Shir Tikvah Lifelong Learning Programs for 5781 (2020-21)

Dear Shir Tikvah community,

As we enter January, we also begin the book of Shemot, reliving our collective story of enslavement, advocacy, and liberation. While we journey in our storytelling, our daily lives continue to be governed by physical distance as we grieve losses and hold space for what will unfold once we can be together again in physical spaces. 

That is the context in which we offer this winter’s learning opportunities, in the hope that there is something for everyone. Laurel’s Speaking of Dying workshop - raved about by all who have participated - gives participants useful information and a process for thoughtfully articulating in writing and with loved ones your wishes for the end of your life. Ariella Tilson is co-creating space for white-bodied Jews to explore building toward an embodied anti-racist white-body Jewish culture, through the work of Resmaa Menakem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands.

On a lighter note, we’re fortunate to be offering two workshops from Ryan S. Higgins, who is a lively and dynamic teacher. If you’re interested in skill-building, join Steve Greenberg’s prayer book Hebrew. The course beginning next month picks up from a rudimentary mastery of the letters and vowels, and participants will practice fluidity of reading and learn some key prayer vocabulary. 

For those interested in contemporary politics, we recommend the programs with Micah Goodman January 31st and with Robbie Kaplan & Amy Spitalnick in conversation with Rabbi Michael Adam Latz on March 3rd.

Our drop-in learning moments continue, for learners of all backgrounds who want to explore what Jewish texts say about our lives today. And we’ve also included some of our favorite local and national resources for more Jewish engagement. 

These lifelong learning opportunities are offered in the spirit of ahavat-olam - love of Torah for the sake of love of life. Shir Tikvah’s teaching team is committed to creating learning environments that invite in holiness in the encounter among our participants and our holy texts. Enjoy!

If you'd like to be notified when new Lifelong Learning opportunities are announced, please subscribe to our ENewsletter. Not getting ENews?Email

Multi-Week Lifelong Learning Opportunities

January - April 2021 / 5781

All offerings will take place via Zoom

What follows are multi-week courses during which participants experience both deep learning and developing meaningful relationships.

Please register in advance with your time and financial commitment; contact Alison Olig for questions about payment options.

Speaking of Dying: From a Jewish Perspective

co-sponsored with Hineni

With Laurel Riedel and Visiting Rabbis

Five sessions, $118, includes course materials. Register here

Wednesdays 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

January 27, February 3, 10, 24, and March 3


A majority of us will have choices about the kind of care we will receive in the final days of our lives. A Health Care Directive tells loved ones and practitioners our preferences - but they are only as useful as the thought we put into them and the conversations we have about them with loved-ones. 

What does "quality of life" mean to me? Who will be my advocate if I am unable to speak for myself?  What happens if I have an unexpected illness or accident?  How do I ask my loved ones about their future health care preferences? Who do I talk with about mine? 

Here is your chance to focus on something really important from your “to-do” list, with support from your community and experts on end-of-life decision making. By the end of this series, you will have a Health Care Directive, grounded in Jewish values and practices. 

Laurel Riedel is an Advanced Practice RN, CNM. Laurel was a nurse-midwife at Hennepin County Medical Center for 30 years, and is now consulting on “the other mystery” through her business, Speaking of Dying Minnesota, LLC.

Beginning or Refreshing: Prayerbook Hebrew

With Steve Greenberg, our b’nei mitzvah tutor and experienced teacher.

Mondays 7:30-8:30pm

Hebrew is the language of our people and our prayers. Enter the conversation on your own terms by becoming comfortable with the language.

Winter/Spring 2021

February 22 - May 10 (12 sessions)

Register here

Alef Isn’t Enough is for those who are familiar with the Aleph-Bet and are looking for some support putting the letters together, practicing prayers, and learning some root words.  $118; please acquire a copy of Alef Isn’t Enough; we recommend an independent bookseller like Magers & Quinn: 612-822-4611

Ehiyeh Asher Ehiyeh: I AM...or Am I?

co-sponsored with Hineni

With Ryan S Higgins

Three sessions, Mondays 6:30-8:00pm

March 1, 8, and 15

$36 Register here

The Torah is a collection of texts about origins: who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going. Even God’s identity is explored, identifying God’s own name to Moses as “Ehiyeh Asher Ehiyeh  - I will be what I will be.” Many of us look to scripture for answers to questions of identity, but the truth is that identity in the Torah is always changing! From Adam to Abraham to every Israelite, this workshop looks at the transformation of identity in the Torah. We’ll look at how names, bodies, roles, and groups change, who gets to make these changes, and whether or not the biblical writers think change is a good thing. We’ll ask how identity change in the Torah relates to our own attitudes toward religion and gender, and whether God’s identity can change like ours.

Gods and Monsters

co-sponsored with Hineni

With Ryan S Higgins

Three sessions, Sundays 1:30-3:00pm

April 11,18, 25.

