Zusia: The Bet Midrash

Come join us for transformative, inclusive, communal learning that opens doorways in both the mind and the heart.

Zusia is serious but playful study and is for all learners who are interested in examining the multi-faceted nature of Torah and Jewish culture. 

Each course is taught by an instructor with specialized knowledge and a passion for expressive and deep thought. Our bet midrash, literally “house of learning,” is currently being offered via Zoom.

Please contact Matthew Gindin with any questions: learning@orshalom.ca


Fall 2020 Zusia Course Offerings

This year, the first Zusia courses begin November 2020. See course descriptions below for details and course fees; Special rates for Or Shalom members.

Did you know? You’ll receive a charitable donation receipt for course fees.

Spinoza: Jewish Philosophy In The Time of Covid-19

Spinoza was among the most fearless of philosophers. He formed his thought both in tension with, and inspired by, his Jewish background. His vision of personal and communal ethics is as countercultural today as it was in the 17th century, and is still provoking revolutionary thought and action. In this 4 week online class we will look at Spinoza’s potent insights on joy, human flourishing and freedom, democracy, and community and how these can offer us guidance during our current moment of overlapping crises.

Matthew Gindin, Or Shalom’s Master Teacher, is a long time student of Spinoza’s thought. He has published articles on Spinoza in ​The Forward a​nd ​Science and Philosophy ​and has written a free online commentary on the first two books of Spinoza’s ​Ethics.

Instructor: Matthew Gindin
Prerequisite: None:
Dates: Tuesdays, November 3 – November 24, 2020
Time: 7-9 PM
Investment: Members $60; Non-Members $98

Register for Spinoza Now by clicking the image below.

Return to the Place: The Wisdom of Sefer Yetzirah

Sefer Yetzirah is an ancient and foundational work of Jewish mysticism. This brief and cryptic book imagines letters as the building blocks of the universe, focusing our attention on the components of space, time, and soul and the elements of air, fire, and water. Its goal is to allow adepts to contemplate, and even partake in, the Divine creative process. In this series, we will explore sections from the book closely as well as use images from the text to meditate and reflect on our own spiritual experience. ​In the worldview of the Sefer Yetzirah, we and all things are part of the One, and all we need to do is remember and return.

This course will consist of a series of three pre-recorded video lessons with downloadable text, online chevruta work in study assigned groups, and a final (4th) session that is an interactive webinar with Rabbi Hammer. 

Pre-recorded lessons can be viewed at your leisure. Chevrutas will meet online each Tuesday evening at the regular Zusia class time (7pm PST). On the final Tuesday, our session with Rabbi Hammer.

Purchase options:
Return to the Place (Ben Yehuda Press)
Return to the Place (Amazon.ca)

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, and the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. Her most recent book is titled ​Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah​.
She is also the author of ​Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women​, ​The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for all Seasons,​ ​The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership ​(with Taya Shere), ​Siddur haKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook​ (with Taya Shere) and ​The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries​.

Instructor: Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD
Prerequisite: None:
Dates: Tuesdays, November 3 – November 24, 2020
Time: 7-9 PM
Investment: Members $60; Non-Members $98
Registration Deadline: October 30, 2020. Registration is now closed.