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

Eye on Israel with our Shinshinim Noam and Bar and film scholar Dr. Gillian Helfield

The Green Prince

Tuesday, December 8 and 15, 2015 7:30 p.m. After his arrest, Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a founder of Hamas, becomes an informant for the Israeli secret service. The Green Prince is a documentary of his experience in the critical months of Israel’s history during the Second Intifada. Join us for this two-part series, as Bar and Noam, our Shinshinim, walk us through this captivating documentary film. As Israelis, they want to share their experience Read more »

Jewish Symbolism in the works of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Sistine Chapel

Thursday, December 3, 2015 7:30 p.m. Rouhama Danto Join us as Rouhama Danto leads us through a fascinating exploration of the Jewish Symbolism in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo lived in Florence most of his life. He was born into a Catholic family and grew up nurtured in the practice of the Christian faith. So, “Jewish Symbols and Messages”? Michelangelo had a bit of a thing for Jewish Mysticism. Michelangelo demonstrated it in the hidden Read more »

Sisterhood Torah Study with Mark Good

Mark Goodman

The Great Jewish Civilizations: Jewish Life in Medieval Spain. Wednesdays 9:30 a.m. The history of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula spans six centuries, living under Islam and Christendom. The Jews of Spain were exalted by political powers, tolerated by the local religious leadership, and at other times, persecuted. Spanish Jewry produced some of the greatest scholarship of the Middle Ages: Maimonides, and others were some of the most Read more »

Eye on Israel with our Shinshinim


Remembering Together; a look at Canadian Remembrance Day and Israel’s Yom HaZikaron Tuesday, November 10, 2015 7:30 p.m. Noam Nadler and Bar Cohen, our Shinshinim at Holy Blossom and Leo Baeck South Join us and we remember together the expressions of “remembering” on our special days. November 11th brings many feelings and memories for many in our community, and the 4th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar also brings many thoughts and emotions Read more »



Thursday, November 26, 2015 7:30 p.m. Our participants: Rabbi Michael Satz Yoni Goldstein, editor of Canadian Jewish News Karen Mock, former National Director of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith and HBT member Shahid Akhtar, founding Co-Chair, Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims Alia Hogben, Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women Our agenda is long and difficult. There is nothing simple or Read more »

Me and my so-called friends

Sharon Neiss-Arbess

Sharon Neiss-Arbess, author Thursday, November 19, 2015 6:30 p.m. Me and my so-called friends is a story that is entirely fiction. It was written with the hopes of teaching readers that no matter how bad things get, you will come out on the other side - stronger and smarter and with help from the unexpected to get you through it all. A program for parents and teens & tweens, with facilitators for children’s groups. Good refreshments Read more »

Stitching Treasures: Exploring the Art of Judaic Needlepoint

Jodi Bager

Jodi Bager, needlework artist and designer Tuesdays, November 10-December 15, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. to Noon. or Thursdays, January 7-February 4 and February 18, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. This is a unique opportunity to design and create a lasting piece of art. All participants will be given materials needed for the perfect original challah cover or tallit bag. Participants will learn new and creative stitches, design and paint their own canvas, improve skills Read more »

Playing Hitler’s Games: The 1936 Nazi Olympics Canada and Holy Blossom Temple

More Than Just the Games Canada and the 1936 Olympics

Professor Harold Troper, University of Toronto Tuesday, November 17, 2015 7:30 p.m. Next year will be the 80th anniversary of the infamous 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany, an priority event not only for Hitler and Germany but also for the Canadian Olympic Committee and Holy Blossom Temple’s Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, outspoken crusader on behalf of a Canadian boycott of the Nazi Olympics. The boycott campaign failed. Canada participated in Read more »

Rosh Hodesh Torah Trope Orientation with Lindi Rivers

Lindi Rivers

Sponsored by Sisterhood. Two options for learning: Monday November 2, 2015 7:00 p.m. Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:30 a.m. Have you wanted to learn to read Torah – but were afraid to learn? This is the perfect opportunity to learn a specific Torah reading that you can chant over and over again – monthly! Join us for one of these orientation sessions and we will decide together on future dates. All are welcome! Please RSVP to Read more »

