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

Haaretz Editor-in-Chief, Aluf Benn, speaks on Religious Pluralism in Israel

Aluf Benn

Aluf Benn Wednesday, September 9, 2015 11:45 a.m. Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief of a leading Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, will speak to us about issues of religious pluralism in Israel. Marriage, conversion, non-Orthodox Judaism, and freedom of (and from) religion in the Jewish State are all topics that will be discussed. Opening remarks by DJ Schneeweiss, Consul General of Israel in Toronto. Cost: $10, Kashrut observed‎, RSVP to Read more »

Sisterhood Torah Study with Rabbi Jill Borodin

Rabbi Jill Borodin

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 Room 209, Holy Blossom Temple Rabbi Jill Borodin Rabbi Jill Borodin Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Shalom Seattle, Washington Holy Blossom Temple Sisterhood invites you to attend a lecture discussion with our guest, Rabbi Jill Borodin, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom, a Conservative Congregation, in Seattle Washington. Rabbi Borodin will lead a discussion as sourced in the Talmud titled: “Productive Read more »

You Can! Ukulele at Holy Blossom Temple


‘JEW’KULELE Susan Baskin, teacher & musician Sundays, October 25-December 13, 2015 12:30 p.m. -1:30 p.m. In 1915, when the ukulele was first introduced to people, it sparked the world’s first uke craze.  100 years later the uke craze is back --and it’s coming to Holy Blossom. Come on out and have some fun learning to play Jewish songs—old and new—on your uke.   The ukulele is a wonderful instrument for beginners and it is a Read more »

Toronto's Poverty Reduction Plan


God upholds the cause of the orphan and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing him/her with food and clothing. -- You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt --(Deut. 10:18-19). Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:30 p.m. Youth Chapel The City Council will soon be debating a poverty reduction plan. The Holy Blossom Temple Community, in conjunction with the inter-faith coalition Faith in the City, has the Read more »

Calling All Performers!


Do you play a musical instrument? Are you a singer or dancer? The Centre for Arts & Culture at Holy Blossom Temple is looking for adults and teen performers who would like to share their talents with the Holy Blossom Temple Community,  for evenings of  music, song, dance and conversation. If you are a performer, or know of any performers who would be interested in joining this illustrious HBT group, please contact Debbie Spiegel, Read more »

Aspirational Judaism

Adult B’nei Mitzvah class light Chanukah candles together

Class lights Chanukah candles together Join us for our new course, Aspirational Judaism (previously known as the Adult B’nei Mitzvah class). Our two-year journey is about the practices, philosophy, and history of Reform Judaism. During each year of the program, we will focus on Hebrew language – at whatever your level may be, from beginners to intermediates – we have an opportunity for everyone. The second hour of the class focuses on Read more »

Conversations About Jewish Life Then and Now

Jack Kugelmass

Jack Kugelmass Sisterhood Torah Study Jack Kugelmass, MSW, RSW Wednesdays, July 8 - August 26, 2015 9:30 a.m. Jewish life is arguably an ongoing odyssey of social, historical, religious, emotional and mythical elements that serve to both enrich the imagination and drive us crazy at the same time. Whether we are living in an era of Kingship, when David was enjoying military success and personal chaos, or now, when we recently learned Read more »

Deadline Extended! Holy Blossom Mentorship Program


We are proud to announce the inaugural group of the Holy Blossom Temple Mentorship Program.  We are extremely proud of our members and all that they do in all aspects of their lives – be it professional, volunteer, at home, or within the Jewish or secular communities. Holy Blossom has been called ‘the most influential synagogue in Canada’ and this program expands on that reputation to bring forward the younger generation to build our sense Read more »

Ramadan Dinner at HBT


Click image above for more details By Rabbi Michael Satz. I believe that true inter-religious dialogue happens when people study together and, of course, eat together. Tuesday, June 23, 2015 Please welcome our guests from the Intercultural Dialogue Institute of the GTA as we study, pray, and break bread for their holy month of Ramadan. At 7:30 p.m. we will learn about Jewish and Muslim views of fasting and dinner begins after sundown at Read more »

Introducing the new ‘Salon’ Series at Holy Blossom!

Introducing the new ‘Salon’ Series at Holy Blossom!

Holy Blossom’s Cultural Centre’s Salon Series Launch: Introducing guest writer and artist, Tilya Gallay Helfield. I am thrilled to inaugurate our Holy Blossom Salon Series on Tuesday, June 9, 1015, with guest writer and artist Tilya Gallay Helfield, who will be reading excerpts from her recently published book, Metaphors for Love. The publication of this book marks the completion of a project that Tilya started some 30 years ago, but which Read more »

Two Revolutions of the Jewish Spirit: Reform Judaism and Zionism


Rabbi Michael Stroh Rabbi Michael Stroh New Dates: Now a two lecture series only Thursdays, May 28 & June 4 - 10:30 a.m. The two revolutionary movements of modern times that have defined our Jewish world are Reform Judaism and Zionism. The same historical forces gave birth to Reform, Modern Orthodox, and Conservative Judaism, Jewish Socialism, Jewish Nationalism and Zionism. Reform and Zionism were once antithetical and now are very Read more »

End of Life Conversations: Jewish, Medical and Legal Perspectives


With the recent Supreme Court decision on doctor assisted suicide, many of us are thinking about end of life issues. We are bringing together legal and medical experts to help us have these important and often difficult discussions in a Jewish context. Tuesday, June 2, 2015 7:30 p.m. We welcome experts from Jewish, legal, and medical perspectives to discuss many of the issues involving this important conversation, including: Jewish Values Read more »

"Through Our Eyes: The Joys and the Complexities of Life in Israel."

