Adult Education


Contact us to sign
up or with any questions!

At B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation we believe that Jewish learning is a lifetime project. 

Please join us at any one of our course offerings this year.  Membership is not required, and many of the classes have a nominal charge, suggested donation, or are free!

Other Jewish Adult Education opportunities:


All are Invited
We welcome everyone, Jewish or not, member or not, to attend our classes and programs.  Please join us!

Enrollment and Cancellation Policies:

  • Some classes and programs have limited enrollments.
  • Register early to avoid disappointment.
  • If enrollment is too low, an event or class may be canceled.
  • To be notified of schedule changes or cancellations, you must be preregistered.

B’nai Sholom Adult Education Spring 2019 Programs

Click here for Adult Education Course Registration Form

Archaeology of the Religion of Ancient Israel

Wednesday mornings, September 11 through October 30 (no class October 9); 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Fee: $36 members; $54 non-members

Taught by Steve Stark-Riemer, noted local lecturer in archaeology, history and religion of the Ancient Near East.

This course will begin with a history of the search for ancient Israel’s religion and will consider the distinction between “book religion” and “folk religion.” Topics covered in other sessions will include Canaanite Religion before the emergence of ancient Israel; the Cult of Asherah; Death in the Life of ancient Israel; and the transition from polytheism to monotheism. The course concludes with the Babylonian conquest and the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE.

 Beginning Hebrew

Wednesday evenings, October 16 and 23, then Monday evenings, October 28 through December 2; All classes 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (note: the class shifts from Wednesdays to Mondays after the first two sessions) Taught by Carol Smith

This course is for people who want to learn and/or practice reading Hebrew. Over 8 sessions, we will go over the letters in the Hebrew alphabet and the sounds they make. We will go over vowels and how to pair them with the letters. All along the way, we will practice reading. Lots of practice!! We will be using as a text Aleph Isn’t Tough: An Introduction to Hebrew for Adults, Book 1 by Linda Motzkin ($23). Please register by October 3 and we will order the book for you.


Amoz Oz: Israel’s Storyteller        

Wednesday mornings, November 6 through December 4; 10:30 a.m. to Noon        Taught by Martha Rozett, professor emerita at the University at Albany This course is coordinated with two other BSRC Adult Education events. It will focus on three books ( a memoir, a collection of short stories, and a novel by one of Israel’s most distinguished prolific writers). Participants are encouraged to acquire copies of all three books and read as much of them as time permits. We will begin with excerpts from A Tale of Love and Darkness, recently selected by the NY Times as one of the fifty finest memoirs of the past fifty years. A film produced by Natalie Portman based on parts of the memoir will be shown at the Nov 16 Movie Night.Our next text, Between Friends, is a collection of linked stories inspired by Oz’s experience of living on a kibbutz. We’ll devote our final class to Oz’s 2014 novel Judas. In his opening sentences, Oz tells us that this is a story set in Jerusalem in 1959-1960, a story of error and desire, of unrequited love, and of a religious question that remains unresolved, the question of Judas Iscariot’s relationship to Jesus. Judas will also be the subject Martha Rozett’s annual Synagogue Scholar presentation on December 13. Course participants will be invited to contribute to the discussion

Hannah Arendt: Challenges of Thinking, Acting and Judging in Dark Times

A special two-part course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany, will explore the life of Hannah Arendt, her response to the Adolf Eichmann trial and current challenges with rising right-wing nationalism, the status of truth and the place of politics.

The course consists of:

  • Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.: A screening of “Hannah Arendt,” Margarethe von Trotta’s well-received 2012 bio-drama that focuses on Arendt’s response to the Eichmann trial. Using footage from the actual Eichmann trial and weaving a narrative that spans three countries, von Trotta turns the often invisible passion for thought into immersive, dramatic cinema.  The New York Times wrote that the film’s climax “matches some of the great courtroom scenes in cinema and provides a stirring reminder that the labor of figuring out the world is necessary, difficult and sometimes genuinely heroic.”
  • Thursday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m.: Professor Laurie Naranch of Siena College will lead a discussion examining why Arendt still matters today. Naranch will explore the boundaries of political critique, migration and violence, friendships made and broken, fascism and memory.
Fee: $10 members; $15 non-members


Click here for Adult Education Course Registration Form

Torah Study

Studying Vayeitzei

Saturday Mornings, 9:30 – 11 a.m.

Extended Text Study one Saturday of each month, 9:30 a.m. – Noon

At Torah Study, we read translations and various commentaries in English, and discuss the meaning of the weekly Torah portion.

On Extended Study days, we’ve been working our way through the Tanakh with Rabbi Cashman.  Currently we’re about to start the book of Chronicles, which provides rich material for discussion.   Our Extended Study is powered by coffee, bagels, and an assortment of other delicious breakfast food.

These sessions are open to all on a drop-in, occasional, or regular basis.  BYOB – Bring your own Bible, but we’ve got extras.  No previous knowledge necessary!  Share what you know!


Our series of talks by scholars from the congregation and beyond as presented following Friday night worship services.

December 13, 2019

Martha Rozett will lead a discussion of Judas by Amos Oz, the final novel in his distinguished career, set in 1950s Jerusalem and blending a tender coming-of-age story with a thought-provoking study of betrayal. The New York Times called it “magnificent” and made it an Editors’ Choice.

January 10, 2020

Ed Rosen will present “Riding Through the History of the Golan,” treating its history, geography, demographic complexities as well as its prospects for the future. Ed attended Hebrew University and is an active member of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and he has hiked and traveled extensively in the Golan including most recently by horseback


November 16, 2019 – 7:30 PM — A Tale of Love and Darkness
Directed by Natalie Portman, this film is based on the memories of Amos Oz, growing up in Jerusalem in the years before Israeli statehood with his academic father and his dreamy, imaginative mother. “An elegant and intimate movie”- New York Times.

February 15, 2020 – 7:30 PM — TBA

March 14, 2020 – 7:30 PM — TBA

Adult Education Pictures

  • Bible Study 1

    Bible Study 1

  • Extended Study

    Extended Study

  • Extended Study - Pomegranates led to another topic

    Extended Study - Pomegranates led to another topic

  • Extended Study

    Extended Study

  • Torah Study

    Torah Study