Adult Education Academy

Temple Emanu-El's Adult Education Academy provides relevant, vibrant and meaningful Jewish learning experiences to meet the diverse needs of all our congregants. In addition to formal educational opportunities, there are a variety of informal educational experiences such as Torah and Talmud study. Classes are open to the entire Jewish community. The scope of class offerings is extraordinary. The class schedule includes semester long and multi-year courses, as well as occasional short-term courses.

Click on a class title for more information or to register for classes.

Simply Shabbat

Simply Shabbat is an exploration of the Friday evening Shabbat Service, with explanations of the service and introductions to Shabbat songs and prayers in a slower-paced, non-threatening celebrations of the Sabbath. Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Rabbi Batsheva Appel, and Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg lead this open approach to understanding the rituals, history and practice of a Reform Sabbath experience. Instead of a sermon, there is a question-and-answer session. Come find out what Shabbat is all about! All are welcome.

Simply Shabbat is a part of the Ruth F. and Samuel H. Cohen Outreach Program of Temple Emanu-El.

Read more: Simply Shabbat

Torah Study

samuel cohen talit
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Staff, and Discussion Leaders

An open, interactive exploration of the Torah portion of the week.

Free and open to all -- come and study with us!  No registration is necessary.
Saturdays from 8:30 am to 10:00 am (except Saturdays with a Rabbi's Tish).

Spring 5776/2016: The Wednesday Sefer Book Club: A Monthly Coffehouse of Contemporary Jewish Literature

samuel cohen talit
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon & Rabbi Sanford Sletzer

Join us for reading, discussion, insight, stimulating argument and good coffee at this monthly book group exploring the latest in Jewish literature.  A vibrant exploration of the best of contemporary fiction and non-fiction.  The books for the 5775 series are: 

February 3: The Heist by Daniel Silva
March 2: The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
April 6: Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
May 4: The Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen

Registration Fees: For the entire 2015-2016 series, $50 for members; $65 for non-members.  Registration in the Sefer Book Club is valid for the entire year.
                                      Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: The Wednesday Sefer Book Club: A Monthly Coffehouse of Contemporary Jewish...

The Rabbi's Tish

samuel cohen talit
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Staff, and You!

This is a wonderful opportunity to probe the text of the weekly Torah portion in depth, as well as to discuss and argue with your fellow students at an extended, interactive Torah study and potluck lunch.  Join us for the best casual lunch and finest Jewish conversation in Tucson!

Free and open to all.  No registration is necessary.  Bring a dairy/vegetarian dish to share.
Saturdays at 12:00 noon
January 24; February 7; March 21; April 11; May 16 

Spring 5776/2016: The Zohar: Soul-Text of Kabbalah

samuel cohen talit
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

The Zohar is the great medieval compendium of mysticism, myth, and esoteric teaching.  One of the most important bodies of religious texts of all times and places, it is also a lush literary celebration of love, expressed in sensuous religious language.  The Zohar's secret universe serves as the basis of Kabbalistic faith and is, at heart, a work of sacred fantasy.  

This remarkable work is explored using the new translation by Danny Matt, which enables even novice students of the Kabbalah to approach and understand the pivotal text.  In a guided exploration of this seminal work of mysticism, Rabbi Cohon helps open the "locked garden" of the Zohar in an interactive discussion class using both intellectual and meditation techniques.

Regular Course: The Zohar, Soul-Text of Kabbalah - Thursdays, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
Session III:  January 7, 21, 28; February 4, 11, 18
Session IV:  March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; April 7
Session V:  April 14, 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19
Registration Fees Per Session: $45 for members; $60 for non-members 

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: The Zohar: Soul-Text of Kabbalah

Spring 5776/2016: Hebrew Marathon

Marjorie HochbergCantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg

Learn to read Hebrew in two fun sessions -- just seven hours -- guaranteed!  This year, read along with the prayers at services, and make Hebrew a language you know.

