Local week of Jewish learning to probe Shema prayer, unity

Southern Arizona congregations and organizations will offer a Global Week of Jewish Learning Nov. 11-17, again expanding on the Global Day of Jewish Learning inaugurated last year in celebration of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s completion of his multi-volume Talmud translation.

This year’s theme is the unity of the Jewish people through the words of the Shema.

Programs, which are free, will begin Friday, Nov. 11 at 5:45 p.m., when Congregation Anshei Israel presents “On the Bedtime Shema” during Shabbat evening services. Call 745-5550.

On Saturday, Nov. 12 at 3:30 p.m., Congregation Anshei Israel’s Shabbat afternoon Torah study will focus on “The Place of the Shema in Jewish Liturgy.” For time, call 745-5550.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, 9-11 a.m., Congregation Or Chadash will offer “Jewish Parenting in the New Century: Your child and tattoos, drugs and alcohol.” Taking off on the old Jewish curse, “Beware, you may have a child just like you,” Cantor Janece Cohen will share insights on how to counter your child’s “affliction of ingratitude and entitlement.” This will be the kick-off for a series of discussions on “Tattoos and Jewish burial,” “When drinking alcohol goes beyond the Shabbat Kiddush” and “Premarital sex: Rabbi may I?” The additional dates are Feb. 5, March 11 and April 15; for nonmembers, there is a $36 requested donation for the series. Call 512-8500.

Also on Sunday, Nov. 13, Congregation Anshei Israel will present “Parents Are Teachers Too: What Is the Shema?” at 9:15 a.m., exploring the words of the Shema, “Hear O Israel,” as a call, a slogan, a sign of identification and an expression of great emotion that has been with us from the beginning of our history, in our homeland and in exile, in times of war and of peace. Call 745-5550.

Another Sunday program begins at 3 p.m. as Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging, Young Jewish Tucson and Odyssey Storytelling present “My Jewish Story,” with six 10-minute narratives from Handmaker residents and staff and Young Jewish Tucson storytellers. A reception with wine, cheese, appetizers and desserts follows the show at Handmaker. Contact Lori Riegel at 322-7006.

On Monday, Nov. 14, noon-1:30 p.m., the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Northwest Division Jewish Connections and Temple Emanu-El will hold a lunch ’n’ learn on the universality of the Shema, at Nanini Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road. Bring a dairy or vegetarian brown bag lunch. Call Anne Lowe at 577-9393 or Temple Emanu-El at 327-4501.

Congregation Anshei Israel will present a Torah study on “Shema: The Nature of God,” on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 11 a.m.-noon, exploring different ideas about God in our tradition and whether it is possible to define the concept of God or to understand God when we only have human language to describe God. Call 745-5550.

On Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m., the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation will hold a HillelNext Jew & A: “Who’s on your lips before you fall asleep?” The Talmud tells us that reading the Shema at bedtime guards us physically from all sorts of things that go bump in the night and protects our souls from spiritual harm. A Halloween hoax? A take-off on the success of the paranormal movies? You decide. Pre-dinner snacks included. Call 624-6561.

The final event scheduled is on Thursday, Nov. 17, 7-9 p.m., when Congregation M’kor Hayim will hold a book discussion on “The Finkler Question” by Howard

Jacobson at Tucson Hebrew Academy. The funny, thought-provoking book, which won the 2010 Man Booker Prize, explores various facets of Judaism and anti-Semitism. Call 904-1881.

For full course descriptions and schedule updates, visit jewishtucson.org.

The Southern Arizona Global Week of Jewish Learning is a partnership of the Coalition for Jewish Education, the Tucson Board of Rabbis, the Tucson Jewish Community Center, UA Hillel Foundation, UA Center for Judaic Studies and Tucson’s synagogues and Jewish agencies.