Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning 5778: January - May 2018

At Mishkan Shalom, we learn for life.

That means classes and events to stretch your mind, use your body, inspire your creativity
and deepen your engagement with Judaism.

It means that no matter your age or expertise, you can try something new, make friends,
share experiences and join a community of learners.

For many of our offerings, there are no fees and
no registration required.

For classes with fees, registration is open. Register now!

Online: Use links below

By phone (215-508-0226) or e-mail:
Let us know your registration details and mail your check to:
4101 Freeland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19128

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Join the Lifelong Learning Committee!

To learn more, or to suggest a course you'd like to take, or teach,

please contact Jennifer Coburn, Committee Chair.


Spiritual Direction: A Monthly Open Circle
Saturdays, 9:00 - 9:55 a.m.:
Feb. 10, Mar. 10, Apr. 14, May 12

Led by Dr. Meredith Barber

Jewish Spiritual Direction is a process of exploring our connection with what we experience as sacred. Please come promptly at 9:00 a.m. so we may begin together. The Spiritual Direction Circle will continue to meet on the 2nd Shabbat of each month.

Meredith Barber is a trained Spiritual Director; she has been a leader of Mishkan Shalom's monthly Spiritual Direction Circle for many years. This work combines a number of her passions, including group work, spiritual exploration and creativity. A psychologist for 20 years, she leads groups and teaches graduate-level classes in psychotherapy. Meredith completed the Lev Shomea program in Jewish Spiritual Direction.

Click here to learn more about Jewish Spiritual Direction and our Monthly Open Circle.

No fee.


Judaism for our Times: Drawing on the Wisdom of our Tradition to Live in Challenging Times
Wednesdays, 6:45 - 8:00 p.m.: Six sessions; see dates below.
Taught by Rabbi Shawn Zevit and Rabbi Yael Levy

Part 1: 3 sessions taught by Rabbi Shawn: Jan. 31, Feb. 7: These sessions will draw on Jewish tradition and contemporary practices for everyday living to help us strengthen, clarify and ground our life choices in our values and centuries of Jewish wisdom. We will explore, study and discuss with each other the themes of Money and Jewish Values, Love and Relationships, and Living in Sacred Community.

Part 2: 3 sessions taught
by Rabbi Yael: Apr. 11, 25 and May 2: These sessions will draw on Jewish traditional and contemporary spiritual practices for everyday living to help us strengthen, clarify and ground our life choices and ability to navigate turbulent times. We will explore, practice and share together Jewish approaches to Blessing and Gratitude, Paths to a Greater Mystery, and Shabbat and Daily Practice.

3 sessions taught by Rabbi Shawn: $40 members/$60 non-members.
3 sessions taught by Rabbi Yael: $40 members/$60 non-members.
You may register for 1 or both sets of sessions.

Rabbi Shawn Zevit,, is the lead rabbi of Mishkan Shalom. He is also a consultant, liturgist and recording artist, community organizer, faculty member and associate director of ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) Training Program.

Rabbi Yael Levy has been with Mishkan Shalom for 20 years and has developed A Way In: Jewish Mindfulness Organization over the past eight years. Rabbi Yael's approach to Mindfulness is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. It grows out of her deep personal commitment to spiritual practice and a passionate belief in its potential to change not only individuals but also the world.

Register online: Judaism for our Times


Walk the Talk: Knowing Nature through a Jewish Lens
Saturdays, Jan. 27, May 5: 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
(Meet at Mishkan, then carpool to the woods.)
Led by Steve Jones 

$5.00/session (members and non-members)
We will not collect money on Shabbat; please register and pay in advance via the website.

Walk the Talk is a series of guided outdoor experiences in which participants learn about 'reading' the natural landscape as a text. Participants walk for about an hour-and-a-half in the nearby Wissahickon forest, observe elements of the natural world, learn about ecological relationships and consider short Jewish texts.

  • The Jan. 27 Shabbat walk occurs four days before Tu B’Shevat, a time in the calendar when we note that the sap is rising in the seemingly sleeping forest, and we can sense the forest coming back to life through the cold.
  • Our May 5 spring walk will focus on the bird migration from Central and South America to our woods, along with the flowering of many of the plants native to our valley.

All ages are welcome. We meet at Mishkan Shalom, after services at 12:30 p.m., then carpool to a starting point for the walk in the nearby woods. Please wear sturdy shoes and sensible clothes for the outdoors.

Steve Jones teaches English at Community College of Philadelphia and is president of Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers, a community-based ecological restoration program. He teaches English at Community College of Philadelphia and Chairs Mishkan Shalom's Spiritual Life Council. Steve also leads Nature Walks at Mishkan's annual Weekend in the Woods at Camp JRF in the Pocono Mountains.

