Adult Education Update
February 11, 2018

This information is provided by
the Adult Education Committee to highlight
the exciting adult learning opportunities at
Congregation B'nai Israel and beyond.
Mark your calendar and RSVP as indicated.
Click on the links below for this week's updates:

Can a Jew Be a Heretic?
Professor David Biale (UC Davis)
Thursday, February 22, 7:00 - 8:30 pm, in the Chapel

It is often thought that Judaism, which tolerates and even encourages minority opinions, is a religion that doesn't know of heretics. And yet, from Korach in the Bible to Elisha ben Abuya in the Talmud to Baruch Spinoza and Shabbetai Zvi in the 17 th century, we find repeated cases of heresy. In this presentation we will examine whether there is such a thing as Jewish heresy and its applicability to Judaism today.
How Can We Hear the Poetry of the Bible?
Professor Seth Sanders (UC Davis)
Saturday, March 17, 7:00 - 8:30 pm, in the Chapel

Poetry is the most powerful way that Torah and Jewish tradition speak to us, but it is also what most quickly gets lost in translation. Whether through intimate daily prayers and Psalms or the magic of the "Song of Solomon," we can still listen to the same music that ancient Jews heard - but can we truly hear it ourselves? Our predicament is that the language is mostly no longer accessible to us. Translation is the main way that the vast majority of Jews throughout history have encountered the Bible's poetic language, whether in their native Aramaic or Greek, Armenian or Arabic, or today's English. This talk will lead us, via concrete examples, from what might be lost in the original Hebrew poetry to what new translations might reveal.

Special Programs 
The Israel Committee Presents:
Exploring the U.S./Israel Relationship
Professor Zeev Maoz (UC Davis)
Sunday, March 4, 3:00 to 4:30 pm, in the Chapel

Many of us want to have a better understanding of this thing we call the U.S./Israel relationship. Join us as Dr. Zeev Maoz explores how this relationship developed, as seen through the political, strategic, and religious lenses of both countries, while weaving in domestic and international factors influencing those layers.

Zeev Maoz is a distinguished professor of political science at the University of California, Davis, as well as a distinguished fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel. He is the author of Defending the Holy Land, A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy, and director of the Correlates of War Project and former president of the Peace Science Society. Before coming to Davis, he served as head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University.

This program is cosponsored by the Adult Education Committee.

Recurring Programs 
Religious Ethics in the 21st Century
Topic: "Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right": Anti-Semitism, American Politics, and Foreign Policy
Rabbi Mona Alfi

Tuesday, February 13, noon - 1:00 pm, in the Library

Rabbi Alfi tackles some of the toughest issues of Jewish ethics as applied to modern life. We discuss politics, economics, Israel, Jewish communal relations, and many other issues. To request or suggest a topic, please e-mail Rabbi Alfi with ideas. Regular attendance is not required; drop-ins and newcomers are welcome! Bring a brown bag lunch. There is no fee.  

From Women of B'nai Israel 
Rosh Chodesh Adar: The Flat (film)
Rabbi Alfi and the Women of B'nai Israel
Tuesday, February 13, 6:00 - 8:30 pm, in the Social Hall
Rosh Chodesh begins at 6:00 pm with a dairy potluck, followed by a film and discussion. This month's film is Arnon Goldfinger's The Flat, a documentary about the shocking discovery he made when his grandmother died (at the age of 98) and he was charged with cleaning out her Tel Aviv apartment. The film had its world premiere at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, where it was named best documentary in 2011, and it was picked up by the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Join us for this amazing film!
All women age 13 and over are welcome. No RSVP necessary.


From the Brotherhood 
Achim: A Discussion Group for Men

Dr. Glenn Hammel and the Brotherhood
Sunday, Febuary 11, 7:00 - 8:30 pm, in the Chapel
The February 11 session of Achim has been canceled, and the upcoming March 4 session may be rescheduled (to avoid conflict with an Israel Committee program on that date). Updates to follow.

In the Community 
Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento
Joan Adler: Writing Your Family History
Sunday, February 18, 10:00 am, at the Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento

All of us are getting older and wondering what will happen to our genealogy research when we pass away. Will anyone be interested? Who will want it? Should we donate it to an institution or try to find a family member who will want it? Joan Adler will try to answer these questions and others. She says, "It's not what you know, or how much you know, but what you do with it that's important."
Joan has been the executive director of the Straus Historical Society in Smithtown, New York, for the past 27 years. It is an organization she created that focuses on the Lazarus and Sara Straus family, their ancestors and their descendants.

All are welcome to attend the February 18 meeting at the Einstein Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento. For more information on the JGSS, email

Coming Attractions - Save the Date
Details to Follow
The Focus on Racial Justice Committee Presents:
"Embracing Sacramento's Diversity" Series
Judge Emily Vasquez: Speaking from the Heart About the Long Journey as an Immigrant Latina in California
Saturday, March 24, 7:00 - 9:00 pm, in the Social Hall

Emily Vasquez's life history is a story of "firsts" and an inspirational journey from poverty to high levels of educational and professional success. Born in Mexico, she legally immigrated to the U.S. and, after toiling in the fields alongside her parents, she was the first in her family to attend college. Many professional firsts followed. In 2001, she became Sacramento County's first Latina Superior Court Judge. In the many steps that Judge Vasquez has taken, she has broken new ground for her family, for the Hispanic community, and for women. She has never forgotten her beginnings and continually contributes to the community as a means to repay the system that allowed her to succeed so spectacularly.

Getting Connected 

The URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) is the parent organization of our movement.  Click below for links to educational materials provided by the URJ:

Special Interest:

To see the current week's bulletin or a two-month schedule at any time go to:

Contact Info
Adult Education Committee,
Congregation B'nai Israel