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A Reform Jewish Community for all of Tucson
225 North Country Club • Tucson, AZ 85716
(520) 327-4501 • Fax: (520) 327-4504
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Yom Shabbat, 16 Kislev 5776

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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.

Marjorie Hochberg
Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg

Learn reading and comprehension skills for Jewish participation, prayer, and vocabulary. This class is a natural follow-up for anyone who has taken Beginning Prayerbook Hebrew or has a moderate knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet, vowels, and pronunciation.

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

Sundays, 9:00 am to 10:15 am
October 25; November 1, 8, 15, 22; December 6


Read more: Fall 5776/2015: Intermediate Prayerbook Hebrew

samuel cohen talit
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); First 2 classes free!
Tuesdays, 10:30 am to 11:30 am
Session I: October 13, 20, 27; November 10, 17
Session II: December 1, 8, 15; January 19; February 2, 9
Session III: February 16, 23; March 1, 8, 15, 22; 
Session IV: April 5, 12, 19; May 3, 10, 17

Read more: Fall 5776/2015: The Genesis Project

Sandy Seltzer lightenedRabbi Sandy Seltzer

Among the more controversial and misunderstood concepts of Judaism is that Jews are the Chosen People. It is a doctrine that has caused discomfort and ambivalence among Jews and resentment on the part of non-Jews.  In our four sessions together, we shall examine how and why it became a basic teaching of Judaism, the response of various Jewish thinkers to its message and its implications not only for Jews, but for Christians and Muslims as well.
Session I: The Jews as the Chosen People: Biblical, Rabbinic, Mystical Sources and Reactions
Session II: Being Chosen and Divine Justice: Reconciling the Holocaust and Other Tragedies of Jewish History With Divine Election
Session III: Secular Zionism, The Theology of Being Chosen and the State of Israel
Session IV: Who Are The Chosen People?: Comparing and Contrasting the Claims of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Registration Fees: $55 for members; $70 for non-members
Tuesdays, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
October 20, 27; November 3, 10

Read more: Fall 5776/2015: Are We the Chosen People

Chris TackettChris Tackett

Over six sessions the class will tour the twentieth century theater, movie, and pop music worlds and how they were effectively invented by Jewish publishers, songwriters, lyricists, and composers. We’ll have a close look at the great songwriters of the era, including Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, and all the talented lyricists and collaborators that worked with them. We’ll also talk about how Jewish merchants in New York City in the late nineteenth century effectively invented music publishing and the modern system of pop charts and promotion. Many musical examples (live and recorded) will make this class a very enjoyable experience.

Class 1: The Invention of Music Publishing and Promotion, Irving Mills, and others - How a bunch of Jewish merchants turned an art form into a commodity
Class 2: Irving Berlin - How Israel Balint became an American and changed American music forever
Class 3: George Gershwin - From the tenements of Brooklyn to the concert halls of the world with his brother and chief collaborator, Ira Gershwin
Class 4: Harold Arlen - The great songwriter who’s almost one of America’s great secrets
Class 5: Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern - The men who invented and perfected modern musical theater with collaborators Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II
Class 6: Who Else? - A look at many other Jewish composers, arrangers, lyricists, and creators of American music in the twentieth century and beyond, including Jewish refugees in Hollywood before WWII, into the television era, and beyond

Registration Fees: $55 for members; $70 for non-members
Mondays, 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm
October 12, 26; November 2, 9, 16, 23 [please note change in dates]

Read more: Fall 5776/2015: The American Popular Song: A Jewish Invention?

samuel cohen talitRabbi Samuel M. Cohon

This three-part class will help those who have a modest knowledge of Jewish life to better understand Judaismas practiced in America. This is a broad-based presentation of three major themes in American Judaism, a fun, upbeat but intelligent approach to getting a better handle on just what today’s version of our ancient religion is all about.

Taught in the same energetic, interactive style as the hugely popular Taste of Judaism series, the classes include “Jews in America – Movements (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox & More),” “Assimilation & Creativity: From Davening to Rock? A Jewish Way to Pray,” and “American-Israeli Relations.” Includes delicious “tastes” of traditional Jewish foods.

