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Mission Statement

As a “home for wondering Jews,” Eitz Chayim offers and curates Jewish learning opportunities for all ages to supplement the work of our school. Our goal is to have every adult enmeshed in some way on an ongoing basis in the rich cultural and religious fabric of Judaism. To  that end, we offer topic-focussed thematic programming which includes classes, lectures, films, and hands-on experiences (which will become real rather than virtual when the pandemic subsides), as well as ongoing Torah study and book discussions. We also partner with other organizations such as Me’ah. We hope you will join us!

Regular recurring events

Weekly Torah Study which meets every Tuesday at 9 am

 

Ageing-to-Sageing group

 

Book discussions – Eitz Chayim hosts an informal book discussion group which meets roughly every six weeks to discuss a book chosen by participants. For more information, see the calendar of upcoming events, or contact Bonnie Friedman at home@bonnieanddavid.com

This month, on June 27th at 7:30 pm, please join the EC Book Club for a discussion of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi. Join here.  Meeting ID: 823 6014 9058 Passcode: books.

Upcoming learning opportunities 

World Refugee Awareness Month

Lifelong Learning is bringing you two films about Ghana, both deeply personal stories from very different filmmakers, shot over many years as they got to know their new Ghanaian friends.

In June, for World Refugee Awareness Month, we are co-sponsoring A Fish Tale, a film about refugees, Israel and Ghana. Johnny, an undocumented, illegal immigrant, is working as a house cleaner in affluent neighborhoods and living in the African community of South Tel Aviv, when he meets a 22-year-old art student:  French-born Israeli citizen, Emmanuelle Mayer. They quickly form a friendship. Johnny has dreams of returning to Ghana with modern fish farming techniques he learned in Israel. Johnny’s wife, Thérèse, sees little hope back home, and is determined to create the best possible future for their children in Israel.  Over the next 10 years, Emmanuelle chronicles Johnny and Thérèse’s lives as refugees in Israel and what happens when their visas expire. 

This film is being shown through Belmont World Film’s observance of World Refugee Awareness Month.  Eitz Chayim is a co-sponsor and we are providing a discounted link to rent the film to watch between noon on June 15th & 9 pm on June 21st.  

Then, on Monday, June 21st at 7:30 pm, please join us for the discussion with the filmmaker, Emmanuelle Mayer (link to follow)  Some of the proceeds from the ticket price of the film benefit the African Bridge Network, helping African immigrants reach their potential. You can watch the trailer here.

To access THE FISH TALE go to:

Next month, on Sunday, July 11th at 7 pm we will show the film, Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana. When Gabrielle Zilkha volunteers with other Canadians to work in Africa, religion isn't at the forefront of her mind.  But, when Rosh Hashanah arrives, she realizes she is a lone Jew awash in a sea of Christians. Surprisingly, in remote Ghana, she finds a group of people who have recently discovered that the religion they had been practicing for centuries was Judaism.

This film is an exploration of the background and day-to- day lives of the Jews of Sewfi Wiawso, Ghana. We see them try to reach out to other Jews worldwide and witness their ongoing struggle for acceptance and growth.  Gabrielle, the filmmaker, spent five years in Ghana making the film and getting to know this community.  She is forced to look at her own sense of Judaism and belonging along the way.

Immediately after the screening, we will have a discussion with Gabrielle.  

Join us on Sunday July 11th at 7 pm here.  Meeting ID: 828 1345 8978 Passcode: LLL

To learn more about the film, and to watch the trailer, click here. To learn about the community, please visit https://beingjewishinghana.com.


Announcing Open Circle

The Lifelong Learning team has been working with Hebrew College's Open Circle program to offer classes with a focus on racial justice. Open Circle classes are designed to initiate discussion and have very little homework. They are small, with each class having 9-20 students. The cost is $18/class; $180 for all 10 classes (Tema’s class for 6 months; then Marc’s class for 4 months).  There is financial aid for those who need assistance. These classes will be using zoom because both instructors do not live near Boston.  Start date will most likely be Thursday, September 9th.

Fall class: Finding our place: Jews in the Struggle for Racial Equity 
With a renewed awakening about the pervasiveness of systemic racism in our society, questions about where the Jewish community fits in are appearing more and more. How does the social construction of race impact the Jewish community?  Are Jews white?  How do we show up for Jews of Color?  And where does antisemitism fit into this spectrum of oppression? In this course, we will dive into some of these hot-button topics and emerge with a deeper understanding of each of our places in the fight for justice. 
 
