Advanced Learning Institute

Looking for in-depth Jewish learning? Join our Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) for a unique learning experience!

The Advanced Learning Institute meets on Tuesday mornings, 9:15 a.m. to noon, from October 10, 2017 through May 22, 2018. Please register below for this academic year!

Academic Year Schedule 5778 / 2017-18 

9:15 – 10:30 a.m., every week: Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz: A Close Analysis of I Samuel

Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz

Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz is originally from Portland, Oregon, where she was raised as an active member of Congregation Beth Israel.  After earning her degree in psychology from the University of Oregon, Rabbi Gevurtz completed her rabbinic studies in 2001 at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rabbi Gevurtz current serves Temple Bat Yahm, and has previously served congregations in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Melbourne, Australia. She organizes and leads the JCAL K-2 Family Education Days, leads the monthly WTBY Rosh Chodesh program and participates bi-monthly Saturday morning Shabbat activities including Torah Study and morning services. Rabbi Gevurtz also manages the Seaside Musical Theater program through Temple Bat Yahm.

10:45 a.m. – noon: Learning with a Scholar, scholars vary weekly, as follows:

OCTOBER 10, 17, 24 & 31:
Lisa Armony on Fifty Years after the Six Day War – Miracles May Come at a Price


Lisa Armony

Lisa Armony is the executive director of Hillel Foundation of Orange County. A native of New Jersey, Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and master’s degrees in political science and philosophy from Yale University. She also studied at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East Studies and lived in Israel for two years.

In 2012, Lisa became director of the Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS), a position she continues to hold through to a strategic partnership between Hillel of OC and JFFS. Lisa has also been director of B’nai Brith Canada’s Institute for International Affairs and communications director for the Canadian Jewish Congress, as well as an award-winning freelance writer, reporter and public relations professional. Lisa loves sharing Jewish and Israel experiences with people of all ages.

Cantor David Reinwald on Musical Shards of Kristalnacht – Songs of Hope, Songs of Despair


Cantor David Reinwald

Cantor David Reinwald, a Chicago native, came to Temple Beth Sholom in Orange County in July 2010. Cantor Reinwald earned his bachelor’s degree in music, media, and Jewish studies from Indiana University – Bloomington and was ordained as a cantor by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York City in 2006. He has a passion for music of all styles.

The cantor’s debut album, Here I Stand, was released in September, 2011. He is the creator and host of the unique podcast Tropeful (, studying Torah through the perspective of the trope (cantillation) system. Cantor Reinwald loves connecting with people through the universal language of music and is proud to call TBS his congregational family and spiritual home.

NOVEMBER 14, 21 & 28
Cantor Sue Deutsch on Positive Parashah: Torah through the Lens of Positive Psychology


Cantor Sue Deutsch

Cantor Sue Deutsch is a spiritual leader, workshop leader and resilience coach. She is an author and speaker, as well. Cantor Deutsch brings her love of poetry and storytelling to provide an inspirational experience to her classes and services. She is a member of the Cantors’ Assembly, having served on its Executive Council and chaired its Western Region; an alumna of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality; an alumna of the Wholebeing Institute’s Certificate in Positive Psychology program; an accredited member of the International Coach Federation; and is a certified yoga instructor. Cantor Deutsch served as spiritual leader and chaplain of Heritage Pointe for sixteen years, and prior to that was an assistant cantor at Congregation Eilat and a cantorial soloist at Congregation B’nai Israel. Currently, she travels the country teaching workshops to professionals and laypeople about facing and recovering from loss, as well as leading monthly Contemplative Services at Shomrei Torah Synagogue in Los Angeles. Learn more about Cantor Deutsch at

DECEMBER 5, 12 and 19

Rabbi Jason Rosner on The Importance of food in Jewish law and celebration


Rabbi Jason Rosner


Rabbi Jason Rosner was ordained by Hebrew Union College (HUC).  He also holds a Master of Hebrew Letters from HUC, a Master of Literature from the University of St. Andrews, and was commissioned as a reserve officer and chaplain candidate in the US Air Force. Rabbi Rosner returns to his native Orange County from leading a synagogue in Wimbledon, southwest London, to work with Irvine Hebrew Day School. He is passionate about expanding the Jewish educational opportunities in Southern California.


JANUARY 9 and 16
Jacob Wiesberg on Shema and the Importance of Deep Listening in the Jewish Tradition

Weisberg-Jacob 2

Jacob Weisberg

Jacob Weisberg, author, international speaker and bridge expert is most noted for his book “Does Anybody Listen, Does Anybody Care.”  This seminal work teaches skills of communication and is used by people in all walks of life. As Jacob notes in his workshops around the world, “Everybody tells you ‘you’ve got to be a better communicator,’ but nobody tells you what exactly you have to do to be that better communicator.”



JANUARY 23 and 30 – TBD

FEBRUARY 6, 13, 20 & 27
Rabbi Joel Berman on The History of Jews in Comics, Music and Comedy


Rabbi Joel Berman

Rabbi Joel Berman of Temple Beth Emet in Anaheim received his Masters of Hebrew Letters from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and later was a founding member of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Rabbi Berman also served Congregation Ohev Tzedek-Sha’arei Torah in Youngstown, Ohio, for seven years. Long before deciding to become a rabbi, Berman was a popular comedian in Los Angeles. He traveled the country and performed at many night clubs, putting on comedy shows. Rabbi Berman continues to enjoy sharing humor with his congregation and combines it with Jewish learning to engage his audiences.

MARCH 6, 13, 20 & 27
Cantor Fran Chalin and Rabbi Marcia Tilchin on “Thou Preparest a Table Before Me” – A Proactive Approach to end of life issues 


Cantor Fran Chalin

Cantor Fran Chalin, M.S.W./M.J.C.S., has been both clergy and educator in the Los Angeles Jewish community for more than 20 years. She served as cantor for Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world’s first synagogue with outreach to the LGBT Jewish community. In this role, Cantor Chalin was an active member of the Interfaith clergy coalition for human rights and healthcare reform. For the last nine years, she’s been a hospice chaplain with VITAS, working with families as they confront dying and death.


Rabbi Marcia Tilchin

Rabbi Marcia Tilchin is the founder of the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (JCoOC). Her passion for all things Jewish and love of helping people find what is meaningful to them in Judaism is a signature of her spiritual leadership and service to the OC Jewish community. Ordained by both the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Tilchin has 18 years of pulpit and interfaith experience in Orange County and New York.



APRIL 10, 17 and 24
Professor Patty Seyburn on Biblical poetry studied through a contemporary lens


Patty Seyburn

Patty Seyburn has published four books of poetry: Perfecta, published by What Books Press in fall 2014; Hilarity, which won the Green Rose Prize given by New Issues Press (Western Michigan University, 2009); Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998), which won the 1997 Marianne Moore Poetry Prize and the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award for 2000. Patty’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. She won a 2011 Pushcart Prize for her poem, “The Case for Free Will,” published in Arroyo Literary Review. Patty grew up in Detroit and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University, an MFA in Poetry from University of California, Irvine, and a PhD in Poetry and Literature from the University of Houston. She is a Professor at California State University, Long Beach.

MAY 1, 8, 15 & 22 –  TBD

Please let us know if you are interested in ALI and we will contact you: 

Denis-Charbit-credit-Sebastien-Leban-4 (1)

From the Summer Learning Institute: Listen to a talk by previous guest lecturer UCI Visiting Professor Denis Charbit on the geopolitical history of tensions in the Middle East:


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