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.


February 4
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: Ber Borochov: Zionist Marxism
11.15 – 12.30 Dr Anne Summers, Birkbeck Univ Dept of History, Classics & Archaeology: Living with Difference – Christian and Jewish Women in Britain 1880-1940

February 11: Half term – no session

February 18
10.00 – 12.30 Film and discussion – title TBC

February 25
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler:  AD Gordon: Labour and the Redemption of the Land of Israel
11.15 – 12.30 Speaker TBC

March 4
Jewish Book Week: outing

March 11
10.00 – 11.15 David Ruderman Lecture: Baghdad and the Gaonic Age
11.15 – 12.30 Lilian Cordell: Miriam’s Table, the Bukharian cookbook

March 18
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler:  Rabbis Avraham Isaac Kook & Yehiel Michael Pines: Mizrachi/Religious Judaism
11.15 – 12.30 Jonathan Charles, former BBC World News London anchor: Reporting the Middle East: Is the BBC biased?

March 25
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: Martin Buber’s Zionism: Vision of a Bi-National State, Brit Shalom (In dialogue with Mahatma Gandhi)
11.15 – 12.30 In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem – 2014 film co- written by and starring Theodore Bikel

April 1, April 8: Pesach holiday, no sessions

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

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.