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RELIGION Temple Beth Shalom announces fall education offerings

Dana Evan Kaplan, Rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom of the West Valley, 12202 N. 101st Ave., will conduct four diverse educational forums in September and October. All are open to Jews and non-Jews.

Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan while vacationing in modern Tel Aviv in June 2022, pointing to “his” street sign.

Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2022 6:00 am

ISRAELI FORUM “The State of Israel Today: Society, Culture, Religion, Food and So Much More” is 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29. In this four-week series illustrated with slides, Rabbi Kapan will explore the dichotomy between ultra-modern contemporary Israel and the ancient Holy Land. How does a country build a modern society amidst three ancient religions? During June and July, Rabbi Kaplan spent five weeks in Israel – his first visit after 28 years. As a student, he lived in Jerusalem for five years while studying for the Rabbinate, and then for additional years in Tel Aviv while studying for his Ph.D. As one might guess, he found the country physically transformed. He returned to a country that was ultramodern, with skyscrapers being built and new tech startups forming. Israeli society has progressed dramatically in sync with economic growth and technological innovations. Even the food culture has blossomed.

KABBALAH FORUM “The Shabbat Soul – Mystical Texts on the Meaning of Shabbat Rituals” is 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27. Jews perform rituals such as wearing white, covering eyes, making circles, gestures with hands before blessing the Shabbat candles. What is the deeper mystical meaning? In these four sessions, participants will begin to unpack the mystical interpretations behind many of the Sabbath practices and prayers that are already familiar. The Zohar talks about the power of receiving Shabbat and how it can infuse individuals with a new spiritual vitality, giving the chance to be reborn each and every Friday evening.

INTERFAITH FORUM “Rabbi Jesus – The Jewish Life and Teachings that Inspired Christianity” is 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27. This is the second in an interfaith series describing Jewish views of Jesus. As is now well established, Jewish teachings of the first century CE would deeply influence Jesus, the maverick rabbi who was consciously trying to live the Torah. How did Jewish practices and beliefs inspire Jesus? Was he really a Rabbi? Looking at second temple Judaism through a Jewish lens, examine Jesus as a rabbi, a teacher of the Kabbalah and a devotee of a Galilean brand of Judaism that put the emphasis on direct communication with God.

PERSONAL GROWTH FORUM “Jewish Character Development — Cultivating Virtue within Ourselves” is 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, Oct. 11, 18 and 25. It’s known that virtue is a commendable quality or trait, but how does one cultivate virtue? It is a question Jewish thinkers have been asking for more than 1,000 years. While the commandments in the Torah and later Jewish texts are presented clearly, some often have a hard time following them. Even when they do follow them, it does not automatically lead to greater virtue. People want to figure out how to find virtue, happiness, well-being, quality of life, contentment and a meaningful life. This session will also look at Mussar, a Jewish spiritual practice that gives concrete instructions on how to live a meaningful and ethical life, Mussar is virtue-based ethics — based on the idea that by cultivating inner virtues, one improve themselves. The cost for each is $18 for TBS members; $36 for non-members. For registration information contact the Temple Beth Shalom office at 623-977-3240 or email

For additional information, contact Reva Litt, Adult Education Chairperson, at 623-236-5113.

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