Kollel Course Listing - Fall/Winter 2019-20


Click here for Registration Form
Registration is now open.

Click here to see a listing of the Kollel faculty


Preparing for the New Year in Mind, Body, and Spirit Rabbi Peter W. Stein with Guest Presenters

Join Rabbi Stein and guest presenters to study text (week 1), meditate (week 2), and learn music (week 3) in preparations for the High Holy Days. Come to one or more of the sessions. The morning sessions will be repeated in the evening.

Wednesdays: 10:00am-11:00am Sept 11, 18, 25

OR (choose one)

Wednesdays: 7:00pm-8:00pm Sept 11, 18, 25

No Fee. Registration required.


America’s Jewish Women from Colonial Times to Today  Thomas Driscoll

This class will look at how Jewish women created identity and influenced social activism. We will hear stories about extraordinary people including the colonial Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter Emma Lazarus, Bessie Hillman and RBG, and scores of other activists, laborers, wives, and mothers who carved out Jewish-American female uniqueness.

Mondays: 9:30am - 11:30am Sept 9, 16, 23

OR (choose one)

Tuesdays: 6:30pm - 8:30pm Sept 10, 17, 24

Fee: $40


Jews of Iberia; a History Stu Berger

The course will take you through the ~3000 years of Jewish presence in Iberia starting with biblical accounts up through the Jewish expulsion and today's experience.  Along the way you will find periods of their acceptance, demonization and rejection.  We will explore the apparent beginnings of institutional antisemitism in the late 6th century CE followed by a period of great contributions.  The course will include photos of the areas in which Jews played an important part and maps to clarify the areas of importance.

Mondays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Sept 9, 16, 23 Fee $30


Jewish Living (Co-sponsored with the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester) with Elliot Fix

This course and inclusion program is designed for adults with disabilities who want a program which accommodates their learning needs and interests. Participants will be actively engaged in learning about Jewish holidays, prayers, songs, rituals, and Israel.  Class sessions also include crafts, baking projects, and guest presenters.  Participation in relevant Jewish community events is scheduled throughout the year.

Wednesdays: 7:00pm-8:15pm

Sessions and programs scheduled on Wednesdays throughout the year from September through June. For fee information and information about joining, please contact Elliot Fix via The Rochester Kollel.


Beginning in October


Torah Through the Voice of Women Rabbi Rochelle Tulik

Since its publication in 2008, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary has brought the voices of women out of the shadows of our biblical text. Join us for a close reading and exploration of Torah, enhanced by the commentary and poetry of notable female scholars. This year, we will focus on the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. This class is open to men and women. New and returning students are welcome.

Tuesdays: 12:15pm-1:15pm Session 1 Oct 29 Nov 5, 12, 19 Dec 3, 10

Session 2 Jan 7, 14, 21, 28 Feb 4, 11

Fee: $40/session


Living Ethically in Our Modern World  Dr. Joseph Kelly

Ethical behavior is usually defined as "doing the good and avoiding the bad." But how do we define the GOOD? In the contemporary western world, that is a difficult task. One's world view defines the good and different world views define the good in different ways. This 4-week series will attempt to explore the various world views that exist today in America. Understanding these different perspectives will allow us to consider their impact on our struggle to maintain a common life in our present pluralistic society.

Mondays: 10:00am-12:00pm Oct 28, Nov 4, 11, 18 Fee: $60


Salon: Explorations with Books and Films Thomas Driscoll

Try to read the book before the session, watch selections of the film and share your feelings and thoughts. We guarantee the best discussions and plenty of laughter. Oct 28 Film: The Big Sick The dangers of inter-religious and inter-racial relationships and Book: Brown, Black and White: an American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality and Religion by Nishta Mehra. Nov 18 Book: Becoming by Michelle Obama A window into her life and American white supremacy. Dec 16 Film:  Green Book A road movie about the friendship between two men. Jan 13 Book: Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe How conflicts conclude. Feb 10 Film: Eighth Grade A portrait of a 13-year-old compulsive cell phone user yearning for connections.

Mondays: 6:30pm-8:30pm Oct 28 Nov 18 Dec 16 Jan 13 Feb 10 Fee: $70


Characters and Sidekicks

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Luedde

We will examine and discuss the relationship between major people and those who are associated with them. These may or may not include:  Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, Moses and Joshua or Aaron, Jesus and Peter, and more!

