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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. 

Israel Update with Adas Rabbis and Rob Satloff

Click Here For The Recording
Rabbis Holtzblatt and Alexander will be joined by Adas member and Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert Satloff. We’ll sing a little, pray a little, and Rob will give an up to date assessment of where Israel is at, followed by an open Q & A session.

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: December 16, February 24, April 13 and May 4 at 1pm, Biran Beit Midrash

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 30, February 6 and 13

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

Opening Scholar: Rabbi Erin Leib Smokler 
Director of Spiritual Development, Yeshivat Maharat 

OCTOBER 20th-22nd

Click Here To Register For Friday Night Dinner, October 20

                           Shabbat Afternoon: "God as Shadow, God as Shade: Reckoning with the Hasidic God" 1pm

                           Click Here To Register For Sunday Morning Breakfast


There is a famous Hasidic teaching about a student who comes to his rabbi, beset by religious doubts. “I just don’t believe in God,” he says tearfully. The rabbi listens to the student’s concerns and replies, “You know, the God you don’t believe in, I don’t believe in either.” 

Who/what is the God we believe in? Is God even something to believe in? What if that is a category error? What happens when we open up the very concept of belief and the concept of divinity? What theologies might we shed? And what might we be open to? 

This weekend will offer an opportunity to think broadly and feel deeply into the varieties of religious language and religious experience offered by our complex tradition.

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

JANUARY 16TH, 2024 @ 7:00 PM 

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.’ 

Siyyum 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. 

BOOK LAUNCH, Sunday May 19th, 2024 @ 10am 

Join us as Rabbis Holtzblatt and Alexander are in a deep and meaningful conversation with Rabbi Held on his new book Judaism Is About Love: Recovering The Heart of Jewish Life. 

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, 2024 and April 11 | Click Here To Register
First Book Discussion, December 7: Israel, A History by Anita Shapira

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

In person on Tuesdays 7-8:30 pm -Dates TBD
Registration Coming Soon

This group will be formed around individuals who have lots of Israel experience, knowledge and passion, but want to engage productively with those who embody deeply different narratives. Group size limited.

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. 

Wed, November 29 2023 16 Kislev 5784