A message from Rabbi Drorah Setel, Jan 17, 2020:
Dear TEE members and friends,
Many Jews (and others) are familiar with Rabbi Hillel as the author of the saying, “If I am not for myself, who am I? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” But there is another, less well known, insight of his that I often find myself thinking about: “Do not say, ‘when I have spare time I will study’—perhaps you will never have spare time.” As with so many rabbinic teachings, I am continually impressed by our ancestors’ knowledge of human nature, as well as their sense of humor. I read Hillel’s remark as simultaneously a statement about priorities and a dig at the way we all make excuses about why we don’t get certain things accomplished.
One of the great things about being a rabbi is that studying is part of my job. In addition to daily Talmud study and weekly Torah study, I also do my best to keep up with books and articles related to Jewish life and the materials I need to prepare classes. I’ve learned through experience that this information doesn’t come to me through wishful thinking. I have to dedicate a specific amount of time every day to learning (an increasingly challenging task in today’s electronic world, but that’s a discussion for another day).
Sharing what I have learned is another very pleasurable aspect of my work. The primary job of a rabbi has always been as a Jewish teacher. Being a Jewish teacher is not merely imparting information but helping others connect Jewish tradition to their lives. And I, in turn, learn from their experience as well. In the words of Talmudic sage, Rabbi Hanina, “I have learned much from my teachers and even more from my friends, but from my students I have learned more than from all of them (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 7a).”
As we begin a new season of classes at Temple Emanu-El, I hope you will take this opportunity to make time to study and join me in this fundamental Jewish practice. We have much to learn from one another.
–Rabbi Drorah Setel
Spring 2020 Class Schedule
Unless otherwise noted, classes are taught by Rabbi Drorah Setel at Temple Emanu-El and open to all. Participants may come for individual classes, or join in for the whole series, starting any time. The classes are free of charge to Temple members. Non-members are asked for a donation of their choice. For further information, please contact our Temple Emanu-El office.
Modern Jewish History Workshop
Sunday, Feb 16, 2-5pm
We will complete our viewing of Simon Schama’s “The Story of the Jews” and discuss the issues and themes raised in the final two episodes.
The Rabbi’s Book Club
Sundays, Feb. 23, April 26, June 28, August 23; 10-11:30am
Join Rabbi Drorah Setel in reading and discussing some of her favorite Jewish books. If you have any difficulty obtaining the book (financial or otherwise), the Rabbi will be happy to help.
Feb. 23 – Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Sulzberger, Jews and Words
April 26 – Sarah Hurwitz, Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life in Judaism
June 28, Aug 23 – TBD
Meaningful Jewish Prayer
Tuesdays, Feb. 25, March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; 7-8:30pm
The Jewish prayerbook is meant to be the foundation of our individual and communal spiritual practice but for many Jews its language and theology seem increasingly irrelevant. In this course we will explore the unique vocabulary of Jewish spirituality, the concepts behind the prayers, how progressive Jews have changed and are changing the liturgy, and how we might (or might not) want to integrate traditional words into a contemporary practice. To join the course, contact our Temple Emanu-El Office.
Antisemitism Study Group
Sundays, March 1, 8, 15, 22; 2-4pm
As American Jews experience an increase in antisemitic language and actions, many of us find ourselves confused about what actually constitutes antisemitism and how we should respond. In this group we will read and discuss a range of articles from a variety of perspectives to explore questions such as whether the nature of antisemitism has changed over time, how it relates to other forms of oppression, whether it is different from “anti-Judaism,” and the role it plays in discussions of Zionism and Israel. To join the study group, contact our Temple Emanu-El Office. Click here for the reading list.
Jewish Perspectives on the New Testament, taught with Rev. Matthew Nickoloff
Thursdays, March 12, 19, 16, April 2; 10am-12noon
Please note: This class is being offered through The Rochester Kollel and will be held at Temple B’rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Ave., Brighton NY 14618.
A rabbi and a minister discuss Jewish perspectives on the New Testament and you’re invited to join them. Many Jews have never studied this essential Christian text and many Christians have never learned what’s Jewish about it. For both there is much to be examined and debated as we address topics such as Judaism and Jewish Movements in the time of Jesus, Messianism, parallels between the New Testament and (other) Jewish texts, and anti-Jewish teachings in the New Testament.
Our textbook will be The Jewish Annotated New Testament, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Ziv Brettler (Oxford University Press). If you have any difficulty obtaining the book (financial or otherwise), the Rabbi will be happy to help.