Secular and cultural education for adults

At The City Congregation, we believe learning is a lifelong endeavor. We offer several adult education programs that explore a wide variety of subjects in Jewish culture and history from a secular humanistic perspective. You can attend every session or just show up for the ones that interest you.

Adult Perspectives on Secular and Cultural Judaism

Our free Adult Perspectives programs are usually led by Rabbi Peter Schweitzer or a member of the congregation with an occasional panel discussion or guest speaker. They always conclude with a lively discussion.

Adult Perspectives meets twice a month on Sundays from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM at 15 West 86th Street (SAJ) in Manhattan. There is no charge and all are welcome to attend.

Jewish cultural programs on Shabbat

Our free Shabbat cultural presentations and discussions are held following Friday evening services. They usually feature notable guest speakers on subjects ranging from history and the arts to ethics and politics.

Shabbat services and cultural programs are held once or twice a month on Friday evenings at 7:30 PM in Manhattan. There is no charge and all are welcome to attend.

Intermarriage Seminar

Rabbi Schweitzer meets with couples individually or as a group to explore issues and concerns that can be encountered in interfaith or intercultural marriages. Email Rabbi Schweitzer at if you’d like to participate in this program.

Secular Talmud study

The Talmud, a central Jewish text, is one of the most absorbing and challenging religious reference books in the world. It has two components. The first part is the Mishnah, a written account of the oral Torah, recorded in the first two centuries of the common era. The second part is the Gemara, an analysis and commentary on the Mishnah, written during the third and fourth centuries of the common era.

The Talmud is the basis for Jewish law and was recorded from oral tradition with the initial intention of memorization. Gemara means, “to study and know,” as the Talmud teaches not only about the Jewish legal code but also discusses ethics, philosophy and customs.

Why do those practicing Humanistic Judaism study Talmud?

As Humanistic Jews, we value both reason and intellectual challenge.

Historically, Jewish scholars studied Talmud to extract legal guidance and establish community norms, especially as unprecedented situations arose requiring practical leadership and direction.

We study Talmud as a historical text. We enjoy the challenge of decoding, interpreting and discussing these esoteric teachings and discovering how they demonstrate practical relevance to our lives today.

Ultimately, we at The City Congregation recognize the value of participating in the ancient tradition of studying Talmud, which results in stimulating intellectual debates and a shot of whiskey to end our class.

How does The City Congregation study Talmud?

Our Talmud teacher, Avi Garelick, offers our members nearly 10 years of wisdom and teaching experience which he applies in a unique combination of traditional education and nontraditional interpretation. Avi is passionate about applying ancient texts to todays’ challenges. He guides us to our own interpretations of the text and explains the rabbis’ interpretations.

Secular Jewish Education for Adults

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