Register online: Walk the Talk


Shabbat Lunch and Learn: Brown bag lunch discussion following Shabbat services
Saturdays, Feb. 3, Apr. 21: 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Led by Lisa Joy & Alan Tuttle

No fee.

In these brown-bag lunch discussions in the Library following Shabbat services, Lisa Joy and Alan Tuttle will use the Reconstructionist A Guide to Jewish Practice, Vol. 1: Everyday Living, by David A. Teutsch, as a springboard for stimulating and meaningful discussion:

Feb. 3: Speech Ethics: Slander, Gossip, and Reproof — The airwaves and social media are rife with people talking to and about each other. What does our tradition, and what do current thinkers including participants in this session, find meaningful and challenging in using our power of speech to affect one another and the world around us?

Apr. 21: Family & Sexual Ethics — Keeping in mind the Reconstructionist view that “the past has a vote, but not a veto,” we will consider teachings on family: relationships and obligations between parents and children, between spouses, and among other family members. In addition, we’ll look through the Jewish lens of sexuality as something natural and holy as we explore the Reconstructionist views on sexual practices.


Fold it Up: Making Hamentaschen
Thursday, Feb. 22, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in the Mishkan Kitchen
Taught by Jean Brody

$10 members/$15 non-members
To ensure we have enough ingredients, PLEASE pre-register.
Participation essentials: Pre-registration; bring a mixing bowl, rolling pin and a cookie sheet.

We hate Haman, but we don’t hate hamentaschen! Have you always wanted to learn how to bake your own hamentaschen? Or, just want to make them with your fellow Mishkaners? Come roll the dough and choose your favorite filling with Jean Brody in a hamentaschen-baking night of revelry. Jean will provide the ingredients; you bring a bowl, rolling pin, and cookie sheet so you can take your filled cookies home to finish baking. Purim costumes optional.

Register online: Making Hamentaschen


Pause & Refresh Your Soul: An Exploration of Shabbat Unplugging
Saturdays, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m., Feb. 24, Mar. 17, Apr. 21
Led by Rabbis Shawn and Simcha Zevit in their Mt. Airy home (address provided upon registration).

$10.00/session (members); $15.00/session (non-members)
We will not collect money on Shabbat; please register and pay in advance.

Monthly reflection, study and song that blend Shabbat afternoon tradition and reflection with text study, contemplation, prayer and spiritual practice, all connected to this year’s theme of keeping our eyes on life — our commitments, choices, time and energy for a sustainable and just world. Throughout the year we will explore the Jewish approaches to middot (values, characteristics, virtues) focusing session-by-session on different middot we might take on to live our lives more fully, consciously and in relation to the people and world we are part of.


Rabbi Shawn Zevit,, is the lead rabbi of Mishkan Shalom. He is also a consultant, liturgist and recording artist, community organizer, faculty member and associate director of ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) Training Program.

Rabbi Simcha Zevit is the rabbi of the Narberth Havurah, the Jewish chaplain at HUPP and a member of Mishkan Shalom.

Register online: Pause & Refresh Your Soul


SoulCollage® with a Jewish Spin
Sunday, April 29: 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. in the Social Hall
Facilitated by Susan Richards

$40.00 per session; includes all supplies (members and non-members)
Maximum 12 participants for this workshop.

Join us March 4th, when we will have just reveled in Purim and are looking ahead to the renewal of Passover. Join us (again, or for the first time) on April 29th during the counting of the Omer - the special period when we count the days from the second night of Passover until the Revelation at Sinai on Shavuot. Explore the meaning of these special seasons in our personal journeys as we make and share SoulCollage® cards.

SoulCollage is an intuitive, imaginative, creative and fun process. If you can use scissors and glue stick you can do it! Newcomers are welcome as well as previous SoulCollagers. No art experience is necessary — just receptivity, trust in the process, and a spirit of adventure.

Susan Richards says, “Being a SoulCollage® Facilitator is the perfect integration of my life-long spiritual pursuits, my 30 years as a psychotherapist in private practice in Solana Beach, California, and my current life as a full-time artist in the Philadelphia area.” For more information, see Susan's SoulCollage website.

Register online: Soul Collage


Shining a New Light on Love, Loss & Re-Emergence
Thursdays, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.: March 8 & 15
Led by Rabbi Tsurah August

Each session is $18.00 members/$36.00 non-members.
You may register for 1 or both sessions.

These sessions are interactive, integrating Jewish traditions, texts, and rituals along with utilizing the arts, e.g., drawing, writing, and music, and are open to anyone interested in exploring end-of-life issues.

