North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Class Offerings and Descriptions

Class Offerings and Descriptions

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.

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.

Mysteries of the Bible
Aaron Klein
Thursdays, 11:00 am – Noon, beginning September 12
Join us as we unpack some of the more eclectic sections of the Bible while uncovering the interplay between cosmology and creation, the 613 mitzvot, Jewish heroes, and how the Torah applies to the modern world.
Trimester Fee: Fall

Study in the Loop
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Thursdays (3 sessions), Noon–1:30 pm; September 12, November 14 and December 19
Loop Location: Harris & Harris, 111 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60604
Each of the three study sessions is centered on the ethical issues of our lives. 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.
Fee: $15 per session to cover lunch. To register, contact Ana Igornov at 847-926-7900 or

Adult B’nai Mitzvah Class
Rabbi Alex Freedman, Hazzan Benjamin Tisser, and Hazzan Barbara Barnett
Begins November 2019, culminating on the second day of Shavuot (Saturday, May 30) 
Join a cohort of adult learners who are preparing for their B’nai Mitzvah. We welcome all with interest – those who have become B’nai Mitzvah and wish to engage in deeper learning, as well as those who have never had the experience. Classes will meet twice weekly from November through May (interested students will decide upon a class day/time together). In November/December, students will have a weekly Torah study class with Rabbi Freedman. From January-May, students will participate in a weekly skills class with Hazzan Tisser and Hazzan Barnett. Throughout, students will join a Sunday morning learner’s service from 9:20-10:10 am.
Fee: $180 which covers the adult education fee and a Kiddush contribution. If you have questions about the process, please contact Hazzan Tisser at If you are interested, please contact Ana Igornov at by October 25th.

Justice, Justice, We Shall Pursue: Empowered Women in the Bible
Ali Drumm
Tuesdays (4 sessions), 8:00-9:15 pm; December 3, 10, and 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

Study in the Suburbs
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Thursdays (3 sessions), Noon–1:30 pm; January 23, February 20 and March 19
Suburbs Location: BJE (Board of Jewish Education), 3320 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Illinois 60091
Each of the three study sessions is centered on the ethical issues of our lives. 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.
Fee: $15 per session to cover lunch. To register, contact Ana Igornov at 847-926-7900 or

Jewish Life and Culture

A Rockin’ Rosh Chodesh
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Dr. Fran Alpert and Dr. Betsy Dolgin Katz
Class will meet monthly: Friday, September 20 at 10:00 am; Thursday, October 31 at 8:00 pm; Monday, November 18 at 10:00 am; Wednesday, January 8 at 10:00 am; Wednesday, January 29 at 10:00 am; Thursday, February 27 at 8:00 pm; Wednesday, April 1 at 8:00 pm; Wednesday, May 6 at 10:00 am; Thursday, June 4 at 8:00 pm. 
Explore life-enriching literature, meet fascinating women from our past, and examine traditions that emerge from our calendar. 

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.

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?
Dr. 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

Wine and Wisdom
Hazzan Ben Tisser
Wednesdays (3 sessions), 8:00 pm; November 13, January 22, and May 13 (Note revised final date)
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.

Writer’s Beit Midrash
September 4 and 18, October 16 (in the Sukkah) and 30, and November 13
The NSS Beth El Writer’s Beit Midrash meets every other Wednesday at 9:30 am 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, . 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.