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. 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.

Winter Quarter Courses 2024

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. ANNUAL PASS: Beth El members can purchase a special discounted annual pass for $180 ($360 for guests) which will include all classes during the 2023-2024 fall, winter, spring and summer quarters. NOTE: There is an additional charge for the Melton Beyond Borders course.

Register for Winter Quarter 2024 Classes

Talmud: Tractate B’rachot with Rabbi Michael Schwab
Tuesdays, 8:30-9:30 am, January 9-March 19, 2024 (no class on March 5)
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 with Carl Schrag
Wednesdays, 9:45-11:00 am, January 10-March 13, 2024
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

Beyond Borders: The History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict with Carl Schrag
Tuesdays, 8:00-9:15 pm, January 9-April and May 7-June4, 2024
Study the roots of the conflict between Jews and Arabs over the modern State of Israel in this intensive Melton course. Analyzing newspaper articles, speeches, poems, photographs, and maps, we will re-trace history, examining each war and attempt at peace. Together, we’ll leap into these complex topics, probing why a lasting peace between Israel and the Arab world has been so elusive and what developments might be next.
Class will meet on Zoom. Additional Fee: $120 for members; $360 for guests.

Pesach: From the Bible to the Seder Table with Rabbi Dr. Vernon Kurtz
Sundays, 10:30 am CT, February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 3, 10, 17, 31; April 7, 14
As we prepare ourselves for Pesach and the Seder, we will study together the history, texts and practices which make this holiday the most beloved and observed Jewish festival. While our emphasis will be on the modern Seder experience, we will begin with the Biblical sources to the holiday and trace the history of the festival through Rabbinic literature, in each case showing how the texts set the scene for our modern Seder. We will finally end up at the Seder table studying the Haggadah and discussing the many customs and ceremonies of the Seder and their contemporary meaning.
$180 (dollar price dependent upon exchange rate on date of payment) for 10 classes; Register for this Schechter Institutes class at
The weekly zoom link will be sent via email to all registered students one week before the start of class.

Hebrew Language

Beginner’s Learn to Read Hebrew with Fran Pearlman
Wednesdays, 8:00-9:00 pm, January 31-March 20, 2024
In this truly beginner’s class, students will learn to decode Hebrew, blending consonants and vowels together to form key words. Using a tried and true curriculum, students will have the opportunity to learn from the beginning or to refresh their knowledge. No prior knowledge required. Class will meet in-person. Quarter Fee: Winter

Café Ivrit: Intermediate Conversational Hebrew with Pnina Arsers
Tuesdays, 6:15-7:30 pm, January 9-March 19, 2024
This Intermediate level course will help you improve your conversational and reading skills.
Class will meet in-person. Quarter Fee: Winter

Sicha Ivrit: Advanced Conversational Hebrew with Shlomit Hoch
Thursdays, 6:00-7:30 pm, January 11-March 14, 2024
Join this Advanced level course to study Israeli literature and culture 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

Artist Beit Midrash Workshops

Purim Mask Making Workshop with Judith Joseph
Tuesdays, 1:00-3:00 pm, February 27-March 19, 2024
Create a beautiful, mysterious mask just in time for Purim! We will learn to sculpt with cardboard, paper and tape, harden with papier maché, and embellish with gems and yarn. We will even learn some decorative paper-cutting too. No artistic ability or experience required. Class will meet in-person. Quarter Fee: Winter (includes all supplies)

Winter Quarter Free Classes

Sign Language for Shul with Sari Daybook
Mondays, 8:00-9:00 pm, January 22-March 18, 2024 (no class February 19)
This introduction to American Sign Language will provide knowledge and understanding about the deaf culture and exposure to basic ASL sign language. We will learn how to use our hands to welcome members of the deaf community to Beth El and learn a selection of Hebrew prayers and blessings in ASL.
Class will meet in-person. FREE

Strong Women in Megillat Esther with Hazzan Jenna Greenberg
Thursday, March 7, 11:15 am
Join Hazzan Greenberg to explore the attributes of the women in Megillat Esther and what they can teach us today. FREE; class will meet in-person after the HAZAK Fitness Class and on Zoom.


Pre-Pesach Workshops

Prepare for Passover by attending one, two or all three of these sessions with Rabbi Alex Freedman immediately following the HAZAK Fitness class. Class will meet in-person and on Zoom. FREE

Storytelling through the Foods of Passover
Thursday, March 28, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm
We’re familiar with what special foods to eat at the Seder. Each one contains a story, and they all add to the grand storytelling of the Haggadah. Join us to examine these foods and the messages they convey.

The Ten Plagues: A Deeper Look
Thursday, April 4, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm
We can’t tell the story of the Exodus without mentioning the Ten Plagues. But why are these ten selected in this particular order? Come take a closer look at the symbolism of the plagues.

Late-Night Hagaddah Highlights
Thursday, April 18, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm
We all know the songs Echad Mi Yodea (Who Knows One?) and Chad Gadya (One Little Goat). While they are fun to sing, a deeper look reveals important teachings. Let’s explore these songs in detail together.

Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club

Join Rachel Kamin, Director of Lifelong Learning, for lively book discussions and author events. New participants are always welcome! Click here for more information including the complete 2023-2024 calendar.

White Bird by R.J. Palacio
Sunday, February 25, 12:00 pm
All 3rd-7th graders, and adult readers of all ages, are invited to participate in our 8th annual Family Book Club, sponsored by the Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club and the Beth El Youth Community. After lunch, we’ll discuss White Bird (the novel, the graphic novel and the movie) and meet the author on Zoom.

The Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club is 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. 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.

The Book Club will continue in March, April & June 2024.

Writer’s Beit Midrash
Wednesdays, 9:30 am, March 6 & 20; April 3, 2024
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 in person. FREE