Past AEA Classes

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.

Listed below are several classes that have been offered through the Adult Education Academy in the past and may be offered again in the future.

Spring 5775/2015: American Jewish Identity

david graizbordDr. David Graizbord, Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies

According to a much discussed Pew study from 2013, American Jews are overwhelmingly "proud" to be Jewish. But what does it mean to them to "be Jewish"and to be "proud" of it? What has "being Jewish" meant to them historically, and how has this changed? Why and how have American Jews formed the specific concept(s) of themselves as individuals and as members of a community (or communities) of Jews that they have held and hold?

The mini-course approaches these questions by looking at the peculiar history and challenges of Jewish cultural formation, evolution, loss, and survival in the United States. Through an examination of short historical documents, including interviews of American Jews of "Generation Y" (18-30 year-olds), participants will discuss the successes and failures of American Jewish life as it contends with long-term assimilatory pressures and trends.

Registration Fees: $45 for members; $60 for non-members
Tuesdays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm
March 31; April 7, 14

Read more: Spring 5775/2015: American Jewish Identity

Spring 5775/2015: Jews and Jazz

Chris TackettChris Tackett

Session I: Blues and Early Jazz, 1880-1935. We look at the influence of Jewish music and culture on this truly American art form. We take the thread from the beginnings of blues and jazz in the southern US up to the rise of the songwriters like Irving Berlin and the beginnings of the big band era in the early thirties. We'll have a look at prominent Jewish jazz players, bandleaders,and promoters. There will be lots of recorded and live musical examples and plenty of room for discussion.

Session II: Swing and Into the Modern Era, 1935-1955. We take the history of Jewish music and culture in jazz from the rise of the big bands in the middle thirties through the war and into the modern era and the start of modern jazz, the Dixieland revival, cool jazz and bebop, and the popular songs and singers of the fifties. Again, lots of recorded and live musical examples will be given and plenty of room will be allowed for argument, rebuttal, and discussion.


Registration Fees Per Session: $45 for members; $60 for non-members
Tuesdays from 7:00 to 8:15 pm
Session I: February 3, 10, 17, 24
Session II: March 3, 10, 17, 24

Read more: Spring 5775/2015: Jews and Jazz

Spring 5775/2015: Shmita: The Sabbatical Year

In a recent interview in the Fall 2014 issue of Reform Judaism (, Rabbi Kevin M. Kleinman has called on the Reform Movement to "begin observance of Shmita this Rosh Hashannah in order to alleviate economic disparity, better steward the earth and champion social justice."

The Sabbatical year may be the fulfillment of the justice the Torah teaches us to practice on a daily basis, embracing our fellow human beings, the land and all life. But in our non-agrarian society, exactly how do we meet the challenges of the modern elements of Shmita: maintaining economic, environmental, and social balance in the world? How do they apply to our daily lives?

Community leaders and our rabbis will consider the above questions focusing on local food systems, economic resiliency and community empowerment.

Blessing our Food—as Individuals and as a Community
Rabbi Richard Safran and The Rev. Greg A. Foraker
Tuesday, January 27, 2015; 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

What is Jewish Food Justice?
Rabbi Sanford Seltzer and Leona Davis, Education and Advocacy Coordinator of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
Monday, February 16, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Food for the Jewish Soul: How are our Food Choices Determined by Jewish Values/Toward Healthy Bodies
in Today's World
Rabbi Sanford Seltzer and Michael Hewitt Ph.D., health and wellness community expert from Canyon Ranch
Monday, March 16th, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

The Land: Preservation - Now and for the Next Generation
Mission Garden is a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit-trees, traditional local
heirloom crops and edible native plants. It will be a hands-on gardening experience.
Sunday, April 12th; Time TBA

Registration Fees: $10 per program
January 27; February 16; March 16; April 12

Read more: Spring 5775/2015: Shmita: The Sabbatical Year

Spring 5775/2015: Jewish Women's History

Kelly Feinstein-Johnson cropped
Kelly Feinstein-Johnson, Ph.D.

This is a six-week, discussion-based course that focuses on the unique experience of Jewish women's history. Each week we will read and discuss selections from diaries and memoirs of Jewish women, including: the memoirs of a 17th century Jewish businesswoman, the biography of a famous 18th Jewish Salonière, the autobiography of the first German (and Jewish!) professional female writer, a memoir of life on New York's Lower East Side, and the diary of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch woman sometimes referred to as the "adult" Anne Frank. Reading about women's lives written in their own words, we will focus on themes such as love, sex, marriage, work, family, Judaism and interactions with the non-Jewish world. We will learn that though some things have changed dramatically in 300 years, others have stayed strikingly the same. Note: There will be assigned reading for each week.


Selections will be provided for students. If anyone is interested in purchasing the full texts, all books are available
via Although new editions are expensive, there are numerous affordable used copies available.

Mondays from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.
     January 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2

     Registration Fees Per Session: $55 for members; $70 for non-members

Read more: Spring 5775/2015: Jewish Women's History

Fall 5775/2014: From Coffee House to the Origins of Interreligious Dialogue & the Judeo-Christian Tradition

Sandy Seltzer lightenedSomething to Remember when Ordering Your Next Frappuccino
Rabbi Sandy Seltzer

A three session examination of critical events in early modern Jewish history of which we are the beneficiaries.

Session I: How the discovery of coffee permanently transformed Jewish life: its impact upon palate, religious practice, and emancipation

Session II: When Jews were Christians, Christians were Jews, and some were a little of both: its enduring legacy

Session III: When Jews were ghettoized, and the Talmud, the prayer book and other Jewish texts censored: the unforeseen benefits


Registration Fees: $45 for members; $60 for non-members
Mondays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm
November 3, 10, 17 

Read more: Fall 5775/2014: From Coffee House to the Origins of Interreligious Dialogue & the Judeo-Christian...