Tuesdays: 10:30am-12:00pm Oct 29 Nov 5, 12, 19 Fee: $40


Private Life from the Fires of Revolution (1795) to the Great War (1914) Thomas Driscoll

This class will look at the golden age of private life, when self-consciousness from the Renaissance took recognizable form, and individualism emerged.  We will look at the 19th century’s effort to stabilize the boundary between public and private by mooring it to the family, with the father as sovereign.   The domesticating process expressed itself in hygienic practices, clothing, sports, careers and religion.

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Oct 29, Nov 5, 12, 19

Fee: $40


Jews and Mah Jongg for Beginners Juleen Squires

How did a 19th century Chinese parlor game come to be a favorite pastime for Jewish women? Learn how they kept the game alive and learn to play!  No experience necessary. Men and women are welcome.

Wednesdays: 1:00pm-2:30pm Oct 30, Nov 6, 13, 20 Dec 4 Fee $50


Mussar: Becoming More Menschlike, One Step at a Time  Howard Brill and Barbara Grosh

Mussar is an ancient Jewish tradition of spiritual growth. Mussar (unlike Kabbalah) is focused on spiritual growth in the midst of our busy involved lives, embedded amongst our families, co-workers and neighbors. The purpose of studying Mussar is to become a better person, more of a mensch. We study character traits (middot) such as humility, patience, gratitude, honor, and alacrity and try on practices to improve our character traits one at a time. Readings come from The Mussar Institute. Participants will discuss and keep journals of their experience with each middah. All are welcome, whether you’ve just heard of Mussar or you’ve been practicing for some time.

Sundays: 11:00am-12:30pm Oct 27 Nov 10, 24 Dec 15 Jan 12 Feb 9, 23

On weeks in between those listed, students will meet in pairs to discuss questions about the readings and their practice.

No fee. Registration required. Location: to be announced


Beginning in November


Religious Terrorism:  Advanced Topic Andrea A. Gluckman

Religious Terrorism is an intensive course of four sessions that will explore the history and phenomenon of religious terrorism.  Root causes of terrorism will be studied, in addition to social, political, and economic contexts of outbreaks of religious terrorism.  Current case studies from many different religions will be analyzed.

Wednesdays: 7:00pm-8:30pm Nov 6, 13 Dec 4, 11 Fee $40


Turning Points Rabbi Peter W. Stein

This course will provide an examination of the entire span of Jewish history by focusing on thirty pivotal moments in the Jewish people’s experience from biblical times through the present—essentially the most important events in the life of the Jewish people. We will use Turning Points in Jewish History by Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein as a reference and resource. Purchase of the book is recommended but not required.  

Wednesdays: 10:00am-11:00am Nov 13, 20 Dec 4, 11 Jan 8, 15, 29 Feb 5 Fee $50


A Taste of Torah: Rashi and Beyond Rabbi Peter W. Stein

Join Rabbi Stein for an exploration of the greatest Torah commentators.  We will read sections from Torah along with the works of some of the most important scholars who examine the sacred teachings from many different perspectives.  We will start with Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo son of Isaac, the great French commentator of the eleventh century) and continue with other brilliant sages. Open the door to learning about the extraordinary tradition of Torah study…no prior knowledge or experience is necessary!

Wednesdays: 7:00pm-8:00pm Nov 20, Dec 18, Jan 15, Feb 19 Fee $30


Learning Jewish History through Song Bonnie Abrams

Folk songs tend to reflect the culture and history of their country of origin. But Jewish folk songs reflect hundreds of years of life in diverse geographical locations. The songs shed light on religious and secular practices and customs, holidays, and celebrations and convey personal insights into daily life and historical events. Students will learn songs of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions and will understand the historical and cultural events that inspired the music.

Mondays: 2:00pm-3:30pm Nov 18 Dec 16 Jan 6, 13

OR (choose one)

Wednesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Nov 20 Dec 18 Jan 8, 15

Fee: $40


Beginning in December


When Christians were Jews Thomas Driscoll

How did a group of apocalyptic Jewish missionaries in the first century inaugurate a movement that grew into the gentile church? Committed to Jesus’ vision that “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”—they were, in their own eyes, history’s last generation. Eventually they became the first Christians. We will reconstruct the life of the earliest Jerusalem community from its earliest hours to the city’s fiery end. 

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:30pm Dec 3, 10, 17

OR (choose one)

Fridays: 9:30am-11:30am Dec 6, 13, 20

Fee: $40


Beginning in January


Guilt or Antisemitism Herb Skerker

This course will examine the trials of Alfred Dreyfuss, Leo Frank, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and Jonathan Pollard. There will be a review of historical facts and the class will determine if they were guilty or a victim of antisemitism.

