We are a community committed to exploring ideas about living a meaningful Jewish life. Programs arise from members’ interests, including both secular and religious topics; they differ in their specifics year by year. Our community values respectful, informed, and thoughtful expression of disparate opinions. The following are examples of the types of programs held each year.

Lectures

  • The Elaine Shapiro Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture on some aspect of Jewish history or culture. Topics in past years have included: “Stalin and the Jews,” “The History of Jerusalem,” and “Co-existence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages."
  • Presentations by members on their published work. Past events have included Dr. Muriel Gillick’s discussion of her recent book: Old and Sick in America; and Dr. Joyce Lazarus’s discussion of her latest publication: Genevieve Strauss: A Parisian Life.
  • Presentations by members, often (but not always) as part of a religious or commemorative holiday. For example, “Tikkun Leil Shavuot” – studying together until dawn to ready ourselves to receive the gift of the Torah – is experienced as short lectures and discussions led by volunteer members on a variety of topics. Another example is a Yom Ha Shoah program on the Stolpersteine Project throughout Europe, which commemorates Jews and other victims of Nazi extermination by placing stones with their names in the sidewalk in front of their last known addresses.

Study and Discussion Sessions Facilitated by the Rabbi

  • Shabbat breakfast study sessions, held monthly before the regular Shabbat service, related to the Torah readings during that month.
  • “Ask the Rabbi” monthly discussion sessions. Past topics have included “Jewish Women and Leadership – A Historical Perspective,” “Beyond Sunday School: What’s in the Torah?,” and “Caregiving through Grief: Lessons from One Person’s Journey.”
  • Multi-part discussion series on applying Jewish views to life-style topics, for example: grandparenting and wise aging.
  • Annual interfaith discussion between our Rabbi and Pastor Stendahl of the Lutheran Church of the Newtons (our host).

The Arts

  • Attendance as a group at a film from the annual Jewish Film Festival, and at theatrical presentations with a Jewish theme, such as Golda’s Balcony and Two Jews Walked into a War. Discussions follow at a member’s home.
  • A monthly Jewish book club.
  • Our chorus which studies and performs both traditional and modern ritual Jewish music.
  • A community songfest.
  • Our own Klezmer band -- Shir Madness -- which performs and records.
  • New Song Artists’ Coop which enables our many artists to connect to the community and supports artistic growth through critique sessions.

Ritual-Related Learning Opportunities

  • Individualized opportunities for religious participation, including: learning Torah reading, service leading, Hebrew learning, and writing a D’var Torah.

The Havurah engages in a spirited study of texts from the prophets. At our annual retreat at Craigville on Cape Cod

The proud results of a challah baking workshop