Class Offerings and Descriptions

Class Offerings and Descriptions

The Gertrude Lederman Family Continuing Education courses at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El offer a wonderful chance to deepen your understanding of Jewish thought, culture, and identity. This program is made possible through the generous gift of the estate of Gertrude Lederman. The value she placed on Jewish education became the cornerstone of her legacy of lifelong learning in our congregation.

Contact Rachel Kamin, Director of Lifelong Learning, for more information about adult education and Marcie Eskin, Education Coordinator, for registration and other class-related information. Click here to download the brochure of 5782 Winter Courses.

Winter Quarter Courses

The fee for Continuing Education courses is $60 per quarter for NSS Beth El members and $125 per quarter for guests. Payment for one course includes any additional classes during the same quarter (including Hebrew) at no additional charge. Register at

Talmud: Tractate Berakhot
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 8:30-9:30 am, January 11-March 15, 2022 
(10 sessions)
Rabbi Schwab takes students on a journey through the mainstay of the Jewish oral tradition, its rich history, structure, and famous personalities. Class will meet in person and on Zoom. Quarter Fee: Winter

Breaking Jewish News & Views
Carl Schrag
NEW TIME: Wednesdays, 1:00-2:15 pm, January 12-March 2, 2022
(8 sessions)
This weekly discussion-based class zooms in on local, national, and global news through a distinctly Jewish lens. We’ll talk about 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. Carl Schrag, who was the Editor of The Jerusalem Post, brings a journalist’s probing questions to every topic. Class will meet on Zoom. Quarter Fee: Winter

Dipping into the Well: Jewish Wisdom for Our Daily Lives
Rebecca Minkus-Lieberman
Thursdays, 8:00-9:00 pm, January 20 & 27 and 
February 3 & 10, 2022 (4 sessions)
This four-part series will integrate Jewish texts and other sources of wisdom with study and discussion, reflective exercises, and personal practices to extend the learning into life and work. Class topics will include: Refuge in the Busyness: Bringing ‘Shabbat Mind’ into the Everyday; Embracing our Vulnerability: Opening to Mystery; Building our Storehouses: Noticing Places of Scarcity and Abundance; and The Garments We Choose: Inheritance, Success, and Legacy. Class will meet on Zoom. Quarter Fee: Winter

Hebrew Language

Café Ivrit: Intermediate Conversational Hebrew
Silvi Freedson
Tuesdays, 6:00-7:30 pm, January 11-March 15, 2022 
(10 sessions)
This Intermediate level course will help you improve your conversational and reading skills. Class will meet on Zoom. Quarter Fee: Winter

Sicha Ivrit: Advanced Conversational Hebrew
Silvi Freedson
Thursdays, 6:00-7:30 pm, January 13-March 17, 2022 (10 sessions)
Join this Advanced level course to study Israeli literature and culture in Hebrew. Class will meet on Zoom. Quarter Fee: Winter

Intermediate Conversational Hebrew (in partnership with Moriah Congregation)
Silvi Freedson
Mondays, 7:30- 9:00 pm, January 10-March 14, 2022 (10 sessions)
In this class we will be reading stories, plays, and articles and discussing them in Hebrew. Class will meet on Zoom. Quarter Fee: Winter

Open Conversational Hebrew
Sundays, 9:30-11:00 am
Practice Hebrew conversation informally with other participants. For information, contact Judy Farby at or 847-372-1700. Class will meet on Zoom. FREE

Sisterhood Torah Fund Classes

Sisterhood Torah Fund classes are open to ALL STUDENTS. You do not need to be a member of Sisterhood to participate. Participants are encouraged to make a minimum annual donation of $54 to attend one or ALL Torah Fund classes for the entire year. Register at

People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present
Rachel Kamin
Mondays, 11:00 am and/or 8:00 pm, January 10 & 24; February 7 & 28; and March 14, 2022
In each class, we will discuss selected essays from the new book, People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present by Dara Horn, as well as clips from her podcast Adventures with Dead Jews. Reflecting on subjects as far-flung as the international veneration of Anne Frank, the blockbuster traveling exhibition “Auschwitz,” the Jewish history of the Chinese city of Harbin, and the little known “righteous-gentile” Varian Fry, these essays challenge us to confront the reasons why there is so much fascination with Jewish deaths and seemingly so little respect for Jewish lives. Class will meet in-person at 11:00am and on Zoom at 8:00pm.

Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club facilitated by Rachel Kamin
Click here for our Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club schedule.

The Sisterhood of NSS Beth El has a long history of supporting the Conservative/Masorti Movement’s Torah Fund through the sponsorship of an impressive array of annual classes, led by our clergy and talented staff and volunteers. Go to for more information on how to make your donation.

Free Classes

The Gertrude Lederman Family Continuing Education Program offers a variety of free programs, events and classes. Register at to receive the Zoom links, class notes and other important updates.

Adult Cantillation Class
Hazzan Barbara Barnett
Wednesdays, 8:00-9:00 pm, January 12 – February 16, 2022 (6 sessions)
Unlock the secret of chanting Torah, decode the melody patterns, and learn the “how” as well as the “why” of Torah cantillation. This is the perfect opportunity for parents who would like to learn to chant Torah for their child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah or anyone who wants to become a Torah reader. Comfort with reading Hebrew text is required.
*Part of the Team Torah and Mitzvah 613 Initiatives* Class will meet on Zoom. FREE

Advanced Torah Tropes & Tricks
Phil Barnett
Thursdays, 8:00-9:00 pm, February 24-March 17, 2022 (4 sessions)
Fine tune your Torah chanting skills with tips and tricks to help you use Hebrew grammar to determine meaning, discover techniques for proper pronunciation, discern where phrases are likely to begin and end, and figure out which trope patterns are likely to fit a particular phrase.
*Part of the Team Torah and Mitzvah 613 Initiatives* Class will meet on Zoom. FREE

The Choral Torah Collective: Beth El Chapter
Hazzan Jacob Sandler
Sundays, 4:00-5:30 pm, January 23, February 6 & 20 and March 6 & 20, 2022
The Choral Torah: Five Books in Four Parts, published by The Cantors Assembly, is a new collection of 54 choral pieces corresponding to each week’s parashah. Our Beth El Choral Torah Chapter will examine, study, and learn to sing selections from this work – using Torah to teach music, and music to teach Torah. We will also have opportunities to perform these pieces at the end of the spring quarter (and possibly sooner!) This group is perfect for the musically literate, musically inclined or just musically enthusiastic. No auditions necessary – all adults, pre-teens & teens are welcome!
Class will meet on Zoom on January 23. FREE

Lunch & Learn
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 pm, February 24 & March 24, 2022
Grab your lunch and join Rabbi Schwab from the comfort of your own home or office for study sessions centered on the ethical issues of our lives. Relying on source material from biblical and rabbinic texts, we will discuss the ethical principles and interpretations of Jewish law over the centuries and how to apply these ideas to everyday challenges. Attend one or both – all are welcome. Class will meet on Zoom. FREE

Music as Midrash: Behind the Music of Prayer
Rabbi Josh Warshawsky
Tuesdays, 12:30-1:30 pm, January 11, January 25 and February 8, 2022
Embedded within each lyrical and liturgical text that we sing aloud are stories, deep secrets, and intricate connections between Hebrew words and themes. How can the melodies we sing help us to better express the emotions the words already hope to convey? Together we’ll discuss the stories behind the music, deepen our understanding of the wisdom of our tradition, and sing out with a newfound understanding of the words we bring into the world. Attend one, two, or all three sessions! Class will meet on Zoom. FREE

Stand by Me
Dates & Time TBA
Have you felt lonely or isolated during the pandemic? Are you caring for a loved one or grieving the loss of a family member? Join us virtually to engage with old friends and make new ones. Professional counselors will make presentations on topics of interest. Participants will have the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings, as well as schmooze and enjoy the company of others. For more information, contact Jackie Melinger at or 847-361-9798 or Mary Ellen Bowers at or 847-910-1080. Sponsored by HAZAK; Class will meet on Zoom. FREE

