Adult Education

For more information about any of these programs please contact Pat Meyer at



Weekly Torah Study with Rabbi Aft

Mondays 7:30pm - 8:45pm

Sha'are Shalom's weekly Torah study meets every week with the exception of Jewish holidays.


In Judaism, Torah study is actually a mitzvah. We have a life-long obligation to consider how our sacred texts relate to our lives, our relationships. our obligations, our families, our civic duties, and nearly every other essential aspect of our existence. One of the most important ways we can do this is to spend some time with the text that will be read in communal worship that week. A reason the Torah has continued to be significant for us is that it offers unlimited opportunities for interpretation and discussion. 


Our weekly study session will begin with a review of the parshah (section of the first five books that will be read on Shabbat) with general discussion encouraged, but limited. Following this, the leader will guide a focused consideration of a part of the parshah of particular interest. Participants will be encouraged (but in no way requied) to actively contribute to the discussion. No background of any kind is needed, and the leader will have the responsibility to explain topics, words, and concepts as necessary. No question will be too basic.


The selection of the parshah will follow the Conservative movements triennial pattern. It will be helpful if participants have access to a good English translation of the Torah for this to work. Online resources are perfectly acceptable. The leader will use the Jewish Publication Society's translation from the Etz Hayim Chumash. (A Chumash includes the Hebrew text of the Torah separated into its 54 constituent weekly Torah portions, together with the haftarah for each portion, and often, translation notes.)

Weekly Hebrew Class

Wednesdays, January 20 - March 3


Interested in learning Hebrew? We have a new class beginning in January! Sue Aft (Rabbi Aft's wife) will be teaching a 7-week Beginning Hebrew class.

There is no fee for the class, but

participants should purchase the following book: 

Ivrit Alton: A Hebrew Primer for Adults


We hope to have you learn with us!


Please email Pat Meyer, our Adult Education Chair, to register for the class.

Let's Scroll Down Together with Avi West

5 Thursday evenings at 7:30pm

February 4, 11, 25 and March 4, 11


We are thrilled to announce an Adult Education Series with Avi West starting in February.


We are offering this class at no cost, but if you are inclined, we encourage a contribution to the

Rabbi's Discretionary Fund.


Class is open to CSS members and non-members alike.

Please share with those who may be interested in this wonderful learning opportunity.

There are 5 books that appear in the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), in the third part called the Ketubim (Writings or Hagiographa). What are the Five Megillot? They are: Song of Songs – (Hebrew: Shir HaShirim), Ruth – (Hebrew: Rut), Lamentations – (Hebrew: Eicha), Ecclesiastes – (Hebrew: Kohelet), Esther – (Hebrew: Ester). Originally, only Megillat Esther was mandated to be read in public (on Purim) and mandated to be written on a scroll – like a Torah scroll. But over time the word megillah came to be associated with these other short books of the ketubim as well, and by the Middle Ages it was common for them to be written on separate scrolls, called megillot, and read on other annual holidays.


Each of the five sessions together will focus on one megillah. We will explore the setting and narrative of each scroll, interpretations of its content, moral and spiritual lessons from the text and later commentaries, and the liturgical use and link to the holiday when each is read in public. You may well ask “How did THAT get into the Bible?!” No matter how they entered the canon, they remain in the Bible by popular demand, and are a part of world literature and culture.


We may not have time to discuss “the whole megillah,” but I am sure we will learn to appreciate each scroll for its charm and contribution to Jewish thought and culture.

Avi West recently retired after 45 years in Jewish education. He most recently served as Senior Education Officer and Master Teacher at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Working closely with educators in both formal and informal settings, Avi works to bring excellence in Judaic content and pedagogy to area programs. As a “Master Teacher,” he models cutting edge technique and creates engaging content for all ages of learners. Avi previously held the positions of Director of Educational Resources at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, and Executive Director for the Board of Jewish Education of Greater Washington.


Avi received a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s of Hebrew Letters and an M.A. in Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. He completed a graduate program in educational administration at New York University, and continued learning at The American University in Washington, D.C. He received his Hebrew Teachers License from its National Board of License.


Avi has taught, studied and worked alongside clergy from all denominations, inspiring his “communitarian” love of Judaism, respect for all those working on behalf of the community, and great hope in our future. Summers as a counselor in Jewish camp and as a trip leader in Israel impressed upon him the critical role of experiential learning in identity building. Avi continues to teach adult classes on various topics.


Avi and his wife live in Silver Spring, Maryland and have two children and six grandchildren, who are in charge of his continuing education.

Connect With Us!

For more information please

call 703-737-6500 or email

Mailing address: P.O. Box 4518, Leesburg, VA  20177

Physical address: 19357 Evergreen Mills Road, Leesburg, VA 20175

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