Congregational Learning

At Mishkan Ha’am we have Jewish education opportunities for all ages and we strive to create a learning community where all are welcome under our tent, our Mishkan. Mishkan Ha’am is Hebrew for Tent of the People or Sacred Tent of the People. When we form tight knit, mutually respectful groups, we can explore our interests and passions and we can teach and learn in wonderful, inspiring ways.

Community Learning

Our Community Learning program topics are generated by our members and our Rabbi, through the congregation’s Community Learning Committee.  Programs take place on weekends (mainly Sunday at 11:00 a.m.) and some weeknights.  In April 2020, our Community Learning programming took a dramatic shift in terms of location due to the COVID pandemic.  We continued using Zoom links with programs that we had planned and added more to our list, since members and some newcomers enjoyed opportunities to learn and to be able to communicate with each other and our Rabbi about important issues.

Our increased programming has provided opportunities to extend topics over two or more sessions and to interlace topics presented by the Community Learning Committee and the Book/Film Discussion Group.  This summer we held several sessions where we discussed many insidious aspects of racism and learned about how to identify and practice anti-racism. This fall we have been exploring the development of Zionism and development of the State of Israel, searching to understand past and present plans to bring about peace in Israel, and seeking to create/participate in viable future plans for peace.

As a follow-up to our November book discussion, we will be exploring the visions of Mordecai Kaplan and Early Zionists.  Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, formulated his own ideas about what Israel might look like before its founding. We will look at how Kaplan’s vision fit in with the other voices of his time, such as Martin Buber’s, and how each of these constructs measures up to Israel as it is today.

Throughout the year, our Rabbi has also presented programs focusing on religious thought, perspectives on God, liturgy patterns, and psychology with examinations of Reconstructionist ideas and practice, sometimes compared with other forms of Jewish expression. The spring, we will turn to a study of Different Voices/Authors in the Bible and then look at the Beginning of Midrash and Rabbinic Arguments.

In this time of relative isolation, our opportunities to connect with Mishkan Ha’am members and newcomers have been consistently valued and enjoyed.  Everyone is encouraged to participate in our Community Learning and Book and Film Discussion meetings, or to just listen and learn. Please join us!

Book/ Film Discussion Group
As part of our Community Learning Program we have developed a Book/Film Discussion Group that chooses works by or about Jewish or Israeli writers or topics. The topics are generated by our members through the Book/ Film Group Planning Committee. This has stimulated interesting and sometimes difficult discussions such as those about the Israeli/Palistianian conflict. Often the Rabbi leads the discussion, but sometimes a member of the community leads the discussion on a topic that he/she is interested in or knowledgeable about. Last year we read books about Spinoza and Maimonides and for our film, we watched “Unorthodox”. 

This summer we interfaced with the Community Learning committee and presented two programs on racism.  One was a film, “Just Mercy” and the other was a book, “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. This fall we read and discussed “Ten Myths About Israel” by Ilan Pappe. We will continue to interface with the Adult Learning Committee while trying to understand the past and present of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict and future plans to hopefully bring about peace in Israel and Palestine.  Going forward, we will be asking the community for recommendations for Jewish and Israeli novels and films.