Shedding Light

Allen Mogol, a friend of the Museum, shares his thoughts about Adult Education at Eldridge Street.

If you’ve ever been to the Museum at Eldridge Street, you know that every visit is a step back in time. You can almost hear the whispers of the synagogue’s founders as you walk in their footsteps. Your eyes follow the sunlight as it streams through the rose window, shedding light on the original sanctuary benches.

Regina Stein

Dr. Regina Stein

My joining some of the Museum’s scripture-based adult education discussion groups this fall sheds light in an entirely different way. The force driving these discussions is Dr. Regina Stein, the Museum’s Scholar in Residence. Regina makes familiar–and sometimes not so familiar–passages from scripture both eye-opening and powerful, provoking us to look at our lives in new ways.

On a Tuesday morning last month, Regina led an enthusiastic discussion around the museum’s conference room table. How is it possible, she asked, for man to be created in God’s image, and for man to also be created from dust and returned to dust?

Regina reached into her bag and pulled out a visual aid – a key chain. On each side was one of the relevant verses. Sometimes we need to be reminded, she said, that we have the greatness of God within in. Other times, we need to be reminded  that we are but dust.

Seeing that key chain and thinking about what it represented sparked questions as I walked home (the subway would have broken the spell). When is it appropriate, even necessary, for us to summon up and convey hubris, and when should we be feeling and acting with humility? Wouldn’t it be useful for us to carry around with us each day an awareness of the continuum from supreme confidence to utter humbleness, applying it as needed?

I’ve tried to keep Regina’s eye-opening spark in mind over the past several weeks, and it’s made me pause more than once. Have I earned this confidence, or is it just bravado, I’d ask myself as I was about to tackle an unpopular point of view in a meeting. Another time: am I selling myself short, downplaying the value of my opinion?

No easy answers, but provocative questions and thoughtful discussions are just about guaranteed at each of Regina’s classes. I hope to see you at one soon.

This Spring, three new Adult Education series will be offered at the Museum, all led by Dr. Regina  Stein:
American Jewish History from A[rrival] to Z[ionism]
8 sessions, Tuesdays, starting January 15. $10 per class, $70 for all 8.

Spiritual Jewish Workshop
4 sessions, Thursdays, starting January 17.  $10 per class, $30 for all 4.

Truth AND Consequences
4 sessions, Thursdays, starting February 14.  $10 per class, $30 for all 4.

 Click here for more information and to reserve your spot.

These classes are part of the Museum’s Morris Kaplan Scholar-in-Residence Program funded, in part, by the Alice Lawrence Foundation.


Categories: Art & Architecture, Historic Preservation

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