Neshama Center

The Mandell Jewish Community Center has partnered with B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom to create The Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning. The Hebrew word “neshama” means “soul” and is related to the word “neshima,” meaning “breath.” At Neshama, we invite people of all backgrounds to take a breather from the fast-paced world in which we live, and join us for inspiring, creative, joyful Jewish learning.

The Neshama Center offers multi-week courses as well as single session programs and workshops. Register now for our Winter/Spring semester by emailing us: office@btsonline or by calling the BTS office at 860-243-3576. Classes meet at BTS (180 Still Road on the West Hartford/Bloomfield line) or at the Mandell JCC (335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford).

For updates, please visit the Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning Facebook page!

As we move into 2018, take the opportunity to… 

Challenge your mind ~ Feed your soul ~ Express yourself ~ Connect with others


Tangling with Talmud

Wednesdays @ 10:30 am at the Mandell JCC
First class: January 3rd
Instructor: Rabbi Cantor

The Talmud is a rich and lively conversation among many generations. Passionate arguments about law and justice are intertwined with wild stories and musings about the meaning of life. Come participate and add your own voice. No experience necessary!


Mussar Yoga

Thursdays January 11 – February 22;

Six sessions, 10:00 – 11:00 am at BTS
Fee: $60 for the series; $50 for JCC/BTS members, $12 per drop-in; $10 for JCC/BTS members
Instructor: Terry Wolfisch Cole

Mussar Yoga links the Jewish spiritual practice of self-study, and the cultivation and discipline of ethical behavior known as Mussar with Yoga, the ancient Indian path for creating union between mind, body and spirit. In this class, you will learn how to explore the physical dimension of soul traits—ethical behaviors and attitudes—such as humility, generosity, enthusiasm and gratitude through yoga poses and the yogic practice of breath work. Each class will be themed on one of the Mussar soul traits. Classes will be Gentle Yoga, accessible to anyone who can get down to the floor and back up again.

Friends of Yiddish

2nd Sunday of each month @ 10:30 am at the Mandell JCC
February 11th; March 11th; April 8th
Coordinator: Barbara Katzman

An informal, mostly English, bi-lingual drop-in social group which meets to hear a guest speaker, have a
discussion & maybe absorb a Yiddish word or two. Plus, a nosh.


Essays for the Ear:
Recording Jewish Memories

Materials Fee: $60;  $50 for JCC/BTS members
Instructor: Tema Silk, Commentary Editor, New England Public Radio
More information to follow.

The Ninth of Adar: A Day of Constructive Conflict

Saturday, February 24th
Services begin at 9:30. Lunch and Learn begins at 11:30.
Free and open to the public.
Please RSVP to BTS at or (860)243-3576 by Wednesday, February 21st.
We want to make sure there’s enough lunch with your learning.

Partners in Creation: Masking and Unmasking for Purim
An Art and Torah Experience

Sunday, February 25th  @10:30 am at the Mandell JCC
Materials Fee: $7;  $5 for JCC/BTS members 

On Purim, everything gets flipped and nothing is as it seems. We’ll look at some Jewish and modern texts that reflect on themes of what is gets hidden and what gets revealed, and then engage in an interactive mask-making experience. You’ll leave with new insights into yourself, the holiday, and a mask to celebrate Purim!

Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman
Livestreaming Author Event with Itamar Rabinovich

Thursday, March 15th @7:00 pm at BTS
Book may be purchased at (Discount code: RABIN)

An insider’s perspective on the life and influence of Israel’s first native-born prime minister, his bold peace initiatives, and his tragic assassination. Part of a book and live streaming video series sponsored by Jewish Lives, a prizewinning biography series dedicated to illuminating the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to present.

Intro to Personal Storytelling

Wednesday, March 21st @ 7:30 pm at BTS
Instructor: Terry Wolfisch Cole
Fee: $40; $35 for BTS or JCC members & Neshama Patrons
Minimum to run class: 5 students

Ira Glass of This American Life says, “Great stories happen to people who know how to tell them.” Do you want to get better at captivating listeners? Whether you want to tell your story on stage, in a business meeting, or with your grandchildren on your lap, storyteller Terry Wolfisch Cole will teach you skills to engage any audience. Terry is a Moth StorySLAM and GrandSLAM champion. Her story of running away from home was recently featured on the Moth Radio Hour on NPR. She is the founder of Tell Me Another, a storytelling show in the Hartford area.

Photography as a Contemplative Practice

Tuesdays @  at the JCC
Four sessions:
Instructor: Lisa Kassow

Photography can be a spiritual and contemplative practice. Whether you take photos of the natural world around you, or special moments with loved ones that resonate with meaning and feeling, the camera can be a means of deep and personal self-expression.  Lisa Kassow will lead a small group (8 maximum) on a photographic journey that will include taking photographs in response to quotes, readings and personal journaling as inspiration. You will share your photos in a supportive atmosphere, learning how to use your camera (or your camera phone) to create a special personal collection of imagery that can be transformed into a keepsake book or shared on an online platform at the conclusion of the class.

Lisa Pleskow Kassow was a photojournalist in Israel for a decade before moving to West Hartford. She was the Director of Arts, Culture and Education at the JCC from 1994-2001 and has been the Hillel Director at Trinity College since 2001. Throughout these years, Lisa has remained involved in photography, focusing on the magic moments that happen when people are genuinely engaged in what they love doing.


Drama Workshop with Tali Bass (JCC Shlicha); Neshama @ the Movies (JFF is March 8-18): Muslim/Jewish Women’s Cooking Group

Neshama is growing – we invite you to grow with us!


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