North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Class Offerings and Descriptions

Class Offerings and Descriptions

Hebrew Language

Beginning 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.

Hebrew Literacy
Silvi Freedson
Sundays, 9:15–10:30 am; begins September 16
Ready to impress your kids with how much you know? Want to be able to read and understand the prayer service? This Hebrew literacy class is designed for students with no prior knowledge of the language and no Hebrew reading skills. Students will learn the Hebrew alphabet and the mechanics of reading. At the end of the course students will be able to read short stories and prayers, and acquire a basic vocabulary on a range of topics. The course will focus on literacy rather than conversational Hebrew. Free babysitting available. Trimester Fee: Fall and Winter

Intermediate Conversational Hebrew
Silvi Freedson
Tuesdays, 6:15–7:30 pm; begins October 9
Improve your conversational and reading skills.  New students are always welcome! Trimester Fee: Fall, Winter, and Spring

Advanced Conversational Hebrew
Silvi Freedson
Thursdays, 6:15 – 7:30 pm; begins September 27
Strengthen and retain your Hebrew skills by diving into news articles and books and lively conversation together! Trimester Fee: Fall, Winter, and Spring

Conversational Hebrew
(Sisterhood Torah Fund)
Dr. Alicia Gejman
Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:00 am; begins September 6
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 Text

High Holiday Boot Camp with Rabbi Alex Freedman
Like primer for paint, preparation for the High Holidays will ensure that the experience is meaningful and lasting. Join Rabbi Freedman for two free text-based classes. Also, stay tuned for a digital mini-library of pre-High Holiday thoughts that you can access from your computer or phone.

  • Teshuva in 2018
    Tuesday, 7:45 pm, September 4
    So many people speak today about self-transformation, but the Jewish idea of Teshuva was detailed by Maimonides a millennium ago. Exactly what is repentance, and what does it look like today?
  • The Binding of Isaac: Redeeming Abraham
    Shabbat morning, post-kiddush, September 8
    It’s easy to read the story of the Binding of Isaac and become enraged at Abraham for almost sacrificing his son Isaac. Is there a reading of the story that preserves his status of role model? We will attempt to do so without apologizing for his actions.

It’s Good to Be the King: David in the Book of Samuel
Aaron Klein
Thursdays 11:00 am-12:00 pm, September 27-November 15
It’s no surprise that Joseph Heller chronicled David as the smug Jewish father and plagiarized poet- King David’s story in the Bible is one of the most fascinating in the ancient world, and its themes are timeless. Follow his tale through its fascinating twists and turns in the Bible’s First and Second Samuel. Trimester Fee: Fall

Learn to Chant Torah
Hazzan Ben Tisser
Thursdays, 8:00-9:00 pm beginning October 18
In this eight-week class, we’ll unlock the secret of chanting Torah. We’ll decode the melody patterns, and learn the “how” as well as the “why” of Torah cantillation. This is a perfect opportunity for parents with children in 2nd Grade and up (especially those with children in 6th Grade) to learn Torah for their child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Comfort with reading Hebrew text is required. Class is free.

Tefillah Tutor
Rabbi Alex Freedman
Shabbat mornings, 9:00-9:45 am, October 6-27
Have you ever sat in shul wishing you could pause the action and ask, “What’s going on here?” This class starts with your questions and aims to provide learners with a deeper understanding of the prayer services to enrich their tefillah experience. Topics will include an overview of the siddur, prayer choreography, and building a tefillah vocabulary. This class overlaps with the beginning of the Shabbat morning service. The session on October 13 will be taught by Rabbi Schwab. Class is free.

Conservative Judaism Looks at Modern Issues
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
Tuesdays, 10:00 – 11:00 am; begins October 9
Join a discussion of the principles of Conservative Judaism, its interpretation of Jewish law, and its response to modern issues, including ritual, ethics, sex and politics.

Weekly Wisdom
(Sisterhood Torah Fund Class)
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 11:00 am – Noon; begins October 9
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.