Session 1, March 8: Saying Good-bye. We will explore different ways of having meaningful interactions with our beloveds who are living their final weeks and days, as well as exploring ideas we might want to incorporate into our own final days.

Session 2, March 15: Re-Emergence. Many of us think “grief” and “mourning” are synonymous; however, “grief” is the amalgam of a myriad of feelings – emotional, physical, spiritual – that we may experience upon a significant loss. “Mourning” is the assortment of ways we use to move through loss and grief to wholeness. We will explore a variety of mourning practices from Judaism and other spiritual traditions as well as ‘out-of-the-box’ creative techniques to embrace life again.

Rabbi Tsurah August is Hospice Chaplain for the Jewish Family & Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia. As a rabbi and chaplain working with people at major life transitions including life/death, illness/health, she works to clear, comfort, ease and inspire patients and their families before, during and after the passage.

Register online: Shining a New Light


Rabbinic Perspectives on Prayer
Sundays, 10:30 a.m. - noon: March 18, 25; April 29 [Please note changes in dates!]
Led by Dr. Elsie Stern

Attend one, some or all five sessions.
Each session: $10.00 members/$15.00 non-members
All five sessions: $40.00 members/$60.00 non-members

In this class, Mishkan member Elsie Stern will guide us through texts from the mishnaic tractate Berakhot to explore how the early rabbis understood the purposes and practices of prayer. We will read the texts in English and no prior experience with rabbinic texts is necessary.

Dr. Elsie Stern is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she teaches Bible and Rabbinic Judaism.

Register online: Rabbinic Perspectives on Prayer


Passover Desserts Israeli Style!
Thursday, March 22, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in the Mishkan Kitchen

Led by Ariel Peleg-Globig

$10 members/$15 non-members
To ensure we have enough ingredients, PLEASE pre-register.

Participation essentials: Pre-registration.
If you have them, come to class with a hand mixer, a bowl, and a 10” (26 cm) spring form pan.

Just in time for Pesach, new member Ariel Peleg-Globig will share with us some of her secret Sabra family recipes. Together we’ll make a gluten-free almond meal cake with Grand Marnier and some date mush balls. Everyone will get some cake and mush balls to taste and/or bring home, as well as some heretofore secret recipes.

Register online: Passover Desserts – Israeli Style!


One Book Mishkan: 13th Annual Selection
The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us
, by Bruce Feiler

Watch Kol Shalom, Ma Hadash and this page for details on 5778’s One Book Mishkan programs.

If the story of Adam & Eve is about romantic love, and not of sin; if one of the most well-known stories of all time is actually about introducing the idea of love into the world; what might this signify about the Bible, in general, or about modern religious practice? Join us for a revelatory journey across four continents and 4,000 years with master storyteller Bruce Feiler as our guide.

Saturday Nite at the Movies: Film TBA
Saturday, March 24, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Facilitated by Dr. Adam Blistein
Suggested donation: $5.00

We’re screening options to find the best film for our ever-popular movie night, returning with popcorn, libations, yummy treats, lively discussion and good company! Dr. Adam Blistein – classics scholar, film buff and long-time Movie Nite producer – leads our post-film discussion.

Panel Discussion: The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us
Sunday, May 6, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Facilitator & Panelists: TBA
Suggested donation: $5.00

Author Bruce Feiler argues that the story of Adam & Eve is as much about love as it is about sin, and offers a surprising number of examples from art, literature, drama, religion, and even science to make his point. Join us as we conclude our series with community members offering their own reactions to Genesis 1-5; followed by Q & A, discussion and reception.

Questions? Suggestions? Write See you in the Library!

Click here for full details on our One Book Mishkan Series.


Torah Study
Shabbat (Saturday) mornings, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. in the Library

Each Shabbat morning we gather to read, discuss, question and explore that week’s Torah portion in sessions led by Mishkan rabbis, members and friends of the community. Together, we become both teachers and students. Open to adults and teens. If you’d like to lead a session or have questions about Torah study, Eugene Fleischman Sotirescu, Torah Study Coordinator, welcomes your questions.

Click here to learn more about our weekly Torah Study.


How to Register for Classes: You can register and pay online for classes with fees by following the links after each class. If you prefer to pay by check, please call the synagogue at (215) 508-0226 or e-mail and provide your name, contact information and the class you wish to take.

Download the "Lifelong Learning Winter/Spring 5778/2018 Brochure" by clicking here.


Mishkan Shalom is a Reconstructionist congregation in which a diverse community of progressive Jews finds a home. Mishkan’s Statement of Principles commits the community to integrate Prayer, Study and Acts of Caring — and to work with other people of faith to repair the world in justice and peace.

4101 Freeland Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 - ph: (215) 508-0226 / Site map