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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.

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.  

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 2021-22:

Sunday, September 19 - Fiction

The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross (416 pages) 

Remarkable debut novel, written with the fearless imagination of Michael Chabon and the piercing humor of Gary Shteyngart, about a small Jewish village in the Polish forest that is so secluded no one knows it exists . . . until now. For decades, the tiny Jewish shtetl existed in happy isolation, virtually untouched and unchanged, spared by the Holocaust and the Cold War, its residents enjoyed remarkable peace. It missed out on cars, electricity, the internet and indoor plumbing. But when a marriage dispute spins out of control, the whole town comes crashing into the twenty-first century. (Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Jewish Fiction Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries, Good Morning America Must Read New Books, New York Post Buzz Books, Millions Most Anticipated)
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Sunday, November 21 - Fiction

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman (320 pages)

A richly textured, complex, yet entirely believable story, it draws us inexorably into the lives of two brothers and their families in 1950s Brooklyn, New York.... As compelling as the story line are the characters that Loigman has drawn here. None is wholly likable nor entirely worthy of scorn. All are achingly human, tragically flawed and immediately recognizable. We watch them change and grow as the novel spans more than 20 years....engrossing from beginning to end. ― The Associated Press

This absolutely riveting book reads like a suspense novel.... The underlying complexities of friendship, the intricacies of marriage and the disintegration of family are explored in this gem of a family saga. The characters are fully drawn, and the writing is superb. This is a book that is sure to become a popular choice for book clubs.” ― Historical Novel Society

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Sunday, January 23 - Comedy

I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson (336 pages)

From the co-creator and co-star of the hit series Broad City, a "poignant, funny, and beautifully unabashed" (Cheryl Strayed) New York Times bestselling essay collection about love, loss, work, comedy, and figuring out who you really are when you thought you already knew.

In this collection of anecdotes, observations and reflections--all told in the sharp, wildly funny, and relatable voice that has endeared Abbi to critics and fans alike--readers will feel like they're in the passenger seat on a fun and, ultimately, inspiring journey.  Some original illustrations by the author.

Sunday, March 20 (during Women's History Month) - Non-Fiction
The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos by Judy Batalion (
Note: Get a head start on this one; it's a little long - 576 pages)

An Instant NY Times Bestseller; also on the USA Today, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, and Indie bestseller lists.  One of the most important stories of World War II; already optioned by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture: a spectacular, searing history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who became resistance fighters—a group of unknown heroes whose exploits have never been chronicled in full, until now.

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Sunday, May 15 - Memoir

Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure by Menachem Kaiser (288 pages)
A master storyteller embarks on a journey to learn about his grandfather and to reclaim an apartment building in Poland that was stolen during the Holocaust. The odyssey is fascinating and thought-provoking.

Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782