Schwartz/Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning

The Gerald Schwartz/Heather Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning at Holy Blossom Temple

Holy Blossom Temple is as much a House of Study as a House of Worship. Our Gerald Schwartz/Heather Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning reflects this, affording our members, and the larger Toronto Jewish Community, the opportunity to come together for major public lectures which address the important issues of our day. The Centre also provides the opportunity to study in smaller groups and classes — everything from the Bible to Rabbinic Texts; from Jewish Literature to Jewish History; from how to make Jewish marriage work to how to raise Jewish children of strong character.

The Gerald Schwartz/Heather Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning at Holy Blossom Temple is made available through the generosity of our members Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman. Gerry and Heather’s generosity reflects their belief in Holy Blossom Temple as a place of deep engagement in the larger issues of concern to the Jewish People. Gerry and Heather’s commitment reflects their belief that the synagogue is the central address in the Jewish Community.

Ongoing Learning

While our lectures are designed to draw larger numbers, our study classes are no less integral to the Schwartz/Reisman Centre. They reflect the character of Holy Blossom Temple as much as do our lectures: substantive and engaging at the same time, open to all regardless of the level of Jewish learning.

We offer many ongoing classes, providing our members the opportunity to study sacred texts in depth. These classes, designed for the adults in our community, encourage each of our members to move from one level of learning to another. This enables each of us to slowly build a foundation of Jewish learning.

For more information on our Gerald Schwartz/Heather Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning at Holy Blossom Temple, please send an email to Debbie Spiegel or call (416) 789-3291, ext.239.


The Adult Learning News Archive

The Sweet Sound of Music: High Holy Day Trope

Lindi Rivers

Click image above to enlarge Wednesdays, November 12 - 26, 2014 7:30 p.m. With Lindi Rivers, Cantorial Soloist Now that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are behind us, come and learn High Holy Cantilation! Perhaps you can become one of our Torah or Haftarah chanters on the High Holy Days. Bring your friends and let’s enjoy this beautiful trope together. RSVP to Lindi Rivers at 416-789-3291 ext. 252. Read more »

The Lost Matriarch: What Really Happened on Leah’s Wedding Night?


Click image above for more details Jerry Rabow, author Wednesday, October 28, 2014 – 7:30 p.m. A resident of California, we welcome Jerry Rabow for an interesting conversation and a look at some of the unique interpretations of the Torah text - the relationship between Jacob and Leah, Jacob and Rachel and Jacob and Laban, the girls’ father. We will even have a chance to write our own midrash….our own story, about what might have really Read more »

Great Jewish Books


Click image above for more details Join us on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. as Cynthia Good begins her class on Great Jewish Books. The first novel, is  The Afterlife of Stars by Joe Kertes (Canadian) Award winning author Joe Kertes provides an intriguing sequel to his novel Gratitude with this story of Robert, age 9.8 and his older brother Attila. The Beck family flee Hungary in 1956, escaping to the Paris townhouse of great-aunt Read more »

Learn to Read Hebrew: Hebrew for Beginners


Click image above for more details Is Hebrew something you always wanted to learn, but “didn’t have the time” – or thought you “couldn’t do it”? This is your chance. Join our master teacher – Dalia Alalouf, who has been teaching children and adults of all ages over the past “many” years. Dalia is Holy Blossom Temple! She can make it happen for you Please contact Dalia and join her for her class on Mondays, October 27-November Read more »

The Lost Matriarch: Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash


Click image above for more details Tuesday, October 28 - 7:30 p.m. Jerry Rabow, author. The Lost Matriarch offers a unique response to the sparse and puzzling biblical treatment of the matriarch Leah. Although Leah is a major figure in the book of Genesis, the biblical text allows her only a single word of physical description and two lines of direct dialogue. The Bible tells us little about the effects of her lifelong struggles in an apparently Read more »

Library Book Club begins again!

