Adult Education


At Temple Israel, we believe life-long learning enhances every aspect of Jewish life.  The more we understand about our sacred texts, traditions, holy days and festivals, historical and contemporary scholarship, arts and literature, the better we will be able to make informed choices about our own practices.

We encourage you to participate in our Adult Education programs.  Click below to learn about current and upcoming classes at Temple Israel.

If you have suggestions about future classes, please contact the Temple Office.




TI Adult Education (click a title to view contents)

  • torah

    Shabbat Torah Study

    Enhance your Shabbat experience by studying the Parashah (Torah portion) of the week with Rabbi Debra Dressler and friends.  Join in an exploration of the text as we ask questions, discuss historical and contemporary interpretations, and debate its relevance for our lives.  

    Meeting time for Shabbat Torah Study varies. Please check the Worship – Shabbat page for the current schedule.
    All are welcome.

  • havdalah
    Shabbat Shiur and Havdalah

    Please join us Saturday afternoons (when there is no morning service) at 3pm for a “Shiur” (study lesson) with Rabbi Dressler, followed by a brief Havdalah service at 5pm. No pre-registration is required; just drop in. If you have any questions, please contact Rabbi Dressler:

    Shabbat Shiur and Havdalah
    meets 3:00-5:00pm

    Upcoming dates TBA


  • bookclub
    Shabbat Book Chavurah


    Temple Israel Book Club

    Books for 2018-2019

    October 20

    November 17

    February 16

    January 12

    March 16 

    April 27


    We meet at 2:00 on Saturday afternoons.



    Book recommendations are welcome.

    As always, everyone is invited to join in the discussion.  If you wish, bring along a snack to share for tea time.

    Everyone is welcome, whether or not you have attended previous sessions. 
    and whether or not you have read the book.
    Bring your suggestions for future good reads.


  • Lunchand Learn2
    Please join us.

    Lunch & Learn meets Tuesdays noon to 1pm at Temple Israel.

    Bring your lunch, if you wish.
    Tea, coffee, and water will be available.

    Everyone is welcome.

    START DATE for Fall 2018 TBA


  • torah7

    Adult B’nai Mitzvah Class

    If you never celebrated a bar or bat mitzvah in your youth, please
    consider joining us as we form the next class. Even if you are interested
    in the learning without being ready to commit to participating in a
    service, this class is intended for you. Typically, we study over two
    academic years. We will explore Torah commentary and topics in
    Jewish Values as well as learn the nuts and bolts of Torah reading and
    worship. Knowledge of the Aleph-Bet is strongly recommended prior
    to or at the beginning of this course of study.

    Questions? Contact Rabbi Dressler

    Class dates have not yet been determined.

    For more information or if you do not receive class notifications please contact either
    Rabbi Debra Dressler at
    or the Temple Office 519-858-4400/

  • starofdavid-gold

    Jewish Information Class Now Forming

    All-new curriculum for 2018-2019! Our Jewish Information Class is

    intended for anyone wishing to learn more about Judaism. This class is a

    prerequisite for all conversion candidates, but open to anyone (Jewish or not)

    who wants to broaden their Jewish knowledge base.

    Please contact the Temple Office prior to the beginning of classes.

    Opening session: Sun, Nov. 4, from 1 to 3 pm. (Classes will be held in Nov/Jan/Apr.)

    For more details visit:

    Questions? Please contact the Temple Israel office – all are welcome, even if you’ve missed the first class..
    Looking forward to seeing you!


    Adult Hebrew Classes at Temple Israel

    Adult Introductory Hebrew – Tuesdays 7-8PM 
    Dates TBA

    Adult Biblical Hebrew – Thursdays 6-7PM
    Dates TBA

    If you are interested in beginning or extending your learning of Hebrew this year please contact Stephen State,
    or register your interest through the TI office at 

    Note:  this is not a conversational Hebrew class but instead will focus on either or both of the Hebrew arising in the prayer services or biblical Hebrew.

    Additional 2018 Classes will be held on same dates and times into the New Year.


  • Talmud With Training Wheels – new class forming soon.

    This will be a 6-8 week introduction to the world and text of the Talmud.
    If you are interested in this class please contact Temple Office (519-858-4400/
    Please note: the class material will be in English, Hebrew knowledge is not required.

  • JEM logo

    October 15, 2018: Old and New Theories about the Origins of Yiddish (and Ashkenazi Jews) ~ Kalman Weiser

    When, where, why, and how did Yiddish come into being? Since at least the 19th century, linguists and historians have debated these questions and their answers regarding the early migrations of Ashkenazic Jews. Recently, genetics has entered the fray, yielding some surprising new arguments. This talk will explore various theories, including the recent controversy that Yiddish originates among medieval converts to Judaism in central Asia.

