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The Koffler Bornstein Families Institute of Jewish Studies


בֶּן בַּג בַּג אוֹמֵר: הֲפֹךְ בָּהּ וַהֲפֹךְ בָּהּ דְּכֹלָּא בָהּ

וּבָהּ תֶּחֱזֵי, וְסִיב וּבְלֵה בָהּ, וּמִנַּהּ לֹא תָזוּעַ

Ben Bag-bag says: “Delve in it and continue to delve in it, for everything is within it.

Contemplate it, and grow old and gray in it, and do not stir from it…”

-Pirkei Avot 5:21


Welcome to the Koffler Bornstein Families Institute of Jewish Studies!

As in past years, we offer a diverse range of programs for everyone to explore. As Ben Bag Bag said in the above quote from Pirkei Avot, everything is in the Torah - and we have tried to offer courses on just about everything here at the Institute. We will continue with our Author-Author program, in which local authors will present and discuss their newest books, both fiction and non-fiction. During this year’s educational weekend, “Talmudic Tales of Love and Darkness,” Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Rubenstein will lead us in literary and historical explorations of Tamudic stories of shame, destruction, and love. Our mini-mesters will cover subjects as diverse as local Jewish history, poetry, d’var Torah writing, interfaith text study, and art; and our semester- and year-long courses include past favorites such as Talmud, Hebrew, Torah reading, and weekly parshah study, as well as new offerings on Jewish music, Hebrew literature, and social justice. Whatever you are interested in, we have something for you!

We hope this year will be one of exploration, discovery and joy. We invite you to explore this year's brochure, and to be in touch with Rabbi Rachel Zerin at 331-1616 or with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Most importantly, we look forward to learning with you soon!


Professor Alan Verskin, Chair

Rabbi Rachel Zerin, Director

Join us on Monday, May 1 at 7:30pm for our final installment of Author, Author with Noah Beit-Aharon (N.S. Dolkart)!

Please join us for one of our spring mini-mester courses!

To register, please click here

Our spring mini-mester courses include:

The Exodus Story: Interpretations and Implications for Judaism and Christianity
Meets Tuesdays, May 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 7:30-9:00pm
Instructors: Rabbi Wayne Franklin and Professor Arthur Urbano
Professor Arthur Urbano and Rabbi Wayne Franklin will study the Exodus story and examine how the Jewish and Christian traditions respectively understand it. Topics to be considered include Sacrifice and Redemption, Synagogue and Church Architecture, our related but different Liturgies, and our respective understandings of God.

Text and Art
Meets Thursday, May 11 from 7:30-9:00pm and Thursday, May 25 from 8:00-9:30pm 
Instructors:  Marcia Kaunfer and Steve Subotnik
Back by popular demand! This course is specially designed for artists of all media, including painters, sculptors, collagists, ceramicists, embroiderers, and calligraphers. In the first session the artists will study the Sh'ma and its blessings with scholar and teacher Marcia Kaunfer. In the following session, participants will create original artwork inspired by that discussion, under the guidance of Marcia Kaunfer and artist Steve Subotnik, and will return to the class to share, present, and respond to each other’s art pieces.

 Chanting High Holy Day Torah
Instructor: Rabbi Rachel Zerin
Do you already know how to read Torah on Shabbat, but want to expand your Torah reading skills? Then this is the class for you! In this course, we will learn the special melodies used to chant Torah on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. note: This course is intended for people who already know how to read Hebrew and have some background in chanting Torah, but do not know the High Holy Day melodies

And, as always, we invite you to join our year-long courses:

Hug Ivri
Meets every other Thursday from 9:00-10:00am
Instructor: Rabbi Alvan Kaunfer
In this group, which is conducted entirely in Hebrew, we will be reading selected Hebrew poetry, prose, and traditional midrashim. The discussions often move into other fascinating topics. If you are an advanced Hebrew speaker, join us!

Parashat HaShavua
Meets every Friday until June 9, from 7:45-8:35am
Instructor: Rabbi Alvan Kaunfer
In this breakfast-study session, we will study highlights of the upcoming Shabbat Torah reading – the Weekly Portion. The group will have an opportunity to raise questions and share interpretations on the text. Participants are welcome to daven in the Chapel at 7 a.m., before the breakfast and study.

Delve Deeper: A Program of Intensive Jewish Study is an exciting new adult education initiative that brings dynamic teachers to teach in-depth, university-level courses to a diverse group of adult learners in Rhode Island. Our first couurse, "Rabbis, Mystics, Philosophers, and Poets: An Introduction to Medieval Judaism" has been a great success. Stay tuned for more details about our upcoming classes!

Tuesday, May 23 2017 27 Iyyar 5777