Between Gods by Alison Pick

November 9, 2014 Marrying Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris Nineteen year old Chani, from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in London, England, is learning from the rabbi’s wife, Rivka, about what she needs to know as a Jewish wife. Of course, questions arise and draw us in to this story that ultimately, revolves around choice Between Gods by Alison Pick December 14, 2014 A Guide For the Perplexed  by Dara Horn This book is set in modern day Read more »

What Don’t We Talk about When We Focus on Israel's Security

Anat Hoffman

Anat Hoffman Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center. Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 7:30 p.m. Officials representing the state of Israel often focus on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Focusing on the conflict with Israel's neighbors distracts people from exploring some of the conflicts that rock Israeli society from within such as women's rights, religious pluralism, racism against minorities and struggles for freedom Read more »

Stolen Art of the Holocaust

The Secret Life of Max Stern

The Secret Life of Max Stern Sara Angel, Trudeau Doctoral Scholar Department of Art, University of Toronto, will present Stolen Art of the Holocaust. Sara has actively been researching this topic for many years and has recently published an article in The Walrus this week on Max Stern – the subject of her talk on Wednesday, October 29 at 7:30 pm. Please join us for this thoughtful and stimulating conversation. Please click here to Read more »

Great Jewish Books

Cynthia Good

Cynthia Good Cynthia Good, Professor Emeritus, Humber College. Tuesdays, October 7 - October 28, 2014 - 10:00 a.m. We will look at two of Cynthia’s favourite books. In The Afterlife of Stars, Joe Kertes, provides an intriguing sequel to his novel Gratitude. The Beck family flees Hungary in 1956, escaping to the Paris, for a seeming journey of adventure, but minefields both real and imagined confront them. The darkness of life is balanced Read more »

The Real Israel - Without the Hype, Slogans or Spin.

Jim Lederman

Jim Lederman Jim Lederman, Senior Middle East analyst for Oxford Analytica Wednesday, September 17, 2014 – 7:30 p.m. Jim Lederman is the longest-serving foreign correspondent in Jerusalem. In a career stretching over four decades, he has been a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, and The New York Post. At Holy Blossom Temple 1950 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5P 3K4 Read more »

Yiddish lovers at HBT: The Chaim and Inna Grade Archive


By Rabbi Edward Goldfarb. Imagine that a hitherto unknown cache of unpublished manuscripts and correspondence of Ernest Hemingway had just been discovered. The interest in the scholarly community and the public would be enormous. Hemingway was a giant. Chaim Grade, pronounced Grah'de was such a giant of Yiddish literature. He died in 1982 and his widow was determined to protect his legacy. Unfortunately she became increasingly reclusive, and when Read more »

Preparing for the High Holy Days

Rabbi Jordan Helfman

Click to enlarge Get your Rosh (head) Ready; prayer of Rosh Hashanah Rabbi Jordan Helfman Tuesday September 16, 2014 7:30 p.m. The High Holy Day prayer book is like a mirror, showing us reflections of different parts of our being throughout this season of renewal.  “On Rosh Hashanah it is written,” according to the words of our Unetaneh Tokef piyyut.  Before we say these words in their place in the Rosh Hashanah service, come to get a Read more »

Observations From the Periphery

Holy Blossom Stories

Adult B’nai Mitzvah program - A peak experience. Bob Hodes, Temple member and Adult B’nei Mitzvah class graduate. ...All of us to whom Judaism, to whom being a Jew, has again become the pivot of our lives, we all know that in being Jews we must not give up anything, not renounce anything, but lead everything back to Judaism. From the periphery back to the centre, from the outside in... Franz Rosenzweig, 1919 - Siddur Pirchei Kodesh, page 532. Read more »

Shabbat Menucha: Notes from Abbot Stan

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Click image above for more details Last month Fr. Stan Gumula Abbot of Mepkin Abbey near Charleston South Carolina shared a shabbat teaching session with Rabbi Splansky. The topic was the spiritual root of silence.  Several congregants have inquired after notes from that session. Fr. Stan has graciously offered them for our website. To download notes from the session Shabbat Menucha, please click here. Read more »

Shavuot 5774

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Click image above for more details Tuesday, June 3, 2014 Wednesday, June 4, 2014 Rabbi Michael Marmur is coming from Jerusalem to spend Shavuot with his family and with Holy Blossom Temple.  His captivating teaching style will draw us into the texts and closer to one another. And cheesecake, too!  Chag Sameach.  Calling all babies born into the congregation in the last year or two!   Parents and Grandparents are called to Read more »

