Introduction to Judaism: For Those Who Know and For Those Who Want to Know More

Keeping Connected  August 2019

Dear Friends,

When I was first studying to be a rabbi in the 80’s, the then president of the Reform Movement, Alexander Schindler, made a priority of creating a program of OUTREACH to those members of congregations and the general community at large, that were interested in learning more about Judaism, potentially converting as well as supporting interfaith families in our congregations. In my opinion, OUTREACH programs have been an essential part of helping interfaith families feel welcome and have helped the children of interfaith partners find a sense of connection to Jewish life regardless of whether their mother or father was Jewish.

There have been many types of programs that have been associated with OUTREACH, but the heart of the programs was and continues to be Introduction to Judaism. This course, which is 18 weeks in length, helps people to learn more about the Jewish faith, culture and history. In my early years of the rabbinate I taught this course multiple times a year and before prior to my coming to Congregation Shalom, when I was working as a rabbi in Lexington, MA, it taught several Intro to Judaism courses as well. It was in one of those courses that I met a wonderful couple named Mary and Michael Bresnick, who many of you know from our congregation!

An Introduction to Judaism course has not been taught in the Merrimack Valley in a very long time, but I am excited to say that I will be co-teaching such a course this fall and early winter, with the other three Reform clergy of the Merrimack Valley. We are calling our course Introduction to Judaism: For Those Who Know and For Those Who Want to Know More. From the title, you can tell that people with a wide range of knowledge and interests can take the course. The course will meet at all four synagogues during the course of the 18 weeks depending on who is teaching the class. This will be a great opportunity to learn about Judaism from four different clergy; each of us with different styles of teaching and perspectives. This course is also a great introduction for people who are thinking about or interested in conversion, although that is by no means a required goal. If you grew up Jewish, but feel like you want to learn more or reinforce what you may have learned in religious school years before, this is the course for you. If you are not Jewish, but have Jewish children, and want to learn more about what they are learning, this is the course for you. If you are interested in becoming Jewish and want to learn in a supportive environment, this is the course for you. I could go on with other examples. Simply put, if you want to learn more about Judaism, we hope you will join us.

The class begins on September 10th, with all four-faculty teaching at Temple Emanuel in Andover. A copy of the syllabus will be posted at our website or I can send you a copy. The class fee is $100 which covers the cost of the textbook and other supplies. If you would like to take the class, but the $100 would be a hardship, please let me know privately. In our upcoming updates and on our Facebook page, there will be ads with links to register. This class is also open to anyone in the community who wants to learn more about Judaism, so please feel free to share the word with friends and family.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry