Dear Friends,

In our Center for Jewish Life we endeavor to bring you inspired thinkers who engage in issues that are of vital importance to Jews and to our world. Reflecting on this year’s program, I am enthusiastic about the wide variety of voices we have included as well as the eclectic personal stories and perspectives.

You will hear:

  • Two of America’s celebrated legal minds examine the issues before the Supreme Court
  • A White House speechwriter’s Jewish discovery
  • The story of the world’s only one-armed special forces sharpshooter and  the harrowing account of a man who fled the famine of Ethiopia and now devotes his life to helping other Ethiopian Jews in Israel

You will:

  • Meet a Palestinian who grew up on the Gaza Strip and hear his moving story about survival, hope, and the pursuit of peace
  • Examine the reciprocal impact of the Persian Jewish Community on Los Angeles forty years after the revolution in Iran
  • Engage with an expert on marriage
  • Experience a concert with violins, violas, and cellos, some of which were played by Jewish inmates in Nazi concentration camps and were recently painstakingly restored. Violins of Hope comes to LA in March.

We offer over twenty classes (many taught by Stephen Wise Temple clergy), opportunities to become an adult bar or bat mitzvah (an extraordinary experience), expanded museum visits, and much more.

Ten years ago the Center inaugurated our branch of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. The response of our community went beyond expectations. Today our school is among the largest of any synagogue-based Melton school in the United States. Melton is an experience. Just ask the students.

What lies ahead are opportunities to learn and grow, to elevate Jewish thought and practice, to embrace your community, and to celebrate the gifts of Judaism.

I hope we have inspired your curiosity and we will see you often in the coming year.

Sincerely,

Rabbi David Woznica
Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin Rabbinic Chair
Stephen Wise Temple

Lectures & Dialogues


Men, Marriage, and Masculinity: Reflections on Intimacy, Fatherhood and Career
Dr. Jeffrey Marsh

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

Men face unique issues in becoming husbands and fathers. The challenges of balancing work, marriage, and fatherhood can be daunting, and many marriages face a significant drop in satisfaction during the child-rearing years. Couples frequently don’t have the same level of conversation and communication they once shared. When communication suffers, intimacy suffers as well. Dr. Jeffrey Marsh will offer insights into how to keep marriage vibrant and elevate the marital bond through meaningful communication between spouses. It is possible to enhance passion, pleasure, and joy throughout all of the stages of family development by finding new ways to be more present for your spouse and children while balancing the complex stresses of ordinary life.

Dr. Jeffrey Marsh is a psychologist in private practice specializing in working with individuals, couples, and families from adolescence to old age. He pioneered the father/child programs at Stephen Wise Temple over 30 years ago and continues to facilitate a private group that began as a spinoff—a group that has been running uninterrupted for over three decades. The group has been running uninterrupted for over three decades. Dr. Marsh is married and is the father of three adult sons. 

$15: Stephen Wise Temple members
$20: General Public


Violins of Hope
The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony

Dr. Noreen Green, Artistic Director
Lindsay Deutsch, Violin

Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the
Performing Arts California State University, Northridge

Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7 p.m.

The Violins of Hope is a collection of violins, violas, and cellos rescued from the Holocaust and restored by Israeli luthiers Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom.  Included is a violin played in the Auschwitz orchestra as well as one used on the Kindertransport. Some were played by Jewish inmates in Nazi concentration camps; others belonged to the Klezmer musical culture. These instruments were silenced by the Holocaust.

Violins of Hope Los Angeles opens on March 22 with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and captivating violinist Lindsay Deutsch. Deutsch will be playing one of the finest of the rescued violins, performing Schindler’s List Suite, Ernest Bloch’s Baal Shem Suite, and Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra by Sid Robinovitch.

This unforgettable evening will commemorate the 75th year since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps and honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of the Nazis.

A limited number of premium orchestra seats are being held at a special rate for the Stephen Wise Temple group on a first come, first served basis. We encourage you to purchase as soon as possible.

$95: Stephen Wise Temple members
$109: General Public


Yossi Klein Halevi in Dialogue
with Rabbi David Woznica

AIPAC @ Wise

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, an acclaimed author and frequent op-ed contributor. His most recent book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, is a heartfelt plea for peace and new dialogue based on common ground in faith. This evening coincides with the transition from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut—important days for Israelis and Jews all over the world. With the holidays serving as background, Rabbi Woznica will engage Mr. Klein Halevi on the wide-ranging issues confronting Israel, America, and Diaspora Jewry.