    Kalman Weiser is the Silber Family Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at York University. He is co-editor of the second edition of Solomon Birnbaum’s Yiddish: A Survey and a Grammar (University of Toronto Press, 2016. His monograph, Jewish People, Yiddish Nation: Noah Prylucki and the Folkists in Poland (University of Toronto Press), won the 2012 Canadian Jewish Book Award for scholarship.

    Sponsor: Stephen State

    October 22: Miracles Do Happen: A Remarkable Story of Rescue and Reunion ~ Fred Ball

    Of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands in 1941, only 27% survived the German occupation; however, more than the citizens of any other country, the Dutch have been designated by Yad Vashem as “Righteous among the Nations” for saving Jewish lives. Hear the story of a little Jewish girl saved and loved, thanks to the humanitarianism of a Dutch Christian family, and the attempts to re-unite her with her rescuers during a 70-year quest. Our own Fred Ball will relay his crucial role in the recent re-connecting of these families.

    Fred Ball, a former Ontario Government Microbiologist, spends much of his retirement enjoying classical music and passionately pursuing Jewish Adult Education. He has a keen interest in all things related to the Holocaust.

    October 29: Canada’s Jewish WWII Fighters Who Helped Defeat Hitler and Rescue Holocaust Survivors
    ~ Ellin Bessner

    While over 17,000 Canadian Jewish men and women served in WWII, Canada has not yet officially recognized the important contribution of our country’s tiny Jewish minority, who overcame widespread anti-Semitism at home and on the battlefield. Just before Remembrance Day, hear some of their stories from journalist and author Ellin Bessner, who spent 6 years interviewing and researching Jewish veterans and their families for her new book, Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII (University of Toronto’s Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies).

    Ellin Bessner is a Professor of Journalism at Centennial College in Toronto. She has a degree in journalism and political science from Carleton University, and has worked for CTV News, CBC News, The Globe and Mail, and The Canadian Press. As a foreign correspondent, Ellin has covered stories in Italy, as well as several brutal civil wars in Africa. Visit

    Sponsors: William and Randi Fisher

    November 5: Arab Jews: Not an Oxymoron ~ Yigal Nizri

    The “Arab Jews” lived in diverse cultural worlds across the Middle East and North Africa for over two thousand years, developing deep and enduring relationships with non-Jews. They were instrumental in shaping local, regional, and national cultures and politics. Are there Arab Jews today? Is Arab Jewishness still possible? Professor Nizri will discuss these questions within the context of these complex contemporary relationships.

    Yigal S. Nizri is an Assistant Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. He is currently working on a monograph on the emergence of a Jewish Moroccan scribal culture in the 19th and 20th centuries in the context of trans-Mediterranean Maghribi-Jewish diasporic networks.

    Sponsor: Gail Bass

    November 12: Photographing the Posthumous Landscape of Historic Jewish Sites in Western Ukraine
    ~ David Kaufman

    Filmmaker, photographer, and documentarian David Kaufman will discuss the precarious state of Jewish material culture and its largely forgotten illustrious pre-war Jewish history. Using his photographs of Jewish sites from many trips to Eastern Europe, he will describe the remnant of Jewish life in Lviv (Lvov) and Chernivtsi (Czernovitz), two large cities of western Ukraine that had once been major pre-WWII Jewish population centres.

    David Kaufman’s work focuses on Jewish heritage sites. His large-scale photographs have been featured in eight solo exhibitions in Toronto and will be on display in 2019 at the Yiddish Book Centre in Amherst, Massachusetts. He spent 18 years working at the CBC as a producer/director of The Journal and The Fifth Estate. He has made many independent films, including a feature documentary entitled Song of the Lodz Ghetto.

    Sponsor: Ronnee Alter, in memory of her husband, Lloyd

    November 19: Guts, Glory, and Izzat: The 1918 Liberation of Haifa ~ Vinod Varapravan

    A century ago, the last successful cavalry charge in military history ended 400 years of Ottoman or Islamic occupation of Haifa. The Indian Army Lancers’ liberation of Haifa in 1918 very probably paved the way for the later formation of the state of Israel. The Lancers engaged in what seemed like an impossible mission, but successfully liberated Haifa and created Israeli history.

    Vinod Varapravan is an active volunteer in the Hindu Community in Canada, serving its less fortunate in North America, India, and Nepal. He is also the co-founder of the Srishti Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in London, which engages Hindu youth. Born in India, Vinod is a Senior Project Manager at Bell Canada in London.

