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‘A New Adventure in Adult Jewish Education’

By Stacey Dresner

SPRINGFIELD – Abigail Pogrebin, author of My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew, will come to Springfield on Oct. 16 as part of Literatour, The Jewish Book Festival, co-sponsored by the Springfield Jewish Community Center and Temple Beth El.

But her lecture will also be the kickoff event for The Springfield Alliance for Jewish Education or SAJE, or as the JCC’s Rabbi James Greene calls it, “a new adventure in adult Jewish education” in the lower Pioneer Valley.

SAJE is a “collaboration of all of the synagogues in the community, the Jewish Federation and the JCC working together to create opportunities for Jewish education and informal conversation,” Rabbi Greene says.

The idea for SAJE came about last winter when leaders from Springfield’s synagogues, the Springfield JCC and the Federation of Western Mass. came together for a series of conversations, Rabbi Greene explained.

Later this month, SAJE will offer the first of a four-week series of classes, taught by four Springfield rabbis form the Reform, Conservative and both Orthodox synagogues.

Although the classes will be held at the Springfield JCC, “What’s been wonderful is this hasn’t been a JCC program,” Greene said. “We certainly have been the agency helping to make this happen, but each of the synagogues and the Federation have been amazing partners in this process.

“It reminds me of what we can do when we do things together,” he added. “[Jewish leader and philanthropist] Diane Troderman likes to say that ‘in the ocean all boats rise together,’ and I think that is really true. We can do so much more when we actually work together and do good collaborative work.”

The series of classes led by Springfield rabbis includes: Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue: The Support for Causes of Justice in Jewish Tradition taught by Rabbi Jeremy Master of Sinai Temple; Fascinating Facts: Myths and Mysteries of Judaism by Rabbi Yakov Wolff of Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy (LYA); Work/Life Balance: Discovering Ageless Answers in Timeless Jewish Texts with Rabbi Amy Katz of Temple Beth El; and Isaiah and AI (Artificial Intelligence) with Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe of Congregation B’nai Torah.

The classes will be held on Tuesdays from Oct. 23 – Nov. 13 at the Springfield JCC. There are two class options from 7 – 8 p.m. and/or two class options from 8:15 – 9:15 p.m.

“What we see is a huge spread of Jewish content and Jewish wisdom all happening together,” Rabbi Greene said. “My hope is that there will be a lot of crossover so that folks will have an opportunity  to learn from rabbis that they might not have had a chance to learn from before, and maybe they will get to experience something they may not normally experience.”

SAJE will also present a “Celebration of Jewish Culture & Arts” on Jan. 12, 2019.

This project has also bred other collaborative experiences that will be happening later on during the year, says Rabbi Greene, who has already discussed with Rabbi Amy Katz a possible Temple Beth El-Springfield JCC “hike & bike” in support of the Arava Institute.

The cost for the 4-week series of classes is $36 per person for each class or or $72 per person for two classes. For more information or to register, contact Rabbi James Greene at (413) 739-4715 or



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