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 

    Tuesday, November 20 at Noon


    Lunch and Learn Returns Tuesday, November 20th, at 12:00 pm
    A Life of Meaning: 
    Embracing Reform Judaism’s Sacred Path
    We’ve gone digital!
  • 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

    JEM Programs from November 12, 2018, to March 18, 2019

    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 in a part of the world that has largely forgotten illustrious pre-war Jewish history. Using photographs of Jewish sites from many trips to Eastern Europe, he will describe the physical remnants of Jewish life in Ukraine, focusing Lviv (Lvov) and Chernivtsi (Czernovitz), two large cities that had significant Jewish populations before the Second World War.

    David Kaufman’s photographic work focuses on architecture and Jewish heritage sites. His large-scale images 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

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

    Today, more than ever, we are aware of women’s struggles to be heard, to be safe, and to be free from objectification and sexualization. The #MeToo Movement has illuminated just how widespread and systemic sexual misconduct has been for women, not only today but throughout history – including within the Jewish tradition. We will examine women’s voices – both silenced and amplified – in some of our biblical and post-biblical texts. Drawing from Kol Isha, published by the CCAR taskforce on the experience of women in the rabbinate, we will enter into a conversation with our sacred texts, inviting them to speak to today’s urgent challenges.

    Rabbi Debra Stahlberg Dressler is the congregational leader of London’s Temple Israel. The rabbinate is her second career. She previously worked in direct marketing and magazine circulation. She is active in interfaith projects and is the founding rabbinic member of the clergy team for the award-winning London Interfaith Peace Camp. Rabbi Dressler holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Sponsor: Lisa Klinger

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

    It’s undisputable that Hollywood was founded by Eastern European Jewish immigrants who fled to Southern California to make new lives for themselves. In discovering the power and influence of the movies, however, these moguls rarely made films that reflected their religion. The Jazz Singer, for example, sent a not-so-subtle message of assimilation, and even shame, about being Jewish. The fact that those movies were primarily aimed at Protestant American audiences in a country rife with anti-Semitism also meant that the moguls, many of whom exchanged Jewish first wives for Christian second wives, were determined to minimize, even expunge their own Jewish identities. Our speaker will discuss how vestiges of Jewish attributes couldn’t be entirely eliminated despite the best efforts of the movies’ founders.

    Shlomo Schwartzberg is a Toronto-based arts journalist, film programmer, film critic, and teacher. He is the former Director of Programming of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and the former Chair of the Toronto Jewish Film Society. He is also the co-founder of and a regular contributor to the noted online daily cultural website, Critics at Large ( Shlomo has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Jerusalem Report, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and the Canadian Jewish News.

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

    With prices dropping for sequencing one’s own DNA genetic code, several companies are offering various tests for genetic testing for finding lost family members, looking for hereditary diseases, and determining how a person’s body is going to react to different medications and cancer therapies. This talk will provide a fascinating overview and practical demonstration of the available online genealogy resources, specifically those that are of interest to Jewish families.

    Steven Dain is a self-confessed technology junkie of computers, smart homes, and medical critical care. A physician and anesthesiologist, and a wanna-be biomedical engineer, he is an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology at the University of Waterloo and is a retired Associate Professor of anesthesiology and health informatics at Western University. Steven volunteers his time chairing and writing ISO International safety standards for anesthesia, respiratory care, and critical care equipment, and is on the board of Congregation Or Shalom.

    Sponsors: Harold and Susan Merskey

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

    Who was responsible for locating Nazi-plundered artwork, home goods, and jewelry during the Shoah? Where were Jewish cultural items hidden? How were they returned to their rightful owners? This presentation explores the work of the American military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section (a.k.a. the “Monuments Men”), a group consisting mostly of art scholars and museum curators tasked with finding, protecting, and rescuing valuable items stolen from public art institutions and private Jewish citizens. We will examine the Section’s successes, particularly those of its women, who were often rendered invisible within its military context.

    Lily Foris earned a B.A. in History from Western University. Currently working at Fanshawe Pioneer Village, she plans to establish a career with historical museums. The daughter of two Jewish-Hungarian immigrants, she balances her perspective of Canadian Jewish culture from the positions of participant and spectator. Lily spoke last year at JEM, delivering an animated, fascinating talk about popular images of the Yiddishe Mama.

    February 11: Steven Spielberg: Probably the Greatest Film Maker of our Era ~ Charles Burnetts

    Commenting on his childhood, Steven Spielberg said, “Being a Jew meant that I was not normal. I was not like everybody else. I just wanted to be accepted. Not for who I was. I wanted to be accepted for who everyone else was.” For this presentation, Charles Burnetts will present excerpts from his informative six-week Adult Jewish Education course entitled “Schindler and Beyond: Steven Spielberg as a Jewish Director” (November 13 to December 11). Charles will focus on Spielberg’s cultural as well as personal motivation for making films such as Schindler’s List (1993), the film for which he would most like to be remembered.