    Sponsors: Noam and Beryl Chernick

    November 26: In the Name of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust ~ Max Wallace

    Hear, for the first time, incredible revelations about the secret negotiations of an unlikely trio: a former fascist President of Switzerland, a courageous Orthodox Jewish woman, and a Finnish osteopath. Their efforts to deceive Himmler successfully prevented the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the last months of WWII, and, by doing so, thwarted Hitler’s plan to take “every last Jew.”

    Max Wallace, New York Times best-selling author, investigative journalist, filmmaker, and videographer for Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, is the author of In the Name of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust (Allen Lane), which was short-listed for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction.

    Sponsor: Gary Weisz

    December 3: Jewish without God ~ Dan Falk

    A remarkable number of Jews today and throughout history have been either atheist or agnostic. But can one still call oneself a Jew if one doesn’t believe in God? What’s left of Judaism without “the big guy in the sky”?

    Dan Falk is based in Toronto, and is an award-winning science journalist, broadcaster, and author. He is the author of three popular science books, most recently, The Science of Shakespeare.

    Anonymous Sponsor

    December 10: Adolf Eichmann: The Fascinating Story Behind his Capture ~ Sylvia Solomon and David Wintre

    This presentation will describe Eichmann’s formative years as a spy, his mysterious escape from Europe and the nerve-jangling account of finding him, his capture and kidnapping, and how he was spirited out of Argentina to go on trial in Israel. Spy vs. spy has nothing on this! 

    Sylvia Solomon grew up in London, Ontario. She has a Ph.D. in Education and has spent over thirty years in education, including working at the Ontario Ministry of Education developing curriculum policy and resources that changed teaching and learning in Ontario and embedded Holocaust Education in a number of courses. She has presented a series of lectures, “Great Trials that Changed the Course of History,” at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and the Instituto d’Allende in Mexico.

    David Wintre is a retired businessman with a lifelong interest in history, philosophy, politics, and law. He brings his intellectual curiosity, knowledge, and presentation skills to every lecture. David has delivered talks at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and George Brown College.

    Sponsors: Kathleen Robinson-Burch, Ruth Tandberg, Carol West, Louise Sabourin,
    Joyce Garnett, Tova Zarnowiecki and Lynn Coveney

    Looking Ahead:

    January 14, 2019: Kol Isha – Sexual Misconduct in the Hebrew Bible and in Jewish Tradition
    ~ Rabbi Debra Stahlberg Dressler
    Sponsor: Lisa Klinger

    January 21: Inventing Hollywood: The Moguls’ Ambivalent Jewish Identities and How They were Refracted in the Movies ~ Shlomo Schwartzberg

    January 28: Finding Yourself: Genetic Genealogy and Internet Resources for your Jewish Genealogy Research ~ Steven Dain

    Sponsors: Harold and Susan Merskey

    February 4: Salvaged Judaica: Notable Men and Women Who Rescued Cultural Artifacts during the Holocaust
    ~ Lily Foris

    February 11: Schindler and Beyond: Stephen Spielberg as a Jewish Director ~ Charles Burnetts

    February 25: He Gets that from his Mother’s Side: The Matriarchs of Biblical Israel and their Influence on their Famous Sons ~ Andrea di Giovanni

    and 5 more to come

    JEM is co-sponsored by Congregation Or Shalom and the Martin Bass Fund for Human Resources of Or Shalom, Temple Israel, and The London Jewish Federation, with additional support from The Lamplighter Inn & Conference Centre and numerous individual donors.


    AJE @ the JCC

    Looking at 5779 (2018/ 2019), we have lots to interest you – we hope!

    • David Rosner’s 4-week course – From the Bible to Broadway – a Survey of Jewish Lyricists in Poetry and Song starts October 9th and concludes on October 30th 2018.
      Download Registration Form
    • Charles Burnetts’ 6-week course – Schindler and Beyond: Steven Spielberg as a Jewish Director starts November 13th and concludes on December 18th 2018.
      Download Registration Form
    • Rabbi Debra Dressler’s 4-week course: The Halakha of Suffering – Death and the Duty to Heal in Jewish Tradition starts on January 29th and concludes February 19th 2019. 
      Download Registration Form

    Looking further ahead in 2019 we will have courses led by Shlomo Schwartzberg, Sonia Halpern, Jennifer Shaw Lander and Rabbi Catharine Clark.

    To register or for more information, call the JCC at (519) 673-3310