Thursdays: 10:00am-11:30am Jan 9, 16, 23, 30 Fee $40


The Deep Dark Chill of Society’s Smirk Thomas Driscoll

Everyone knows someone with a mental illness or someone who committed suicide.  75% of people with a mental illness report that they have experienced the effects of the stigma. A 2019 study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found: the suicide rate has increased 30% from 1999 to 2016; 58% do not want to work closely with someone with mental illness; in persons aged 15-34 suicide is the second leading cause of death. Why the stigma?  What needs to be done?

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Jan 7, 14, 21, 28

OR (choose one)

Fridays: 9:30am-11:30am Jan 10, 17, 24, 31

Fee: $40


Sunni/Shia Divide in Islam: Advanced Topic  Andrea A. Gluckman

What is the difference between Sunnis and Shias, and why does it matter?  The ancient Sunni/Shia split in Islam resonates in the modern conflicts from Saudi Arabia and Iran, to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.  Is this historical schism really the fuel for these conflicts?  How did the Sunni/Shia schism originate, and what are the political and socio-economic factors that contribute to the divide?  We will explore these questions with materials ranging from the Qur’an to academic journals to current multi-media resources.

Prerequisite:  Islam 101 or equivalent (contact The Kollel Office)

Wednesdays: 7:00pm-8:30pm Jan 22, 29 Feb 5, 12 Fee $40


Beginning in February


Four Critical Issues Thomas Driscoll

Class 1 Antisemitism: Here and Now Deborah Lipstadt’s newest book. The hate that will not die. Class 2 Listening to the Culture of White Pain Economic instability, multiculturalism, decline of traditional morality, loss of white hegemony.  Class 3 Stress and Resilience: Coping with America’s Political Climate We are inundated with current events which create anxiety and uncertainty. Survival strategies. Class 4 The Fresh Water Crisis. Water connects every aspect of life. What can be done to expand the shortage of fresh water?

Tuesdays: 6:30-8:00pm Feb 4, 11, 18, 25

OR (choose one)

Fridays: 9:30am-11:00am Feb 7, 14, 21, 28

Fee: $40


Point of View or Fake News? Israeli Policy Narratives Through Israeli News Outlets  Sharon Shafrir

This course examines Israeli news telling of current events and policies, comparing how news outlets differ in reporting as they serve their target audience (the right-wing, national-religious Zionist and the left-wing, liberal-secular Zionist population). We’ll be looking at current events narrative reporting in Hebrew and English to have a better understanding of how the different communities living in Israel perceive their state’s policies and agenda, and how they perceive the general American and Jewish-American public opinion.  Knowledge of Hebrew is not a requirement, merely a slight advantage.

Tuesdays: 9:30am-11:00am Feb 11, 25 Mar 10, 24 Fee $40


Israeli Literature as a Window to Israeli Society Sharon Shafrir

A unique group discussion on Israeli poetry and prose, exploring insights on linguistic nuances as reflected throughout the Hebrew texts. The course provides an opportunity to review influences and changes in Israeli society in the past couple of decades in light of its geo-political policies. The class incorporates given syllabus as well as usage of audio and other media.

Tuesdays: 11:15am-12:45pm Feb 11, 25 Mar 10, 24 Fee $40


Hebrew Classes

Call or email the Kollel office regarding appropriate placement


Learn to Read Hebrew for Beginners Gene Spiro

Learn the basics to read Hebrew. Letter and vowel recognition and development of phonetic skills to develop reading literacy.

Mondays: 6:30pm-7:30pm Session 1 Oct 28 Nov 4, 11, 18 Dec 2, 9 Session 2 Jan 13, 27 Feb 3, 10, 17, 24

Fee: $40/session


Hebrew Prayer Reading and Comprehension Gene Spiro

For those with a basic knowledge of Hebrew literacy. Improve reading fluency of prayers and learn basic Hebrew vocabulary to facilitate prayer comprehension.