    Charles Burnetts has a doctorate in media arts and teaches in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Kings University College. He has published articles for Journal of Film and Video, New Review of Film, and Television Studies and Scope and has authored a book entitled Improving Passions: Sentimental Aesthetics and American Film (2017). An avid Hollywood cinema and Seinfeld fan, Charles has an ongoing interest in issues of Jewish identity in film and contemporary comedy.

    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

    A surface reading of the Torah and Prophets could suggest that many of the male heroes arrive on the scene already equipped with the savvy they need to lead and the devotion they must exemplify in G-d’s eyes. Attention to the women in their lives, particularly their mothers and grandmothers, yields a different picture. This presentation will explore selected biblical narratives that rethink traditional maternal roles, revealing women of valour, whose character traits and actions influence the depictions of their sons.

    Andrea Di Giovanni holds degrees in English Literature and Theology from the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s College. She is an instructor of biblical studies at King’s University College and St. Peter’s Seminary in London, and loves helping her students explore new ways of reading and understanding biblical literature. Her primary areas of interest are in early Second Temple biblical literature, and post-exilic articulations of community identity.

    March 4: Nothing’s Carved in Stone: The Changing Life and Work of Sculptor Jacques Lipchitz ~ Sonia Halpern

    Like numerous aspiring Jewish artists of the early 20th century, sculptor Jacques Lipchitz left Eastern Europe for Paris to become part of its exhilarating artistic milieu; remarkably, he became one of the most significant sculptors of French modernism. Unlike many Jewish artists, however, Lipchitz’s successful assimilation in France was followed by a strong Jewish adherence in America. This transformation would ultimately change his work from avant-garde Cubist forms to traditional expressive narratives, a rare artistic direction in the experimental art world of the early 20th century.


    Sonia Halpern is an art historian, and a multi award-winning instructor at Western University. She is the author of two humourous poetry books (The Life and Times of Transition Girl, 2005; revised and expanded, 2014), a book of original musical compositions (Klezmer Kitty, 2010), and many academic articles. Sonia is also active in adult Jewish education in London as a frequent speaker for JEM and course facilitator for AJE. Regularly involved in amateur theatre, Sonia performed in London’s Fringe Festival, 2018.

    Sponsors: Kathleen Robinson-Burch, Ruth Tandberg, Carol West, Louise Sabourin,

    Joyce Garnett, Tova Zarnowiecki, and Lynn Coveney

    March 11: All for Naught?: The Jews of Poland on the Eve of the Second World War ~ Piotr J. Wróbel

    In 1939, Polish Jewry constituted the second largest Jewish community in the world. Polish Jewish artists and intellectuals contributed significantly to Polish and Jewish scholarship and culture. Jewish political parties were numerous and vibrant. Jewish businesspeople and workers were indispensable to the Polish economy. A modern Jewish nation was born in Poland before 1939. And then, the Holocaust came. Was it all for naught?

    Piotr J. Wróbel holds the Konstanty Reynart Chair of Polish Studies at the University of Toronto. Before appointment in 1994, he taught at several universities in Poland and America. He serves on the Advisory Boards of Polin: A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies, Acta Poloniae Historica, and The Polish Review.

    Sponsor: Hy Goldberg

    March 18: Veterans, Victims, and Valour: The Extraordinary Activism of Lillian Freiman ~ Jennifer Lander

    Despite being one of the most accomplished women in Canadian Jewish history, Lillian Freiman is not well known to most Jewish communities. Founder and first president of Hadassah-WIZO in Canada (1919-40), a woman who raised, nearly singlehandedly, $200,000 for Jewish war orphans in the wake of World War I, and the first Jewish woman in the entire British Empire to be awarded the Order of the British Empire (1934), Freiman was a force to be reckoned with. Join us as we explore the life of this intriguing personality.

    Jennifer Lander has an MA in History from the University of Alberta and is now a doctoral student in Western’s Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research. Her dissertation focuses on Canadian Jewish women’s experiences on the home-front in WWII.

    Looking Ahead:

    March 25: The Birth and History of the Jewish Federation Movement ~ Joe Roberts

    Sponsor: Judith Wiley

    April 1: The Jewish Leonard Bernstein ~ David Rosner

    Sponsor: Judith Wiley

    April 8 (Final Program for the Season): From Joseph to Moses: Stirring Times in Ancient Egypt ~ Jim Stevens

    Sponsors: Carmen and Ron McNish

    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