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March 31, 1995 - Image 35

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-03-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

small study groups, larger lunch and
learns, retreats as well as one-on-one
Torah reviews with Rabbis Eric Krohn-
er and Reuven Green, who are, re-
spectively, Ohr Somayach national
director and Detroit program director.
One-on-one sessions (Mr. Efros calls
them his "meat and potatoes") forces
him to think about values from a new
perspective. He says insight into Torah
fills a spiritual gap and, in some ways,
catapults him toward action. Last De-
cember, Mr. Efros spent a month of
study in Israel with Ohr Somayach's
overseas program. He regularly attends
Friday Shabbat services.
'With Ohr Somayach, nobody forces
you to do any more than you want to
do," he says. "You go at your own pace.
I think this is actually good reverse psy-
chology, because the less you're forced
to do, the more you end up
doing."
Machon LTorah and Aish Ha- g
Torah extend a similar soft-sell.
Though leaders of such groups
are Orthodox, they welcome K:2)
Jews of all levels of observance. `02_
West Bloomfield Bais Chabad
Rabbi Elimeilech Silberberg each
Tuesday carries several copies of
the Chumash (Bible) to Sara's
Glatt Kosher Deli, where he dis-
cusses Torah with business-suit-
ed professionals on lunch break.
Rabbi Daniel Nevins, at Adat
Shalom, engages a handful of
professionals each Sunday and
Monday during his adult ed
classes.
Curricula vary according to
class, as do teaching methods.
Some classes focus on the par-
shat hashavua (Torah portion of
the week), some are dedicated to
Talmud, others to Midrash. Still
others zero in on the application
of Torah to salient issues in the
modern-day world: sex, drugs,
rock 'n' roll, politics and personal
hygiene.
"Judaism has something to
say about everything. The ques-
tion is how to fit it in, how to
make it into something that we
can use to serve God," Rabbi
Finman says.
At Adat Shalom, Rabbi Nevins
makes a point of using classical
Jewish texts during his adult ed-
ucation classes. Forget the
watered-down primer. He wants
his student to feel comfortable
using the real thing.
In his Monday lunch-arid-learn class,
students take turns reading Hebrew
and English translations from the
Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud. Rabbi
Nevins encourages them to question,
even debate. He suggests they supple-

ment their knowledge with the Ency-
clopedia Judaica and secondary texts.
(Other than that, there's really no
homework.)
"The risk of not doing this," he says
"is broadening the divide between pro-
fessional Jews and lay Jews. What the
laity doesn't know, it won't transmit to
future generations."
Rabbi William Gershon of Congre-
gation Shaarey Zedek also conducts
courses for adults. He says the popu-
larity of adult ed has increased, in part,
because American Jews these days are
threatened less by anti-Semitism.
There is no war, no Holocaust.
These relative good times have af-
forded Jews with the freedom to refocus
their energies beyond physical survival,
he says.
"People are searching for authentic-

ity and meaning in their lives. Today,
we are very concerned about assimila-
tion, and we know we have to take care
of — not just the body — but also the
soul.
"In fact, we've discovered (from the
high rate of assimilation) that you can-
not long sustain the body without sus-
taining the soul."
Batya Berlin retired from her prac-
tice of clinical psychology three years
ago. Now, she uses her time to attend
18 hours worth of Jewish study class-
es each week at temples and syna-
gogues, with learning groups as well
as a private tutor. In addition, she
teaches two classes at Temple Israel.
"For me, the need is really an
expression of holiness," she says. 'This
grows. It becomes a way of life. I'm
living my learning."

Words And
Numbers

We must endeavor to teach even the
unintelligent."
— Rashi

A village without a school should be
abolished."
— Talmud

Don't say T11 study when I have
time,' because you might never have
time." --Hillel

The main thing is not to study, but
to do." — Mishnah, Ethics Of the
Fathers

Below is a list of some
groups for adult Jewish learn-
ing in metro Detroit. For
others, call local temples and
synagogues, or the Jewish
Information Service at (810)
967-4357.

Top:
Rabbi Daniel Nevins of Adat Shalom teaches
from classical texts at his weekly Monday lunch
and learn.

Above:
Attorneys Ethan Gilan and Joanna Abramson
discuss Talmud during a lunch break with Rabbi
Nevins.

Temple and synagogue study
groups don't attract participants
exclusively from their own con-
gregations. Rabbi Nevins esti-
mates about 80 percent of his
adult students are Adat Shalom
members. The others come from
Orthodox, Reform and other Con-
servative institutions. Or, they're
unaffiliated.
One of the main challenges for
adult education teachers is reach-
ing Jews who are out of the loop.
The Midrasha Center For Adult
Jewish Learning has drawn
people in by holding events at local
bookstores and placing ads in secular
papers as well as Jewish publications.
The mantra: Go where they are.
The Chabad movement is predicated
on a similar strategy of sparking Jew-
ish interest in spiritual deserts. Rabbi

• Machon LTorah —
(810) 967-0888
• Aish HaTorah —
(810) 737-0400
• Ohr Somayach --
(810) 352-4870
• Lubavitch Education
Center — (810) 737-7000
• Jewish Theological
Seminary —
(810) 258-0055
• Midrasha —
(810) 354-1050
• Florence Melton Adult
Mini-School —
(810) 354-1050 El

Silberberg of Bais Chabad of West
Bloomfield says that 19 years ago, after
relocating from Crown Heights to
metro Detroit, he intentionally started
classes in nonobservant neighborhoods.
These very classes, he says, spawned
full-fledged Chabad Houses, where
people now come for regular worship
and further study.
Rabbi Finman attributes part of the
trend toward more adult ed to pure
CY)
marketing savvy. 'The people running 0)
these programs have entered into the
20th century," he says.
Co
Case in point: Rabbi Finman's up-
coming topic for his April 10 Jewish CC
Judicial Seminar: 'The O.J. Simpson
Trial. Could it happen in a Court of
Jewish Law?"
NOURISHMENT page 36

35

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