Adult Education

Adult Education

Upcoming Events

This year, Congregation Beth Israel’s Adult Education program explores the role of prophets and prophecy in several major religions.  Prophesies are messages from God, typically involving inspiration, interpretation, or the revelation of divine will.  A religion is shaped and defined by its prophets.  The biblical prophets underlie the idea of prophecy in all the Abrahamic faiths.

We will begin the year with an introduction to the Jewish prophets and the role of prophecy in Judaism in general, and in the genesis of the Reform Movement in particular.

On Thursday, November 14 and Thursday, November 21, at noon, join Rabbi Rachel Joseph in the Shirley and Herbert Semler Board room for two seminars on the Jewish prophets and prophecy.  Bring your own lunch; dessert and coffee will be provided.

On Thursday, December 12, at noon, Ron Silver will join Rabbi Joseph to discuss the influence of the Jewish prophets on the American civil rights movement.  Bring your own lunch; dessert and coffee will be provided.

A program on Mormonism will take place on March 31 at 7:00 PM in Pollin Chapel. Steve Rallison will be our speaker.

A program on the prophets of Islam also is being scheduled, with Wadji Said Bek as our speaker. The time and venue will be announced in Beneath Our Dome and other CBI media.

Watch Online

Miss out on any of our Adult Education programs? They are now archived online! You may also watch our events live online by clicking the same link.

Past Events

Food for the Soul with Rabbi Shelton Donnell and Wendy Bocarsky
Sunday, June 2, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
Sokol Blosser Vineyard/John Storrs Tasting Room

Food plays a starring role in Jewish tradition from Friday night dinner to the Passover Seder, but its significance goes beyond the fact that Jews like to eat! Through our “Food for the Soul” program, you can explore some insights of our tradition on the “Torah of the kitchen” from the Talmud to the Hasidic masters. To add to the experience, you will sample wine, enjoy cheese tasting and indulge yourselves with rich chocolate. Your day at Sokol Blosser includes a discussion of The Shulchan Arukh, our sacred table, and how food plays a ritual role in Judaism with Wendy Bocarsky, a conversation on The Kabbalah of Food, how we taste and what we taste with Rabbi Shelton Donnell… and of course food. Coffee, snacks, a farm-to-table lunch served family style, wine selections from Sokol Blosser Vineyard, cheese chosen by cheese monger Chris Remy of Elephants Delicatessen, and chocolate created by chocolatier Christina Yen, Yen for Chocolate.

$95; RSVP to Tracy at (503) 222-1069 or

Thanks to Tony and Bianca Urdes for their generous support of Adult Education at CBI


The Three Clergy Present: The Spring Holidays: Resurrection, Rebirth and Remembrance
Thursday, May 23, 7:00 PM
Pollin Chapel

Rev. Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan, St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and The Very Rev. Nathan LeRud, Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral join our own Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana in their annual interfaith discussion. Free and open to the public


Rhapsody in Bernstein
Thursday, May 9, 7:00 PM
Pollin Chapel

Michael Allen Harrison presents “Rhapsody in Bernstein,” a program of commentary and music as part of CBI’s celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday.  Harrison, a distinguished musician and composer who has recorded more than fifty albums, well known at CBI where he often accompanies the choir and has inspired us with his piano during Yom Kippur services.  With this program, Michael explores Bernstein’s gift for interpreting the great works of George Gershwin as well as West Side Story and Symphony No. 3 (Kaddish), two of his favorite Bernstein masterpieces.


From Camp Herzl to The Basement Tapes: a Look at Yearning in The Early Work of Bob Dylan
Wednesday, April 17, 7:00 PM
Pollin Chapel

Join former CBI Associate Rabbi Allan Berg, a noted expert on Bob Dylan’s life and his music., for an exploration of five Dylan gems, each demonstrating Dylan’s unique marriage of words with music. This selection represents the arc of his
life from the Midwest – North Country’s unique Zionist oriented Camp Herzl to the transcendental hills of Up-State New York, from folk-to beat infused rock and roll, to country, to an entirely original hybrid known as The Basement Tapes.


From Gentlemen’s Agreement to Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg Judaism in mainstream America post WWII
Thursday, February 28, 7:00 PM
Pollin Chapel

At the end of WWII, hard hitting plays like “Home of the Brave” and Academy Award winning movies like “Crossfire” and “Gentlemen’s Agreement” shined a spotlight on Anti-Semitism in America.  But that focus softened and by the early 1950’s, the Goldbergs were America’s favorite neighbors featured in that new medium called television. Come be entertained by  Ron Silver and Joanne Treuhaft as they use several film clips to explore this shift.


Three Clergy Present: “The Illusion of Inclusion: Welcomed, Welcoming and Sometimes, Not.”

Panel: Rev. Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan, St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Israel; The Very Rev. Nathan LeRud, Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

On February 9, 2016, three clergy from three of the major NW Portland religious institutions gathered to discuss and teach about issues from their unique religious perspectives. Inclusion and Welcoming are important words in our religious practice these days. But how do we define ourselves if there is no distinction? America is a land of religious inclusion – but it hasn’t always been. Exclusion is also a part of our history. Read more about the event in this Catholic Sentinel article.

Watch video of some of the event:

Three Clergy Present 2015 – Three Clergy and a Wedding: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in our Religious Tradition

Speakers: Msgr. Patrick Brennan of St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Rev. Canon Nathan LeRud, Acting Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana of CBI

Continuing their popular series of discussions, the leaders of three major congregations in our corner of NW Portland joined in a lively dialogue.

Read more and watch snippets from the event.

Jews and the Civil Rights Movement: The Mississippi Journey of Mickey and Rita Schwerner

Speakers: Former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jacob Tanzer and Ron Silver

Former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jacob Tanzer, Ron Silver, and the Northwest Freedom Singers told the story of Mickey and Rita Schwerner and Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi in the 1960s. After the FBI found the bodies of Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman in August 1964, Jake Tanzer was part of the Justice Department team that went to Mississippi to root out and indict the killers. Ron and Jake shared how Jews came to play such a large role in the Movement and how most of the killers were finally brought to justice. The Northwest Freedom Singers made the room come alive with the music of the Movement.

The Struggle with G-d: From Antiquity to Modernity

This was a series of three lectures by Rabbi Michael Cahana about our struggle with G-d. Previous attendance is not a prerequisite to latter sessions.

Judaism’s radical insight to religion is the concept of a single G-d, unseeable and to a certain extent unknowable. And yet, that uniqueness creates a problem known to Moses and all the prophets: How can I know an unknowable G-d? In this series of classes, we will discuss the struggle we Jews have with divinity. Having trouble with G-d? Join the club!

Session 3: “Where is G-d? The Holocaust Defiance” 
Sunday, December 7, 10:00 AM 
Pollin Chapel

In this final session we discussed one of the most theological difficult subjects: The question of where is G-d in our most difficult times. We looked at historic challenges from the Expulsions (Israel, Spain), the challenges brought by the Enlightenment, the Shoah and the 20th Century “Death of God” movement.