Past Learning

Previous learning series are summarized below.

For biographies of our teachers, click here.
For handouts and other source text resources, click here.

The Learning Series below are listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Repeat speakers are listed when they first taught, with more recent classes included there.


December 2023: Out of My Depths – with Rabbi Richard Address

Mondays December 4, 11, 2023

Description

In these most challenging times, so many seek a sense of personal and spiritual foundation. In these two sessions we examined a series of four values, drawn from tradition, and unpack how they can create a personal and spiritual foundation for moving forward in our lives. We invited you to join in this discussion as these values and texts speak to where so many of us are at this moment in our life’s journey.

Recordings:

Recording of December 4 Session
Recording of December 11 Session


November 2023: The Dying Process, Medical Aid in Dying, and Life After Death – with Rabbi Elliot Dorff

Thursdays November 2, 9, 16, 2023

Description

  • Week 1: The Dying Process:  Varying definitions of death in American and Jewish law.  Organ transplantation.  Donating one’s body to science.
  • Week 2: Medical Aid in Dying: Varying laws in the secular legal jurisdictions that allow for it.  Jewish responses to aid in dying.
  • Week 3: Life after Death:  Varying Jewish sources on life after death.

Recordings:

Recording of November 2 session
Recording of November 9 session
Recording of November 16 session


October 2023: Taharah in Israel Now – with Elissa Felder

Thursday October 26, 2023

Description

Core Connects sent 4 women to Israel to help perform taharot for those who have died during the recent events in Gaza. This session discussed what they experienced, and other aspects of the Chevrah Kadisha world in Israel right now.

Recordings:

Recording of October 26 session


October 2023: Chevrah Kadisha in Israel and ZAKA – with Dr. Yakir Englander

Thursday October 19, 2023

Description

Dr. Englander spoke about his work with the Chevra Kadisha in Israel and ZAKA (the organization that handles bodies after disasters). He was accompanied by a member of ZAKA who shared intimate stories about their work during this challenging and frightening time.

Recordings:

Recording of October 19 session


October 2023 and March 2024: Zohar and Chevrah Kadisha Work – with Beth Huppin

Thursdays March 14, 21, 2024

Description

Rav Metivta: In this section of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon and his companions take a journey to olam haba (The World that is Coming) to learn the fate of the generation that died in the desert. Of them, the Mishna states that “the generation of the desert has no share in the world that is coming…” (Sanhedrin 10:3). The Zohar can’t imagine this fate for the generation that witnessed so many miracles and received the Torah at Sinai. And, indeed, in their journey they learn that this generation’s fate is not as dire as the Mishna states. We’ll examine some short pieces in this lengthy section of Zohar. The first week was dedicated to a general introduction and their entry into olam haba. The second week we learned about the place of women in their vision of olam haba.

Recordings:

Recording of March 14 session
Recording of March 21 session

Thursday October 12, 2023

Description

The High Priest:   We prepare people for burial by dressing them like the Kohen Gadol.  We even refer to them as the Kohen Gadol as we dress them. What can we learn regarding this imagery from the Zohar’s vision of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur? 

Recordings:

Recording of October 12 session


September 2023: Blood and Life – with Rabbi Ebn Leader

Tuesdays September 19 and 26, 2023

Description

In the practice of Taharah, dealing with blood is a regular occurrence. Sometimes we wash it off, sometimes we bury it with the met/ah, and there are unique situations when we leave it on the body. In this class we explored the ways blood functioned in ritual and as a symbol, and the connection between the mythic understanding of blood and the halachic texts that address how we treat blood. 

We discussed the distinctions between the three categories of blood that are relevant to the practice of Taharah: Blood that exited the body before death, blood that exited the body after death, and blood whose leaving the body is the cause of death. The latter category is known in halakhic literature as “dam hanefesh” the blood of self, or life. To understand this better we also began looking into the connection made in the texts between blood and the self and reflect on the connection between these ideas and practices, and the decisions we make during Taharah.

Recordings:

Recording of September 19 Session 1
Recording of September 26 Session 2


August 2023: Smachot – with Rabbi Stuart Kelman

August 22, 29, September 5, 12, 2023

Description

This tractate contains some of the earliest writings delineating Jewish death practices. You can find the text in Sefaria online here.

Recordings:

Recording of August 22 Session 1
Recording of August 29 Session 2
Recording of September 5 Session 3
Recording of September 12 Session 4