Neshama Center

The Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning is a community-wide learning initiative sponsored by B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom
with the Mandell JCC, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Farmington Valley League of Light and other partners.

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. Our offerings are based on five pathways to wisdom:

*Lively Text Study *Social Justice *Mindfulness & Meditation *Interfaith Learning *Exploring the Arts.

At Neshama, we like to discover the sweet spot where many of these pathways intersect!


Tangling with Talmud with Rabbi Debra Cantor

Wednesdays,10:30-11:30 am at the Mandell JCC; beginning October 16th; Cosponsored with the JCC.   Free and open to all; 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!

Partners in Creation: “Pri Etz Hadar: The Fruit of the Beautiful Tree”

Sunday, Oct. 13th, 10:30 am-12:30 pm at B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom; Cosponsored with the JCC and Charter Oak Cultural Center.  
Instructors: Melinda Wright and Rabbi Debra Cantor   $10; free for Neshama Patrons

Dates and citrons and pomegranates – oh my! On the eve of Sukkot, we’ll explore teachings about some of the special Biblical fruits associated with the holiday. Then, we’ll use a variety of materials to create collaged mobiles worthy of hanging in the sukkah – making sure they’re weather-proof as well! All materials provided.

Friends of Yiddish

Second Sunday of each month at 10:30 am at the Mandell JCC; Oct. 13th, Nov. 10th, Dec. 8th; Cosponsored with the JCC.  
Coordinator: Barbara Katzman   Free and open to all; donations welcome!

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

Sharing Our Harvest: An Interfaith Sukkot Celebration

Sunday, October 20th, 2:00-4:00 pm at B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom. Cosponsored with the Farmington Valley League of Light.  Free and open to all; donations welcome!

Join us on the seventh day of Sukkot as we celebrate the themes of harvest and gratitude, caring for the earth and providing food for all.  We’ll open our sukkah doors wide, exploring various faiths’ harvest traditions, and engaging in lots of hands-on activities for all ages. Plus, yummy snacks! 

Shabbat Lunch & Learn: When Does Life Begin?

Saturday, October 26th, at B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom; Services at 9:30 am and Lunch & Learn at 11:30 am 
Presenters: Amy E. Sanders, MD, MS, FAAC and Rabbi Debra Cantor
Free. Donations accepted before or after Shabbat. Please register in advance so we have enough food for all!

This week, as we once again read the Torah from the very beginning, we’ll explore the perennial question of when life itself begins. We will start with a brief medical/developmental introduction and then delve into the traditional texts that inform Jewish views on fertility, abortion and reproductive choice.

Kristallnacht Commemoration at Charter Oak Cultural Center

Sunday, November 10th, 5:30 pm. Cosponsored by Charter Oak and the Neshama Center.

Through prayer, music, dance and art, participants in this annual interfaith gathering will remember the Night of Broken Glass and transform brokenness into a commitment to standing up for justice and compassion today.

“De Novo”: A New Play by Jeffrey Solomon

Saturday, November 16th, 7:30 pm at Charter Oak Cultural Center. Cosponsored by Charter Oak and the Neshama Center.
$20 general admission / $15 seniors / $10 students; Tickets must be ordered through Charter Oak. Go to

This acclaimed documentary play, crafted entirely from immigration court transcripts, interviews and letters, tells the gripping true story of 14-year old Edgar Chocoy and his legal struggle to be allowed to stay in the United States.

Partners in Creation: “When Words Alone Don’t Suffice: Rhythm, Art & Movement”

Sunday, November 17th, 10:00 am-noon at B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom. Cosponsored with the JCC and Charter Oak Cultural Center.
Presented in cooperation with the Aleph Society’s Global Day of Jewish Learning 2019.
Instructors: Rabbi Debra Cantor, Melinda Wright and Terry Wolfisch Cole
$10; free for Neshama patrons

Our lives are filled with language and texts are at the core of Jewish life. And yet, sometimes words are not enough. Inspired by words of Torah, we will explore a variety of non-verbal ways to express ourselves spiritually. No experience needed!

Yom Iyyun (Daylong Workshop):

Are Jews White? Yes. No. Maybe. And Why It Matters.
Sunday, December 15th, 10:00 am-3:00 pm at B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom. Cosponsored with the Charter Oak Cultural Center.
Facilitator: Amelia Mae Paradise, Jewish Bridge Project of New Mexico
$50; $36 for Neshama patrons and students; Includes lunch.

What is the meaning of “whiteness” in our society? Is it a matter of skin tone? Or more than that? At what point did Jews become “white”? What is “white privilege”? What is “white supremacy”? What about the increasing numbers of Jews of color in our communities? How does anti-Semitism figure into the question of whiteness? How is anti-Semitism related to racism? Using dialogue, discussion, Jewish teachings, creative exercises, we’ll explore all these issues together with an experienced facilitator.

Book Talk and Discussion: Addiction and Recovery Through a Jewish Spiritual Lens

Sunday, December 22nd, 11:00 am-12:30 pm at B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom. Cosponsored with Jewish Family Services.
Presenter: Rabbi Richard Eisenberg, Certified Addictions Counselor
$5; free for Neshama patrons

Judaism, Addiction and Recovery: A Spiritual and Faith-Based Approach describes the spiritual fog of addiction that engulfs Jewish individuals, family members and communities. In his book, Rabbi Eisenberg proposes ways to address the social, medical and spiritual crisis of addiction, shares practical suggestions and tips for anyone affected by the disease of addiction, and weaves in Jewish texts and sources.  Books will be available for purchase.


Neshama programs are held at:

B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom, 180 Still Road, Bloomfield (WH/Bloomfield line, corner Mountain Road)

The Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford

Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Avenue, Hartford, CT

To register for classes/workshops contact (860)-243-3576  Visit:

Find us on Facebook: The Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning

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