Judaism teaches us how to live, not just what to believe. Therefore, Yesod transcends academic knowledge to show how Judaism is alive and celebrated in the modern world. All classes will be taught by nationally and internationally recognized rabbis, educators, cantors, storytellers, chefs and artists who represent the full range of Jewish diversity.

Classes will take place on

Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

at Temple Emanu-El | One East Sixty-Fifth Street, NYC

and online


Yesod: Year One

Our Story

October 10, 2023

The Early Arc of Peoplehood: Covenants and Wandering, Patriarchs and Matriarchs

With Rabbi David Wolpe, followed by breakout sessions with prominent educators

Special timing: 6:30-9:30 PM 


Breakout Sessions with:  

Dr. Erica Brown, Vice Provost for Values and Leadership, Director, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center, Yeshiva University

Rabba Yaffa Epstein, Senior Scholar and Educator in Residence, The Jewish Education Project

Rabbi David Gelfand, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel of the City of New York 

Rabbi Isaama Goldstein-Stoll, Senior Jewish Educator, Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, Yale University

Rabbi David Ingber, Founding Rabbi, Romemu, and Senior Director of Jewish Life, 92NY

Dr. David C. Kraemer, author Joseph J. And Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, The Jewish Theological Seminary  

Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director, ATRA (formerly the Center for Rabbinic Innovation)

Professor Joy Ladin, Poet, formerly the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University

Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain, Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, Yale University 

Shannon Sarna, bestselling-cookbook author and author of The Nosher

Professor Peninnah Schram, Award-winning author, recipient of the Covenant Award for Outstanding Jewish Educator and Professor Emerita of Speech and Drama, Yeshiva University

Rabbi Jeffrey Sirkman, Senior Rabbi, Larchmont Temple

Rabbi Felicia Sol, Senior Rabbi, B’nai Jeshurun

Rabbi Joshua Stanton, Rabbi and Spiritual Co-Leader, East End Temple

October 17, 2023

The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Kingdoms, with Dr. Elana Stein Hain, Rosh Beit Midrash and Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America  


October 24, 2023

Postbiblical History: Exile and Diaspora, with Rabbi Burton Visotzky, Emeritus Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies, The Jewish Theology Seminary


October 31, 2023

Postbiblical History: The Shape of Modern Judaism, with Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and Vice President, American Jewish University 

Our Beliefs

November 7, 2023

The Fundamentals of Jewish Belief—and What It Means to Be Human, with Rabbi David Wolpe 


November 14, 2023

God and the Challenges of Belief, with Rabbi Larry Hoffman 


November 21, 2023

Living Jewishly: Weaving Mitzvot and Shabbat into Daily Life, with Rabbi Dov Linzer, President and Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and Rabbanit Devorah Zlochower, Mashgichah Ruchanit and Senior Scholar, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

November 28, 2023

Jews in America, with Dr. Laura Shaw Frank, Director of William Petschek Contemporary Jewish Life, American Jewish Committee

Our Worship

January 9, 2024

The Evolution of Worship, with Rabbi David Wolpe and Rabbi Sharon Brous, Senior and Founding Rabbi, IKAR  


January 16, 2024

Finding God and Yourself in Synagogue and Prayer, with Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Co-Founder and President, Yeshivat Maharat, and Rabbi Sara Y. Sapadin, Associate Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El 


January 23, 2024

Central Prayers and Their Place in The Landscape of Liturgy, with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, President and CEO, Hadar Institute 


January 30, 2024

Individual Hopes, Individual Prayer, with Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Elohim 

Our Homes

February 6, 2024

The Home As the Spiritual Heart of Judaism, with Rabbi David Wolpe  


February 13, 2024

Raising Jewish Children, with Dr. Richard M. Joel, President Emeritus, Yeshiva University 


February 20, 2024

Wrestling Identities: Being a Minority within a Minority, with Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue, and Rabbi Kendell Pinkney, Founding Artistic Director, The Workshop, and Rabbinical Educator, Reboot


February 27, 2024

Foods for Thought: Tradition and Jewish Cuisine, with Joan Nathan, TV Producer and Host, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, and Jake Cohen, chef and bestselling-cookbook author 