$36 Register here

From sacred scripture to sci-fi and fantasy, from folktales to Frankenstein, humans have always had monsters on the mind. But what makes a monster? And why do we love and hate them? This workshop gets up close and personal with the hideous and horrifying monsters of ancient Israel and its neighbors. We’ll discuss what separates gods from monsters, what makes them so scary, and why we depend on them to keep the world turning. We’ll also see how Israel interprets these ideas, how monotheism makes problems for monsters, and how God manages a love-hate relationship with the Bible’s most famous monster, the sea serpent Leviathan.  

Ryan S. Higgins is a PhD candidate in Hebrew Bible and Its Interpretation at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has taught at JTS, Columbia University, and Luther Seminary. His most recent articles are published in Interpretation and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Ryan lives in St. Paul with his wife, Anna, and their brand new baby, Abigail.

REGISTRATION CLOSED; please email Nikolina to be added to the waitlist

Racial Justice from the Inside Out: Embodied practice for White-bodied Jews

With Ariella Tilsen, Lucy Marshall, and Rabbi Debra Rappaport

6:30pm on monthly Thursdays: February 18, March 18, April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15

Cost is only the commitment of your time & energy; Register here

You may be aware of the groundbreaking book My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem. In this book, Menakem sets out a body-centered way to understand and heal from white-body supremacy. This is not a book to just read; it’s filled with individual and collective practices to open up, address, and begin to heal from intergenerational trauma and white-body supremacy.

White-bodied Jews hold both white-body supremacy and the trauma of intergenerational antisemitism in our muscles, bones, and nervous systems. As part of our antiracism work, it is crucial to become more aware of the interplay of white-body advantage and antisemitism- and to explore some of the body-centered practices of Somatic Abolitionism.

During this monthly havurah for white-bodied Jews, which will meet for six 90-minute sessions, we will go deep inside our hearts and bodies; explore My Grandmother’s Hands; and experience how white-body supremacy and intergenerational trauma are held in white Jewish bodies. We can then begin to build a culture as white-bodied Jews that upends white body supremacy. 

Ariella Tilsen is a long-time facilitator, conflict resolver, social justice/inclusion leadership coach, and meditator who weaves together years of Jewish spiritual and Buddhist practices. Ariella worked with Resmaa Menakem during the early development of My Grandmother’s Hands.

Lucy Marshall is a Jewish educator, artist, facilitator and youth worker. Lucy is currently pursuing her MSW at the University of Minnesota and interning at Shir Tikvah.

Adult B’nei-Mitzvah 

If you are interested in exploring an adult B’mitzvah, we are delighted to support you in this learning and process!

Please indicate your interest and intention by doing BOTH of the following:

  1. Send an email to Rabbi Rappaport.
  2. Register for and plan to take both Monday evening classes above, which begin October 19th (Soul of Jewish Living and Introductory Prayer Book Hebrew Classes).

These two classes are prerequisites for Shir Tikvah’s Adult B’Mitzvah program, and they are a chance for the cohort to begin to build a community together. If you have taken equivalent courses elsewhere, please let Rabbi Rappaport know.

Wise Aging Havurah

Facilitated by Rabbi Debra Rappaport

1st and 3rd Thursdays 3:30-5:30 pm

Dec 3, 17, Jan 7, 21, Feb 4, 18, March 4, 18, April 1, 15, May 6 (11 sessions) 


Register here

Based on the CDC’s definition of vulnerable populations, many vibrant people have newly discovered they’re old! While ageism is rampant in our society, Judaism honors the wisdom that comes with years. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel described older years as “indeed formative years, rich in possibilities…to deepen understanding and compassion, to widen the horizon of honesty, to refine the sense of fairness… One ought to enter old age the way one enters the senior year at a university, in exciting anticipation...” (from To Grow in Wisdom)

Wise Aging refers to a vision of how we can grow in our later years with consciousness and joy, within a supportive community. Conversations accompany the book Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit, by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal.

The Wise Aging Havurah will gather to learn and accompany one another around topics of aging and eldering. Topics for exploration will include: exploring what is this stage of life, cultivating nourishing relationships, forgiveness & reconciliation, cultivating spiritual qualities for wellbeing, changing bodies, changing relationships / cultivating nourishing relationships, living with loss & finding light, legacy, and stewardship. 

We’ll use numerous modalities to connect with our own souls’ wisdom, including contemplative or active listening, text study, mindfulness meditation, tikkun middot: cultivation of spiritual qualities, traditional Jewish religious practices, gentle movement and journaling. We don’t imagine that participants will be experienced in these modalities, but do ask that you be open to the exploration. 

If you feel moved to participate but are not sure if it’s a fit, please email Nikolina 

to schedule a 15-30 minute appointment with Rabbi Rappaport to support your exploration.

Soulful Jewish Living 5781

(click here for full class experience)

October 19 2020 - May 10 2021

Mondays 6:00 - 7:15pm

25 week course during which participants experience deep learning and develop meaningful relationships.

The cost for the year is $375 (=$15/session). 

