Congregation B’Nai Israel has been very active in the area of Adult Education for the past number of years, aided primarily by our Rabbi, who holds classes aimed at improving our understanding of the Torah, Mitzvot, Jewish culture and history.
From our first class of the 2016/2017 year!
Spiritual Preparation for the High Holidays
As someone who has taught young (and not-so-young) adults for some forty years, I know good teaching when I see it. Rabbi Romang qualifies, in spades. His bi-weekly class on Torah Studies focuses on the “Torah sh’ be’al peh”, the oral Torah of Talmud, Mishnah, Gemara. Using examples drawn from life, he shows the process by which the Rabbis and Sages have built a case for an ethical or ritual principle, drawn from Torah itself and the reasoning of generations of previous scholars. For instance, recently he turned to the troubling contemporary issue of physician-assisted dying. After presentations of the medical and psychological perspectives by invited congregants, he began to build the case for what seems to be the consensus of Jewish thinking, that life is sacred and that physician-assisted dying (suicide) represents killing in another form. What I found most interesting was not the conclusion (where I disagree) but the reasoning, the evidence, the background in Jewish thought. What has been most impressive has been the rapt attention of his audience (invariably over thirty people) and the lively discussion, which he encourages and treats with respect. Indeed, as the scholar that he is, he had thoroughly researched his topic. Consider: in the year 2016, in Canada, in a non-orthodox congregation, a substantial group of congregants is engaged in Torah thought and study, and begging for more. Plans are afoot to make this experience more widely available to those unable to attend a morning session.
Professor Emeritus, Brock University (Psychology), St. Catharines, ON.
Secretary, Board of Directors, Congregation B’nai Israel, St. Catharines, ON
In 2003 a group of ladies who had not had the opportunity to have a Bat Mitzvah when they were young, learned portions from the Torah and Haftorah and subsequently these ladies succeeded in graduating by holding a B’nai Mitzvah – a group Bat Mitzvah. A photo of the graduating class is shown below.
Throughout the year, Congregation B’nai Israel sponsors various adult education programs, often assisted by the Regional Jewish Communities of Ontario (RJCO) and United Israel Appeal. Guest speakers come to St. Catharines and offer enlightening stories, entertainment and information and various aspects of Jewish issues.