Beth El announces new study program

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Congregation Beth El in South Orange has announced that its Beth El Beit Midrash, or “House of Study,” program in partnership with Project Zug, a leading Jewish study organization, will launch its 2018 program of partnered study, or chavruta, on Jan. 28.

The word zug is Hebrew for “pair” or “couple” and since ancient times Jews have met in dedicated pairs for discussion and study. The Beth El Beit Midrash incorporates modern topics, appealing to all knowledge levels, and technology for a fun and stimulating learning experience. Project Zug is led by a team of Israeli and American Jews, and the project is run by Mechon Hadar, an internationally recognized Jewish educational institution based in New York City.

Individuals may sign up as a pair, or ask to be paired with a partner who wants to study the same course. The only requirements are a computer with a good Internet connection to view the video lessons and download the discussion guides. Pairs are encouraged to study in person, or study can easily be accomplished over the phone, or online by Skype or FaceTime. The program is appropriate for teenagers and adults of all ages, and is particularly appropriate for intergenerational learning.

Each pair will pick one of the 28 Project Zug courses, which include a wide range of exciting courses on art, Bible, philosophy, Rabbinic literature, social justice, Jewish culture and history, and more. No knowledge of Hebrew is necessary. A complete list of the available courses can be viewed at

“The Beth El Beit Midrash is intellectually stimulating; it is also a social experience,” Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Beth El said. “Some learn over a beer, a cup of coffee or a meal. Most importantly, it is a sacred experience.”

Beth El will kick off the Beit Midrash with a breakfast on Jan. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, co-founder of Mechon Hadar and a renowned scholar/teacher, will join the session to teach a lesson and model the process. After that, each pair will schedule its own study time for an 11-session course. The program also includes a mid-semester meet-up on March 18, and siyyum, or “completion,” celebration on April 29 to help guide participants through the series. Participants do not have to be available on these dates in order to join the program. All three group sessions will be held at the synagogue, located at 222 Irvington Ave. in South Orange.

Beth El has opened the Beit Midrash program to the community; admission is charged. Participants can register at Questions may be directed to