Writer’s Beit Midrash
Wednesday, 9:30 am, January 12 & 26, February 9 & 23, March 9 & 23, 2022
All fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, and essay writers (published or not yet published) are welcome for discussions, exercises, camaraderie, and critique every other Wednesday morning.
Class will meet on Zoom in January. FREE

Melton School of Jewish Learning

Beth El is pleased to partner with Moriah Congregation in Deerfield to offer three courses from the Melton Adult School of Jewish Learning this winter.

OMG, Can You Believe?! with Rabbi Alex Freedman
Fridays, 12:00–1:00pm, January 14–March 18, 2022 (9 sessions; no class January 28)
In this exploratory course, we’ll dive into the BIG questions around God and God’s relationship to Humankind. We’ll examine the many different understandings of God, free will, and mitzvot expressed by Jewish philosophers, rabbis, leaders past and present — and you. We’ll explore the divine, the prophetic, and even the supernatural, as we amplify and dissect your deepest God-questions. Just do not expect to leave with any final answers.
Class will meet on Zoom. Cost: $179 for the class, includes the book; $100 rebate available to NSS Beth El members after full registration and payment to Melton; scholarships available upon request.
Register at

Jews in America: Insiders and Outsiders with Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Avraham
Thursdays, 9:30–11:00am, January 13–March 17, 2022 (10 sessions)
Our version of a Jewish-American “Stuff You Missed in History Class”! Learners will discuss seminal developments in American life, such as the Jewish contributions to American culture, American literature, and the Civil Rights Movement, through the lens of Jews straddling their status as both insiders and outsiders. The course will also examine antisemitism and the Holocaust, and the changing place of Zionism in the shaping of Jewish American identity. Sharing tales from immigrants, their children, and grandchildren, learners will debate the meaning of this ongoing saga.
Class will meet on Zoom. Cost: $295 for the class, includes the book; $200 rebate available to NSS Beth El members after full registration and payment to Melton; scholarships available upon request.
Register at

Community Learning Opportunities

Queen Esther Meets the Rabbis
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
Project Oded Mini-Course ONLINE offered by The Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center
Mondays, 11:00am-12:00pm CST, January 31-February 28
The Scroll of Esther is one of the most beloved books in the Bible. Yet, its story is rather complex. We will study together texts in the Talmud and the Midrash which will enlighten us as to how the Rabbis understood the story. It will be a great way to prepare for the holiday of Purim. $36. Register at

Talmudic Stories: Lessons from the Past for Contemporary Society
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
offered ONLINE by the Schechter Institutes
Tuesdays, 8:30-10:00am CST, March 1-May 17 (10 sessions, no class April 12 & 19)

We will study together primary sources from the Mishna and Gemara which highlight the behavior and teachings of the Rabbis of that period. We will examine these stories from a historical, literary, sociological and cultural point of view. Through our study we will gain an understanding of the rabbinic age and the influence specific Rabbis had on their generation and which continues to this very day. Early bird discount: $210; After February 20, 2022: $235. 10% discount price for 2 series of classes. Register at

Hillel the Elder: The Classic Sage
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
offered ONLINE by the Schechter Institutes
Sundays, 10:30-11:45am CST, March 6-April 10 (6 sessions)
Perhaps no other sage of the Rabbinic period is better known than Hillel. Through his teachings, behavior and method of study and interpretation he has left a legacy which continues to influence Judaism and our Jewish lives to this very day. We will read together stories in the Talmud and Midrash about Hillel and spend time studying his teachings in both Halacha and Aggada to get a better picture of the sage, his creativity and how we might learn from him how to act in our present day and age. $130. 10% discount price for 2 series of classes. Register at

Note: Because the cost of tuition should never be a barrier to participation in our NSS Beth El classes, we do offer financial assistance. Please contact Marcie Eskin for scholarship information.