Lifelong Learning


The Rabbis’ Tisch is an alternative Erev Shabbat service held on the second Friday of every month. The program begins at 6:15 PM and includes a brief service, communal dinner, and program as noted below. Suggested donation is $18 per person to cover the cost of the catered meal.

October 10, 2014 – Jonathan Carey (Blue Star) – “Answering the 10 Toughest Questions about Israel”

Israel is often in the news – and much of the coverage can be downright critical (e.g., Israel as an uncaring bully in a lopsided conflict). However, the truth may not be so black and white. Come and find out the facts behind some of the toughest questions about Israel. Jonathan Carey is President of LegalVision and of the non-profit Blue Star. Since 1991, he has developed over 20,000 persuasive visuals designed to help attorneys win at trial. In 2003, Carey volunteered to help UCB Jewish students’ who feared to publically identify as Jewish due to the vitriol directed against Israel.

November 14, 2014 – CST Rabbis

CST clergy will explore the intersection of religion and politics in Judaism and congregational life.

December 12, 2014 – Jon Batzdorff – “Prosthetic Assistance and Cultural Sensitivity: Avoiding Unwanted Damage in Acts of Kindness”

The sheer quantity of humanitarian assistance efforts in disasters such as the Haitian earthquake was heartwarming and inspiring. However, it became clear to Jon that while some humanitarian activities provided dramatic benefits, others created problems for the local population. Jon is a practicing prosthetist and founder of the nonprofit ProsthetiKa, which is helping to repair the world one step at a time in places such as Bolivia, Mexico and Haiti. He also founded the Code of Conduct Project for Organizations Providing Rehabilitation Assistance Abroad to address “disruptive assistance.” Jon will illustrate his talk with photos of his work abroad.

January 9, 2015 – Farmers Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser – “Local Lessons on Lessening Climate Change”

Farmers Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser have received local and international recognition for their no-till, pollinator conservation and sustainable land management practices. Their farming style has been shown to lower greenhouse gases. Paul began his career in agroforestry working to convert degraded lands into economically viable and biologically diverse and resilient farmland. Elizabeth began her career in public health and continues to work with immigrant families in areas of nutrition, health, and self-sufficiency. Their farm, Singing Frogs Farm, delivers fresh, tasty and nutrient-rich veggie boxes to members of CST’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

February 13, 2015 – Ken Kanter – “We Jews on Broadway”

A sing-along history of the American Broadway musical from the 1890’s operettas of Sigmund Romberg through the ‘Roaring 20’s’ music of Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Jerome Kern, and Rodgers & Hart. Share Oklahoma’s “Beautiful Morning;” visit the “West Side Story” of Maria and Tony and Lower Manhattan of “Guys and Dolls.” From Fiddler’s Anatevka to Wicked’s Oz, we will sing of Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, and the great Broadway composers and lyricists of today! Kenneth A. Kanter is Associate Dean and Director of the Rabbinical School for the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rabbi Kanter is a popular lecturer and author of books and articles focusing on the Jewish contribution to American popular music from the 1840’s to the 1940’s. He has published or contributed to a number of books, including “The Jews on Tin Pan Alley, Jewish-American History and Culture,” and “The Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture.”

March 13, 2015 – CST Rabbis – “Preparing for Pesach.”

Join CST Clergy as we begin our preparation for celebrating the Exodus from Egypt through our Passover experience. Let’s get our palates in the spirit with a Haroset contest, so please bring your favorite version of Haroset to this Tisch for a tasting contest with many awards.

April 10, 2015 – Ben Benson-“Jewish Genes.”

May 8, 2015 – Nolan Gasser-“Musical Taste and the ‘Sound’ of Jewish Identity”

What is it about Jewish music that makes it sound Jewish? Why do we like it or, at least, identify with it? In this talk, Dr. Nolan Gasser will discuss the origins of our collective and individual musical taste, from a scientific, cultural and musicological standpoint. In particular, he will focus on Jewish music-from cantillation to klezmer-breaking it down musically and culturally with the aim of helping us to understand our historical and emotional connection to the music of our people. Dr. Nolan Gasser, a critically acclaimed composer, pianist and musicologist, is also an author, lecturer and professor. He is the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project and has been the company’s chief musicologist since its founding in 1999. Dr. Gasser’s original compositions have been performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Rose Bowl. Recent compositions include Sonoma Overture, which premiered at the opening of the Green Music Center, and his opera, The Secret Garden, which premiered at Zellerbach Hall and is currently touring throughout the USA. Dr. Gasser is also the author of the forthcoming book, Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste. Of special interest to Shomrei Torah members, Dr. Gasser performed at recent celebrations honoring our new Torah and Rabbi Gittleman’s Chai Weekend. He and his family are active members of CST.

June 12, 2015 – CST rabbis – “AIDS Quilt” and SAC speakers.


All classes are held on WEDNESDAYS unless otherwise noted.