The Garden of Eden with Rabbi Michael Stroh

Rabbi Michael Stroh

The Garden of Eden: Leaving and Trying to Return Natural Law, Human Nature, Violence and Hope Rabbi Michael Stroh, Rabbi Emeritus Temple Har Zion Thursdays, November 5-26, 2015 10:30 a.m.  The Garden of Eden is Paradise, at the beginning; the Days of the Messiah is Paradise, at the end. We live in the middle with all the ambiguities of the human condition. What is this all about? Join Rabbi Stroh for a thoughtful four week course. Read more »

Jews in Space with Dr. Gillian Helfield

Gillian Helfied

Centre for Arts & Culture Jews in Space with Dr. Gillian Helfield, York University Tuesdays, October 13-27, 2015 7:30 p.m. As a nomadic, and diasporic people, through centuries of migration and acculturation, Jews have long been pioneers of new worlds, ideas and technologies. Join us on our ‘voyage of discovery’ as we explore the contributions of Jewish writers, filmmakers and television producers, to the field of Science Fiction. Read more »

An Evening of Honour and Gratitude with the Vietnamese Community

Howard Adelman

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 7:30 p.m. Still in the 40th anniversary year since the fall of Saigon, the local Vietnamese Community wishes to honour Professor Howard Adelman and Holy Blossom Temple for our help in bringing refugee families to Canada and in helping them to establish their new lives here. A special invitation goes to all congregants who were a part of this initiative and to congregants who are now interested in helping with Read more »

Reform Judaism in Israel with Rabbi Gilad Kariv


Building a pluralistic authentic Israeli Judaism- achievements and challenges. Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director, Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. Thursday, November 12, 2015 7:30 p.m. Join us for a wonderful evening with Rabbi Kariv as we learn more about the challenges of the Reform Movement in Israel. Rabbi Kariv, along with many others works hard to share the accomplishments and the struggles of our sister congregations in Israel. Read more »

Sunday Book Club: The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis

The Betrayers

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis is the book we'll be discussing on Sunday October 25, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 209. Baruch Kotler is a Soviet Jewish dissident, now a disgraced Israeli politician who opposes the settllements in the West Bank. His political enemies attack him and expose his affair. He and his mistress flee to Yalta, a resort in Crimea where he spent some of his youth. There, he comes face to face with the person who, forty Read more »

Liberation: Aftermath and Rebirth - with Professor Michael Marrus


Holocaust Education Week (HEW). As is our tradition at Holy Blossom, we are very fortunate to hold one of the key lectures of HEW, which is organized by the Chaim and Sarah Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, by Professor Michael Marrus. Professor Marrus brings an incredible wealth of knowledge to these lectures each year, and it is once again our honour at Holy Blossom to have Professor Marrus join us on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. Read more »

Holocaust Education Week: Inside Hana’s Suitcase

Inside Hana's suitcase

As we prepare to observe Holocaust Education Week, The Holy Blossom Centre For Contemporary Jewish Literature invites you to join us for a unique opportunity bringing many aspects of the book and film, Inside Hana’s Suitcase together for you in one setting. Join us for “Presenting Hana’s Suitcase: the many expressions of the true story” on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. We are extremely fortunate to welcome the following participants Read more »

Contemporary Jewish Books: Two Types of Mystery

Two Types of Mysteries

Click image above for more details Join us on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 for the first of Cynthia Good’s four-session course, Contemporary Jewish Books: Two Types of Mystery at 10:00 a.m. The first book to be discussed will be Norwegian By Night by Derek B. Miller. Here is a short description of the book: Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. Read more »

The 5776 - 2015/2016 Schwartz/Reisman Centre listings are now available online

Adult Ed Cover

Click image above to download Please peruse these pages carefully for many interesting courses, events, discussions and programs. There is literally something for everyone. We look forward to your participation which we hope will promote further conversation “post-event”. Stay in touch with us – let us know what you are thinking. Comment on our website or leave an email. Non-members friends are always invited – for a nominal Read more »

Walking in our Moccasins, First Nations Perspectives


‎ A four session course with First Nation instructors. Thursdays, October 1-22, 2015 7:30 p.m. A hands-on conversation and information about our First Nations community. Each week will bring a new topic and speaker. Join us for the following conversations: The Creation Story from an Anishinaabe Perspective, Amy Dejarlais – a political conversation. In 2003, Amy founded, EarthTALKER, a magazine focused on women and families. In 2008, Read more »

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


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 perfect springboard 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 »