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LEARN

COME GROW WITH US! At Shirat HaNefesh, learning is a life-long expression of spiritual engagement and the road to a more meaningful Jewish life.  We invite members to play an active role in sharing their interests and knowledge with the community.

Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone.
Pirkei Avot

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 or After-Kiddush discussions on Shabbat mornings; Sunday morning Book Discussions on compelling works of fiction and non-fiction; and our Spotlight Series tied in to a topic or musical genre or particular time of year.

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, from 10–11:30 a.m. At present, we plan to continue to meet using Zoom; links will be in the weekly e-newsletter close to the date of each event, or contact us at info@shirathanefesh.org for more information.  Special thanks to member Heidi Coleman for organizing our book discussions.

In June of each year, we collaboratively decide on a wonderful selection of books to read and discuss for the coming year.  Here was the reading list for 2022-23:

September 11, 2022 - Non-fiction
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari (587 pages) 

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

November 13, 2022 - Fiction
House on Endless Waters: A Novel by Emuna Elon (336 pages)
In the tradition of The Invisible Bridge and The Weight of Ink, “a vibrant, page-turning family mystery” (Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of Wunderland) about a writer who discovers the truth about his mother’s wartime years in Amsterdam, unearthing a shocking secret that becomes the subject of his magnum opus. Part family mystery, part wartime drama, House on Endless Waters is “a rewarding meditation on survival” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and a “deeply immersive achievement that brings to life stories that must never be forgotten” (USA TODAY).

January 22, 2023 - Fiction
The Liberated Bride: A Novel by AB Yehoshua and Hillel Halkin (578 pages)

An Israeli professor and an Arab student join forces in a witty novel that “tells a simple story about a region that complicates all it touches” (The New Yorker).  In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua brilliantly portrays characters from disparate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life.

March 19, 2023 - Essays
People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn (272 pages)

Dara Horn (known best for her novels) has been publishing penetrating essays since she was a teenager. Horn was troubled recently to realize what all of these assignments had in common: she was being asked to write about dead Jews, never about living ones. In these essays, Horn reflects on subjects as far-flung as Anne Frank, the mythology that Jewish family names that were changed at Ellis Island and the little-known life of the "righteous Gentile" Varian Fry.  (Winner of the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice; Finalist for the 2021 Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction; New York Times Notable Book of the Year)

May 7, 2023 - Fiction
The Prague Sonata: A Novel by Bradford Morrow (528 pages)

In the early days of the new millennium, pages of a worn and weathered original sonata manuscript come into the hands of Meta Taverner, a young musicologist.  The gift comes with the request that Meta attempt to find the manuscript’s true owner and to make the three-part sonata whole again. This story evokes decades of Prague’s tragic and triumphant history, from the First World War through the soaring days of the Velvet Revolution.

Rabbi's Table & After Kiddush Discussions

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 or After-Kiddush discussions on Shabbat mornings; Sunday morning Book Discussions on compelling works of fiction and non-fiction; and our Spotlight Series tied in to a topic or musical genre or particular time of year.

Spotlight Series

Some years, Shirat HaNefesh undertakes a year-long exploration of a particular issues.  For 2017-18, the topic was Dealing with Death. This 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 was the music, history, and culture of French Jewry. Hazzan Ramón Tasat presented a series of lectures and concerts focusing on the music, culture, and situation of French Jewry, culminating in the annual concert of Kolot HaLev:  Les Chansons Juifs – Portraits of Jewish Music in France.

In 2020, Hazzan Ramón Tasat organized a Selichot series on Zoom for the entire month of Elul.  Local teachers and rabbis and cantors from around the world joined forces to explore a Selichot prayer each evening at 8 pm.  In 2021, a similar series is back by popular demand, focusing each night on a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  

Tue, August 9 2022 12 Av 5782