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    Being a Secular Jew: Concepts, Practice and Possibilities

    A 12-session class with Tova Birnbaum

    When: Tuesday, 5/3/2022 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

    Session dates: Tuesdays, 2/22/2022 - 5/31/2022, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

    Where: Online


    OFJCC Palo Alto JCCCan the ideas and rich history of secular Judaism become a source of inspiration for Jews in North America and all over the world today—for Jews who think of themselves as "just Jewish" or cultural Jews or non-religious Jews or Jew-ish—as they seek to understand who they are as Jews and what a meaningful Jewish life could look like?

    In our post-denominational era, the boxes and labels of self-identification are opening up and the possibilities are endless. Secular Judaism is a term with a rich history, theology, depth and practice. In this course, we will explore secular Judaism and examine the ideas, concepts and practices that inspired it.

    We will look at classical biblical and rabbinic sources, as well as medieval, modern, Zionist and contemporary Jewish thought and art. Through these windows, we will explore the roles of God, Jewish law, the land of Israel, Jewish learning and the Jewish people, as these different approaches have wrestled with many of the same questions and challenges we still face today.

    In each session, we will also take time to reflect and connect the dots between the texts, stories, practices and ideas, and our own understanding of who we are as Jews and how we would like to shape the future of our own Jewishness.

    Join Elisha Ben Abuya, Queen Esther, Spinoza, Ahad Ha'am, Leah Goldberg, Yehuda Amichai and many more revolutionaries in this deep and engaging journey!

    This program is in collaboration with the UnYeshiva and Bina: The Jewish Movement for Social Change. For more UnYeshiva programs click here; to learn more about Bina click here.

    OFJCC Palo Alto JCCTova Birnbaum is the Director of Jewish Content at the Oshman Family JCC, and is a faculty member of the Mandel Educational Leadership Program. She was born into the ultra-Orthodox community in B'nei B'rak, Israel, and grew up in a religiously observant home. After visiting American Jewish communities as a young Jewish educator, she embarked on a journey in which she sought her own Jewish voice, spirituality and practice.

    Back in Israel, Tova joined the founding group of the BINA Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv, where she designed Israeli secular holiday rituals and taught Theater Midrash. She brought her biographical journey to the world of alternative theater and won the award for best actress at the Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre. Tova is a secular Jewish lifecycle ceremonies officiant, teacher of rabbinic literature, and a lecturer in Judaic studies. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and Jewish philosophy and a master's degree in theater. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband and daughter.

    If you are interested in taking additional courses at UnYeshiva in the spring, OFJCC members and students can register for a reduced price of $99 per course.

    Tuesdays, February 22–May 31 | No class on March 1, March 22, April 19 | 12 Classes
    11:30 AM–1:00 PM
    $299–$499 General Public
    $99 OFJCC Members and Students
    Online via Zoom
    Contact: Tova Birnbaum | [email protected]


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