Neshama Center

The Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning, a collaborative project of B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom and the Mandell Jewish Community Center, offers multi-week courses as well as single session programs and workshops. 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.

Register now for courses by emailing: or by calling: 860-243-3576. Classes meet at BTS (180 Still Road on the West Hfd/Blmfld line) or at The Mandell JCC (335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hfd).

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

Please take the opportunity to… 

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

Tangling with Talmud with Rabbi Debra Cantor

Wednesdays at 10:30-11:30 am; at the Mandell JCC
Note: Class will meet every Wednesday EXCEPT April 24 and May 8. The last session is June 19.
Free. Donations welcome.

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! Drop-ins welcome.

Friends of Yiddish

2nd Sunday of each month @ 10:30 am at the Mandell JCC
March 10, April 14
Coordinator: Barbara Katzman
Free. Donations welcome.

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

Is Social Justice Jewish? The Roots & Development of Tikkun Olam

Five Monday evenings: March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 29; 7:00-9:00 pm
At the Mandell JCC
Instructor: Rabbi Debra Cantor
Tuition: $180; $100 for Neshama Patrons
To register please contact the B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom office at 860-243-3576 or
Co-sponsored by Neshama and the Jewish Graduate Study Program

Lately, heated arguments have arisen within the Jewish community about the importance and centrality of tikkun olam, the term we usually translate as “repairing the world,” and associate with the Jewish imperative to pursue social justice. Is social justice really at the core of Judaism? In this course, we’ll explore the Biblical roots of tikkun olam, its evolution in rabbinic literature, and mystical makeover in Lurianic Kabbalah.  We’ll also examine larger questions regarding the role of social justice in Judaism throughout history and ask what makes social justice Jewish. All sources will be provided by the instructor and will include English translations. This class is meant to be highly participatory. Come join Rabbi Cantor on this exciting learning journey!

Partners in Creation – our hands-on Jewish art workshop series
“Remember that you were refugees”: Turning Words of Torah into Works of Art

Sunday, March 31st 10:30 am-12:30 pm at BTS
Instructors: Melinda Wright & Rabbi Debra Cantor $10; free for Neshama patrons

We will be creating “calligrams,” merging language with imagery to create a work of art. We’ll use Jewish teachings, poetry, quotes from refugees, and your own thoughts as sources and employ pen and ink, watercolors and markers on paper to create a visual statement. No artistic experience needed!  All materials provided. Join us for this expressive and engaging event!

Shabbat Lunch & Learn: What Can Faith Communities Do About Climate Change?

Discussion with Dr. Mark R. Silk and local interfaith leaders
Saturday, April 6th at 11:30 am at BTS
Free. Please call BTS office to reserve.Donations before or after the day of the event welcome.
Co-sponsored with the Farmington Valley League of Light

Our faiths teach us in various ways that we human beings are called upon to be responsible stewards of creation. If we take that religious and social obligation seriously, what does that mean? What should we do? How can we respond?

Pack Your Timbrels: A Pre-Passover Journey with Miriam

Sunday, April 7th at 11:00 am at BTS
Leader: Rabbi Debra Cantor
Co-sponsored with the BTS Sisterhood
How do you pack for the journey from slavery to freedom, when the future is uncertain and the destination unknown? How did our foremothers do it? What were their hopes and fears? And what can we learn from our ancestor Miriam about courage, persistence and joy? Join us as we prepare our hearts and minds for Passover!

Partners in Creation – our hands-on Jewish art workshop series
“Midrash and Monoprints”

Sunday, May 19th10:30 am-12:30 pm at Mandell JCC
Instructors: Melinda Wright & Rabbi Debra Cantor
$10; free for Neshama patrons
The ancient rabbis declared that even the spaces between the letters of the Torah were open to interpretation. They called their creative digging for meaning “midrash.” We’ll visualize the process of midrash by creating a series of unique prints, each expanding on the original idea. No experience needed! All materials will be provided.

Tikkun Layl Shavuot: A Ten Commandments Story Slam

Saturday, June 8th 6:30-9:00 pm at BTS
Free. Please call BTS office to reserve.
Donations before or after the day of the event welcome.

The ten big do’s and don’ts. Join us on the eve of Shavuot for as we celebrate the giving of the Ten Commandments with true stories, told live, by local storytellers. Plus, cheesecake!

Neshama classes are held at:
B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom, 180 Still Road, Bloomfield
(on the West Hartford/Bloomfield line, at the corner of Mountain Road)
and the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford.
To register for classes/workshops, call (860)-243-3576 or email
The Neshama website page is at
Find us on Facebook at Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning
or B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom BTS: The Learning Place

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

To register for classes/workshops, call (860)-243-3576 or email   Find us on Facebook at Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning or B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom BTS: The Learning Place 

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