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MakomDC 2023-2024

This I Believe - On God, Faith, Doubt and the Space Between

God is often left to the realm of other religious traditions. Jews don’t talk about God or so we are told - Judaism is a religion of deed not creed… For too much of Jewish life, we haven’t talked enough about God. 

Have you ever heard this statement: “Judaism is a religion of deed, not creed”? While it is certainly true that Judaism places heavy emphasis on what we do and how we act, it is also a religion of faith, of God, of divine encounter, and of theological contemplation. Yet, for many reasons, we still shy away from these intense and lofty discussions. This year, we are going to talk about God. Ever wonder what your rabbis believe about God? To whom do they/we pray when we pray? Why is God important to us? Did God invent us, or did we invent God? And how has history impacted the ways in which we understand God’s role in our lives, and the unfolding of creation? 

Join us this coming year as we explore God and the theologies of Judaism through an array of text studies and conversations. Together we’ll unpack what we believe about God and faith, about doubt and uncertainty, about obligation and responsibility, and the roots of it all in the Jewish tradition. 


Siyyum Mendelson Scholar with Rabbi Shai Held 
President and Dean Hadar with Special Book Launch 

MAY 17th-19th, 2024

Jews have a God problem. Many of us struggle to talk about God-- we don’t know who or what we mean by the word and we are beset by doubt in any case; and many of us have tragically internalized anti-Judaic stereotypes about the God of Judaism (e.g., “The God of Judaism is a God of wrath”). In our first session, we’ll hear a contemporary Jewish thinker’s honest reflections on why he (sometimes) believes in God, and on why doubt may actually be a boon to faith. In our second, we’ll take a close look at the biblical idea that what makes God God and not a human is... God’s unfathomably vast love. 

Friday Night Community Dinner

Friday, May 17th, at 7pm | Click Here To Register

Join us for a Friday night community dinner and lecture with Rabbi Shai Held.

Saturday Afternoon Class

Saturday, May 18th at 1pm

Join Rabbi Shai Held for a post kiddush shir. 

Hadar DC: Rabbi Shai Held Book Talk with R. Aaron Alexander and R. Elianna Yolkut

Sunday, May 19th, 10am-12:30pm | Click Here To Register

A common misconception is that love is a “Christian idea” and not a Jewish one. But what if we have it all wrong? Join Rabbi Shai Held as he introduces the central themes of the book then joins Rabbi Aaron Alexander and Rabbi Elianna Yolkut in a conversation on the centrality of love to the Jewish vision of ethics, spirituality, and theology. What can Judaism teach us about love, and what can a renewed focus on love reveal to us about Judaism?  Please register here.  This event is co-sponsored by Adas Israel.

Makomdc (Learning & Immersion)

Cultivating Wisdom


Theology of the Mystics
Taught by Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt

Shabbat Afternoons: November 18 and December 2 at 1 pm, Biran Beit Midrash

Many of us have left the space of believing in God. We find ourselves limited by the images of God in the Torah and so we have exited this part of Jewish life. This class will seek to uncover new metaphors for God through the minds of the Jewish mystics. We will look at the origin story of the Universe according to the mystics as well as midrashim to explore new ways of connecting to God. 

Theological Certainty & Ambiguity in Halakhic Literature
Taught by Rabbi Aaron Alexander

Shabbat Afternoons, May 4 at 1pm, Biran Beit Midrash
Humanity, Creation, & Halakhah: Does Halakhah Ever Define Humanity? Does it Influence the Future of AI & Robotics? Join Rabbi Alexander to learn a futuristic paper written by a 17th century Sage.

Faith, belief, and theological doubt all receive serious attention and complex debate within Judaism’s legal tradition, reaching back to antiquity. How sacred is the written name of God? Do belief or non-belief have any real implications within the halakhic system? Or, does what we believe impact the “Jewish” things we want to do, or can do? Together we’ll look at a range of ancient, medieval and modern explorations and rulings, all based in classical Jewish text, of  these questions and likely more.

Founding Frameworks: An Introduction to Jewish Theology
Taught by Rabbi Sarah Krinsky

Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Biran Beit Midrash
November 1st, 2023, January 17th, 2024, March 6th, 2024, May 8, 2024
Click Here to Register

This series will explore some of the major theologies and theologians from across Jewish tradition and expression. Beginning with biblical theologies and going through the modern era, we will explore prominent thinkers and ideas and evaluate how those philosophies do or do not resonate with us individually and collectively.

Theologies of Rupture and Theologies of of Repair
Taught by: Rabbi Elianna Yolkut

Tuesdays at 7pm - 8:30pm, Biran Beit Midrash
Click Here To Register

Series #1 - Difficult and Troubling Theologies: October 24, November 7 and November 14
Series #2 - Theologies of Redemption and Hope: January 23, January 30 (7:30pm) and February 6

Rabbi, I know the God I don’t believe in but I can’t tell you what I do believe. Have you ever read a text and wondered how we could subscribe to this idea or view of God? How could the Holy Blessed One behave this way? Explore some of the most difficult theological texts and get at the root of the discomfort and then uncover some new ways of experiencing, understanding and seeing God in our texts and in our lives. (Come for minyan and stay for snacks and wine and study!)

