Rabbis offer ‘full menu’ of Jewish studies

Rabbis offer ‘full menu’ of Jewish studies

Members of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis will offer a full menu of Jewish study opportunities at the inaugural “Sweet Tastes of Torah: A Community Night of Learning,” Feb. 6 at Temple Emeth, 1666 Windsor Road in Teaneck. Music and munchies also are on the bill.

“At a recent meeting, we were discussing the state of adult education in the community,” said NJBR President Rabbi Randall Mark of Wayne. Recently, regional learning initiatives including the Jewish Learning Project at the YJCC in Washington Township lost their funding.

“We thought we should do something broadly based,” said Mark. “Being a collection of pulpit rabbis, and having human – but not financial – resources, we thought of a one-night event to make use of those resources.”

Responding enthusiastically to a committee headed by Rabbi Benjamin Shull of Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley, nearly 30 of the organization’s members and their congregations signed on.

Mark, who leads Shomrei Torah, the Wayne Conservative Congregation, is to lecture on divisions within Judaism, challenging participants to judge whether internal discord is a source of strength or weakness. Shull will lead a session entitled “Is Barbie Jewish?” a look at beauty and American Jewish identity in the 21st century based on the short award-winning documentary “The Tribe.”

The Reform and Conservative pulpit rabbis who largely comprise the NJBR talked up the [event] and created a buzz, said Mark, who expected many preregistrants before the Feb. 1 deadline. Advance registration costs $10; admission at the door will be $18. Sweet Tastes of Torah even has a Facebook and Twitter presence.

“We have more than 25 classes being taught by members of the NJBR, and topics range from the serious to the not-so-serious,” said Nickie Falk, project coordinator. “This will give congregants from various synagogues the opportunity to learn from rabbis other than their own.”

A concurrent session is planned for elementary school-aged children, who will be admitted free of charge. “That will help us reach a broader segment of the community,” said Shull. “It was important to us that this event would have a cultural and social aspect as well.”

The planning committee included the members of Shull’s own weekly study group: Rabbi David Bockman, formerly rabbi of the Bergenfield Jewish Center; Rabbi Leanna Moritt of Tenafly, who runs an outreach project for intermarried couples; and Rabbi Gerald Friedman of Temple Beth Sholom in Park Ridge.

“It is important for us to convey to the community that we’re excited about this one-time event,” he said, “but our hope is to inspire study throughout the year.” Based on evaluations of the upcoming program, the committee hopes to offer ongoing initiatives.

Registration begins at 6:15 p.m. Sessions are to commence following havdalah at 6:50. Desserts afterward are to be provided by Kosher.com, a co-sponsor of the event along with the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. The evening will conclude with a performance by Migdal Oz, a Jewish funk, rock, jazz, and rhythm-and-blues band.

To view the full program and register, click “Sweet Tastes of Torah” at the UJA-NNJ site, www.ujannj.org. The rain date is Feb. 20.

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