Talmud: Tractate Berachot
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
Tuesdays, 8:30 – 9:30 am; begins October 9
This year’s study will focus on Perek (Chapter) VII which is concerned with the laws of Birkat HaMazon. Study Jewish law in the original text. Discussion and commentary are in English. New participants are always welcome! Trimester Fee: Fall

Rabbi Akiba: His Life and Legacy
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
Tuesdays, 8:00-9:00 pm, October 30, November 6 & 20
In this course we will examine the life, teachings, and legacy of the great sage Rabbi Akiba. We will delve into his biography, carefully study his Torah, and engage ourselves with his influence. We will study original sources and read secondary material concerning his lasting impact upon Jewish life throughout the ages. Trimester Fee: Fall

Ezra, Nehemiah and the Return from Exile
Rabbi Steven Bob
Wednesdays, 7:45-9:15 pm; November 7, 14 and December 12, 19
The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the return from the first exile in ancient Babylonia. They contain the foundational ideas for our modern sense of Jewish identity. Living after the modern return from the second exile we will explore the meaning of Jewish existence in light of these texts from the early Second Temple period. Trimester Fee: Fall

Jewish Life and Culture

Crossroads of Jewish History
(Melton Core Curriculum)
Rabbi David Rosenberg
Sundays (22 sessions) at NSS Beth El, 11:00 am – Noon; begins September 16
This course merges the concepts of history and memory in order to better understand how each has shaped Judaism today. With an emphasis on reclaiming the richness of Jewish history, the chronological exploration investigates significant crossroads where Jews took major decisions that shaped our shared identity and destiny.

Tuition including course sourcebook: $100 for NSSBE members, $240 for Melton Consortium members and $340 for non-Consortium members. Couples who sign up together will receive an additional $20 subsidy for the second partner’s registration. Free babysitting available.

To register for this Melton class at NSS Beth El, contact Rolly Cohen or call 847-291-7788 x1304.

Hand in Hand: A Support Group for Spouse/Partner Loss
Elizabeth Cohen
Wednesdays, 10:30 am -12:00 pm, September 26-October 31
The loss of a spouse or partner can be life-changing, especially as you face the “golden” years alone. Learn what to expect from your grief, adapt to role changes, learn coping skills and navigate relationships in your new status. For those with a loss over the past year and a half. In partnership with North Shore Congregation Israel, the Jewish Healing Network of Chicago, and Jewish Child and Family Services. To register, contact Elizabeth Cohen, LCSW, or call 847-745-5404. $30 for the series, adjustable

Lost in Translation: Israeli Literature
Rachel Kamin, Todd Hasak-Lowy, Daniel Libenson
Wednesdays, 7:45 pm, October 10, 17 & 24
It’s an established fact in the literary world that Americans just aren’t that motivated to read fiction in translation, but the small number of books being translated from Hebrew has been steadily increasing. Rachel Kamin will discuss some of these new books now available to those of us who aren’t quite fluent enough to read them in their original Hebrew and we’ll also meet with two local translators. Todd Hasak-Lowy has been translating Hebrew literature into English since 2011 including authors Asaf Schurr, Dror Burstein, D.A. Mishani, and Orly Castel-Bloom. Daniel Libenson is the founder and president of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future and recently translated the Israeli novel The Orchard by Yochi Brandes. Class is free.

Kabbalah and Healing
Devi Stern
Mondays, 7:45-9:00 pm, October 15, 22 & 29, November 5
Kabbalah and energy medicine are both ancient bodies of wisdom enjoying a resurgence of interest. Join energy healer and author Devi Stern in exploring how these two fields, when combined, create unique and powerful ways of tapping into the spiritual realms while staying safely centered and grounded in the physical body. Energy medicine provides the physical practices, while Kabbalah is the ladder to spirit. Learn simple self-care exercises appropriate for all fitness levels. Regular practice helps to maintain wellness, encourage maximum vitality and resilience, reduce stress, and facilitate change. The series will include kabbalah/energy exercises for grounding, creating safe boundaries, self-healing, and more. Trimester Fee: Fall

Judaism: Parts Unknown
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 7:45 pm, November 27, December 11 & 18
Take an extraordinary journey through some of Judaism’s most challenging topics and engage with Rabbi Schwab in engrossing conversation about our shared heritage. See how Judaism has really become an “encyclopedia of human variety, ingenuity, adaptation, survival and aspiration” where views evolve and change. Trimester Fee: Fall

Jewish Holidays @ Home
Rabbi Alex Freedman and Kory Goldenberg
5 sessions, 9:00-10:00 am
A fun, interactive class for families seeking to bring the Jewish holidays home to their young children. The first session will focus on Rosh HaShanah, and will meet on Friday, September 7. Rabbi Alex Freedman and Steinberg Pre-School Director Kory Goldenberg will introduce participants to themes, prayers, and songs for each holiday and will provide handouts to assist in recreating at home what has been learned in class. Subsequent sessions will meet on Thursday, October 11 (Shabbat); Friday, November 30 (Hanukkah); Wednesday, March 20 (Purim), and Friday, April 12 (Passover). Come to one or more! Fruit and coffee will be served. Class is free. To register, email Ava Nussbaum at