Guided Chevruta: Hot Topics in Jewish Texts

Rabbi Jordan Helfman

Click image above for more details Rabbi Jordan Helfman Mondays, May 26-June 16, 2014 7:30 p.m. Join in the conversation on difficult questions of “Who is a Jew,”  intermarriage, sexuality and the environment.  Our guided study will be done in pairs, with different topics available for study each week. This chevruta ‘pairs study’ experience will be guided with framing questions and helpful hints in understanding the texts.  Come Read more »

Religion and Politics, Part 2: with Rabbi Michael Stroh

Rabbi Michael Stroh

Rabbi Michael Stroh Rabbi Michael Stroh. Thursdays, June 5-26 10:30 a.m. We will continue our discussion of religion and politics, particularly Judaism, highlighting Marxists and pacifists mugged by reality. Newcomers can take this course without having taken part 1. Read more »

Israel and Its Neighbours Facing the Upheaval in the Middle East

Professor Gabi Ben Dor

Professor Gabi Ben Dor Professor Gabi Ben Dor Monday, May 12, 2014 7:30 p.m. The face of the Middle East is changing rapidly.  The region is in the midst of a historical revolution, challenging the realities in existence for a century.  This creates unprecedented opportunities for Israel, but it also poses unprecedented and unpredictable threats and dangers.  All this takes place against the background of massive changes in the global balance Read more »

Scholar in Residence Weekend with Student Rabbi Pesach Stadlin

Student Rabbi Pesach Stadlin June 6 - 8, 2014. A spiritual teacher known for his personal devotion to living a life guided by Judaism and environmentalism, Student Rabbi Stadlin will help us connect our lives, through real experiences and sacred texts, to the amazing world around us. 6:00 p.m. on June 6, join us for a special Kaballat Shabbat with Student Rabbi Pesach Stadlin.  We are working with our friends at Annex Shul to make this Read more »

First Born Plague or Privilege; Birth Order and Parental Expectation

Noam Zion

Noam Zion What Bruce Springsteen Can Teach You About Raising Your Kids! Noam Zion, Senior Fellow, Hartman Institute for Learning. Wednesday, May 21, 2014. 7:30 p.m. We will have a close look at the dynamics of the First Family in Bible and the issue of Parental Expectations and Birth Order. Our study together will include texts which involve not only Bible and midrash, but also poetry, psychology and a song by Bruce Springsteen. Noam Read more »

Library Book Talks

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Click to enlarge Dr. Janna Nadler, Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson is a challenging - but important - novel about one man's struggles to survive and reinvent himself in a land - North Korea - where individuals are subject to the national identity. Though it reads like a dystopia, and has been likened to such classics as 1984 and Brave New World, The Orphan Master's Son offers a fictionalized Read more »

Baycrest Speaker’s Series Comes to HBT!


Join us on Tuesday April 29, 2013 for the second in our series of three programs – Baycrest Speaker’s Series. Our next program brings Dr. Angie Troyer. Dr. Troyer’s topic is Maximum Memory. Have you ever wondered, “where did I park my car”, “what is that woman’s name?” Is this type of memory loss part of normal aging or does it mean something more serious. What types or memory change are normal and what could indicate the Read more »

Video: The Future of Aboriginal Education with Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

By Dr. Harvey Schipper, President Thursday's extraordinary evening with the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin was, to me, an expression of the best of Holy Blossom. We welcomed an international figure and learned with him, not only about our Aboriginal community, but about a remarkable leader. We all knew of Mr. Martin as a politician, our Prime Minister.  We knew of him as the Finance Minister who restored Canada's financial standing during a very difficult Read more »

Third Night Social Justice Seder: Jewish / First Nations Cultural Exchange and Celebration


We are delighted to invite you to a special Social Justice Seder on the third night of Pesach! We will enjoy a meal together and share songs and stories, along with guests from the Aboriginal Canadian community. Together we will explore the themes of freedom, migration, oppression and overcoming adversity, while delighting in each other’s music, stories and company. We promise that you will leave feeling uplifted and knowing what we can do together Read more »

Harry and Blanche Posen Memorial Lectures 2014

Professor Gabi Ben Dor

May 12 & 14, 2014. ISRAEL AND ITS NEIGHBOURS FACING THE UPHEAVAL IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Professor Gabi Ben-Dor, University of Haifa, National Defense College. Monday, May 12, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. The Middle East is undergoing massive changes, the likes of which it has not witnessed for a century. New realities are being created by popular uprisings, regime changes, civil wars, countries imploding and new developments in the global balance Read more »