Mixed-Level Bet Midrash

a weekly deep-dive into traditionally radical Talmud with SVARA

Section 1: A Case Study in Rabbinic Power & Authority (Rosh Hashanah 25a) – FULL
Mondays, April 19th – June 7th*
8:00 – 10:00 PM ET | 7:00 – 9:00 PM CT | 5:00 – 7:00 PM PT

Section 2: Moshe in Rabbi Akiva’s Bet Midrash (Menachot 29b)
Tuesdays, April 20th – June 8th*
6:00 – 8:00 PM ET | 5:00 – 7:00 PM PM CT | 3:00 – 5:00 PM PT

All Sections: CRASH Talk and SVARA Orientation for comrades new to SVARA Talmud learning
Sunday, April 18th
7:00 – 9:00 PM ET | 6:00 – 8:00 PM PM CT | 4:00 – 6:00 PM PT

*Note: There will be no class on May 17th or 18th because of Shavuot.

Registration for these shiurim is full. Check out our DIY Bet Midrash if you want to learn one of these texts on your own time, supported by our SVARA team!

Are you ready to make a weekly commitment to Talmud? Here are two opportunities to get in on a Mixed-Level Bet Midrash this spring

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. 

About this learning space:

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. 

This learning space is for folks who:

  • have encountered Talmud before and want to understand more about what SVARA’s approach to traditionally radical Talmud is all about 
  • have learned with SVARA before and want to deepen their skills as learners
  • want to dig into SVARA’s core texts
  • want to level-up their learning by maintaining a substantial weekly learning practice
  • want to get matched with a chevruta or have one already
  • can commit to joining us for all sessions
  • NOTE: if you’ve never learned Talmud before, you’re welcome to join this learning space! You can also check out Queer Talmud for Beginner’s Mind for an experience specifically designed for first-time learners). If you are ready to commit to a chevruta outside of a fixed class time and you have previously learned Talmud with SVARA at least once, take a look at our DIY Bet Midrash.

Registration & Cost:

We will be admitting registrants on a rolling basis. You should expect to hear from us within three business days based upon the receipt of your registration.

Tuition for the Mixed Level Bet Midrash is offered on a sliding scale of $175-$500.

What SVARA texts are we learning this season?

Section 1: A Case Study in Rabbinic Power & Authority (Rosh Hashanah 25a)
Mondays, April 19th – June 7th* (8 sessions), 8:00 – 10:00 PM ET | 7:00 – 9:00 PM CT | 5:00 – 7:00 PM PT

Dive into the tensions that arise as the Rabbis grapple with conceptions of time, truth, power, and interpersonal relationships.

Section 2: Moshe in Rabbi Akiva’s Bet Midrash & Creating an Unrecognizable Future (Menachot 29b)
Tuesdays, April 20th – June 8th* (8 sessions), 6:00 – 8:00 PM ET | 5:00 – 7:00 PM PM CT | 3:00 – 5:00 PM PT 

Time travel in this core aggadic text (narrative story) where we see the Torah as a source of radical change that, when distilling our core values and upgrading our traditions, becomes unrecognizable to past generations.

Your Teaching Team:

Section 1

Bet Midrash Faculty

Laynie Soloman (they/them) – Associate Rosh Yeshiva

Laynie is a passionate teacher of Jewish text, thought, and tradition, they believe deeply in the power of Talmud study as a healing and liberatory spiritual practice. They have spent several years learning and teaching in various batei midrash (homes for Jewish learning) including at Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York City, where they currently serve as an adjunct faculty member. Laynie is completing a Dual M.A. in Talmud/Rabbinic Literature & Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Goucher College. They love facilitating experiences of Jewish learning that uplift the piously irreverent, queer, and subversive spirit of rabbinic text and theology, and they have taught and lectured on these topics in various community spaces, campuses, and in academic settings. When not in shul or learning Talmud, you can find Laynie reading about liberation theology, collecting comic books, and singing niggunim.