Registration Fee: $45 for members; $60 for non-members

Sunday, January 24, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and Monday, January 25, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Hebrew Marathon

Spring 5776/2016: Intermediate Biblical Hebrew

Margaret Kendle

Using The First Hebrew Primer (chapters 4-30), the Tanakh, and Mishkan T’filah, students will be able to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of verb structures and thereby enrich their experiences in study and in prayer.

Prerequisite Knowledge: Students should be able to read Hebrew fluidly and to write. (There will be plenty of writing so that a dedicated student would be able to pick it up quick enough.)

The class will be offered only if at least 5 students sign-up in advance.

**Before the Intermediate Biblical Hebrew class begins, the instructor would offer a session of 3 classes providing tutoring to POTENTIAL STUDENTS. (The fee for this would count towards the Intermediate Biblical Hebrew class proper, for those who continue.) The text would be The First Hebrew Primer (chapters 1-3). The Intermediate Prayerbook Hebrew course or equivalent is recommended as prior knowledge. The objectives of the tutoring sessions are to review pronunciation nuances, to practice reading with the goal of achieving a fluency of 27+ words per minute, and to practice writing.

The text book is by Simon, Resnikoff and Motzkin and the publisher is EKS Publishing Co. It is available at the Temple Emanu-El WRJ Gift Shop or on Amazon.

Registration Fees: $55 members, $70 non-members for each semester Fall and Spring
Wednesdays, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
January 6, 13, 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17; March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; April 6, 13, 20, 27; May 4, 11

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Intermediate Biblical Hebrew

Spring 5776/2016: The Holiest Places on Earth, Part II

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Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

What makes a place holy? Does it remain so if the people who dedicated it have disappeared from the earth? How does a sacred place transform when it is passed from one religious tradition to another? On his recent sabbatical journey around the world in 85 days, Rabbi Cohon visited 148 of the holiest places sacred to all the great religions--Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Jain, Sikh, BaHai, Druze, aboriginal, Polynesian, Inca, Neolithic, Paleolithic, and others—visiting 20 countries on 6 continents. Learn how holy places are created, what they mean to the people who experience them, what the common elements are, and what is unique in our own experience of holiness of place.

In his initial offering for the Adult Education Academy in the summer of 2015 Rabbi Cohon covered the European portion of his journey, as well as his explorations in Turkey and Egypt. This section will cover the middle portion of his vagabond experiences in three monthly installments, focusing on Israel, India, Japan, and possibly Indonesia. You do not need to have attended the first series, and there is no prerequisite for this class.

Registration Fees: $50 for members; $65 for non-members
Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
                                    February 10, March 15, April 13

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: The Holiest Places on Earth, Part II

Spring 5776/2016: Practical Judaism

Rabbi Appel 09 2014Rabbi Batsheva Appel

Through mitzvot, sacred Jewish obligations, we can change our lives and elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary. Jewish ritual can sometimes seem complex, and the "how" of Judaism can feel like something that was taught on the day that we missed class. This class is all about how to do ritual mitzvot, and how to fulfill the ritual aspects of Judaism.  We will learn about mitzvot for the holidays and ways to make them meaningful and spiritual, from Shabbat to Passover to Hanukkah and more. We will explore the mitzvot for life cycle events such as weddings, funerals, brit milah, and baby naming. We will examine the mitzvah of tzedakah, charity. In each instance, we will be actively doing andpracticing each of these mitzvot as we learn about them and the vocabulary that surrounds them.

Registration Fees: $55 for members; $70 for non-members
Tuesdays from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm
January 12; February 9; March 8; April 19 - Model Seder; May 17



Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Practical Judaism

Spring 5776/2016: Judaism's Great Debates

Rabbi Appel 09 2014Rabbi Batsheva Appel

Not surprisingly, Jews do not always agree and at key moments in our history, there have been debates about what direction Judaism should go. In the time of the Second Temple, which will guarantee our survival – fighting against Rome’s occupation of our land or making peace with them? Does spirituality come from intellect or from emotion? What are the boundaries of Jewish thought? Big questions underlying  big debates. We will examine six key debates from the time of Hillel & Shammai to an imagined debate between Theodor Herzl and Rabbi Isaac M. Wise about Zionism. We think we know who won, but there is more to the story. These are questions that we continue to debate today.

