Jewish Life & Learning Classes for Adults

JCC Austin represents an aspect of the Jewish community, which our members define in very personal ways. To stay informed about great JLL programs, make sure you're receiving the Limmudnik E-news.  If you have questions or would like additional information about any of these Jewish Life & Learning, classes contact Aliza Orent at (512) 735-8030.

The Mysteries of the 613 Commandments with Sandy Kress, three series of classes. Tuesdays 12-1:30 PM $18/set or $50 for all three sets (each set consists of three classes)

By tradition, there are 613 commandments, or mitzvot, in the Hebrew Bible. For Jews, these mitzvot - taken together - inform the life by which God calls us to live.  Jews have all sorts of differing ideas about which of these mitzvot should actually be followed and how. But rarely do we give them a fresh look to study and discuss how they might give guidance to how we live in our own time. This session will attempt to begin that discussion in our community by exploring a way of examining the mitzvot as classified by Maimonides. Taught by Sandy Kress. This is a lunch and learn, please bring only dairy, parve or veggie.

Series 1 (set one): “Our Relationship with God”: February 24, March 2, 9 at Temple Beth Shalom, 7300 Hart Lane

Series 2 (set two):  “Our Relationship with Others”: March 23, 30, April 6 at Congregation Beth El, 8902 Mesa Dr.

Series 3 (set three): “The Requirements of Justice” : April 20, 27, May 4 at Congregation Agudas Achim, 7300 Hart Lane

$18/set or $50 for all three sets.

Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home         Adults

In Uncovered, Leah Lax tells her story–beginning as a young teen who left her liberal, secular home for life as a Hasidic Jew and ending as a forty-something woman who has to abandon the only world she’s known for thirty years in order to achieve personal freedom. Lax details her experiences with arranged marriage, fundamentalist faith, and motherhood during her years with the Hasidim, and explores how her creative, sexual, and spiritual longings simmer beneath the surface throughout her time there. The first memoir to tell of a gay woman who spent years in the Hasidic fold, Uncovered is the moving story of Lax’s journey toward finding a home where she truly belongs. Facilitated by Author Neena Husid and co-sponsored by Keshet Austin and Austin Jewish Book Fair.  Meets in Community Hall Stage Side.

T I 7-8:30 PM I 2/16 I 1x I $0m/$0nm I BF1103F16

 From Sinai to Seinfeld: The History of Jewish Humor     Adults

A treasure of irresistible jokes provides the organizing principle for a presentation of ten major themes in Jewish history-- from the Israelite relationship with God to the growing divide between cultural and religious Judaism in the early 21st century.  The course demonstrates that the most resonant Jewish jokes are deeply revealing sign posts along our Jewish journey. Treating Jewish jokes as text, the course invites students to 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. Taught by Rabbi Alan Freedman

February 1- April 1 no class March 14 . 6:30-8 PM; $45 book; $30 e-reader. Fee for class: Melton Grads: $140; All others: $160 Room 236

M I 6:30-8 PM I 2/1-4/11 I 10x I $140 Melton Graduates/$160 All Others & $45 Student Reader or $30 e-reader I JE4164

Israeli Folkdance          All Ages
Come be a part of the community. Israeli Dance is more than just fitness; it is socialization, dancing and being a part of what is happening worldwide. When you learn Israeli Dance, you can go anywhere in the world and dance the same dances. Led by Teresa Pomerantz. Get ready to learn and have fun doing it. All levels are welcome. For more information contact Teresa Pomerantz at 903-513-4095 or Meets in the Dance Studio. 

T I 7-9:30 PM I ongoing I $5m, students and seniors / $7nm per class Drop in.

 Jewish Literature and Thought During the Middle Ages in Christian Spain        Adults

This lunch and learn class will provide a general synopsis of the major streams of Jewish thought during the 13th and 14th centuries in Christian Spain, and an overview of the genres of literature that Hispanic Jews were most fond of during this time period. Major themes in Shem Tov in Ardutiel’s “Moral Proverbs” (Proverbios morales) will be presented as well. Led by Janie Zackin, PhD. Bring a dairy or vegetarian lunch. Meets in Room 150D.
T I 12:10-1:10 PM I 2/9 I 1x I $0m/$0nm I JE4166

Midrash and the Ten Sephirot         Adults
Rabbi Monty Eliasov presents a novel, accessible, and user-friendly approach in which basic teachings of Kabbalah can be found in the TaNaCh, as viewed through the eyes of the early Rabbis in the Midrash Rabbah, and as were later cryptically encoded in the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation, the earliest ‘official’ book on Kabbalah). Copies of texts provided by teacher. Please bring your own Tanach. Hebrew is NOT required for this class as all Hebrew will be transliterated. Meets in Room 227. 5 Thursdays.
Th I 7-8:15 PM I 3/3-3/31 I 5x I $70 Melton Grads / $80 All Others I JE4167

Rosh Chodesh Celebrations Adults and Teens

The first of each Jewish month, the celebration of the new moon, is a day historically associated with women’s renewal and celebration. In recent decades, Rosh Chodesh, has become an occasion for Jewish women to gather for learning, ritual, spiritual exploration, and to mark life passages. ( This year, women from various communities have come together to create a new Rosh Hodesh group open to all Jewish women in Austin. This is a new opportunity for women to meet in a Jewish cultural milieu and enhance their knowledge, spiritual growth and creativity. Join us each month with this unique opportunity to study and celebrate together. Led by women clergy and lay leaders. Locations and dates will fluctuate. For more information, contact Ilene Gray at Meets in various locations in the Austin area.
Dates and times vary I 1x a month 

Tuning into the Text as Trees in the Field          Adults

Rabbi Morey Schwartz, Director of Education for the Florence Melton Schools, a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presents an inspiring hour of text study and song, entitled “As Trees in the Field.” Through a combination of exciting text study, and the illumination of these texts through music and song, participants will experience an inspiring program aimed at reawakening our understanding of the significance of the land of Israel in framing the rhythm of Jewish life, wherever we live. New insights into ancient texts will provide instructive and particularly contemporary ideas related to the annual celebration of Tu Bishvat. This is a workshop for adults who are looking to find profound meaning in Jewish texts and practices, to discover concepts buried deep in our ancient texts, and to breathe into them brand new, innovative and contemporary relevance.This is a lunch and learn event. Please bring only vegetarian or dairy lunch items.  Meets in Congregation Agudas Achim History Room.
T I 12:10-1:10 PM I 1/26 I 1x I $0m/$0nm I JE4168