Torah Talk at Beth El

by | Feb 8, 2013 | What’s Happening

Saturday morning Shabbat services at Congregation Beth El start at 9:30 am. For those who arrive 30 minutes earlier, they are treated to a stimulating and inspirational session of Torah Talk led by Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz. It’s a chance to nosh on cake, coffee and tea while doing in-depth Torah study and discussion of the weekly parsha. Torah Talk serves as an introduction and preparation for the regular Saturday morning service. For some it is primarily an intellectual activity, while for others it is more of a spiritual endeavor.

When Rabbi Arnowitz arrived at Beth El in 2011, he did a series of “Meet and Greets” to get to know the community. In the course of those meetings, he heard a number of people express an interest in an opportunity to do Torah study during Shabbat services. As it turned out, Rabbi Arnowitz was accustomed to starting services at 9 am at his previous position, so since Beth El services start at 9:30 am, he decided to make good use of that 30 minutes by starting Torah Talk.

“It provides some meaningful connection with the Torah and helps put participants, including me, in a better mind set when we begin services,” says Arnowitz.

Typically, participants want a better understanding of the day’s Torah portion, as well as the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the portion and possibly provide their own insight.

On any given week, participants range from a handful to up to a dozen and come from a variety of age groups and backgrounds. There is a core, devoted group of regular participants.

Julius Marcus, one of the regular participants, says, “I enjoy hearing the opinions of not only Rabbi Arnowitz and the sages he quotes, but also the many insightful opinions of my fellow participants.”

Virgie McCall also says she enjoys listening to different people’s opinions, but she stresses the spiritual aspect of Torah Talk: “The discussion helps to peel away the layers of meaning and gain a better understanding of God’s meaning.”

by Marcus Friedman