Rabbi Woznica has conducted over 75 public dialogues with noteworthy intellectuals and world leaders.

AIPAC @ Wise is presented by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in partnership with Stephen Wise Temple.

Courses

Classes offered by the Center for Jewish Life deepen knowledge, engagement, and intellect. These opportunities range from three-week seminars with Wise clergy to semester-long adult education courses that open the door to the Hebrew language, traditional texts, Jewish arts and culture, and much more.

There is no charge for these classes.

Mini-Courses with Clergy:

Become An Adult
Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Cantor Emma Lutz

Informational Meeting
November 5, 2019 | 7 p.m.

When a Jew reaches the age of 13, he or she becomes a bar or bat mitzvah, literally a “son” or “daughter” of the commandments. Some, however, did not have the opportunity or privilege at 13 to be formally called to the Torah. Becoming a bar or bat mitzvah as an adult gives one the opportunity to seize a special moment in life. Many choose to mark a special anniversary or to honor the memory of a loved one by becoming an adult b’nai mitzvah. Connect with an intimate group of learners by becoming part of our Adult B’nai Mitzvah program. After the initial informational meeting, studies will begin in spring 2020 and the program will culminate with a Shabbat service led by the cohort in late 2020.

Please contact Cantor Emma Lutz at ELutz@WiseLA.org or at 310.889.2270 to learn more.

Learning in Your Neighborhood

Members of Stephen Wise Temple are invited to study with fellow members at a home in their neighborhood. All members of the congregation will receive an invitation along with registration information by email later this year.

There is no pre-registration.

We Were Strangers in a Strange Land: Jewish Texts on Immigration and Welcoming the Stranger in a Real World Context of Enormous Complexity
Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback

Millions of migrants and refugees are moving about the globe today, searching for safety. Jews know that experience personally and collectively. What do our traditions teachings about welcoming strangers suggest to us about dealing with the refugee crisis and immigrants today? Are there limits to the obligation to welcome the stranger? How do we balance the need to show mercy and compassion for refugees with very real security and economic concerns? In addition to these questions, we will share our own stories of how we ended up on these shores.

Two Encounters in Genesis
Rabbi David Woznica

The account of Cain and Abel and the Binding of Isaac (when God tells Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice) are among the most chilling incidents in the Torah.  In the twelve verses of the Cain and Abel encounter we confront sibling rivalry, human nature, freedom of choice, and more. In the Binding of Isaac we try to understand God’s demand of Abraham, the role of faith, and many other lessons of this memorable encounter.

Join Rabbi Woznica as we dive into two of the most memorable stories in the Torah and their enduring messages for us today.

Synagogue Music
Cantor Nathan Lam

Learn the connection between the music of the synagogue and the spirituality of our tradition.

Sheaves of What?: Counting
the Omer as a Spiritual Practice

Rabbi Sari Laufer

The days between Passover and Shavuot are counted as the Omer. Originally merely an agricultural practice, together we will explore ways to use this time for self-reflection and personal growth in a modern context.

Why We Do What We Do
Rabbi Ron Stern and Rabbi Joshua Knobel

What do Jews believe? What are the origins of the laws of kashrut? When did Judaism start to believe in life after death? Why haven’t Wise congregants heard that much about the afterlife from the clergy? What’s the oldest modern Jewish denomination?

This class will uncover some of the mysteries and myths of Jewish life and gain a deeper understanding of why some Jews do or do not engage in certain practices.

Ongoing Study Sessions

Join us for these ongoing opportunities to study with clergy members in group discussions full of lively conversation, facilitated discussion, and deep learning of ancient texts.

These are drop-in classes—attend when you wish.

For more information or to notify us of attendance in advance contact our clergy office at 310.889.2272.

The Wisdom of the Sages
Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback

Wednesdays:
(unless otherwise noted) 12–1 p.m.

Study the stories and the teachings of the sages of the Babylonian Talmud. These teachings—dating back over 1500 years—have formed the foundation of Rabbinic Judaism and continue to have relevance for us today. By studying the stories and the teachings of our sages, we’ll learn more about ourselves, our tradition, and the values that are meant to elevate our day-to-day lives.