Registration is closed online but please contact Rabbi Rappaport to join mid session

(Contact Alison Olig for questions about payment options. No one will be turned away for financial reasons)

How does living a Jewish life support us in bringing goodness into the world? How does participating in Jewish community help us support one another and hold each other accountable to our highest potential? 

What are the foundational teachings of Judaism, from the biblical era through the present? What are the key texts? Rituals? Community norms? How can I participate meaningfully in the unfolding of this tradition today? 

This course has been designed to help participants create a relationship with Jewish tradition and feel ownership of both the “how” and the “why” of Jewish practice. Additionally, this group, through learning together and sharing one another’s stories, will develop its own community.  As Jewish knowledge and engagement grows, participants can expect to feel more a part of the Jewish community at-large.

Free & Ongoing Lifelong Learning Opportunities

Leading With Our Values, featuring Dr. Micah Goodman — iEngage 

Sunday, January 31st, 2021 at 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM CDT

Shir Tikvah is a Co-Sponsor of this Online event, See FB Page for more information and registration

Dr. Micah Goodman, author of Catch 67 and a leading voice in Judaism, Zionism, the Bible, and the challenges and opportunities facing Israel and contemporary world Jewry, will launch the iEngage program with this community conversation. iEngage: Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a program of the Shalom Hartman Institute, explores one of the most divisive issues affecting the Jewish people today. Through the study of Jewish narratives about Israel and the unpacking of the complex meanings of peace in the Jewish tradition, participants are invited to explore the ideas and values that animate different attitudes toward the conflict and how these values shape their own political understandings.

Taking White Supremacy to Court:  The Charlottesville Case

Featuring Robbie Kaplan & Amy Spitalnick in conversation with Rabbi Michael Adam Latz

Open to all, no charge

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7pm on Zoom

Shir Tikvah is a primary Co-Sponsor of this Online event; explore the incredible work of Robbie Kaplan & Amy Spitalnick's Integrity First for America. Please check back for registration info!

In the three years since white nationalists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia chanting “Jews will not replace us,” the violent white nationalist movement has grown and evolved. The United States now faces unprecedented levels of hate crimes and domestic terror. Just months before their landmark Charlottesville lawsuit goes to trial — seeking to bankrupt and dismantle the hate groups at the center of this violent movement — leading litigator Roberta Kaplan and Integrity First for America Executive Director Amy Spitalnick will join Rabbi Latz for a conversation about the fight against extremism in the year ahead.

Together, we’ll explore the violence perpetrated by the White Nationalists, the court case brought by the plaintiffs, and why this landmark case has the potential to substantively disrupt white supremacy in the United States. In Minnesota, we know the importance of joining together and building powerful coalitions to defeat the hatred in our midst and build a world of integrity, equity, compassion, and justice for all.

New! Monthly Caregivers Circle

Wednesday evenings, 6:30-8:00 pm

2nd Wednesday of the month, 11/11, 12/9, 1/13, 2/10, 3/10, 4/14, 5/12, 6/9

What are the metaphors and prayers from our tradition that support healing and wellbeing for caregivers? 

To be added to the email reminder list contact Nikolina. All are welcome to participate.

Inspiring Torah for Difficult Times

1st & 3rd Thursdays of the month, 1:00-2:00 pm 

Rabbi Rappaport leads learning pertinent to the weekly Torah portion, culling from numerous sources. To be added to the email reminder list contact Nikolina. All are welcome to participate.

Book Discussions

Shir Tikvah has a lay-led book group which meets approximately every six weeks on a Sunday morning. Participants choose the books. All are welcome! Upcoming book discussions are listed in the Shir Tikvah weekly Enews.  

Torah Study: A Numbers Journey 

2nd & 4th Fridays of the month 12:15pm-1:30pm

Word by word, phrase by phrase, each month join fellow congregants to explore approximately 15-20 verses of Torah as we make our way through the Five Books of Moses! This year, we continue with the fascinating stories in the Book of Numbers. To be added to the email reminder list contact Gayle Zoffer. All are welcome to participate.

Morning Torah Study with Rabbi David Thomas

Rabbi David Thomas guides a lively conversation connected with the weekly Torah portion, through the mystical and highly-relevant-today teachings of the Sefat-Emet. Third Saturday of the month, 9:00-10:15 am, Oct 17, Nov 21, Dec 19, Jan 16, Feb 20, March 20, April 17, May 15

Email Nikolina if you'd like the Zoom link

Our Vision for Lifelong Learning

Shir Tikvah will be a welcoming, sacred Jewish community of learners of every age, ability, perspective, and background. Learners will engage in holy conversations about Torah, concepts of God, Judaism, Israel, and relevant issues of today's world in all their exhilarating, challenging, and profound forms. We will encounter innovative and flexible learning models in rhythm with Jewish holidays, lifecycle events, and Shabbat. Our learning will cultivate Jewish identity, build community and inspire us to live in harmony with our Jewish ethics.

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