Our Cycle of Life

March 5, 2024

From Birth to Death: The Jewish Life Cycle, with Rabbi David Wolpe 


March 12, 2024

Coming of Age and Becoming a Jew: B’nei Mitzvot and Conversion, with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, award-winning author and former Spiritual Leader, Los Angeles Synagogue of the Performing Arts  


March 19, 2024

Aging, the End of Life and … Beyond? Belief and Ritual Around Illness, Death and Mourning, with Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Founder of The Center for Pastoral Education, The Jewish Theological Seminary 


March 26, 2024

Modern Dilemmas: From Money to Sexuality, with Rabbi Rachel Ain, Sutton Place Synagogue, and Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz, Fellow, Kogod Research Center, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Our Culture

April 2, 2024

The Media in Jewish Messaging with Rabbi David Wolpe

April 9, 2024

Sounds of Jewish History: A concert featuring Elana Arian, composer, multi-instrumentalist and prayer leader, and Noah Aronson, musician and Artist in Residence at Temple Beth Elohim

April 16, 2024

Our Music As Tradition, with:

Rachel Brook, Senior Cantor, Anshe Emet Synagogue;

Mo Glazman, Senior Cantor, Temple Emanu-El;

Daniel Mutlu, Senior Cantor, Central Synagogue; and

Azi Schwartz, Senior Cantor, Park Avenue Synagogue

April 30, 2024

The Jewish Story in Comedy and Literature, with Dr. Dara Horn, award-winning author and professor of literature, and Alex Edelman, comedian and Edinburgh Comedy Award winner 

Antisemitism and a Homeland Free of Fear


May 7, 2024

Jew-Hating through the Ages, with Rabbi David Wolpe  


May 14, 2024

The Holocaust, with Abraham Foxman, National Director Emeritus, Anti-Defamation League, and Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute,  American Jewish University 


May 21, 2024

Early Zionism and the Struggle for a Jewish State, with Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America 


May 28, 2024

Israel’s Achievements and Challenges, with Dr. Tal Becker, Senior Fellow, Kogod Research Center at Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem 

Modern Dives into Ancient Texts

A week-long exploration of biblical writings and their modern implication by world-famous Torah scholar and author Dr. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, followed by conversations moderated by Abigail Pogrebin with: 


June 3, 2024

Becoming Abraham, Dr. Zornberg 


Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun


June 4, 2024

Isaac – Blindness and Blessing, Dr. Zornberg


Rabbi Shai Held, President, Dean, and Chair in Jewish Thought, Hadar Institute, and Idit Klein, President/CEO, Keshet


June 5, 2024

Jacob – Letter from an Unknown Woman, Dr. Zornberg


Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, Senior Rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, D.D., Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah


June 6, 2024

Joseph and His Brothers – The Pit and the Rope, Dr. Zornberg


Rabbi Ben Spratt, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, and Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, PhD, Park Avenue Synagogue 

June 7

A Shabbat Dinner Celebration of Year One Completion


Yesod: Year Two

Chagim: Holidays

Throughout Yesod Year Two, our unique exploration of Jewish holidays – and their relevance to today’s world – will help bring what you’ve learned to life. 

In-person participants will celebrate Jewish holidays around New York City with rabbis and congregations of various denominations and styles. All nine experiences will be led by Abigail Pogrebin, author of My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew. (For those joining Yesod virtually, an online class about each holiday will be offered.)  

Experiences will include a Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Accounting of the Soul Project, an outdoor Sukkot tour with a different food course in every sukkah, a Torah Hora on Simchat Torah, the seder you’ve never sampled on Tu B’Shevat, a raucous Purim carnival, useful (and eye-opening) Passover-prep, a powerful Yom HaShoah memorial program, an Israel Independence Day celebration, and Shavuot all-night study – the ancient tradition that’s a lot more fun than it sounds, especially when you factor in the requisite cheesecake.

By the end of the second year, you will not only be able to explain Shemini Atzeret and the Fast of Esther, but you will hopefully feel more equipped to decide whether there are holidays you want to adopt into your Jewish routine.  

Additional programs are offered both in-person and virtually for those interested in adult B’nei Mitzvah and those committed to conversion.