Adult Education

 Adult discussion group

The adult discussion group meeting in the BSS library

The adult discussion group meeting in the BSS library

Twenty years and still going strong, the Adult Discussion Group meets on Sunday mornings during the cheder term.

The group was originally started by parents of children attending cheder who lived too far to drop their children, go home and then return in under three hours.

The format of the morning has evolved over the years to the current two sessions, with a short coffee break in between. Rabbi Altshuler leads the first session and a member of the group, the shul or a guest speaker leads the second session.


April 15
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: Intellectuals in Search of Roots: Bernard Lazar, Edmond Fleg and Ludwig Lewisohn
11.15 – 12.30 TBC

April 22
10.00 – 12.30  Carvalho’s Journey – film and discussion

April 29
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: In the New World: Responses to Zionism – Solomon Schechter, Louis Brandeis, Horace Mayer Kallen and Mordecai Kaplan
11.15 – 12.30 TBC

May 6
10.00 – 11.15 David Ruderman DVD lecture: Cultural transformation in the Italian Ghetto
11.15 – 12.30 Luke Akehurst, Director of We Believe In Israel: How did the Labour Party get into such a mess regarding Israel, Jews and Antisemitism?

Wednesday May 9 7.30-9.00 pm
Lecture in collaboration with Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society – Professor Jodi Magness, Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina: Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James

May 13: No session: Warsaw/Vilnius trip

May 20: No session: Shavuot

May 27 and June 3: No sessions: Half term

June 10
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: Practical Zionism: Chaim Weizmann
11.15 – 12.30 TBC

June 17
10.00 –  12.30 Film morning (title TBC) and discussion

June 24
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: David Ben-Gurion: The Vision and the Power
11.15 – 12.30 TBC

The Rabbi’s sessions have covered a wide range of subjects from Pirkei Avot, Tractate Brachot of the Talmud to the history of Russian Jewry and Islam for Jews. No former knowledge is required; only an interest in finding out more about Judaism, stimulating your mind and/or a willingness to discuss issues. ‘Two Jews, three opinions’, a very old Jewish truism, reflects the group and how we welcome and value everyone’s opinion.

The second session can range from current topics, Israel, the arts, people’s lives and experiences, medical ethical issues, the economy or, on occasion, a film followed by discussion.

The group is very fluid, with some people attending every week to others coming once in a while. Some come along just for the occasional outing, for instance to the British Museum or a walk around the ‘Radical East End’.

There is no membership commitment and no fee; just a warm welcome whenever you come. Our programme for each month is published in Our Congregation, and for the coming weekend in the weekly emailed News from the Square. It is also announced in Shabbat services but if you would like to be on the Adult Discussion Group mailing list, please contact Claire Walford on

Introduction to Judaism course

The Introduction to Judaism course is a springboard towards completing an adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah following a year of study with Rabbi Altshuler: Monday evenings, 7:00-8:15 pm. It forms part of our conversion programme as well as welcoming existing members who wish to strengthen their Jewish knowledge and commitment. Content includes Hebrew reading (some vocabulary and comprehension), Jewish theology, holidays, life cycle, synagogue ritual and liturgy, literature, Torah, comparative religion, musar (ethics) and history from the Biblical period to the contemporary world.