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.


October 22 and 29: No session – half term

November 5
10.00 – 11..15 Rabbi Altshuler: Theodor Herzl: The Breakthrough for the Zionist dream
11.15 – 12.30 Sam Grant, Campaigns and Programmes Manager, René Cassin: How the young Jews of Budapest are resisting the rise of hate

November 12
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: Max Nordau: The Jews and the crisis of Western civilisation
11.15 – 12.30 Maurice Mendel – the Jews of Medieval Norwich

November 19
10.00 – 12.30 Mitzvah Day activity – cleaning shelves at Keats House Library

November 26
10.00 – 11.30 Film: Keep quiet – documentary about Csanád Szegedi, deputy leader of radical nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary, who discovers he is Jewish
11.30 – 12.30 Film: Café Nagler – the story behind the legendary 1920s Berlin cultural hub

December 3: Hanukah Market – no adult discussion group

December 10
10.00 – 11..15 Rabbi Altshuler: Theodore Herzl – The Breakthrough for the Zionist Dream
11.15 – 12.30 Jonathan Charles, former London Anchor man of BBC World News – Reporting the Middle East – is the BBC biased?

December 17
10.00 – 11..15 Rabbi Altshuler: Nahum Syrkin: Nationalism and class conflict
11.15 – 12.30 Tamir Oren, Stand With Us – Challenges in Gaza and the Disengagement Plan evacuation of Israelis from Gaza and part of the West Bank.

December 24 and 31: Winter break – no adult discussion group

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.