Tal and Aviv

Tal and Aviv An evening with Toronto's Shinshinim, Israel's finest young emissaries. Wednesday, May 27, 2015 7:30 p.m. The Toronto area Shinshinim will join together on Wednesday, May 27th for a fascinating conversation on the ‘issues of the day’ in Israel while we will learn from their perspectives on life in Israel in 2015. An Israeli 18 year old has a unique philosophy of life, much different from our North American students, as they Read more »

Harry and Blanche Posen Memorial Lectures: Professor Gabi Ben-Dor

Click image above for more details

Click image above for more details Join us for a fascinating evening or two with Professor Gabriel Ben-Dor. Gabi is one of the foremost thinkers on Israel and the current situation. Gabi has been our guest at Holy Blossom for many many years and again will join us this year as a part of the Harry and Blanche Posen Memorial Lectures on Monday, May 11 and Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm. Any questions that you have about Israel vis a vis the world Read more »

Turning Family into Fiction

Family Fiction2

Family is the glue for so many great stories – from the tales in the Torah to today’s fiction set in Toronto. Join us as three master storytellers talk about the way they weave their family stories and familiar characters into their own great fiction. We can be eavesdroppers as these friends discuss their work. There will be short readings from each and plenty of time for your questions, book signings and informal chats with our speakers. “Turning Read more »

Women of the Wall and the Struggle for Women's Rights and Pluralism in Israel

Lesley Sachs

Lesley Sachs Lesley Sachs, Executive Director, Women of the Wall Sunday, April 26, 2015 Following Shacharit at 9:00 a.m. Join us for breakfast following Shacharit with Lesley Sachs, one of the founding members of “Isha L’isha – Haifa’s Feminist Center”, and who also worked for 10 years in the Israel Women’s Network. Lesley served as Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and then as Vice President of the Read more »

Building Bridges through Music; German Jewish relationships

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Monday, April 13, 2015 7:30 p.m. By Cantor Benjamin Maissner. This is my personal family story. This is how I grew up in the household of a generation that fled the inferno of Europe during the Shoah. From the ashes of a destroyed culture of  European Jewry to present day, I have witnessed personally but slowly the rebuilding of trust and understanding between Germans and Jews, through the glorious music of  western European Jewry. Jewish life Read more »

White Schooldays: Coming-of-Age In Apartheid South Africa

White Schooldays: Coming-of-Age In Apartheid South Africa

April 21st is quickly approaching – our next program in the series Jewish Communities Around the World. Sponsored by our Sisterhood. Isme Bennie writes in her book, White Schooldays: Coming-of-Age in Apartheid South Africa about her life as a child growing up in Apartheid South Africa. It is an amazing story. Please read some comments by those who have already read Isme’s story…. “This is a wonderful memoir, full of life, detailing the Read more »

An evening with renowned Canadian author Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden

We want to call your attention to an important program in our community. On Monday, March 30th at 7:30 p.m. Joseph Boyden, author, First nations advocate, will speak at Temple Emanu-El through the auspices of the CCRJ and URJ Canada. As a community we have embraced the importance of the plight of the First Nations community and ask that you give your support to this important evening. Joseph Boyden The National Social Action Committee of Read more »

Thank you: Mark Goodman

Thursday Shacharit, Breakfast and Talmud Study

We want to take the opportunity to thank Mark Goodman for his continuous support teaching in our community. Mark has devoted hours and hours of time and energy preparing the Wednesday Sisterhood Torah study and Thursday morning Talmud study. Mark is a remarkable teacher and mentor. He constantly motivates others to learn. We are often encouraged to pursue a journey of life-long learning, and Mark gives us a wonderful opportunity to learn and study Read more »

Chevruta Learning

Rabbi Jordan Helfman

Tuesdays, February 17 - March 10, 2015 7:30 p.m. We think we live in a world of scarcity: We feel there is never enough time, money, or opportunity for connection. Come learn with Rabbi Jordan Helfman as we learn a technique to train our perceptions of the world – Torah L’shmah. By taking an hour at the end of the day to study Jewish texts which connect today – modernity – to the timelessness of our world, we find an opportunity Read more »

Writer in Residence – Evan Fallenberg


When I first presented Evan Fallenberg’s Light Fell at book clubs I was amazed at the wonderful reactions I received. People sharing their stories and appreciating the art of the work. And then I realized that Evan was the translator of one of my favourites – A Pigeon and a Boy. So I started corresponding with him, and grew to enjoy our connection – me in Toronto, and Evan in Jerusalem. Now, I have the joy of bringing him to Holy Blossom and Read more »

Announcement from the Schwartz/Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning at Holy Blossom Temple


We are pleased to announce the formation of THE HOLY BLOSSOM CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LITERATURE Under the chair of Cynthia Good, this Centre will bring the finest to Holy Blossom Temple. The Centre is a program for those who are truly committed to reading the best of Jewish literature, expressing themselves through the written word and exploring new formats, media and academic thinking around narrative and literature. For Readers Read more »

Book Talk: Between Gods with Alison Pick

Alison Pick

Alison Pick Monday, February 9, 2015 7:30 p.m. Join us as we meet Alison and learn more about her latest book, Between Gods, a memoir about depression, family secrets, and forging a new identity from the ashes of the past. Alison will share her thoughts followed by a conversation with Cynthia Good, Chair of our new Centre for Contemporary Jewish Literature. Read more »

After the Israeli Election: What Will Get Israelis Enthused About the Peace Process Again

Jim Lederman

Jim Lederman Jim Lederman, journalist Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:30 p.m. US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Europeans have made it clear that they expect that after a new Israeli coalition government is formed, Israel's first order of business will be a renewal of (an American mediated) peace process. The fact is, though, that every American mediation effort has failed. In the past, Washington has placed most of the blame for past Read more »