Mondays: 7:30pm-8:30pm Session 1 Oct 28 Nov 4, 11, 18 Dec 2, 9 Session 2 Jan 13, 27 Feb 3, 10, 17, 24

Fee: $40/session


Alefbet Orna Korn

Learn the alefbet and vowels. Note: maximum of 12 students per class

Tuesdays: 7:45pm-8:30pm Session 1 Oct 29 Nov 5, 12, 19 Dec 3, 10

Session 2 Jan 14, 21, 28 Feb 4, 11, 18 Fee: $30/session


Basic Beginning Hebrew Orna Korn

Focuses on comprehension of basic two-word sentences and progresses to the understanding and usage of complex sentences. Note: maximum of 12 students per class

Tuesdays: 6:45pm-7:30pm Session 1 Oct 29 Nov 5, 12, 19 Dec 3, 10

Session 2 Jan 14, 21, 28 Feb 4, 11, 18 Fee: $30/session


Advanced Beginning Hebrew Orna Korn

This class uses the vocabulary learned in Basic Beginning Hebrew to construct short stories of four to six sentences in length. A great variety of learning experiences are provided. Note: maximum of 12 students per class

Tuesdays: 5:45pm-6:30pm Session 1 Oct 29 Nov 5, 12, 19 Dec 3, 10

Session 2 Jan 14, 21, 28 Feb 4, 11, 18 Fee: $30/session


These FOUR classes are generously sponsored by St. John's Foundation & The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation & The Joseph G. and Pat Murray Kelly Fund for Theological Education and are held at St. John's Meadows.


Thought Provokers David Orange

This is a thought-provoking discussion course which links several short topics for deeper examination. In it, we will look at questions such as: What is Faith? Did it really happen? Will it happen? What is Pop Spirituality—Scientology, Urantia Book, Dianetics? These topics are sure to present challenging viewpoints from participants; come with an open mind and be willing to share. Enroll in either or both as there will be six separate topics.

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:30pm Sept 10, 17, 24

Location: St. John's Meadow - No fee. Registration required.

Sept 10 at St. John's Meadow Chestnut Courts Park Room

Sept 17, 24 at St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room

AND Thursdays: 6:30pm-8:30pm Jan 9, 16, 23

Location: St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room - No fee. Registration required.


Removing the Fences Around God  David Orange

The content of this discussion-led course is daring and provocative. It is intended to challenge and expand one’s thinking, reasoning, and beliefs as we explore the magnificence of God and reveal the fences that separate us from knowing the Creator and ourselves. We will contemplate the creation of the Universe from theological, philosophical, and scientific perspectives. Finally, we will examine the distortions, myths, and illusions created by man that give rise to the world’s major religions that now obscure humanity from knowing the divinity and unity in everything. This course will appeal to those who are spiritually-inclined or seeking alternative insights to religion and/or mysticism.  Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Oct 29 Nov 5, 12, 19 Dec 3, 10, 17 Jan 7, 14

Location: St. John's Meadow - No fee. Registration required.

Nov 12 Dec 10 Jan 14 at St. John's Meadow Chestnut Courts Park Room

All other dates at St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room


Mysticism of the Enlightened   David Orange

This course will delve deeper into the mysticism of the Kaballah, Buddhism, the Sutras, Torah, the Akashic Records, theoretical physics, and more. What is enlightenment, and why does the mysticism of the Enlightened have such commonality? This course will appeal to those who have taken “Fences” and “Illusions” courses. Come think.

Thursdays: 6:30pm-8:00 pm Oct 31 Nov 7, 14, 21 Dec 5, 12

Location: St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room - No fee. Registration required.


Science and Spirituality  David Orange

This course is a follow-up to “Removing the Fences Around God” but journeys deeper into the realms of science and mysticism towards the quest of remembering who we really are. Our studies will examine theories in quantum physics that curiously tie in with what mystics have known for thousands of years – we are all one. Plus, we will look at Oneness, metaphysics, quantum prayer, gratitude & blessings, and near-death experiences. You are encouraged to attend the “Fences” class, be willing to comprehend complex science, and keep an open mind.

Tuesdays: 6:30pm-8:00pm Jan 21, 28 Feb 4, 11, 18, 25

Location: St. John's Meadow - No fee. Registration required.

Feb 11 at St. John's Meadow Chestnut Courts Park Room

All other dates at St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room


Direction for St. John’s locations:

St. John's Meadow Briarwood Activity Room - from Elmwood Ave. enter St. John's Meadows and bear right. Briarwood is the first entrance on the left. Park where permitted and enter the building. Briarwood Activity Room is adjacent to the lobby on the left.

St. John's Meadow Chestnut Courts Park Room - from Elmwood Ave. enter St. John's Meadows and bear right. Chestnut Court is the second entrance on the left. Park where permitted and enter the building. Parks Room is directly in front of the doors upon entering.


Parashat Eikev
August 24, 2019

In this Torah portion, Moses continues his speech to the Israelites. He tells them they will have to annihilate people who are not believers in God. Moses reminds them not to forget God’s commandments even after they enter the land of Israel, and that they must continue to fear God.