Advanced Learning Institute

Looking for in-depth Jewish learning? Join our ongoing group of adult learners and engage with gifted Jewish scholars from around the country.
The Advanced Learning Institute meets on Tuesday mornings, 10:00 – 11:00am via Zoom.
To join the class, or just drop in from time to time, please fill out the form below so we can send you the Zoom link and password.

Email with any questions.

Upcoming ALI Classes

Marcia Lane is an award-winning storyteller and recording artist, who has performed in schools, at festivals, in museums and synagogues across the United States, as well as in Canada, Sweden, and England. She received her cantorial ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York, and has served congregations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Nashville! She is currently living in the Bronx.
August 11, 18, 25, and September 1
We will be joined by Hazzan and storyteller Marcia Lane for Jewish Stories and Jewish Storytelling.  Marcia Lane will lead an exploration of the history of storytelling within the Jewish tradition, from the Bible to the Borscht Belt. Participants will have opportunities to tell their own stories, and all written materials will be provided. 
August 11 – Session 1: In the Beginning …
The first stories to be defined as Jewish come from the Torah and the Midrashim. Or did they? Biblical stories borrowed from the surrounding cultural traditions, but with a spin that makes them our own. Click here to watch the class recording.
August 18 – Session 2: Wise and Foolish: stories of the rabbis, sages, scholars, shlemiels and shlimazels.
In the period of the tannaim and the amora’im – rabbis of the Mishnaic and the Talmudic periods – a genre of stories emerged of wonder-workers, problem-solvers, and quasi-saints. In a parallel track, folklore gives us stories of fools and common folk. Click here to watch the class recording.
August 25 – Session 3: Galut – Stories from Jewish communities around the world
The Jewish story takes on the flavor of the various communities to which Jews traveled, reflecting the struggles and triumphs of Jews living in a sometimes hostile, sometimes insular environment. Click here to watch the class recording.
September 1 – Session 4: Family Folklore and the development of the art of the joke
Every Jewish family has certain stories in common: how our ancestors escaped or endured persecution, how they thrived or struggled in new countries, whose recipe for brisket wins, and the eternal debate: Matzah balls: Heavy or fluffy!?
September 8 – Session 5 Bonus Class with Cantor Marcia Lane

Judaism and Earth Justice
What better way to celebrate the 5781st birthday of the world than to learn about what Judaism has to say about the importance of stewardship of mother earth.  Environmental psychologist, activist and founder of Jewish Earth Alliance, Mirele Goldsmith, will be our scholar for two weeks, sharing her beautiful Torah about what can be done by each of us to literally “repair the world.”
Mirele Goldsmith 2017Dr. Mirele Goldsmith is the founder of Jewish Earth Alliance. She was first inspired to get involved in environmental issues by a solar composting toilet that she encountered in Yosemite National Park. She went on to earn a doctorate in environmental psychology. Mirele went to the UN Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen representing 22 American Jewish organizations. She is very proud of the organizing she did to bring Jews to participate in the People’s Climate Marches in New York and Washington. Mirele directed Hazon’s Jewish Greening Fellowship, a program funded by UJA-Federation of New York that mobilized 55 synagogues, JCCs, day schools, and social service organizations to respond to climate change. Mirele has shared Jewish environmental teachings in Kathmandu, in the Salisbury Cathedral, at the Parliament of World Religions, and in many other interfaith settings. Mirele’s writings on Judaism and sustainability have been published in the Jerusalem Report, Jewish Week, Times of Israel, Forward, Shma, and Huffington Post.
September 15:  Environmental Responsibility in the Jewish Tradition
How can we put our world on a sustainable path?  The answer may lie in Jewish values, traditions, and community.  In this session we’ll explore how Jews today are drawing on ancient Jewish wisdom to find solutions to today’s most pressing environmental problems.
September 22: From Moses to Gretta: Leadership Lessons for Facing Up to Climate Change
Climate change is a new problem that the Torah doesn’t say anything about. But people have not changed much since ancient times, so there is plenty that Torah can teach us about how to respond. Let’s explore what lessons we can apply from the story of Moses to overcome fear, inspire hope, and be a part of the solution. We can make it to the promised land!

Joellen ChathamJo Ellen Chatham is the Director of the Center for Public Policy, Citizenship and Ethics at Concordia University Irvine and the Executive Director of  United We Stand: Civility, Citizenship, and the Constitution. For twenty years she was the Director of Public Affairs for Southern California. She has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations including the Orange County Business Council, the Orange County Red Cross, the Pacific Symphony, Orange County Music and Dance. Orange County Taxpayers Association and America’s Public Television Stations. She has been Chairman of PBS SoCal, the Orange County Forum and the World Affairs Council of Orange County and served Vice Chair of the California Bar Association’s Board of Governors.

Jo Ellen served on the Orange County Commission on the Status of Women and as a member of the Leadership Council of the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California Irvine and the Board of Visitors of Chapman University’s School of Law. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from California State University Northridge and a M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California. She taught Political Science at West Los Angeles College and has extensive media experience engaging in public policy discussions on television and radio and received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2015.

October 6: Jewish Influences on the Creation of the United States Constitution Part 1

October 13: Jewish Influences on the Creation of the United States Constitution Part 2

It our pleasure to bring great learning to ALI participants every week. Your voluntary contributions make this possible. Please consider a gift of $500 to enjoy a full year of learning. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. Click here to contribute.

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