Makomdc (Learning & Immersion)

Sustaining Growth


Wednesday Lunch In Depth Mishnah Study

Beginning October 18th, Wednesdays 12-1 pm, Biran Beit Midrash
Click Here To Register

Grab your lunch and join Rabbi Yolkut as we explore the basics of Mishnah study. Ever wanted to learn how to learn Jewish text in the original (translation will be provided too). In this small class in person we will cut our teeth on of our earliest and foundational rabbinic texts.

Boker Ohr Shabbat Study

Shabbat Mornings at 8:30am, In Person Only
The Boker Or Torah study group meets Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. with the weekly portion as its focus. Join our clergy and community each week for an engaging, text-based conversation on the week's parsha, before Shabbat services.

Friday Parsha Study with Adas Clergy (Virtual)

Fridays at 10am
Click Here to Join the Class

Join Rabbis Holtzblatt, Alexander, Krinsky and Yolkut for an in-depth look at the weekly Torah portion. We will explore the parsha through multiple lenses including Hassidut and mysticism, the Talmud, traditional Torah                                    commentaries, and modern thinkers as we explore making meaning out of our most sacred Jewish texts. 

Weekday Torah with Sisterhood

Monthly, 3rd Tuesday at 10:30am
Weekday Torah with Sisterhood is an engaging approach to traditional text study that offers participants the opportunity to study and discuss challenging texts and ideas. Students of all levels and backgrounds are welcome. Please contact Marilyn Cooper with questions, or if you would like a link to the Zoom Torah study class.

Weekly Torah Bite

Wednesday Mornings following Daily Minyan, Biran Beit Midrash
Join Rabbi Yolkut for a quick 20ish minute exploration of a single Torah commentary on the weekly Torah portion. 

Intro to Judaism 2023-24

Wednesdays at 7:30pm-9pm | Click Here to Register
August 30, 2023-March 20, 2024

Are you interested in exploring Jewish tradition from the ground up, with master Jewish teachers? Have you been wondering about the core beliefs and practices that animate the Jewish religion? Are you looking to integrate your experience of God and prayer into the rhythm of your life?

This course is designed to give you the raw materials with which to appreciate and access Jewish tradition. Whatever it is you may be seeking, we offer a safe space for acquiring the experiential and intellectual knowledge that allow you to deepen your own religious life. Topics include, but are not limited to:

The World of the Bible | Ritual exploration | Life cycles (Birth, Marriage, Death) | Shabbat (The Sabbath) | Prayer and Liturgy
Jewish Holidays | Israel | Theology

Note: This class will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning. Most sessions will meet on Zoom, with monthly in-person gatherings at Adas.

*350 for Individuals, $450 for Couples *Scholarships available

This course is taught through a collaborative educational partnership with the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program of American Jewish University.

I/Thou cohort with Rabbi Krinsky

Please note: this class is full for this upcoming year, but if you are interested in participating in 2024-2025 please reach out to Melissa Adler.

This new project is focused on building and nurturing deep interpersonal relationships through cohort-based learning. Diverse and curated groups of Adas members will engage in text study on topics such as friendship, love, fear, loss, altruism and joy. Members of the cohort will come from differing backgrounds and life stages, and will remain consistent across all six sessions. 

Makomdc (Learning & Immersion)

Guest Scholars

Winter Offering: Rabbi Dr Noah Bickart - The "Lord's Prayer" in Context:
Ancient Jewish Prayer in The Dead Sea Scroll, the New Testament and Rabbinic Literature

Shabbat Afternoon, February 3rd at 1pm, BBM

In this lecture, we will explore the Lord's Prayer as a distinctively Jewish prayer, and show how comparisons of this type are also instructive for Jewish audiences, both in the realm of theology as well as a potential model for inter-religious dialogue.

I recently developed and taught a course on "Ancient Jewish Prayer" for the Theology department in the Catholic University where I teach. Perhaps the most interesting segment of the course (at least for the students) was the section in which we sought to contextualize the so-called "Lord's Prayer," (sometimes called the "Our Father") into its 1st century Judean Context. Most of my students were deeply familiar with this text as a statement of their own theologies, but were shocked not only by the variation in the text of this prayer in the Gospels, by also by the many features this prayer shares with roughly contemporaneous texts from both Dead Sea Scroll fragments found at Qumran and a variety of prayers in Talmudic literature. 

Noah Benjamin Bickart holds the Jack, Joseph & Morton Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland. Born and raised in Washington DC, he first developed a serious connection to Jewish life and learning at Adas Israel. He holds degrees from the University of Chicago, Harvard, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale, he began teaching at John Carroll in 2018. He lives in Beachwood, Ohio with his wife Nadia Kahn and his two children, Meir Zeev and Rina Hana.

Special Guest Book talk by Rabbi Mark Goodman 
“Recently Dead Rabbis Changed My Life” 

March 12, 2024 @ 7:00 PM | Register Here

A lesson in this week’s parsha from Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman, author of the newly published ‘Life Lessons from Recently Dead Rabbis’. The Chassidic approach to text is about making everything deeply personal and relevant, and to breathe spirituality into even the most obscure and arcane texts. They also have no problem with taking the established rules for legitimate interpretation and smashing them into itty bitty pieces. They would, to quote a pious sage, ‘Never half step ‘cause I’m not a half-stepper.’ 

Empowered Torah: Exploring Halakha Through Lived Experiences with Laynie Soloman of S'vara
with Ga’avah - Adas’s GLBTQA+ affinity group

May 3rd-5th
Register for Ga’avah Happy Hour, May 3rd at 5:30pm

Register for community Shabbat Dinner, May 3rd
Register for Sunday morning breakfast and learn

Join us for a special scholar weekend May 3rd-5th learn with Laynie Soloman of S’vara who will teaches us deep and challenging Torah through Shabbat and the Weekend as they explore in modern time what it means to be empowered to create halakha that is shaped by our authentic lived experiences.

On Friday Laynie will offer the d’var Torah in the TEM lead Kabbalat Service entitled,  "Teaching G!d Our Torah: How We Radically Transform the Jewish Canon". Laynie will also be around for dinner and signing of Shabbat songs after dinner. 

On Shabbat morning in the Smith Sanctuary Laynie will give the sermon entitled, "On Breaking the Law to Fulfill It"

On Sunday morning join us at minyan at 9 am and stay to eat breakfast and learn with  Laynie in a shiur (class) entitled, "Nothing About Us Without Us’: Power, Autonomy, and Expertise in Shaping Halakha”.

Laynie Soloman is a teacher and Torah-lover who seeks to uplift the piously irreverent, queer, and subversive spirit of rabbinic text and theology. Laynie serves as the Associate Rosh Yeshiva at SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva, where they co-founded the Trans Halakha Project. Laynie has studied and taught Torah for over a decade in a wide range of learning spaces, including Yeshivat Hadar, Romemu Yeshiva, UnYeshiva, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In 2020 they received the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for emerging Jewish educators, and they're currently a research fellow with M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education. Laynie is an Ashkenazi third/fourth generation Philadelphian, and when they’re not learning Talmud, you can find Laynie reading about liberation theology, laying in their hammock, and playing with their little one, Remez. 


Makomdc (Learning & Immersion)

Deepening Our Connection to Israel: Listening to the Voices and Stories of our Land and Our People


Book Club with Rabbi Aaron Alexander (Virtual)
Deepening Our Connection to Israel: Listening to the Voices and Stories of our Land and Our People

Thursday at 12pm -  December 7, February 22,  April 11, June 4 | Click Here To Register
April 11th: Where the Line is Drawn, by Raja Shehadeh
June 4th: A Land Twice Promised--An Israeli Woman's Quest for Peace, by Noa Baum

Picking up on the first two years of this book club, we’ll continue our deep, engaging, and respectful conversations. We’ll meet on three occasions (virtually) to discuss fiction, non-fiction, and our own lives. While this series is in some ways geared to those who participated in the book club over the past two years, all are welcome to join. This group will be co-facilitated by Marilyn Cooper.

How do we love Israel?  with Rabbi Shira Stutman

Class Begins Wednesday, April 3 at 7:30pm, In-Person Only (Seven Week Session)
Click Here To Register

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has laid bare many American Jewish disagreements about Israel, both in terms of policy and approach. For those Jews who love Israel but choose not to live there, how do we best support Israel from afar? Should our support be unwavering or qualified? This class will gather seven times to discuss, argue about, reflect, cry, laugh, and build on these questions and many more.

Makomdc (Learning & Immersion)

Study Scholarship Fund

The Michael Stern Adult Torah Study Scholarship Fund
Click Here to Apply!

The Michael Stern Adult Torah Study Scholarship Fund is intended to assist members of Adas Israel who seek to advance their understanding of the Jewish faith, in particular through study of our foundational texts together with commentaries from antiquity to the present.

Applicants may seek support to engage in any level of learning - from introduction to Judaism classes to advanced text courses. There is no age restriction for applicants. The award limit under most circumstances is $500 per participant.

Examples of organizations that offer relevant courses of study include the Jewish Study Center, Hadar, Svara, the Brandeis Bardin Institute, the National Havurah Committee including its Summer Institute, the Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies, and Aleph Beta. 

The Fund is jointly administered by Rabbi Kerrith Solomon and Rabbi Sarah Krinsky who are happy to entertain any questions you may have. Applications should be sent to them. The program is ongoing. Applications for 2021 and 2022 will be received and considered on a rolling basis. The application form is below. 

Michael Stern z”l was one of Adas Israel’s own great sages. He engaged in Torah study for its own sake, advancing to the level of “master teacher,” a designation conferred in 2018 by our senior rabbis.

His family has created the Fund to honor Michael’s lifelong love of learning and teaching. 

Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784