Basic Judaism

Course Outline

Week 1

Jan. 11


Introduction to Judaism


The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Rosh Hashanah & Yamim Noraim (High Holidays)

High Holidays music and prayers

Jewish Calendar, Elul

Hebrew – Alef bet, Lessons 1-3

Week 2

Jan. 18

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Yom Kippur

Movements in Judaism – Comparison of Ideologies

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 10-12

Week 3

Jan. 25

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Tu B’Shvat

Biblical Texts and History

Prayer, Jewish meditation, Kavanah

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 13-15

Week 4

Feb. 1

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret & Simhat Torah

Introduction to Jewish worship and services

A first look at Basic Jewish Books: Torah, Tanakh, Mishna, Talmud, Midrash, Siddur

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 16-18

Week 5

Feb. 8

G-d: Covenant with Avraham, at Sinai, 13 Attributes

Deep dive into the Siddur


The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Purim

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 19-21

Week 6

Feb. 15




The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Passover, Haggadah, Seder

How to Prepare for Passover

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 22-24

Week 7

Feb. 22

Kashrut (Jewish Dietary Laws) – Why? How?

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Counting of the Omer

K’riat Shema (The readings of the Shema), Themes and Theology, Mitzvot (Commandments)

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 25-27

Week 8

Mar. 1

Israel: History and Meaning to Contemporary Jews

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Yom Hazikaron, Yom HaAtzma’ut

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 28-30

Week 9

Mar. 8

Shabbat – Its Meaning and Centrality in Judaism

Observing & Remembering – Two Dimensions of Shabbat

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 31-33

Week 10

Mar. 15

How to Make Shabbat at Home

Mysticism and Kabbalah

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 34-37

Week 11

Mar. 22

Songs and Chants of the Synagogue: Trope, Nusach, MiSinai Tunes, Cantorial Music

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Chanukah

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 38-41

Week 12

Mar. 29

Jewish Home and Family Life: Part I

Baby Naming, Brit Milah, Pidyon HaBen, and choosing your Jewish name

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 42-45

Week 13

Apr. 5

Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and its impact on the Jewish psyche

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Yom HaShoah (April 8 this year)

Tzedakah and Gemilut Hassadim; Shalom Bayit

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 46-49

Week 14

Apr. 12

Jewish Home and Family Life: Part II

Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Marriage Divorce, Death

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 50-53

Week 15

Apr. 19

Biblical Texts and History

Yiddish songs, expressions, stories, Jewish foods and humor

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 54-57

Week 16

Apr. 26

The Jewish Holiday Cycle: Shavuot

The Book of Ruth

Affiliating with a new religion and community

Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 58-62

Week 17

May 3

Conversion Practicalities & Unanswered Questions

An Open Forum

Preparing for the Conversion Ceremony

Selecting Hebrew Names


Hebrew Reishit Binah, pp. 63-66

Week 18

May 10

Brit Milah (men), Mikveh, Bet Din, Conversion Ceremony

No Class – May 17 is Shavuot, Day 1 – service attendance

Week 19

May 24

Optional additional class:

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Welcoming Ceremony


Cost considerations for you:

  • Whichever Jewish books you will want to own for your library
  • Mikvah (ritual bath) fee
  • Brit Milah or Hatafat Dam Brit (for men)
  • Tallit, Kippot, Tefillin
  • Mezuzot, other Judaica
  • Candlesticks, Shabbat candles
  • Menorah
  • Wine, wine cup
  • Havdalah candle and spices