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.

Talmud class at the city congregation for humanistic judaismjewish cultural programs include talmud study

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.

“…my Talmud study was an engaging session with an intellectually curious group, and a clearly experienced and knowledgeable teacher. As a law student, I appreciated the discussion and found it very thought provoking. It’s also a great way to connect further with fellow members and non-members.” Rachel Manning, member, 9-10-18