational Hebrew
Silvi Freedson
Thursdays, 6:15 – 7:30 pm; begins September 5
Join this Advanced level course to study Israeli literature and culture in Hebrew! New students are always welcome. Trimester Fee: Fall, Winter, and Spring

Conversational Hebrew
(Sisterhood Torah Fund)
Dr. Alicia Gejman
Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:00 am; begins September 12
Designed for adults who have basic fluency in reading and writing Hebrew. 

Open Conversational Hebrew
Sundays (ongoing), 9:30 – 11:00 am

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

Classic Jewish Texts

Talmud: Tractate Berachot
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 8:30 – 9:30 am; begins September 3
Begin learning the Talmud at the beginning, with a tractate — Berakhot — that covers daily prayers, blessings for food, and Kiddush. Rabbi Schwab takes students on a journey through the mainstay of the Jewish oral tradition, its rich history, structure, and famous personalities. Study Jewish law in the original text. Discussion and commentary are in English. New participants are always welcome! Trimester Fee: Fall and Winter

Weekly Wisdom
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 10:00 – 11:00 am; begins September 3
Explore the depth of meaning in passages of the Torah via beautiful interpretations and engaging stories created by the rabbis, speaking to the core values of Judaism.

The Ethical Life: Jewish Values in an Age of Choice
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Rabbi Alex Freedman
Tuesdays, 11:00 am – Noon; begins September 3
From political and financial scandals to rapid progress in biomedical science and technology, the complex issues of modern society are, at their core, issues of ethical and moral concern. Now more than ever, we require a solid understanding of how Jewish ethics can inform our discussions and decisions about the critical questions of the day. Rabbi Freedman will facilitate communal conversations grappling with today’s most pressing ethical dilemmas. The curriculum includes videos featuring JTS faculty and other expert scholars and practitioners in the field.

Justice, Justice, We Shall Pursue: Empowered Women in the Bible
Ali Drumm
Tuesdays, 8:00-9:15 p.m. December 3, 10, 17
Explore the complex and fascinating stories of Biblical women as they buck the system and demand justice in their own ways, discovering the hidden places where their lives overlap with our own. We will discover these women in the Bible through ancient texts, rabbinic interpretations, visual art, and original songs. New, just-released sessions from Alicia Jo Rabin’s Girls in Trouble curriculum include the Sotah, Jephthah’s daughter, Vashti, Esther, and the daughters of Tzelofchad. Trimester Fee: Fall

Jewish Life and Culture

Wine and Wisdom
Hazzan Ben Tisser
Wednesdays (3 sessions), 8:00 pm; November 13, January 22, and April 29
Poetry, Midrash, Commentary and Talmud…and wine! Join us for these salon-style gatherings where we share a love of fine kosher wine and learning. Come to any one or all of these sessions. $25 per session or $60 for all three; includes wine, snacks, and great learning.
Register to receive updates on location; this payment is not part of the trimester fees.

Painful Hope: What Happens When Israeli Settlers and Local Palestinians Meet?
Shadi Abu Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger
Wednesday, October 30, 7:45 pm
Roots/Shorashim/Judur is a unique collaboration of local Palestinians and Israelis building a grassroots initiative for understanding, nonviolence and transformation. We invite you to join with Roots activists, one Palestinian – Shadi Abu Awwad, and one Israeli – Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, as they share their personal, interconnected stories and present the groundbreaking and challenging work of their initiative. They do not come with blueprinted peace plans in hand, but with the deep conviction that human understanding and trust are the prerequisites for lasting justice, freedom, and peace in that little sliver of land they both call home. Free but RSVP to Marcie Eskin or call 847-926-7903

Jewish Time Capsule: How Did Jews in the Ancient Diaspora Live?
Ana Igornov
Tuesdays (4 sessions), 8:00 pm; November 5 – November 26
How did the ancient Jews live? How would we know? This class will take us on a virtual tour that reconstructs the life of Jewish communities through discussion of epigraphic evidence and archeological material from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. We will examine artifacts unearthed during excavations of ancient Greek and Roman settlements and synagogues in Asia Minor and Eastern Europe including Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. Trimester Fee: Fall

Palaces in Time: A Season of Wonder
(The Rhythms of Jewish Living – from the Florence Melton Core Curriculum)
Ali Drumm
Sundays (8 sessions) at NSS Beth El, 10:30 am – 11:30 am beginning October 6
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel called Shabbat a “palace in time.” All of our Jewish holidays honor time and serve as a reminder to deeper meaning, belief and ideas. We will delve into the practice and relevance of Jewish holidays in our time, following the calendar of observances during the year.
Tuition including course sourcebook: $75 per 8-session mini course for NSSBE members. Couples who sign up together will receive an additional $20 subsidy for the second partner’s registration. Free babysitting available upon request. To register for this Melton class at NSS Beth El, contact Rolly Cohen or call 847-291-7788 x1304.

Writer’s Beit Midrash
The NSS Beth El Writer’s Beit Midrash meets every other Wednesday in the Maxwell Abbell Library. All fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, and essay writers (published or not yet published) are welcome for discussions, exercises, camaraderie, and critique. The Beit Midrash will meet on August 21 and after the holidays beginning on October 3. Open to the community; free of charge. Contact Rachel Kamin for information or call 847-926-7902.

Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Facilitated by Rachel Kamin
Saturday, September 7 at 12:15 pm post-kiddush
Kick off the new year with a discussion of the award-winning novel The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas after Shabbat Kiddush, facilitated by Rachel Kamin. This moving page-turner tells the story of a college student who receives a mysterious package that ignites a historical investigation that exposes incredible aspects of his family history and its ties to the Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo. New participants are always welcome! Future dates and books: November 2 (House of Gold by Natasha Solomons); January 11 (On Division by Goldie Goldbloom); Sunday, February 23 (Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier); March 7 (Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro); April 25 (The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer); June 6 (The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen). Contact Rachel Kamin for further information or call 847-926-7902.

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? Why marry someone Jewish? This class will explore one big topic after another, utilizing as a guide the book Tough Questions Jews Ask by Rabbi Edward Feinstein. We will supplement this book with 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.