Adult Learning


Learning at Shirat HaNefesh takes a variety of forms:  seminar-type study sessions, lectures, speakers, concerts, texts, book discussions, new music and liturgy.  Join us for:

— Rabbi’s Tables on Shabbat mornings led by Rabbi Gilah,

— Book Discussions on Sunday mornings organized by Heidi Coleman,

— An Adult Bnai Mitzvah class in formation for 2019-20, and our

— Year-long Musical Spotlight Series led by Hazzan Ramón with the Kolot HaLev Choir.  

Rabbi’s Table and After Kiddush Discussions


Twice a month, Rabbi Langner leads a “Rabbi’s Table” — seminar-style around the table, where everyone is encouraged to participate in the discussion.  Topics range from midrash on the Torah portion to Leonard Cohen’s final song, from recent books on racial inequality (The Color of Law, The New Jim Crow) to Having the Conversation about end-of-life issues.  Rabbi’s Tables run from 10:45 to 11:45 on Shabbat. 

We also offer occasional “After Kiddush” sessions, led by rabbis and educators in the congregation, on topics of their own choosing.   Topics have included Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, led by Gideon Amir; What is God’s Kavod, led by Rabbi Bob Saks; and Fiddler Factions:  What Path Would You Take?  also led by Rabbi Saks.

Book Discussions


If you love to read and talk about books, you’re in good company. Our Book Discussions take place about every two months on a Sunday morning at a member’s home, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Coffee, bagels, and dessert are served, so it’s like a brunch with great conversation! Let us know if you’re interested (rsvp@shirathanefesh) and we’ll send you the location information.

Here’s the reading list for 2018-19:

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish 

An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book; set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.  

(Winner of a National Jewish Book Award; A USA Today Bestseller)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State (#1 New York Times Bestseller)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

And After the Fire, by Lauren Belfer

A new powerful and passionate novel – inspired by historical event – about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious anti-Jewish choral masterpiece, written by Johann Sebastian Back that changes both of their lives.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis, by David E. Fishman

The Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts—first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets—by hiding them on their bodies, burying them in bunkers, and smuggling them across borders. It is a tale of heroism and resistance, of friendship and romance, and of unwavering devotion. Based on Jewish, German, and Soviet documents, including diaries, letters, memoirs, and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s participants, The Book Smugglers chronicles the daring activities of a group of poets turned partisans and scholars turned smugglers in Vilna, “The Jerusalem of Lithuania.”

(Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Holocaust category; Runner-up for the National Jewish Book Award, history category)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Three Floors Up, by Eshkol Nevo  (translated by Sondra Silverston) 

(National Jewish Book Award Finalist)

Set in an upper-middle-class Tel Aviv apartment building, this best-selling and warmly acclaimed Israeli novel examines the interconnected lives of its residents, whose turmoils, secrets, unreliable confessions, and problematic decisions reveal a society in the midst of an identity crisis.

Year-Long Musical
Spotlight Series:
French Jewry



Some years, Shirat HaNefesh undertakes a year-long exploration of a particular issues.  For 2017-18, the topic was Dealing with Death.  Our exploration has included sermon topics, several Rabbi’s Table discussions, a Friday Nights Live program, development of a guidebook for members on When Someone Dies, creation of a bereavement support group, and purchasing plots for a dedicated Shirat HaNefesh section at the Garden of Remembrance.  

In 2018-19, our topic will be the music, history, and culture of French Jewry. Join Hazzan Ramón Tasat as he presents a series of lectures and concerts focusing on the music, culture, and situation of French Jewry, with choral music by Kolot HaLev.  Events include:

Sept 1:  Selichot film: The Infamous Dreyfus Affair

Nov. 30: French Jewish Cuisine with Susan Barocas 

Dec. 8: Shabbat, Hanukkah and the New Month: Vive la Difference! with Kolot HaLev

Jan. 26: Reflections on Growing Up in France with Evelyne Tzoukermann

Apr. 28:  From New Christians to French Citizens with Dr. Geraldine Gudefin

June 2: Kolot HaLev in concert:  Les Chansons Juifs – Portraits of Jewish Music in France

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