The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven has joined forces with Pardes North America and many New Haven area synagogues to present the New Haven Beit Midrash, an empowering Jewish learning initiative created to enrich our adult Jewish community through thought-provoking sessions led by world-renowned Jewish educators.


Launched last November, New Haven Beit Midrash programs are held every other month and are highlighted by different keynote speakers from Pardes North America. In addition, they feature breakout sessions led by local teachers. Refreshments are served.


Schedule of Programs & Events

  • MARBIM BESIMCHA: Permission to Celebrate

    KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Rabbi Avi Spodek
    LOCATION: Temple Emanuel

    The Mishnah in Tractate Taanit teaches that “Mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha”, when th...

  • VE’AHAVTA ET HAGER: Life Beyond the Border

    KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Rabbi Brent Spodek
    LOCATION: Temple Beth David of Cheshire

    The story most strongly associated with the holiday of Shavuot is that of ...

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a "beit midrash"?

"Beit Midrash" literally translates to "house of study" in Hebrew. Traditionally, it refers to a room or hall dedicated to the study of Torah and Talmud, distinct from a synagogue (or "beit knesset"), though in modern times it can be used to refer to a Hebrews school or Jewish day school. What distinguishes it from a synagogue or sanctuary is that, rather than being a place of worship, the beit midrash is a place of learning. Typically, this learning occurs in pairs (or havruta), who read the text aloud to one another and then debate the meaning amongst themselves.

How is New Haven Beit Midrash different?

New Haven Beit Midrash is a cross-denominational evening of structured study, conducted in groups rather than pairs, that is themed around a specific topic. Each session features a keynote educator from Pardes North America, as well as 2-3 breakout sessions led by local New Haven teachers. Rather than refer to a location itself, New Haven Beit Midrash is a "floating" place of study, rotating amongst local area synagogues every other month.

Do I need to know Hebrew or have familiarity with Talmud to attend?

Absolutely not! While knowledge of Hebrew and midrashic background would certainly enhance your experience, New Haven Beit Midrash programs are open to folks at all levels of Jewish education and no prior knowledge is required to attend.

Meet Our Keynote Speakers

Rabbi Jonathan Leener


Rabbi Jonathan Leener is a Faculty Associate Fellow for Pardes North America and the rabbi of BASE, a grounding point for young Jewish adults. Ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, he was also the founding rabbi of Base BKLYN. His writings on Judaism and Israel have appeared in The Washington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and Huffington Post. He most recently published a children’s book, Esther’s Magical Mystery Torah, bringing the Torah of Rabbi Nachman to young children.

Rabbi Avi Spodek


Avi Spodek is a lifelong learner and master educator. He is a graduate of the Pardes Educators’ Program (Cohort 12) and is currently the Recruitment Professional for the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. Avi holds a BA in History from Bar Ilan University, an MJEd from Hebrew College (Boston) and he is a mushmach of Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg zt’l and Rav Daniel Landes shlit’a. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife and three children.

Rabbi Brent Spodek


Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek is a Faculty Associate Fellow at Pardes North America. He has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, by Hudson Valley Magazine as a Person to Watch, and by Newsweek as “a rabbi to watch.” He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and a Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation. Rabbi Brent has been spiritual leader at Beacon Hebrew Alliance since 2010; prior to that, he served as Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and was the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. Rabbi Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship.

Three Great Programs — One Easy Registration!

Select the number of tickets you want for each program from the dropdowns below, then scroll down to add your email address below the ticket selection and checkout all at once.

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