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Regaining Civility in a Fractured World

Whatever happened to civil discourse?  When did we stop agreeing to disagree in a peaceful, logical manner? In fact, the sheer lack of desire to try to understand people with opposing political opinions (or political identities) and to disagree constructively over critical questions is posing an existential threat to democracies around the world. 

With this threat in mind, Temple Judea will base its 2019-2020 curriculum around themes of Civil Discourse. How can we improve and open discussion among our friends, families, synagogue, community and the world? Our Jewish heritage teaches us that Judaism has multiple, and all authentic, ways of observance and belief.  We must re-learn to appreciate the value of different voices, even while we may not all agree.  We live in a time when the public space has not been a model of respectfully listening and honoring different perspectives and opinions. Judaism teaches us differently.

In the coming year, we will learn, through sermons, speakers, programs, conversations, multimedia and Torah, to explore and integrate ways that we, as a Jewish community, can continue to show respect for other people and their opinions even when we disagree. Only by doing this, can we call ourselves a Kehillah Kedosha, a Holy Community.

Scholar Series

Reclaiming Meaningful Conversations | Rabbi Lee Bycel
Sunday, January 26, 2020 | 4:30 PM
Eric B. Meyers Featured Scholar 

Building on the stories from his forthcoming book, Refugees in America: Stories of Courage, Resilience and Hope in Their Own Words, Rabbi Bycel will explore the trend in America to boil down ethical human issues to sound bites and images. Lee is deeply committed to reclaiming the art of conversation, respectful civil discourse and the ability to listen and respect people who hold different views. RSVP

Monday Morning – Torah Study group
with Rabbi Lee Bycel
Monday, January 27, 2020 | 8:15 AM

The Jewish Refugee Experience in the Bible

Tuesday Lunch and Learn
with Rabbi Lee Bycel
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 | 12 PM - 2 PM

Human Nature and the Jewish Imperative:  Standing Idly by or getting involved, a question of conscience?

Lee is a social justice advocate deeply committed to humanitarian issues. He has made several trips to East Africa including four humanitarian trips to Darfur and Chad where he visited several refugee camps; as well as trips to South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Haiti where he raised significant funding for humanitarian relief. He is a contributing writer to the Huffington Post and former Dean of the Hebrew Union College’s Los Angeles Campus.

When, If Ever, Was American Political Discourse Civil? | David Zarefsky
Monday, March 30, 2020 | 7 PM
Baskin Scholar

Many of us believe that our public discourse has become more debased and coarse in recent years.  Is this true?  What does it mean?  Are there touchstones of a more civil discourse in our national past?  Does it help us to look for them?
Dr. Zarefsky is professor emeritus of Rhetoric and Argumentation at Northwestern University. With hundreds of articles and lectures on topics such as On Deep Disagreement; Arguing about Values: The Problem of Public Moral Argument; When, if Ever, is Symbolic Violence Justified? and What Have We Learned from the Presidential Election?, Dr. Zarefsky is one of the most honored and respected lecturers today. Register

Adult Learning Courses

Monthly Lunch & Learn | Rabbis Siegal and Fisch
Every third Thursday of every month | Noon (Bring Your Own Lunch)

It seems as if every day there’s a new crisis in our community, our nation and our world. Have an issue you’d like to discuss? Are you worried about what’s to come? Bring your questions to this monthly discussion group where issues will be discussed in a civil, educational way. Register

Film Series and Discussion Group | Phyllis Levy
Fridays, following Oneg Shabbat

For anyone who has ever watched Israeli films, or films about Jews, they know that civil discourse is often at the heart of the movie. This discussion series will present films which show how different perspectives, both within and outside of Jewish communities, can be resolved or dealt with in a respectful, civil manner. All films can be watched on Amazon Video prior to the discussion. Phyllis Levy is a Temple Judea member, former librarian, and longtime film discussion leader. Register


Names of God | Rabbi Jonathan Fisch
Mondays, February 3, 10, 24, March 2 2020 | 7:30 PM

His name is Jonathan Bradley Rothstein-Fisch, but you can also call him Jonathan, Jon Fisch, Fisch, Rabbi, Rabbi Fisch, Abby’s Husband, Ayla and Yael’s Tati (Yiddish for father), and many others. We all have many names and each one means something a little different. So too does God. God, Makom, Yud Hey Vav Hey, HaShem, Adonai, Elohanu, and many, many more names are found within our ancient text. What do these names teach us about God, and most importantly our relationship with our Creator?  When are these names used, where are they found and how can we use them in different moments in prayer? This is a class on Names. Each of us has one or many that sheds light into who we are. Let us study the names of God to shed light on the Source of Light (another name)! Register

Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen | Lynne Lambert
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 1 PM

A century after her birth, Tillie Olsen’s writing is as relevant as when it first appeared; indeed, the clarity and passion of her vision and style have, if anything, become even more striking over time. In this award-winning collection of short stories, Olsen set a new standard for the treatment of women and the poor and for the depiction of their lives and circumstances. In her hands, the hard truths about motherhood and marriage, domestic life, labor, and political conviction found expression in language of such poetic intensity and depth that their influence continues to be felt today. This lecture is the first in a series entitled Jewish Authors, American Classics. Watch for announcements of future events.

Lynne Lambert is a retired English teacher who enjoyed a 45 year career teaching in New York State, New Jersey and South Florida. She was a member of the faculty of the University School of Nova Southeastern University for almost 30 years. Lynne has a BA and Masters in Education/English from SUNY of Buffalo. Register

iEngage | Rabbis Siegal, Fisch and Young
Shalom Hartman Institute
Mondays, April 6, 13, 27, May 4, 11, 18 | 7:30 PM

If you’ve taken any of the previous iEngage courses at Temple Judea, you already know how truly engaging and educational they are. Led by a team of internationally renowned scholars in the fields of Jewish studies, Middle East politics, and history, iEngage is committed to addressing core questions pertaining to the necessity and significance of the State of Israel. This year’s class promises to be fulfilling, topical and educational. Register

Melton: Ethics of Jewish Living 
Sundays beginning October 13, 10:30 AM

How do Jewish teachings shed light on contemporary issues such as the environment, inter-personal relationships, end-of-life decisions, and stem-cell research? This course explores the wisdom of ancient and modern rabbis, scholars and thinkers, offering multiple Jewish approaches to conducting our lives in the communal and private spheres. Temple Judea is thrilled to partner with CAJE-Miami and bring the renowned Melton program to Sunday mornings. Register

WTJ Book Club
Wednesdays, 7-8:30 PM

Please join us for our  upcoming book discussions. You can come once, occasionally, or often, according to your schedule and book interests. We are now meeting on the first Wednesday of the month from 7:00-8:30 PM at Temple Judea. If you aren't yet on the book group mailing list and would like to be, please contact Judy Siskind at or 305.323.5680.

Weekly Learning Opportunities

Shabbat Morning Study+
Saturdays, 9:45 AM-10:45 AM

After Shabbat Minyan, study Torah with your Rabbis and a wonderful adult learning community.  

Monday Morning Torah Study+
Mondays, 8:15 AM-9 AM

Begin your week with a thought provoking, engaging study of the Hebrew Bible using ancient and modern commentary. No prior learning necessary.
+No registration needed

Sun, February 23 2020 28 Sh'vat 5780