Emanuel Congregation

5959 N. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60660
773/561-5173 info@emanuelcong.org

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Study :: Adult Education

Rabbi Michael R. Zedek, seated--teachingSenior Rabbi Michael Zedek, Rabbi Emeritus Herman Schaalman, Congregational Cantor Michelle Drucker Friedman, and lay instructors lead a variety of adult classes. Special classes in ethics, beginning and advanced Hebrew, text study, and history are offered throughout the year. Anshe Mitzvah offers adult congregants a program to expand their knowledge of Hebrew and Judaism and prepare for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah as an adult.

Shabbat Morning Torah/Hebrew Study

On Shabbat morning, Emanuel offers study with Rabbis Zedek and Schaalman:


Students read the Torah in Hebrew and translate; students returning to Hebrew may read the English until they are comfortable enough to try the Hebrew!

Parashah (Torah Portion) of the Week. Rabbi Schaalman discusses the Torah portion of the week with students, with room for digressing on interesting points!

Reading Torah/Adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah

Would you like to read Torah at a Saturday morning service? Interested in becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah as an adult?  If you know your Alef-Bet, our Congregational Cantor would like to help you reach your goal. Please contact Congregational Cantor Shelly Drucker Friedman at cantorfriedman@emanuelcong.org if you are interested.

Itza Mitzvah
Once a month
7:00 pm at Uncommon Ground (3800 N. Clark)

Itza Mitzvah is a monthly caffeinated conversation with Rabbi Zedek about the universe, life and living as a Jew. Each month, we discuss a different mitzvah or commandment from our tradition, topics to be determined. Please email Leah Jones, leahj77@gmail.com, for more information. While the program is especially for young adults, all are welcome. Uncommon Grounds, 3800 North Clark Street, Chicago, 773-929-3680 . For information about the TBD Minyan, a minyan of young adults meeting at Emanuel and other places, please contact Leah Jones. Current TBD Minyan Schedule.

Avis Nopar Book Club
Generally meets the third Saturday of the month; for time and lcoation, contact the Emanuel office at 773/561-5173.

Jewish Values Online presents views on current issues addressed by rabbis from different movements; Rabbi Michael Zedek is on the Reform Judaism panel for this site.

Most recent question:
I am a Jewish woman, as my mother is Jewish. My father is not Jewish. I was raised as a Conservative Jew. I am in a relationship with a modern orthodox man who is a Cohen (a descendant of Aaron, one of the High Priests). We want to marry, but we have been told there are restrictions on him marrying me, because in addition to other restrictions on Cohanim (High Priests), one of the restricted classes of women for Cohanim are those whose fathers are not Jewish. Can you please clarify this for me? Is this true? I have done a lot of reading and I keep seeing the restrictions for widow, divorcee, convert, but not for a Jewish woman whose father was not Jewish. Since my mother is Jewish and Judaism is a matrilineal religion – and I have read in some places Judaism doesn’t even recognize the religion of the father – I am Jewish. If it is true that one of the marriage restrictions of the Cohanim is to a woman whose father is not Jewish, can you please advise on what we can do in our situation to marry? Rabbi Zedek’s response.

Other questions:

  • I’m wondering if there are any laws or guidelines about our obligations to those that help us. I’m familiar with the concepts of Tzedakah that refer to charitable acts and methods of giving, but am seeking suggestions or links for appropriate guidelines when one receives or  is the one who is assisted.  Rabbi Zedek’s response.
  • What is the concept of “ohr lagoyim/le’ohr goyim” [a light to the nations]? Reponse.
  • Why did God create soul mates and then separate them and made them look for each other during their lives? What is the purpose of that?…How does this fit into Jewish values?    Response.
  • What is the best way in which to dedicate a Jewish home; recognize that a Jewish home once existed here; deal with misdeeds of the past?    Reponse.
  • How can we fulfill the mitzvot of “mishloach manot” (sending portions) and “matanot l’evyonim (giving to the needy) on Purim? Reponse.
  • How can we implement love your neighbor as yourself? Response.
  • Christmas Tree.  Is it wrong for children to be raised as Jews to have a Christmas tree in the house if a parent is Christian?   Response.
  • Kashrut. Can you eat something that is kosher but resembles something that isn’t? Response.
  • Chayav/Obligation. What’s the meaning of this?  Response.
  • Synagogue. Why should I go? What’s in it for me?  Response.
  • Observance of Torah.  Is it wrong to look for the “what’s in it for me” aspect of Torah observance? After all, God Himself gave the Jews selfish reasons to follow His Torah. Why shouldn’t I base my observance on what I enjoy or find meaningful?  Response.
  • Illegal Downloading. I know many friends—honest, God-fearing people—who have no problem “stealing” entertainment in the form of illegal downloads.  Can we stop it? Should we?  Response.