Jewish Holiday Series Taught by Rabbi Gittleman and Rabbi Kramer Explore the deeper meaning behind the Jewish Holidays. We will study the basis of each holiday and how it is celebrated through ritual and food. • Hanukkah: Dec. 3, (7:00-8:30 pm) • Tu B’Shvat: Jan. 9, Tisch (6:15 pm), Friday • Purim: Feb. 18, (7:00-8:30 pm) • Pesach: Mar. 13, Tisch (6:15 pm), Friday • Shavuot : May 6, (7:00-8:30 pm)

Mourners Kaddish–What is it? Death and Mourning Rituals Oct. 15, 22, & 29: 12:00–1:30 pm. Taught by Rabbi Gittleman and Rabbi Kramer. When someone we love dies we feel bereft, bewildered and alone. Judaism offers a comforting and psychologically sound approach to “walking through the shadow” of death. This three-session class will introduce you to the Jewish response to death, the rituals and the meaning behind them.

“A Taste of Judaism™” Nov. 5, 12, 19: 7–8:30 pm Taught by Rabbi Gittleman, Rabbi Kramer and Cantor Frommer Ever wondered how you could invite your friends and family to experience a “taste” of Judaism without undue pressure? Here’s an answer! “A TASTE OF JUDAISM™: Are You Curious?” sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism. This is a three-session Outreach program open, free of charge, to the unaffiliated only–Jews or non-Jews–all are welcome (unfortunately, temple members are not eligible to enroll). Please take this opportunity to reach out to your extended family, future in-laws, neighbors and friends and offer them a “taste” of what makes Judaism so special.

Shalom Hartman Series – “The Tribes of Israel” Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11, 25, March 11: 7:00-8:30 pm Taught by Rabbi Gittleman and Rabbi Kramer CST Members $90, Non-Members $100. (Additional $20 fee for the course book.) This eight (8)-part video lecture and guided study series, led by senior Hartman Institute faculty members and CST clergy, confronts the challenge of creating a Jewish and democratic modern State of Israel—a shared common space for a people divided by different affiliations: religious, ideological, national and geographic.

Bay Area Community Jewish Philosophy Circle “The Eight Chapters” Mar. 18, 25, Apr. 1: 7:00–8:30 pm Taught by Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan of Lehrhaus Judaica CST Members $18, Non-Members $36 This class studies the work of Jewish medieval philosopher, Maimonides, through the introduction to his Commentary on Pirke Avot, called the “Eight Chapters,” in which Maimonides explains the psychology of ethical behavior through his knowledge of Torah, theology, and medicine. Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan is Senior Educator at Lehrhaus Judaica. He previously served Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco as Rabbi and educator for 20 years.

Responsa Literature May 13, 20, 27: 7:00-8:30 pm Taught by Rabbi Gittleman and Rabbi Kramer Imagine the year is 1100 C.E. and you are living in a small Jewish community in a remote part of what is now Yemen. The closest center of Jewish learning is a thousand miles away in what is now Cairo, Egypt. How do you answer questions about Jewish tradition, law and observance in the days before email and “Googling”? You would write a letter and send it by camel to the nearest rabbinic authority and await the response. To update the Jewish legal canon, Jewish authorities developed Responsa literature on almost every aspect of Jewish life from questions of kashrut to martyrdom! In this three-session class we will look at the Responsa phenomena from a historical perspective and study a few modern Responsa. While no previous knowledge is necessary, some knowledge of Jewish practices would be helpful.

One Bay One Book–Discussion of The Betrayers and an additional class in advance. Date/Time: TBD Discussion led by Rabbi Gittleman and Dr. Melissa Kort ONE BAY ONE BOOK is Jewish LearningWorks’ 3rd annual yearlong conversation connecting Bay Area readers through shared discussions and events centering around a single book for all Bay Area congregants. The book for 2014/2015 is The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis.

Intro to Reading Hebrew 2.0 Ten Saturdays–Oct. 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1, 15, 22, 29, Dec. 6, 13, 20: 1:00-2:30 pm Taught by Rabbi Gittleman, Rabbi Kramer, and Cantor Frommer This class is $150 for the ten sessions and all materials. This ten-session class will teach you the fundamentals of Hebrew reading as well as the structure and meaning of the Shabbat morning liturgy. It is designed for those who want to be able to follow the services in Hebrew. (This is a follow-up class for anyone who has previously taken our “Introduction to Reading Hebrew.”)

Calling all Shomrei Torah women:

Come and join our Rosh Chodesh women’s group. It is a custom for women to gather for celebration and sisterhood every month at the time of the new moon.  The meetings may be at a private home, or at an outdoor setting (under the actual moon!–weather permitting). Each month will focus on a specific Jewish spiritual theme (from Kabbalah, mussar (Jewish ethical teachings), or a Biblical source).  We will meditate, chant, sing, dance, study, and discuss in order to deepen our connection to the sacred, to ourselves, to each other and to the community. We hope you will join us!  Please contact: Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores (certified Jewish Spiritual Director) at or Rabbinic Pastor Judith Goleman at

Torah Study

…and Breakfast for the Hungry Hearted is held every Shabbat morning at 8:45AM in our Kolbo. All are welcome, of any age, including beginners to Torah study. Sessions are led by Rabbi George, Rabbi Kramer, and by lay leaders. The best opportunity for ongoing in-depth discussion of Torah and related writings.