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 28
10.00 – 11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: History of Ancient Israel: Fall of Judah 587/86 BCE
11.15 – 12.30 Richard Cohen – Researcher for Andrew Roberts Biography of Churchill: Walking with Destiny – Churchill and the Jews

May 5
10.00 – 12.30 Professor Jonathan Price, Lessing Professor of Ancient History at Tel Aviv University: Ancient Synagogues in Judea/Palestina: Community and Language

May 12
10 – 12.30 Rabbi Altshuler: History of Ancient Israel – Alexander the Great & Hellenism
11.15-12.30 Dr Alan Mendoza, Founder and Executive Director Henry Jackson Society: Brexit and British Parliament

May 19: No session, Prague trip

May 26 and June 2: No session, half term

June 9: No session, Shavuot

June 16
10.00-11.15 Barry Cohen, author of Opening The Drawer: the hidden identities of Polish Jews
11.15 – 12.30 TBC

June 23
10.00-11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: History of Ancient Israel – The Maccabean uprising and Hasmonean state/Book of Daniel/Apocalyptical literature 11.15-12.30 Jamie Susskind, barrister and author of Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

June 30
10.00-11.15 Rabbi Altshuler: Biblical Ethics and Theology
11.15-12.30 Emma Fox, Research Fellow in the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism: UK extremist networks within Higher Education

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.