Fall Zman 2021

Fall Zman runs from October 17th – December 9th. Below is what we’re cooking up for this season. If you’re looking for drop-in learning, one-off sessions, or other ways to connect to your Queer Talmud comrades, see our upcoming offerings

Not sure which is the right offering? Here’s a handy guide!

Fall 2021 Offerings

ENROLL NOW
A Taste of SVARA
Talmud & Alef-Bet
Electives
ENROLL NOW
Enrollment

SVARA’s enrollment follows a multi-step process:

  • First, you will fill out a registration form selecting your class preferences and sharing about your learning experience (all experiences are welcome! We’re not evaluating you, just learning how best to support your learning!).
  • Next, you will be notified if you are accepted or waitlisted for your program selection, based on availability.
  • Upon acceptance, you will be asked to fill out a second form to pay tuition.

Through this enrollment process, we maintain a significant majority of queer- and trans-identifying people in each program, and we prioritize the participation of people of color and people with disabilities. Questions? Email James!

Accessibility Information

All of SVARA’s programs utilize accessibility protocols and practices outlined here. Questions about access at SVARA? Email James!

Tuition
  • Alef-Bet Basics is offered free of charge (though donations are welcome, which you can offer when you register!).
  • All other multi-week classes below are “pay-what-you-can,” with a suggested sliding scale of $175-700 for each class. When registering, you can indicate the amount you would like to contribute for tuition, which can be below, on, or above the suggested scale.
  • Click here for more information about tuition.
  • Questions? Email James!
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Class Descriptions:

Taste of SVARA: A Day of Traditionally Radical Learning with Rabbi Benay Lappe

Sunday, Oct. 10 | Course Full
Crash Talk: 12:00-2:00 PM ET | 11:00-1:00 PM CT | 9:00-11:00 AM PT
Bet Midrash: 3:00-6:00 PM ET | 2:00-5:00 PM CT | 12:00-3:00 PM PT

Taught by Rabbi Benay Lappe

How can studying ancient Jewish texts help us create a liberated world? In the CRASH talk, we will explore the radical and queer history of the Talmud, Judaism’s foundational text, and discuss how it can help us understand and navigate moments of disruptive change in society and our own lives.

After a break, we’ll dive right into the text and put the theory into practice. Whether you’ve never learned Talmud before or you’re an advanced learner, SVARA’s bet midrash (learning community) is for you! All you need is the ability to decode your alef-bet (i.e. sound out your Hebrew letters), and you’ll be learning Talmud in the original Hebrew/Aramaic within your first hour. We guarantee it!

As part of our commitment to making liberatory learning accessible to all, admission is FREE. If you’re able to make a donation in support of SVARA’s learning community we’d be ever so grateful.

 

A Toolkit for Refining Our Guts: Developing Our ‘Svara’ Off-the-Page with Scholar-in-Residence Devin Samuels

Mondays, 5:00-7:00 PM ET | 4:00-6:00 PM CT | 2:00-4:00 PM PT | Oct. 25-Dec. 6 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Devin Samuels, SVARA’s Fall 2021 Scholar-in-Residence

How can we cultivate a regular practice of refining our “svara”? In this dialogue-driven learning space, we’ll encounter a set of multi-disciplinary tools and teachings that help us develop the places in our bodies and brains where our ‘svara’ lives as we integrate them into a lived, daily practice. Using multiple modalities including poetry, personal reflection, writing, dialogue, and creative process, our learning aims to culminate in a more developed and more acute embodied svara. This class is not about “owning” text, but will focus on heart-opening vulnerability, challenging, and questioning. We’ll do rigorous self-excavation; bring your open, resilient, embodied, and present self, and show up ready to interact fully in dialogue with each other! Note: This class is designed for SVARA-niks who have attended an online semester shiur, Queer Talmud Camp, or multiple sessions of SVARA’s Mishnah Collective.

Meet SVARA's Fall 2021 Scholar-in-Residence

Devin Samuels (he/him) is a poet educator who has been performing on local and national stages for the last 10 years. With a strong investment in community, Devin Samuels has spent years cultivating youth arts spaces throughout New England. In Detroit, Devin Samuels worked with Inside Out Literary Arts Project supplying poetry programming to youth throughout the city. His pedagogy utilizes poetics to grow critical thinking, self-reflection, and empathy within students. Devin is a 2017 Poetry Foundation Incubator Fellow and his work can be found in City & Sea Poetry Anthology, Slag Review, Wayne Literary Review 2018 and Systematic Crises of Global Climate Change: Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender.

 

Alef-Bet Basics

Mondays, 8:00-9:30 PM ET | Oct. 25-Nov. 15 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Ren Finkel

Alef-Bet Basics will be a four-week dive into the Hebrew alphabet! This class will get you prepped and ready to go for your future SVARA experiences, as we learn the Hebrew letters and vocalizations. As always, this space will be fun and queer-normative as we navigate the delights and frustrations of learning the building-blocks of a language. We’ll give you all the tools you need to boost this beautiful new skill during the class and beyond! (Please note that this isn’t a Hebrew grammar or vocabulary class, we’ll be sticking just to letters and vocalizations.)

 

Queer Talmud for Beginner’s Mind

Join SVARA for some Queer Talmud goodness specifically designed for folks who are new(er) to SVARA’s approach to Talmud study and want to learn in a queer-normative space!  The learning is rigorous, *and* the bet midrash environment is warm and supportive. Students are strongly encouraged to bring their real-life experiences to bear on the text and to share openly in a space that models queer culture and radical inclusion. In both sections, we’ll study a section of the Talmud in the *original language* (with no translations!) with a focus on skill-building (learning how to learn), the radical nature of the Jewish tradition, and the cultivation of Talmud study as a spiritual practice. Each weekly session will combine chevruta learning (learning in pairs) and collective unpacking of the text in shiur.

