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

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

12 IMG_7749

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 »

Radical Thoughts: Torah, Talmud, Reform Judaism

Rabbi Michael Stroh

Click image above for more details Rabbi Michael Stroh joins us once again for a 6 session course, sponsored by our Brotherhood. Rabbi Stroh always brings the perfect mix of intellectual stimulation and casual learning style. Everyone loves to learn with Rabbi Stroh. Join us for one or all six sessions! Read more »

Telling and Retelling Rachel

Professor Laura Wiseman

Professor Laura Wiseman Wednesday, January 14, 2015 7:30 p.m. Professor Laura Wiseman, York University Join us on Wednesday evening, January 14 as Professor Laura Wiseman, of York University, delves into the story of Rachel. Who is she? What made her “tick’? Rachel is one of the most interesting personalities of the Torah. She, in her quiet, and not so quiet way, guides the history of our people as only she could. We will have a special Read more »

Fields of Exile with Dr. Nora Gold

Fields of Exile, Dr. Nora Gold

Fields of Exile, Dr. Nora Gold Tuesday, February 3, 2015 7:30 p.m. Dr. Nora Gold is an author, an Associate Scholar and the Writer-in-Residence at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at OISE, U of Toronto, the editor of the online journal, and a social activist. She co-founded the New Israel Fund of Canada, Canadian Friends of Givat Haviva and JSpaceCanada. Dr. Gold will speak about what led her to write Fields Read more »

Israel in a Turbulent Middle East with Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Dr. Mordechai Kedar Thursday, January 22, 2015 8:00 p.m. Dr. Mordechai Kedar Middle East expert at Bar Ilan University …“One of the few Arabic-speaking Israeli pundits seen on Arabic satellite channels defending Israel”. Los Angeles Times PROUDLY PRESENTED BY THE SPEAKERS ACTION GROUP AND HOLY BLOSSOM TEMPLE ISRAEL COMMITTEE ISRAEL IN A TURBULENT MIDDLE EAST: Making sense of the election amidst the chaos and threats … what's Read more »

Jewish Communities Around the World: The Jews of India

Jews of India

Jews of India Our series on Jewish communities Around the World, generously sponsored by Sisterhood has been a great success! We learned about the Jewish communities in Ethiopia and Italy. To round out our series, join us on Thursday January 15 at 7:30 p.m. for our program on The Jews of India. Bala Menon, a publisher and writer, will join us along with Kenny Salem to share with us about Jewish life in India. Bala writes: The Cochinin (as Read more »

Rescheduled: "Before the Blacklist"

Marked Woman

Marked Woman We missed you on Nov 24 for the first of two sessions presented by Stuart Hands on “Before the Blacklist”. Please join us on Monday December 8th and the follow-up program on Monday December 15th as we explore two different films which Stuart will present. Stuart is a talented film aficionado. He loves watching, talking about and critiquing all kinds of films and has the credentials to do it as the Director of the Toronto Read more »

Sunday Book Club: A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn


A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn Sunday December 14, 2014 10:00 a.m. “A genuinely page-turning kidnapping story that also incorporates historical, psychological, and interpretive insights into Maimonides, sibling rivalry and motherhood, as well as the increasing digital footprints we leave.” Josie Ashkenazi is a software genius who has invented an application that tracks and records everything its users do. She is invited to an Egyptian Read more »

Jewish Communities Around the World: The Jews of Italy

Rabbi Leigh Lerner, Rabbi Emeritus at Montreal’s Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, is also volunteer rabbi at Beth Shalom Milano and Shir Hadash Firenze, both young Reform congregations where he is in his 3rd season of service.  He has lived Italian Jewish life as it unfolds today, from 2012 to the present. In his illustrated talk, and after a brief review of Italian Jewish history, Rabbi Lerner will give insight into the nature of today’s diverse Read more »

Torah Stitch by Stitch


For more details please click the image above On Tuesday, Temma Gentles is back with us for another 2 session workshop – Torah Stitch by Stitch. This is an amazing project of stitching a Torah which has had hundreds of participants world-wide. Temma is a great teacher, speaker and lover of art. Join us on Tuesday, November 25 and December 2 at 7:30 p.m. To download the Torah Stitch by Stitch postcard, and learn more about this worldwide Read more »

Beit Midrash Shabbat Learning

For more information, please click the above image

For more information, please click the above image Are you interested in Torah study on Shabbat after services? This Shabbat, November 22, Beit Midrash Shabbat Learning will take place in Room 209 following congregational Kiddush. Join Marla Powers and others as they study the week’s Torah portion using the WRJ Women’s Commentary alongside many other sources. All learners are invited... if you know a little or a lot. Everyone shares his/her Read more »

Uniting with Ethiopian Jewry for Sigd holiday


Cry of the Giraffe: Based on a True Story Join us on Thursday, November 20th as we welcome author Judie Oron to Holy Blossom Temple for the first speaker in our series on Jewish Communities around the World , sponsored by Sisterhood. Judie has written widely on the topic of Ethiopian Jewry and is looking forward to sharing her vast knowledge of that community with us. Join us on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. For more information Read more »

Before the Blacklist

Marked Woman

Marked Woman Stuart Hands, TJFF Director Monday November 24, 2014 7:30 p.m. NOW MONDAY DECEMBER 15, 2014 7:30 p.m. Sorry for the confusion on Monday Nov 24, 2014 with the power outage. We have re-scheduled the program to take place on December 8 & 15. Looking forward to seeing you there… See how Jewish screenwriter Robert Rossen redefined the Hollywood crime drama in 1937 with Marked Woman, a forgotten gem starring Bette Davis Read more »

Engaging with Israel: iEngage with Rabbi Michael Satz

Rabbi Michael Satz

Engaging Israel Please join Rabbi Michael Satz for a new and interesting course on Engaging with Israel. iEngage, the Shalom Hartman Institutes program on looking at Israel from many perspectives will be intriguing and inviting for all members of community. The goal of the iEngage Project is to respond to growing feelings of disenchantment and disinterest toward Israel among an ever-increasing number of Jews worldwide by creating a new narrative Read more »