Registration Fees: $50 for members; $65 for non-members
Mondays from 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm
February 1, 8, 15, 29; March 7, 14



Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Judaism's Great Debates

Spring 5776/2016: Why the Clarinet? Jewish Musicians and the Clarinet

Chris TackettChris Tackett

For as long as the clarinet has existed, Jewish musicians have been drawn to it and used it to make unique, inventive, and beautiful music. Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Dave Tarras, Naftuly Brandwein, and Mickey Katz are just a few of the people we’ll investigate as we look at this wonderful instrument and its role in musical history. There will be lots of jazz and klezmer listening along with a visit from a working clarinet player so you can ask your own questions.

Registration Fees: $50 for members; $65 for non-members
Mondays, 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm
February 1,8,15,22

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Why the Clarinet? Jewish Musicians and the Clarinet

Spring 5776/2016: Jazz as Resistance in Europe 1933-1945

Chris TackettChris Tackett

When the Nazis came to power American Jazz was officially declared undesirable, but jazz became a symbol of freedom and hope from the outside world in occupied Europe. Many musicians and jazz clubs and societies (Including Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, and The Hot Club of France) became an active part of the Resistance movement, leading to raids and arrests, but the music kept going. Germany even tried to use the music to its advantage in propaganda broadcasts, with sometimes laughable results. In this class we’ll look at how the music and musicians made beautiful music in the toughest of times, and how jazz became a symbol of hope. There will be lots of musical examples from the best of Europe’s jazz musicians.

Registration Fees: $50 for members; $65 for non-members
Mondays, 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm
March 7, 14, 21, 28

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Jazz as Resistance in Europe 1933-1945

Spring 5776/2016: The Genesis Project

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Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

What is the purpose of creation? Is the Garden of Eden an account, a myth, or a metaphor? The “Sole of the Torah” delves into the undersurface (the “sole”) of the Torah. We begin at Genesis 1:1 and will continue to read and discuss this fundamental text of Judaism every week. The Genesis Project differs from weekly Shabbat Torah Study in that it is a continuous reading of Torah rather than being limited to the weekly Torah portion. The goal is a continuous reading to better understand the flow and linkages throughout the Torah. 
Registration Fees:  $45 per session, 4 sessions per year, $150 for the full year (members); 
$60 per session or $200 (non-members)
Tuesdays, 10:30 am to 11:30 am
Session III: January 26, February 9, 16, 23; March 1, 8, 15, 22; 
Session IV: April 5, 12, 19; May 3, 10, 17

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: The Genesis Project

Spring 5776/2016: Talmud Study

Eliot Barron
Dr. Eliot Barron

The Talmud is a treasure trove of Jewish lore, legend, and wisdom.  Study excerpts are from the excellent Hebrew-English Talmud of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.  No prior Talmud or Hebrew knowledge is necessary. 

Registration Fee: One time $18 charge for materials.  If interested, contact Eliot Barron at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 11:30 am
Beginning October 14th 

Spring 5776/2016: Moral Courage: A Film Series

Sy Rotter

Why did some people in Nazi occupied European Countries defy threats of death by German authorities to provide safety for Jewish fugitives? The films in this series are an exploration of this little known chapter in the overwhelming Holocaust tragedy, and provide us with examples of Moral Courage that once seen, we may wish to honor in our thoughts.

February 2 - “Rescue in Scandinavia” introduces us to some of these individuals and their memories of those events help us to understand their motives. Narrated by Liv Ulmann

February 16 - “A Debt to Honor” features Italian rescuers, civilians and clergy. Narrated by Alan Alda
“It was Nothing - It was Everything” highlights the civilians, municipal authorities, and church leaders whose rescue efforts were critical to the few Greek Jews who avoided capture and deportation. Narrated by Irene Papas

Sy Rotter, filmmaker, will introduce and then lead post-film discussions on these award winning films.

Registration Fees: $8 for members; $10 for non-members per film
Tuesdays, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
February 2, 16

Read more: Spring 5776/2016: Moral Courage: A Film Series