The class will be taught by Tema Smith, a diversity advocate, writer and Jewish community builder. Over the past ten years, Tema has worked to advance the conversation on racially diverse Judaism, working with many organizations like the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, CJPAC, Boston JCRC, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Hillel International, Limmud North America, Hadassah, the AJC, and the ADL. You can find much more here
Tema's class will be once a month for 6 months.
 
Spring class: The spring class will be taught by Marc Dollinger. Marc is a member of the Jewish Studies faculty at San Francisco State University. He holds an endowed research chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility, giving him a platform to talk about his passion for Jewish social justice. You can find much more here. Please note that at this point, these are descriptions of each session. Hebrew College has not yet put together an overarching class description.  Marc’s class will be a more historical and academic examination.  It will be meant to complement Tema's class even if the subject is similar.
1)  Jews and Whiteness:  Are American Jews white? The question, answered differently by different generations of American Jews, gets at the heart of American Jewish identity. We'll journey back more than a century to discover some (surprising) insights into the debate over Jewish whiteness. 
2) "Hamans and Torquemadas": Southern and Northern Responses to the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1964:  Join us as we explore a new understanding of American Jewish participation in the modern civil rights movement. What inspired Jewish participation in social justice causes? What possibilities and limits did it create?
3) "Black Power/Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s":   Professor Dollinger’s most recent book takes a new and different look at Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement, showing how American Jews leveraged the Black Power movement to increase Jewish ethnic and religious identity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 
4)  1619, 1654, 2021: Jews, Race, and U.S. History:  With our national reckoning on race, so many American Jews are reflecting on systemic racism and ways we may be able to help. Join us for a candid, and probably difficult, journey through American Jewish history as we explore historical documents about Jews and racism. We will think about what it means to “become American” and the ways that racism has played among and within the Jewish community.  Marc's class will be once a month for 4 months. 
 
If you are interested in these classes, please let Bonnie know. Class is about half filled.  We need to give Hebrew College a rough count soon so we can decide if we should open it up to other local shuls. We are now planning on Thursday nights for both classes, running sequentially.



New Me'ah Class for summer

Wednesdays, 7-9 pm - June 23, 30, July 7, 14 & 21. $165. For more information or financial aid, contact Marilyn SternRegister Here.
 
Tradition on The Screen II:  Challenges and Joys of Traditional Jewish Life in Film Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
Designed as a free-standing companion course to Tradition On The Screen I (each may be taken separately), this course screens films that explore the profound personal experiences, and struggles, of those living traditional Jewish lives today. Using the films and readings this course tries to articulate -- from the “inside” -- the thoughts and feelings of traditional Jews as they face both wrenching dilemmas and truly joyous moments. Some of the topics in the films include spirituality and faith, the experiences of women, the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, dealing with other religions, and the struggle to believe in God after the Holocaust. Students will screen the films on their own before class; important clips will be shown in class.  Carefully chosen academic readings and short stories will be provided each week, both for background on that week’s film, and to enhance the viewing experience.

Past events

October 7 - December 16, 2020: “Unpacking Antisemitism,” a weekly course offered in collaboration with Hebrew College taught by Dr. Jacob Meskin of Hebrew College.

 

Film screenings with lecture and discussion:

 

  • “Gentleman’s Agreement” (October 2020)
  • “School Ties” (November 2020)
  • “The Rabbi Goes West” (February 2021)
  • “Space Torah” (March 2021)
  • “Paper Clips” (April 2021)
  • "Angels on Diamond Street" (May 2021)

December, 2020: Lecture and discussion on the history of anti-Semitism with Dr. Rachel Fish.

January, 2021: “J-Term: Hungry for Learning: An exploration of Jewish food and food culture

May, 2021: Literary evening with Esther Adler and Ann Braude to introduce Esther's new book, Poems of Sorrow, Solace, and Spirituality.

June, 2021:  Beyond Polemics: Attempting To Understand Jewish Debates About Israel - a discussion with Dr. Jacob Meskin.

Resources 

Kulanu - World Jewry

Jewish Boston - Local events

Ofek - Connecting Israeli language and culture

Global Jews

http://www.kaleidoscopejews.org

Feedback and involvement 

Many lifelong learning opportunities at Eitz Chayim are planned and curated by the all-volunteer Eitz Chayim Lifelong Learning team. We welcome your feedback on events and suggestions for future activities. We also welcome new members to the team.  On either item, contact Lifelong Learning Team Coordinator Armond Cohen at armondcohen1@me.com

Sun, June 20 2021 10 Tammuz 5781