Bible Study Continues
Rabbi Ron Stern

Alternate Mondays
(unless otherwise noted): 9-10 a.m.

Join Rabbi Stern for a continuing deep dive into the intricacies of the Hebrew Bible. Viewed through the lens of modern scholarship, the Bible reveals the secrets of its authors as well as powerful insights into the value and meaning of ancient Jewish history for our own times. We’ll be starting from the beginning after 20 years of study! Now’s a great time to join us.


Explore the vast cultural offerings of Los Angeles through the expert lense of Mario M. Muller, Stephen Wise Temple Artist-in-Residence. This popular series of small group outings is back for 2019-20 and features smaller museums as well as larger spaces that capture the eclectic Los Angeles art scene: from photography to painting to sculpture and so much more.

Please note that some museum admission fees may apply.

Hauser and Wirth

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | 11 a.m.

This relatively new blue chip gallery opened in 2016 with 20,000 square feet of exhibition space and it always promises an exhibit demanding of attention and worthy of curiosity.

$15: Stephen Wise Temple members
$20: General Public
Street parking and nearby garages available.

Additional Classes

Join us for these ongoing opportunities to study with clergy members in group discussions full of lively conversation, facilitated discussion, and deep learning of ancient texts.

These are drop-in classes—attend when you wish.

For more information or to notify us of attendance in advance contact our clergy office at 310.889.2272.

Introduction to Judaism
Rabbi Sari Laufer and Wise Clergy

Sundays beginning
January 26, 2020 | 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Whether you are curious about or considering Judaism, or still looking to answer that question you’ve had since your days in religious school, Introduction to Judaism is a place to voice your questions, learn multiple perspectives, and discover what is most meaningful to you in liberal Judaism.

Open to all, this course is perfect for interfaith couples, those raising Jewish children, spiritual seekers, individuals considering conversion, and Jews who want a meaningful adult Jewish learning experience. Taught by Rabbi Sari Laufer, students will have a chance to learn from members of the Stephen Wise Temple clergy and other guest teachers while exploring holidays, lifecycle celebrations, prayer, theology, sacred texts, and much more.

Questions are encouraged and only curiosity is required.

Please contact Rabbi Sari Laufer by email at SLaufer@WiseLA.org or by phone at 310.889.2229 to learn more.

$280: Stephen Wise Temple members
$360: General Public


Classical Intermediate Hebrew

Alisa Lottati, American Jewish University

Mondays: October 28–December 16 | 6:45–9 p.m. 

This course is for students who completed Beginning Hebrew 1 and 2 or have sufficient knowledge of Hebrew.

$284 plus $25 book fee
Register online at AJU.edu/Hebrew or by phone at 310.440.1572

To learn more about these Hebrew classes contact the Hebrew department of American Jewish University by phone at 310.476.9777 or by email at Hebrew@AJU.edu.

Stephen Wise Temple is pleased to present these Hebrew courses in partnership with the American Jewish University’s Whizin Center.


Mussar might best be described as “Jewish spiritual ethics” and has been practiced for centuries to cultivate and strengthen qualities of the inner mensch. Mussar offers a Jewish path that can help you find your way toward becoming your best self and help our community to reach a higher potential.

For questions, please contact Rabbi Karen Strok at KStrok@WiseLA.org

Introduction to Mussar
Rabbi Karen Strok

Fridays: October 25, 2019–May 1, 2020 | 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Mussar might best be described as “Jewish spiritual ethics” and has been practiced for centuries to cultivate and strengthen qualities of the inner mensch. Mussar offers a Jewish path that can help you find your way toward becoming your best self, and our community to reach a higher potential.

In this course called “Seeking Everyday Holiness”, our small study group becomes a caring community where we explore Jewish teachings about humility, gratitude, equanimity, patience, order, honor, and more. This journey, which takes place over several months, includes 11 small group meetings, private journaling exercises, and weekly spiritual practices.

Please contact Rabbi Karen Strok by email at KStrok@WiseLA.org or by phone at 310.889.2291 to learn more.

$590: Stephen Wise Temple members
$640: General Public

This class meets offsite.

