College of Jewish Studies

Hosted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein

Free and open to the community
The VBS College of Jewish Studies is made possible by grants from the Lill & Jess Beim Family Keruv Fund and the Harold M. Schulweis Institute

Ever wanted to take a great course on Jewish culture, history and topical subjects, taught by experts? Well this is it. The VBS College of Jewish Studies offers Jewish adults an experience of university-level learning without homework, tests, sororities or football

Each year a different area of focus is selected, and our Rabbis, along with their guest speakers, provide us with insights and history that is just wonderful. And did we mention the cost - none!


2018-2019 Cirriculum
"Conversations with God"

Where do we find God in our world? In the beauty and order and majesty of creation? Or in the moral imperative to care, to act and to heal? The search for a sense of God's presence is at the heart of Jewish spiritual life. So many of us have not asked these questions since our childhood. What is a grown-up idea of God? What difference does it make in everyday life? 

This year, our College of Jewish Studies is devoted to personal theology -- find our way to God. We will explore the ways the historical Jewish tradition understood God -- the Bible, the Talmud, and the mystical tradition. And we will meet contemporary God-thinkers, whose new ideas are startling and deep. 

Join us Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. for a journey of faith and discovery here at VBS.

October 10

"Where is God Hiding?"
Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Ph.D., Senior Rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom

October 17 + 24

dsc_5003-1.jpgRabbi Marc Gellman, Ph.D.
Rabbi Marc Gellman was the youngest Reform Rabbi ever ordained by the Hebrew Union College, completing the five year program in two years of residency. He holds an earned doctorate from the Department of Philosophy at Northwestern University where he also served as the Hillel Director. He is presently the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Torah, in Melville New York where he served as senior rabbi since 1981. He wrote “The Spiritual State” a weekly column for, and now writes “The God Squad” a nationally syndicated column of religious advice for Tribune Media. He teaches at Wilshire Boulevard Temple and interrupts Rabbi Feinstein regularly during his weekly Torah class.

Rabbi Gellman served as an adjunct professor of philosophy and theology at the Hebrew Union College Rabbi Gellman has published many scholarly articles in academic journals like The Journal of Current Psychiatric Therapies and The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine. He has lectured at Duke University, the Harvard Medical School, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, American Jewish University, and many other academic institutions. He delivered the Rudin Lecture at Jewish Theological Seminary. He was the Chairman of the Jewish Medical Ethics Committee of the UJA Federation of New York and was an editor of its compendium of Jewish Medical Ethics. He also writes for Golf Digest and is a member of their ranking panel.

Rabbi Gellman was a contributing editor of Moment Magazine, opening up the field of modern midrashim for adults and children. His award winning book of midrashim for children, “Does God Have A Big Toe? Stories about stories in the Bible” has been called by Professor Isa Aron, “The greatest Jewish children’s book ever written.”

In 1987 with Father Tom Hartman, Rabbi Gellman formed “The God Squad”. They appeared regularly as religion correspondents for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and on the Imus in the morning program. They also hosted their own syndicated interfaith cable program and lectured widely. They are the authors of several books including the Christopher Award winning “Where Does God Live?” Their HBO special, “How Do You Spell God?” was awarded the George Foster Peabody Award. The readers of Newsday voted Rabbi Gellman and Monsignor Hartman as the most important leaders and activists on Long Island in the last century. The Touchstone Pictures film, “Keeping the Faith” is based on their friendship.

Rabbi Gellman was the President of the New York Board of Rabbis during the 9/11 attacks and delivered one of the three keynote speeches at the “Rally for America” at Yankee Stadium.

October 31

"The God We Meet in the Bible"
Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Ph.D., Senior Rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom

November 7

"The God We Meet in the Talmud"
Professor Barry Wimpfheimer, Northwestern University, Weinberg College

November 14 + 28

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement

December 5
December 12

Reverend Najuma Smith-Pollard, Vice President, American Jewish University

January 9

Professor Daniel Matt, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley


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