Adult Education at Shaare Zedek

Shaare Zedek's Adult Education program offers learning opportunities for people of all types of Jewish background. We offer a mix of extended courses, guest scholars at meals or scholar-in-residence weekends, and "one-shot" classes on a variety of subjects.

For more information, or to let us know what types of educational offerings you would like to see in the future, please contact Vice President for Religious Life Russell Steinthal ( or Rabbi Plevan (212-874-7005, ext. 13 or We are always looking for new volunteers for the adult education committee, or just good ideas!

Shaare Zedek University

In 2009-2010, we are also excited to offer Shaare Zedek University, a series of talks by Shaare Zedek members who are university professors or educators about their respective areas of expertise. Whether health care reform or campaign finance, urban planning or educational policy, we look forward to sharing in their unique expertise.

Sherry Glied, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, kicked off the series with a well-attended and extremely stimulating talk on health care reform. Check back here for updates on upcoming speakers!

Upcoming Programs

Reversal of Fortune: Divine Absence in the Book of Esther

Rabbi William Plevan

The Book of Esther is not just a story of heroes and villains. It is a complex narrative that explores how a community of Jewish exiles must confront the perils of Diaspora life without the benefit of divine intervention. In God's absence, should the Jews rely on faith, their own ingenuity or just plain old luck to survive in a hostile world? In this class we will read the Book of Esther over four weeks with an eye towards these and other stimulating questions.

Wednesday February 3, 10, 17 and 24 at 7pm

Please sign up by calling or emailing Rabbi Plevan at 212-874-7005 ext. 13 or Interested, but can't make this time? Let Rabbi Plevan know, in case there is interest in an alternative or a second time offering.

Past Adult Education Programs - 5770

The Origins, Meaning, and General Awesomeness of Chanukah: Jenny Labendz, SZ member and doctoral candidate at JTS, led a four-part series studying the earliest Jewish texts about Chanukah. Originally written in Hebrew and Greek (read here in English translation), the texts tell stories and offer perspectives far broader than we are used to.

8 Degrees of Tzedakah: Sources and Reflections: In a three-part seudah sh'lishit series, Rabbi Plevan considered the rationale and Talmudic sources behind Maimonides' famous 8 degrees of charitable giving. Why is giving anonymously more praiseworthy than giving publicly? How should we treat the poor to whom we give? Why is money not enough?

Prior Years' Programs

  • Egalitarian Prayer in Halakhah
  • Talmud Skills


Shaare Zedek is proud of our collaboration with Me'ah, an intensive adult Jewish learning experience conducted by Boston's Hebrew College. Me'ah approaches Jewish history and Jewish thought through an intelligent and sophisticated conversation with core texts. This conversation is guided by university faculty who lead and enrich the study of four central periods in Jewish history: biblical, rabbinic, medieval and modern. Participants come from varied Jewish educational backgrounds but they all share a desire to learn more about Judaism through in-depth text study. Me'ah means 100 in Hebrew, and participants study together for 100 hours over two years. Each class focuses on discussions of core texts and commentary, and all readings are in English. There are no tests or papers. More than 2,000 students have graduated from Me'ah. Many report that it significantly enhanced their lives and their sense of Jewish community.

In past years, Shaare Zedek has partnered with Congregation Habonim and Congregation B'nai Jeshurun to form multiple Me'ah cohorts. We were also honored to host the Me'ah Graduate Institute this year, led by Rabbi Eliezer Diamond. If you are interested in joining a future Me'ah cohort, please contact the synagogue office.