March events at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange

TSTI member Abby Sher, left, and Paola Mendoza will discuss the novel ‘Sanctuary’ and immigrant rights as part of TSTI’s Shabbat Scholar series on March 5.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange is hosting online programs focused on the arts, social justice and Jewish learning in March. The programs, which are free of charge and open to all, will be held via Zoom; registration in advance for all is required. Details and registration links are as follows:

  • On Wednesday, March 3, at 7 p.m., Discover the story behind Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin in Arles, in the south of France, in this two-part series, “Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin: The Studio of the South Part I.” Facilitator Janet Mandel will share events that occurred there, including the infamous “ear” incident, and discuss the paintings these artists created in the late–19th century. Part II will be April 7. Register at
  • On Thursdays, March 4, 11 and 18, at 7:30 p.m., TSTI’s clergy — Rabbi Daniel Cohen, Rabbi Alexandra Klein and Cantor Rebecca Moses — will lead “A Taste of Judaism,” three sessions that explore a modern Jewish take on spirituality, values and community. This course features interactive classes designed for interfaith couples, those raising Jewish children, spiritual seekers, individuals considering conversion and anyone curious about Judaism. Register at
  • On Friday, March 5, at 7 p.m., TSTI’s Shabbat Scholars series continues with authors Abby Sher and Paola Mendoza, immediately following evening services. They will discuss the novel, “Sanctuary,” by Mendoza, and its relationship to the plight of immigrants. “Sanctuary” is a story of a dystopian America, a totalitarian regime, and a 16-year-old undocumented girl who decides to fight back. Sher is an improv impresario and author of five books; Mendoza is a film director, activist, artist, author and co-founder of the Women’s March. A suggested donation of any amount is requested to benefit Faith in NJ, an organization working to preserve and protect immigrant rights; or to HIAS which has touched the life of nearly every Jewish family in America and now welcomes all who have fled persecution. To register, go to
  • On Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m., hear a firsthand account of a Central American mother and her teenage daughter in detention, facilitated by licensed clinical social worker Susan Siegeltuch. Both women suffered multiple traumas in their home county, which were reactivated by ICE and their time in detention. Siegeltuch, a TSTI member, was one of two senior clinicians who evaluated them and conducted their interviews. Register at
  • On Wednesday, March 10, at 7 p.m., Take a virtual tour through time and space in “Jerusalem: Center for Three Great Monotheistic Religions.” Gadi Ben-Dov, a licensed tour guide, will lead attendees through all four quarters of the Old City, and delve into the complicated and nuanced relationships among all of the people who live there. Join the tour by registering at
  • On Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m., Shabbat Scholar Mehnaz Afridi will discuss “Working with Holocaust Survivors as a Muslim Woman,” immediately following evening services. Afridi is associate professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College, and the author of “Shoah Through Muslim Eyes.” She will talk about her personal and academic journey with Judaism as a Muslim, and her way of creating understanding of two communities through the acceptance and enormity of the Shoah. She will also share her initiatives that have put non-Jewish students in touch with survivors and the second generation. Registration is at
  • On Sunday, March 21, at 7 p.m., enjoy Sunday at the Movies with a discussion of the film “Bad Faith,” which follows an Arab man and Jewish woman whose unlikely intimate relationship is put to the test. Stream the film at home between Thursday, March 18, and Sunday, March 21, and then participate in a meaningful group discussion with journalist Stephen Whitty, who has written about film for more than 30 years for major media outlets. Register in advance at to receive the movie link.
  • On Mondays, March 22, April 5 and April 12, at 7:30 p.m., with Passover on the horizon, TSTI’s student cantor, Suzanne Hamstra, will lead “Bo, Nashir Shir Hashirim,” which means “Come, Let’s Sing the Song of Songs.” Hamstra will teach about the poetic text, its connection to Passover, some of its scholarly interpretations and music it has inspired. Register for any of the sessions at