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.


September 8
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler on Prayer (1): Problems of Jewish prayer – What is it? Poetry? Has it any benefit? Why repeat prayers? Why Hebrew?
11.15 – 12.30 Open Forum Discussion: Summer Highlights

September 15
10 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler on Shoah (1): Questions of scholars, philosophers, theologians & psychologists
11.15-12.30 tbc

September 22
10.00-11.15 Rabbi Altshuler on Prayer (2): Animal sacrifice; Synagogue origins; Jerusalem Temple; Creation of Siddur
11.15-12.30 Naomi Layish, journalist and author: Women in Judaism

October 13
10.00-11.15 Rabbi Altshuler on Shoah (2): History of Antisemitism – pagan, Christian, Muslim, racial, cultural, national
11.15-12.30 Richard Clarke, National Holocaust Centre: Combatting the Rise in Antisemitism

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.