By Barbara Schwartz:
The Interesting “Life” of Parshat Hashevua Classes at Hod Ve’hadar
How a new immigrant with initiative started a meaningful project and Covid added to its success
About twenty years ago, a strong intelligent woman made Aliya from California. Her name was Muriel Goldhammer and she was skilled at founding and organizing groups that she felt were needed. She was used to having a lesson about the weekly Bible portion – so she organized one in Hod veHadar, which she had just joined. She was aided by Rabbi Lionel Levi, the Education Coordinator.
Soon a weekly group began meeting at the Synagogue. A small group of interested English-speakers listened to the insights of the learned lecturers, who were part of our congregation. Some years later, however, Muriel became seriously ill and a replacement was needed. This is where I stepped in.
Slowly I learned to organize the roster of lecturers – and beg for volunteers, when there was an “unclaimed” lesson. New participants came to the classes and I got to know more people in our community, both speakers and listeners. We even organized a special Kiddush to thank the lecturers for volunteering to teach us. Some weeks we had a full room, while at other times there were only 3 or 4 pupils.
Fast forward to 2019, when I decided to stop organizing the “ParshatHashevua” lessons. Luckily, I found an excellent person to replace me – Steve Kramer. He brought a new attitude, as well as his computer skills to the organization of the class. He started sending out weekly reminders, accompanied by relevant, eye-catching illustrations, to the growing mailing list.
Early in 2020, Covid 19 struck and soon we were all in lock-down. Steve arranged for the lessons to be given on Zoom and the group has never looked back. About 15 – 20 participants log on every Friday morning to gain new insights into the weekly Parasha. They also enjoy seeing – and sometimes chatting with – their friends. What a wonderful way to begin Shabbat!
Well done, Steve and thanks to all the lecturers who invest so many hours into making the lessons really fascinating. It is amazing that the vision of one new immigrant has developed into classes that everyone looks forward to.