Advanced Mussar
Rabbi Karen Strok

Fridays: September 20, 2019–April 24, 2020 | 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Students who have completed the “Seeking Everyday Holiness” and “Inner Ladder” courses are eligible to take this higher level course called “Seasons of Mussar.”  We will enhance our Mussar practice by spending time examining the middot (character traits) of patience, anger, forgiveness, simplicity, strength, and faith. At this higher level, more advanced Mussar practices are added to the program, including Cheshbon Ha’nefesh, or “accounting of the soul,” which involves both daily recitation of phrases and keeping a journal. In our third year of Mussar study, we will continue to develop as individuals and as a sacred community.

Please contact Rabbi Karen Strok by email at KStrok@WiseLA.org or by phone at 310.889.2291 to learn more.

$485: Stephen Wise Temple members
$535: General Public

This class meets offsite.


The award-winning Melton School of Stephen Wise Temple’s Center for Jewish Life is one of the largest synagogue-based Melton Schools in the United States. We take pride in our distinguished faculty and that the overwhelming majority of our students continue from year to year. One of the unique features of our school is the intentional creation of supportive communities in each class.

To register or learn more about Melton please contact our Melton School Director, Rabbi Karen Strok by email at Melton@Wisela.org or by phone at 310.889.2291.

Jews in America: Insiders and Outsiders and From Sinai to Seinfield: Jews and Their Jokes

Tuesdays: October 29, 2019–March 31, 2020 | 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Jews in America: What are the challenges of Jewish acculturation to American life? What sacrifices and contributions have been made over the past 200 years?

From Sinai to Seinfeld: Treating Jewish jokes as text, we will analyze and interpret the evolving concerns, styles, rhythms, preoccupations, and values of the Jewish people that lie buried deep in words that make us laugh as Jews, and that bond us as a people.

$675: Stephen Wise Temple members
$775: General Public

Medical Ethics: A 21st Century Discussion
and Ethics of Jewish Living

Tuesdays: October 29, 2019–March 31, 2020
10–11:30 a.m. or 7–8:30 p.m.

This class is devoted to examining how Jewish teachings shed light on contemporary medical ethical issues like human cloning, surrogate motherhood, genetic identity, and other modern issues like social media, war, and artificial intelligence.

$575: Stephen Wise Temple members
$675: General Public

Bereshit (Genesis) Part I: From Adam to Abraham: The First 20 Generations and
Bereshit (Genesis) Part II—The Story of the
First Jewish Family

Wednesdays: October 23, 2019–March 25, 2020 | 10-11:30 a.m.
or:
Thursdays: September 5, 2019–May 7, 2020 | 8:30–10 a.m.
(for parents of young children)

Bereshit I: An exploration of the  themes of family and faith, honor and dishonor, passion and power provide a rich exploration of our people and ourselves.

Bereshit II: These stories of sibling rivalry, wrestling with an angel, palace seduction, rape, and reconciliation provide some of the most dramatic and iconic images that reverberate across the millennia.

Wednesdays: October 23, 2019–March 25, 2020 | 10-11:30 a.m.
or, for parents of young children:
Thursdays: September 5, 2019–May 7, 2020 | 8:30-10 a.m.

$575: Stephen Wise Temple members
$675: General Public

From Sinai to Seinfield: Jews and Their Jokes
and Ethics of Jewish Living

Thursdays: October 24, 2019–April 2, 2020 | 10-11:30 a.m.

From Sinai to Seinfeld: Treating Jewish jokes as text, we will analyze and interpret evolving concerns, styles, rhythms, preoccupations, and values of the Jewish people that lie buried deep in words that make us laugh as Jews, and that bond us as a people.

Ethics of Jewish Living: How Jewish teachings shed light on contemporary ethical issues like social media, war, and artificial intelligence.

$575: Stephen Wise Temple members
$675: General Public

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Thursdays: September 12, 2019–October 3, 2019 | 10-11:30 a.m.

Explore multiple Jewish approaches to some very difficult, timeless questions: Is there such a thing as a miracle? When do miracles happen, and when do they not? What must one do to deserve a miracle? Is everything that happens meant to be? This course takes a look at the notion of miracles through the eyes of the sages as well as those of modern thinkers.

$120: Stephen Wise Temple members
$140: General Public

Past Events