Registration Fee: $25 for members and non-members (includes snacks and two CDs of Jewish music)
Thursdays, October 1, 8, 15 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Read more: Fall 5776/2015: Taste II, Another Bite: Jewish in America

samuel cohen talitRabbi Appel 09 2014Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon and Rabbi Batsheva Appel

Temple Emanu-El's Taste of Judaism program offers free introductory classes that explore Judaism, Jews and Israel through learning, discussion, stories, jokes, and, of course, sampling of traditional Jewish foods. The class is in three 2-hour sessions and is open to the entire community.

Taste of Judaism classes are an open, interactive explortion of history and practice of Judaism in 3 sessions that discuss Jewish Spirituality, Values and Community, led by Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon and Rabbi Batsheva Appel. This is an exciting learning opportunity for all who want to deepen their knowledge and understanding of Jewish culture, history, rituals and practice; who want to learn more about the Reform Jewish perspective; or are simply curious about Judaism. The classes are free, but pre-registration is required. Please call Mila Vasser at (520) 327-4501 ext. 27 for more information and to register.

This class is provided by the Ruth F. and Samuel H. Cohen Outreach Program of Temple Emanu-El.

FREE, but you must register by calling Mila at (520) 327-4501.
Sundays, August 16, 23, 30, 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Tucson Hebrew Academy at 3888 East River Road
ASL Interpretation for this series
Mondays, August 17, 24, 31, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Nanini Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road
Wednesdays, September 2, 9, 16, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Bear Canyon Library, 8959 E. Tanque Verde Road
Thursdays, August 20, 27; September 3, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Temple Emanu-El
Sundays, October 4, 11, 18, 1:30 to 3:30 pm at Temple Emanu-El (free childcare provided)
Wednesdays, October 7, 14, 21, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in Sahaurita, AZ (16275 Starlight Lane)

samuel cohen talit
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Join Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon for this three-part class on what makes places holy and what role the human-divine partnership plays in creating, transforming, maintaining, and losing sanctity over time. We will examine locations holy to a wide variety of religious traditions past and present, exploring their commonality and difference. What makes people choose a site for sanctification? Why do some become places of pilgrimage and how does that change them? How are we influenced by topography, history, and natural, shaped, and man-made beauty in our choice of sacred sites? And what kinds of experiences do these sites engender for believers and other visitors?

This class will focus on the most ancient sacred places of pre-history, before moving on to the holiest sites for Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Europe and the Middle East. Rabbi Cohon recently returned from his sabbatical trip to the holiest places on earth, visiting over 125 sacred places in 20 countries around the world in three months. He is working on a book on the journey.

Extensive photos, video, and audio will be used in the presentations.

Registration Fees: $45 for members; $60 for non-members
Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
July 16, 23, 30 

Read more: Summer 5775/2015: The Holiest Places on Earth: Part I From Pre-History to Europe and the Middle East

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.

Introductory Class: Welcome to the Zohar - Thursdays, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm,  August 20, 27
Registration Fees: $25 for members; $35 for non-members 
Regular Course: The Zohar, Soul-Text of Kabbalah - Thursdays, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
Session I:  September 3, 10, 17; October 1, 8, 15, 22
Session II:  October 29; November 12, 19; December 3, 10, 17
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: Fall 5775/2015: The Zohar: Soul-Text of Kabbalah

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 

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: 

October 7:  A Replacement Life, by Boris Fishman
November 11: The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret
December 2: The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol
January 6: Climbing Jacob’s Ladder by Alan Morinis
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 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: Fall 5776/2015: The Wednesday Sefer Book Club: A Monthly Coffehouse of Contemporary Jewish...

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 

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).

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
Introductory Course: August 12, 19, 26
Regular Course: September 2, 9, 16, 30; October 7, 14, 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18; December 2, 9, 16; 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: Fall 5776/2015: Intermediate Biblical Hebrew

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

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
September 29; November 17; December 8; January 12; February 9; March 8; April 19 - Model Seder; May 17


Read more: Fall 5776/2015: Practical Judaism


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.