Since 2012, young adults in their 20s and 30s have met in living rooms across Boston engaging in traditional Jewish study in a new way. Eser, a program of Hebrew College and CJP, comprises 10 weekly sessions where participants discuss contemporary issues illuminated by Jewish texts, thoughts and wisdom. Eser meets the needs of many, whether they are looking to make new friends, connect to Jewish sources or to just feel comfortable in a Jewish space.
Young Bostonians, like their peers nationwide, are less and less connected with traditional institutions yet still seeking spiritual meaning and connection. Eser groups build micro-communities of individuals who not only come together for Jewish learning, but meet for Shabbat potluck meals and other optional social gatherings.
Nontraditional approach to text
Discussion topics are developed by a committee of Eser participants who are interested in universal issues, challenging misconceptions and not shying away from controversy. Previous topics include privacy, immigration, relationships and notable Jewish figures in history. Educators take an unorthodox perspective on the idea of Jewish texts, incorporating YouTube videos and news articles along with traditional Jewish sources.
Eser brings together Jews and the Jew-curious of all backgrounds and experiences who want to learn with—and from—each other. As one participant put it: “My Jewish background is important to me, but I have had very little formal Jewish education, so I often feel that I don’t fit in at Jewish events. My Eser group had a great sense of community, in which I felt really comfortable, and I think our different backgrounds and perspectives were welcomed and appreciated.”
No prior Jewish learning experience or knowledge of Hebrew is necessary. Eser is proud to offer additional ways to connect with a group specifically for individuals of Russian-speaking and FSU backgrounds and a group in partnership with Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life.
New discussion groups are formed every spring. Visit the Eser website to sign up and learn about other young adult learning opportunities.
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