Adult Education Newsletter (April 2013)

On Sunday, March 3 the Temple Sinai Adult Education Committee organized a visit to the Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford. Our intention was to view an exhibit of photographs that depicted the variety of people residing in the land of Israel today.

When we arrived at the museum we were suprised to see that the photography exhibit was much smaller than we had anticipated; but what truly surprised and impressed us was the museum’s large collection of artifacts from archeological digs in Israel. Philip Gottlieb, docent and archeology enthusiast, spoke to us at length about the work that Professor Richard Freund of the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies has done in the Middle East and especially at the dig at Bethsaida, an ancient fishing village located close to the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was an important site along the ancient trading route. Historians knew of Bethsaida and were looking for it for 1600 years but discovered it only 33 years ago. It was fascinating to hear the story of Bethsaida and to view the ancient pottery, tools, and household items that Professor Freund brought back to the university. We all left the exhibit feeling that we had seen and learned about something very special.

The Adult Education Committee has many more wonderful events that we hope we can share with many congregants. On Sunday, April 28, there will be a book discussion and a light breakfast at 9:00AM. The book we will be discussing is My Father’s Paradise. Newington Public Library is holding five copies of the book for Temple Sinai members. Starting on March 28 you can borrow the book if you mention that it’s for the Temple Sinai book club. Here is a synopsis provided by

“In a remote and dusty corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an ancient community of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. In the 1950s, after the founding of the state of Israel, Yona and his family emigrated there with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq — one of the world’s largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Kurdish Jews’ exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction. Yona, who became an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people’s traditions. But to his first-generation American son Ariel, Yona was a reminder of a strange immigrant heritage on which he had turned his back — until he had a son of his own. My Father’s Paradise is Ariel Sabar’s quest to reconcile present and past. As father and son travel together to today’s postwar Iraq to find what’s left of Yona’s birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, telling his family’s story and discovering his own role in this sweeping Saga.

“What he finds in the Sephardic Jews’ millennia-long survival in Islamic lands is an improbable story of tolerance and hope. Populated by Kurdish chieftains, trailblazing linguists, Arab nomads, devout believers — marvelous characters all — this intimate yet powerful book uncovers the vanished history of a place that is now at the very center of the world’s attention.”

On Saturday September 28, 2013, all Temple Sinai members are invited to experience a Shabbaton at Winding Trails in Farmington, CT. There will be a price of $12 per person with a limit of $30 per family. This will be an exciting experience of Torah study, prayer, hiking, personal reflection and spirituality activities and of course some wonderful food. There will be many more details to follow in the near future. Space is limited and you may Contact Joyce Sturm at (860)561-1055 or via email new-message24 to reserve a spot.

Aaron Reich, Adult Education Chair new-message24