I was probably in my early 20s. It was the first time since my family left Leningrad in the late 1970s that I returned to the city of my birth to teach at a seminar for teachers of Jewish subjects. They weren’t really teachers of Jewish subjects. They were teachers of physics, geography, English, French, and biology who were being hired for Jewishly-themed programs that were then emerging from underground, a place that the Soviet’s thought they had safely buried any form of Judaism, or certainly of Jewish education.
As for me, while I spoke Russian, I was an American boy, or enough of one that my American classmates never detected an accent. Yet it was in Leningrad, then Moscow, where I saw the passion of Jewish texts come alive. These were people who knew how to read, yet raised in a generation where saying what you think or understood could have been a crime. They were now testing the waters of freedom, one again being reconnected to the heritage many thought was lost forever.
I will never forget their handwritten notebooks, the passion with which they studied Hebrew, read poetry, sometimes in Yiddish, or carefully followed each Hebrew word in the texts we brought with us. It wasn’t a flame, it was a fire – and their enthusiasm for Jewish study stoked the flames within those of us who had the privilege to teach them.
We are now 30 years later and much has changed, including a need to create new formats and approaches to present the treasures of Judaism in ways that appeals to and engages our youth. But that is about delivery, not about the content.
Whatever the tools, the passion and meaning of Jewish study and activity for us – and for our future - is perhaps more important now than ever for our survival as a proud, strong, educated and active Jewish people.
Beit Avi Chai brings many programs on offer in the coming weeks. I do hope that you will join us from wherever you may be.
With warm regards from Jerusalem,
To register for upcoming programs in English, please click the
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A Historical Journey through Jewish New York
From Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty
English I Sunday Nov. 7 | 8pm Israel
In and out of Manhattan
Sholom Aleichem's Funeral to Herzl in Brownsville
English I Sunday Nov. 14 | 8pm Israel
Mortality and Immortality
Heinrich Heine, Titanic, and the Holocaust
English I Sunday Nov. 21 | 8pm Israel
Brooklyn Bridge, Emma Lazarus and JFK
English I Sunday Nov. 28 | 8pm Israel
The Chronicles of the Hanukkah Lamp
The traditional Diaspora concepts and views regarding Hanukkah dramatically changed with the emergence of the Zionist Movement, moving from a focus on the design of the lamp to the heroism of the Maccabees that represented the 'New Jew.'
Learn about this and more in this special two-part series
From the Maccabees to the
Jews of East and West
Wednesday I Nov 17 I 8pm (1pm EST)
Design of the Lamp in the
Land and State of Israel
Wednesday | Nov 24 | 8pm (1pm EST)
A Journey into Important Archeological Discoveries in Israel
This season, we focus on the Second Temple period, the encounter with Hellenistic culture and the Hasmonean rise, the projects of Herod, the beginning of Christianity, the Bar Kochba revolt and the synagogues of the period.
Return to Zion and the
Prof. Oded Lifshitz
In Hebrew | Tues I Nov. 9 I 6pm Israel (11am EST)
The Hellenistic Period and the Hasmonean Days
Prof. Oren Tal
In Hebrew | Tues. I Nov. 23 I 6pm Israel (11am EST)
The Secret of Mitzvot and Rituals
The book of the Zohar, Kabbalah of Safed and Hassidut
The new morning series focuses on Kabbalistic interpretations of mitzvot and rituals such as prayer, the four species, shabbat, tzitzit, tefillin, and charity, viewing them from the interpretations
of the Zohar, Kabbalah in Safed and
In Hebrew I Sun. – Thurs. I Nov. 14-25 I 9am daily (Israel time)
Blue and White Comics for Children
Workshop with illustrator Nadav Nachmany
Children learn to create comic strips, with storytelling and lots of fun for children!
In Hebrew I Mondays I 6pm Israel (11am EST) | Zoom
The Shabbat Supplement
Shabbat in the eyes of the Midrash, Aggadah, literature, and poetry
Prof. Haim Be'er and Prof. Hananel Mack lead a textual-literary journey focusing on the theme of Shabbat
Musical Accompaniment with
In Hebrew I Sunday I Nov. 7 I 8pm Israel (1pm EST)
In Hebrew I Sunday I Nov. 14 I 8pm Israel (1pm EST)
In Hebrew I Sunday I Nov. 21 I 8pm Israel (1pm EST)
BAC's Monthly Plays for Children Returns!
BAC’s popular monthly plays for children brings
a different musical play based on the Jewish calendar returns to the BAC stage!
The Chelmites and the Moon
A play for the month of Kislev
In Chelm, to try and overcome darkness, they chase after the glow of the moon...
In Hebrew I Nov. 17, 25 & Dec. 2 I 5pm
All programs at 44 King George strictly according to the Health Ministry’s regulations
A Literary Musical Encounter
Children meet books and writers
A musical literary adventure and a special meeting with writers, books and surprises!
Sarit Zusman, Muriel Hoffman, and children’s author Jonathan Yavin with his new children’s book
Night in the Garden
In Hebrew I Wed. I Nov. 24 I 5pm Israel (10am EST)
In Memory of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z'l
Rabbi Shai Finkelstein
Through the generations, Torah commentators have debated different verses,
trying to understand how we should apply the interpretive conclusions to our lives.
Rabbi Shai Finkelstein shares his experience in writing for
The Rohr Mikraot Hadorot and his unique study sessions with
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks obm and the Chumash carrying his name.
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