Elaina Marshalek (she/her) – Director of Programs

Elaina loves to color code her daf (page of Talmud) in full rainbow. She is hungry to help uncover the Torah and wisdom that y’all SVARA-niks carry. Elaina was born, raised, schooled, and still resides in the Bay Area, Ohlone territory. She holds degrees in forestry, probability and an M.S. in engineering from UC Berkeley, and swears they all have to do with Talmud study. She is an alum of Yeshivat Hadar, spends time supporting mass social movement building, and has worked in an array of industries, leading her to tropical forests, salt ponds, and hospital hallways. Most recently, Elaina worked as Director of Strategy for UCSF Health, shepherding the organization through pandemic response and hospital recovery. She is thrilled to dive into full-time mitzvahland with SVARA and to support this rad, vibrant community as it grows and deepens. When she’s not learning Talmud, Elaina loves reading gay YA, playing piano, and working toward that sweet feeling of liberation.


Noah Rubin-Blose (he/him) is a rabbinical student at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rooted in Durham, NC, the homelands of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, he spent the last fifteen years working as a chef, baker, and community organizer. He is a maker of queer ritual, builder of interfaith coalitions, teacher and facilitator, and lifelong student-participant in Southern movements for racial justice. When he’s not teaching or studying, you can probably find him walking by a river or cooking up something tasty in the kitchen.



Sarit Cantor (they/them) is a community builder, artist, ritual leader, grief tender, prison abolitionist, off-the-derech femme. They are approaching the Teaching Kollel with a commitment to weave justice work with the work of the sacred. They see the Talmud as a direct connection to ancestral conversations that inform so much of what it means to be a diasporic Jew and they are excited to bring a thriving relationship with these holy texts into their life’s work. Sarit currently lives in Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada, where they write, teach, organize, pray, study, conspire & dream toward our collective liberation.


Section 2

Bet Midrash Faculty

Bronwen Mullin (she/her) – SVARA Fellow

Bronwen is a SVARA Fellow and graducate of the SVARA Teaching Kollel. See serves as rabbi of Congregation Bnai Jacob of Jersey City where she gets to rabble-rouse in all the right places. She is a playwright, composer, and performance artist. Her Hebrew/Aramaic opera “Chalom” based on the 9th chapter of Masechet Berakhot, appeared in the 2012 International NYC Fringe Festival. Bronwen is currently developing her 2nd full-scale opera, “Bat Yiftach: A Tragic Punk Opera” thanks to a JTS Seeds of Innovation and Myers Family grant. Bronwen is also an inaugural fellow with the Rising Song Institute.


Amir Weg (he/him) moved to Chicago in 2009 after a brief stint hanging out in the Kosher Halal Co-op at Oberlin College. In Summer 2011 he participated in The Adamah Fellowship, a three-month Jewish ecology and leadership program, which nurtured his love of Jewish community, confirmed his interest in Environmental Studies, and gave him a chance to get his hands dirty. In the past few years, Amir has, on and off, worked as an urban farmer, studied Environmental Science at DePaul University, and built Jewish community at Moishe House Rogers Park. Amir has been studying at SVARA since 2013, was SVARA’s 2016 Fellow, and brings insights gained as a SVARA learner to his work.


Annie Sommer Kaufman (she/her) teaches sewing, Talmud, and Yiddish; sewing at RefugeeOne, where she manages the sewing studio, Talmud at The Lace Midrash, which grew out of her training as a SVARA learner and teacher, and Yiddish at Chicago’s YIVO and Workers’ Circle. Anye is translating an American communist novel to English with the support of The Yiddish Book Center, and serves on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace.




Eliana Mastrangelo (she/her) is a compassionate and skilled community organizer, teacher and trainer. She is studying to be a rabbi at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Previously, she was a Lead Organizer at Together Colorado, a multi-faith, multi-racial organization committed to placing human dignity and care for creation at the center of public life. Eliana is committed to building the sacred power of organized people fed by a nurturing and agitational Torah.