All you need in order to participate is the ability to sound out your alef-bet, and you’ll be reading from the daf (directly from the page of Talmud) in no time! If you’re still working on your alef-bet, check out these resources to support your learning or join us for Alef-Bet Basics this fall! If you’ve never learned with SVARA before and are new to traditionally radical Talmud study, this learning experience is for you!

SECTION 1

Mondays, 6:00-8:00 PM ET | 5:00-7:00 PM CT | 3:00-5:00 PM PT | Oct.18-Dec.6 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Julie Batz with Fairies Rabbi Hayley Goldstein + noa g.e.

SECTION 2

Tuesdays, 8:00-10:00 PM ET | 7:00-9:00 PM CT | 5:00-7:00 PM PT | Oct. 19-Dec. 7 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Julie Batz with Fairies Binya Koatz + noa g.e.

 

Mixed-Level Bet Midrash

In the Mixed-Level Bet Midrash, you’ll learn core texts from SVARA’s library that show how the Rabbis upgrade the tradition they’ve been given—so that we can do the same—and explore the tensions that arise when they, and we, pursue radical change. This learning space is for anyone—from beginners to advanced Talmudists—and will provide learners with the scaffolding and tools to be challenged at their own learning level in a rigorous and supportive environment. Each weekly session will combine chevruta learning (learning in pairs) and collective unpacking of the text in shiur as a large group.

Section 1: Lev Yodea Marat Nafsho

Mondays, 8:00-10:00 PM ET | 7:00-9:00 PM CT | 5:00-7:00 PM PT | Oct. 18-Dec. 6 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Rabbi Becky Silverstein with Fairies Rabbi Jess Belasco + Noah Rubin-Blose

What happens when someone is sick on Yom Kippur? When and how do our individual experiences and intuitions override what’s written in the Torah? Through this specific case, the Talmud opens up questions about the trust that the rabbinic system puts in the individual to adjudicate best regarding their own experience, and explores who ultimately has authority over our bodies, lives, and decision-making.

Section 2: Ona'at Devarim

Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 PM ET | 5:00-7:00 PM CT | 3:00-5:00 PM PT | Oct. 19-Dec. 7 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Rabbi Bronwen Mullin with Fairies Annie Kaufman + Sarit Cantor

What is oppressive speech and how do we respond to it? What do we do when our lived experiences are not fully addressed by the tradition we’ve inherited? Through exploring the concept of ona’at devarim, “harmful speech,” we’ll uncover how the rabbis create new categories of life and practice as they build their Option 3 world.

Section 3: Lev Yodea Marat Nafsho

Wednesdays, 4:00-6:00 PM ET | 3:00-5:00 PM CT | 1:00-3:00 PM PT | Oct. 20-Dec. 8 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Rabbi Bronwen Mullin + Elaina Marshalek with Fairies Amir Weg + Eliana Mastrangelo

What happens when someone is sick on Yom Kippur? When and how do our individual experiences and intuitions override what’s written in the Torah? Through this specific case, the Talmud opens up questions about the trust that the rabbinic system puts in the individual to adjudicate best regarding their own experience, and explores who ultimately has authority over our bodies, lives, and decision-making.

 

Shiur for Experienced SVARA-niks

Wednesdays, 8:00-9:30 PM ET | 7:00-8:30 PM CT | 5:00-6:30 PM PT | Oct. 20-Dec. 8 | ENROLL NOW

Taught by Elaina Marshalek, with Fairies Zissel Piazza + Rabbi Lauren Tuchman

Experienced & advanced learning at SVARA is not about covering more—it’s about going deeper. Get ready to go deep, and take your learning to the next level with a weekly shiur that will focus on rigorous attention to details and radical attunement to letters and historical layers. You’ll be expected to prepare in chevruta for 1.5-2 hours in advance of our weekly shiur. This shiur is for serious, dedicated learners who have experience learning with SVARA, are very comfortable with SVARA’s method & approach to Talmud study, and are ready to maintain or significantly deepen their practice of learning with a chevruta. We strongly encourage you to sign up with a chevruta, and can provide chevruta matching as needed.

About the text:

Kol Mi She’efshar (Shabbat 54b): What responsibility do we take for the actions of others? How does this interplay with dynamics of power and authority? This zman, we will dive into a case where the Rabbis grapple with rebellion within their own ranks, and where they carve out opportunities to launch into conversations about accountability, protest, and power. We’ll see how our sages upgrade this discussion through time, and we’ll also explore the rewrites of Rishonim (medieval commentary).

 

Heavenly Torah: Radical Rabbinic Theologies

Mondays, 6:30-7:30 PM ET | 5:30-6:30 PM CT | 2:30-3:30 PM PT | Nov. 1-Dec. 6 | Course Full

Taught by Laynie Soloman

Get grounded in the ideas, debates, and ideological frameworks at the heart of the rabbinic project! This course will be a broad overview of core themes in rabbinic theology through close readings of selections from R’ Abraham Joshua Heschel’s prolific work Heavenly Torah: As Refracted Through the Generations (Torah min HaShamayim BeAspaklariya shel HaDorot, 1962) and accompanying rabbinic texts. As we witness the rabbis shape, create, and articulate their beliefs and ideas in relation to their past, we’ll attempt to explore our own theological questions as they relate to and take root in the paradigms set forth by queer rabbinic ancestors. 

Note:

  • This class is designed for SVARA-niks who have attended an online semester shiur, Queer Talmud Camp, or multiple sessions of SVARA’s Mishnah Collective
  • This course includes assigned reading ahead of class each week. Digital scans of assigned texts will be provided. Folks who would like to have a copy of the book in-hand can purchase this edition
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Not sure which is the right offering? Here’s a handy guide!