New Haven Beit Midrash

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 dif- ferent keynote speakers from Pardes North America. In addition, they feature breakout sessions led by local teachers. Refreshments are served.

The New Haven Beit Midrash sessions are scheduled to be held in the winter and spring of 2023

THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 7-9 p.m.

Location: Congregation B’nai Jacob, 75 Rimmon Road, Woodbridge

LE’AVDAH ULE’SHAMRAH: The Jewish Obligation to Repair and Restore

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Rabbi Jonathan Leener

When Adam was first placed in the Garden of Eden early in the Book of Genesis, his command was simple: “And God placed the Man in the Garden of Eden, to work it and protect it.” This command was not for Adam alone; rather, it served as a mission statement for all of Adam and Eve’s descendants to at once benefit from and protect God’s creations. In this session, we will explore this commandment from a variety of angles and perspectives.

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.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 7-9 p.m. Location: Temple Emanuel, 150 Derby Ave., Orange

MARBIM BESIMCHA: Permission to Celebrate


The Mishnah in Tractate Taanit teaches that “Mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha”, when the month of Adar arrives we increase our joy. The focus on joy seems ironic; Adar is, after all, the month of Purim, the first diaspora holiday. While the holiday is celebratory, the story is troubling; the tropes that fill the Purim story are tropes with which we become familiar over the following millenia, our powerlessness as residents in lands not our own. Yet Purim is not a time for sadness, it is a time for joy. Why? Join us to find out!

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.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 7-9 p.m.

Location: Temple Beth David, 3 Main Street, Cheshire

VE’AHAVTA ET HAGER: Life Beyond the Border

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Rabbi Brent Spodek

The story most strongly associated with the holiday of Shavuot is that of Ruth, whose Biblical book is traditionally read during the holiday. Ruth’s story is one of traversing boundaries both physical and spiritual, of leaving everything behind to embrace her calling and follow her mission. This is no simple feat; in this session, we will explore what it means to straddle the line of belonging.

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. 

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