Workshops, seminars and courses that inspire full-hearted living

Announcing Our Fall 2016 Courses at the Lev Shalem Institute of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation!

Dear Friends,

I am pausing from my weekly Torah commentary this week and next for summer vacation, and will resume in September. (I will be leading services at the WJC this Shabbat, and will be away the next.) But meanwhile, I want to tell you about the classes and workshops that we have scheduled this fall through the Lev Shalem Institute (which is now the address for all adult education at the WJC, working under the auspices of our Congregational Learning Committee.) As always, if the tuition for any of these activities is prohibitive for you, just email or call – we want you to come. Contact Lauren Silver at or 845.679.2218 x5, unless otherwise noted below. I hope you find these offerings appealing!


Spiritual Preparation for the High Holy Days
with Rabbi Jonathan Kligler

3 Thursdays, September 8, 15, 22, 12:15-2:00pm

The month of Elul is the time of spiritual preparation for the New Year. We take this opportunity to learn from the wisdom of our tradition, and to reflect deeply on how we wish to realign ourselves with our highest aspirations.

Series $22.50/WJC Members, $45/General or drop-ins $7.50/WJC Members, $15/General per class


I Didn’t See That Coming!
A Theater Workshop with Carol Fox Prescott

4 Tuesdays, 7:00-9:00pm, September 13 & 27, October 18, November 1,

Anyone who has experienced the teaching and coaching of Carol Fox Prescott will attest to its surprising, unexpected power to awaken and express our deepest selves. Over decades of performing and teaching, she has developed a technique for training actors based on breathing, awareness and joy. A group of congregants has asked Carol to teach them, and now we can offer this workshop to our entire community.

This workshop series is open to all, from theater professionals to those who have always felt too uncomfortable to get up on stage but are ready, in the welcoming space of the WJC, to give it a try.

While the group will be ongoing, we are offering it next as a 4-session series, to keep things simple and affordable. The fee for the series is $60 for WJC members, and $120 for the general public. You can miss up to one of the four meetings in this series, and be able to make it up later for no extra cost. Financial assistance is available. To register, and for any inquiries, contact Maxine Davidowitz at


Parshat Hashavuah – Studying the Weekly Torah Portion
with Rabbi Jonathan Kligler

Thursdays, 5:30-6:45pm, beginning October 20

Torah study is back, at a new time! We hope this early evening time slot will serve those who have not been able to attend our weekday classes in the past.

This class is free and open to all, and you are invited to drop in anytime. Your donations are gratefully accepted.


In the Tent of Abraham: The Mystical Heart of Islam, Christianity and Judaism
with Karuna Foudriat, Juliet Rabia Gentile, Reverend Matthew Wright and Rabbi Jonathan Kligler

9 Tuesdays, 1:45-3:45pm, November 15, 22, 29, December 6, 13, 20, January 3, 10, 24

Last year we took a powerful and revelatory journey with Rabbi Jonathan and Rev. Matthew Wright in the course, “Judaism and Christianity: Shared Origins, Different Paths.” This year we are thrilled to expand our inquiry and incorporate Islam into our shared study. We are fortunate to be joined by two Islamic Sufi scholars and practitioners, Karuna Foudriat and Juliet Rabia Gentile.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all occupy the “Tent of Abraham” – that is, we all trace our spiritual lineage back to Abraham. In this course, we will ask each other all of our questions, even the ones we have been afraid to ask. We will learn about our profound similarities and our important differences. We will explore our history, beliefs and practices with intellectual honesty and accuracy. Equally important, we will share how are traditions move us spiritually, how and why we practice them, and what they have to teach us on the spiritual path.

In merging the intellectual and the experiential, we will both learn an immense amount and open doorways that lead to the common ground of our humanness.

During these times of enmity and mistrust, it is immeasurably important for us to sit in Abraham’s Tent together, and meet each other deeply. It will be good for our own souls, and also good for our world. Join us!

Cost for the series: $135/General; $67.50/members of St. Gregory’s and WJC

We urge you to sign up for the entire series. Drop-in cost is $20 per class/General; $10 per class/members of St. Gregory’s and WJC


And while I have your attention, please note these meaningful events coming up soon:

“Resistance is the Lesson”

This new exhibit at our Lev Shalem Gallery chronicles in photographs and words more than twenty acts of armed uprising against Nazi oppression. We hope you will join us for an opening reception and panel discussion on Sunday, August 28, 12:00-2:30pm, to hear Lawrence Bush, the exhibit’s creator, as well as members of our congregation whose parents fought as partisans against the Nazis. Thanks to our WJC Arts Committee for all of their work.


“FIRST FRIDAY” September 2, 6:00-8:00pm

Welcome Student Rabbi Kami Knapp AND Stories from our Hearts

Join us for our wonderful “First Friday” pot luck dairy/vegetarian Shabbat dinner. This week we welcome Student Rabbi Kami Knapp for her first visit. Come welcome her!

AND, we ask you – if you would like – to bring a meaningful Jewish object with you, one that has a story to tell. As part of our evening we will each have the opportunity to tell the story that that our object carries, and explain why it is meaningful to us. We hope this will be a special way to get to know each other better, and to share meaningful conversation.

(Our Tot Shabbat service will take place at 5:00pm, as usual!)


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jonathan