Jewish Federation offers courses on Talmud, Mussar

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss (far left) and Cyndee Levy will teach CAJE courses starting in October.

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has two classes starting in October. To register for classes, or for more information, visit or contact Cyndee Levy at 314-442-3754 or [email protected]. Classes are held in the Federation building, 12 Millstone Campus Dr. Classes include:

Lunch and Learn: “The Oven of Akhnai: A Story and a Puzzle” — Maharat Rori Picker Neiss will lead this eight-session course taking place on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m., starting Oct. 21, at the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library, 12 Millstone Campus Dr. In recent years, the Oven of Akhnai has become a popular Talmudic story and exemplifies the Talmud’s way of teaching several lessons at once. One of its major themes is that Jewish religious decisions are made through majority rule, and no longer through divine revelation. However, another major theme is that abusing others, in this case dissenters, is an offense against God. This course will provide students with the opportunity to engage in Talmudic study within a group setting, pondering questions while searching for answers to complex issues of theology and human behavior. Participants will delve into this story (in English) with Picker Neiss, director of programming, education and community engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation. Participants may bring a brown bag lunch. Tuition is $80.

• “A Season of Mussar” class — A millennium-old Jewish tradition of personal spiritual development, Mussar is based in the texts and wisdom of Judaism. As a Jewish spiritual practice, Mussar offers insight and guidance for living by directing us to pay attention to the impact that our character traits (middot) have on our lives.  A Season of Mussar is a 13-week program that guides participants through a supervised course of Mussar learning and practice. Drawn from the Jewish tradition and developed for the modern learner by Alan Morinis, and made available through the Mussar Institute. Cyndee Levy is a certified facilitator through the Manchim facilitator training program of the Mussar Institute. Two classes are now forming: the first is from 11 to noon on Mondays, starting Oct. 12; the second is held from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays starting Oct. 21.  Tuition for each class is $136.