DC Beit Midrash

DC Beit Midrash was co-founded by Erin Leib (now Smokler) and Shira Fischer in 2002. It met for years, some with stronger attendance than others, at the DC JCC. As of July 2019, the DC Minyan website still mentions the Beit Midrash, but there is no longer an active website or webpage. Below is a 2003 “About” page from the DC Beit Midrash site and another from 2007, found in the Internet Archive. For more information, crawl “www.dcbeitmidrash.org” over the years in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and/or see this February 2003 Washington Jewish Week article.

On Recalling Teachers

Pirkei Avot 6:6 reminds us to “say a thing” in the name of the one who taught it. I learned from many teachers at the DC Beit Midrash and won’t list all of them here for fear of leaving someone out. But I will mention, again, the teaching of Erin Leib Smokler and Shira Fischer, both in terms of text and its explication and in terms of the amazing example they set together of creating a space for Jews of all backgrounds to come together and learn. Erin teaches at Drisha Institute in New York, where we met up a few times in the years after each of us had moved on from DC Beit Midrash, and she is now at Director of Spiritual Development at Yeshivat Maharat [this link is labeled “Merle Feld,” but it’s not hers]. Shira works in health policy in Boston; we have not met in many years, so I cannot add anything about her current Jewish learning efforts.

Jewish learning for adults in DC owes some of its current shape to the vision and volunteer work of these teachers. Loosing that history because a web page disappeared would be a sad shame.

…If Erin, Shira or anyone else wants to add something to this brief record, please let me know — songeveryday (at) gmail….

On the Web and History

For those who maintain websites for nonprofits, community groups, and other, possibly temporary, endeavors: Please make sure that some effort to archive web materials so that all is not lost so easily.

For all who are able: Donate to the important work of the Internet Archive. They maintain historical documents without which research on many subjects would be harder, if not impossible. In addition, they preserve our recent past: Nowadays, with print newsletters and materials less common, when an entity’s website disappears, that’s it — which is a loss for many, whether they know it or not.


ABOUT from DC Beit Midrash website

from Wayback Machine, 2003

The Beit Midrash meets every week on Monday night from 7:30pm-9pm.

Read about the Beit Midrash in the Washington Jewish Week (2/27/03) [the article linked in this blog above] and the Harvard Hillel Newsletter [not sure this is still available].

Presentation on the Parsha

The first half hour is devoted to group study on the parsha, or weekly Torah portion. The teachers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are from the community, but most are chosen from among those who attend the Beit Midrash regularly. We think everyone has something to learn and something to teach. Some of those presentations are online.

We’re always excited to have new teachers! If you’d like to teach, please let us know by emailing dcbeitmidrash (at) hotmail.com.

Chevruta – paired learning

The last hour is devoted to learning in pairs, or chevruta, a traditional Jewish learning style. If you come with a chevruta, great – now you can learn in the environment of a lively Beit Midrash! Otherwise, we’ll pair you up based on your interest and level.

People study a variety of Jewish texts, including Bible/Tanach, Mishna, Talmud, Midrash, and philosophy.

Drop-in participants are very welcome.

Books

We have a growing library of books to fit the needs of the community. Text are available in English and in Hebrew. If there’s a book you are looking for, we’ll help you get it. And feel free to bring your own if you have any to share!

We also happily accept donations to cover administrative costs and book purchases.– lifted from Wayback Machine, 2003
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from Wayback Machine, 2007

The DC Beit Midrash is a space for Jewish learning in DC: open, accessible, and non-denominational. You don’t need to be a scholar or even be religious to take part in our intellectual community. People from all different backgrounds and levels of knowledge are welcome to learn. We encourage traditional chavrutah, or paired-learning study and the engagement of Jewish texts in a curious, open, and honest spirit. Chavrutah pairs study everything from the weekly Torah reading to tractates of the Talmud to the philosophy of Spinoza to seminal texts of the Kabbalah. What are you interested in studying?

The Beit Midrash meets every week on Monday night from 7:00pm-9pm. Snacking starts at 7:00 and study begins in earnest at 7:30. Drop-in participants are very welcome.

Presentation on the Parsha

From 7:30 to 8:00, the Beit Midrash studies the parsha, or weekly Torah portion. Parsha teachers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are from the Jewish community at large, but most are chosen from among those who attend the Beit Midrash regularly. We think everyone has something to learn and something to teach. Some of those presentations are online.

We’re always excited to have new teachers! If you’d like to teach, please let us know by emailing info (at) dcbeitmidrash (dot) org.

Chavruta – paired learning

The last hour is devoted to learning in pairs, or chavruta, a traditional Jewish learning style. If you come with a chavruta, great – now you can learn in the environment of a lively Beit Midrash! Otherwise, we’ll pair you up based on your interest and level.

People study a variety of Jewish texts, including Bible/Tanach, Mishna, Talmud, prayer, Midrash, and philosophy. If you haven’t been paired up immediately or would prefer group learning, please join the discussion group. This year we are studying the Haftorah portions of the weekly Torah reading.

Pre-Beit Midrash Snacking and Schmoozing

From 7:00 to 7:30, before the Beit Midrash begins in earnest, people enjoy some light snacks (and sometimes even pizza) courtesy of food sponsors to the Beit Midrash. Feel welcome to introduce yourself to others and kibbitz. If you’d like to sponsor food for the DC Beit Midrash, please email food@dcbeitmidrash.org.

Books

We have a growing library of books to fit the needs of the community. Text are available in English and in Hebrew. If there’s a book you are looking for, we’ll help you get it. And feel free to bring your own if you have any to share!

We also happily accept donations to cover administrative costs and book purchases.

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