What Should a Jew Believe?

The Challenge and Reality of Faith in the 21st Century

Jan - Mar 2015

From the LSJS website: 

What does it mean to believe in God and what happens when someone has ‘doubts’?

How central is faith to Jewish practice?

Learn how Jewish law, thought and tradition approaches this issue.


Session 1: Introducing the Jewish God

Session 2: Believe vs. Practice

Session 3: I am God: The First Commandment

Session 4: Does Belief Change as we Grow Older? Session 5: Heresy in Judaism
Session 6: How have Psychology and Modern Science Affected Belief? Session 7: Talking to God

Tisha B'Av 5774

Jews and the Black Death

GGS 05/08/14

From the GGS Website

One of the most destructive pandemics in history, the Black Death raged in mid-14th-century Europe, killing close to half of its population.  In many places, sometimes encouraged by church leaders, Jews were blamed for spreading the disease, resulting in widespread persecution and the destruction of hundreds of Jewish communities.

In this presentation, Rabbi Belovski will examine the social and political context of these attacks, explore the role of Pope Clement VI, who tried to prevent them and consider their ramifications for European Jewry.

Please note that this recording begins a few seconds into the class.

Pleasure and Aesthetics the Jewish Way

Are Beauty and Pleasure Jewish Ideas or Evils?

Jan - Mar 2014

From the LSJS website:

It’s often said that Judaism is interested in action rather than form, but is that really true? What do Jewish sources really have to say about beauty, visual and physical pleasure and the wonders of art? In this innovative course, Rabbi Belovski will explore classic texts and contemporary Jewish writings on aesthetics and form. As well as major themes, we will look specifically at Jewish approaches to art, music, poetry, language, food, aroma, and, of course, the pleasures of wine and sex.

Session 1: Pleasure and Aesthetics in Traditional Jewish Sources
Session 2: Art
Session 3: Music
I am frustrated to report that the recording failed.  I hope to have a chance to repeat the class soon.

Session 4: Literature and Poetry
Session 5: Taste and Smell
Session 6: Wine Session 7: Sex

Elu V'Elu: The Development of a Multifaceted Halachic System

The Midrasha

October - December 2013

Session 1: Elu V'Elu in Halachic Sources (Intro 1)

Session 2: Elu V'Elu in Agaddah and History (Intro 2)
Session 3: 'Forgotten' Halachot
Session 4: The Rambam's Approach to the Development of Machloket
Session 5: Elu V'Elu in Theory and Process (1) - Ran et. al.
Session 6: Elu V'Elu in Theory and Process (2) - Maharshal and Avodat HaKodesh
Session 7: The Merging of Opposites in the Divine
Session 8: Process, Truth and the Genius of the Oral Torah

Tisha B'Av 5773

The Massacre of the Jews at York, 1190

GGS 16/07/13

From the GGS Website

In 1190, early in the reign of Richard I, fuelled by Crusade fervour and unpaid debts to Jewish money-lenders, anti-Jewish rioting broke out in York.  The local Jewish community took refuge in the wooden keep of the royal castle on the night of Shabbat HaGadol.  As matters worsened, Yom Tov of Joigny, a famous rabbi and their spiritual leader, advocated suicide rather than face the impending pogrom...

In this presentation, Rabbi Belovski will examine the background to the Clifford’s Tower massacre in Jewish, liturgical and historical sources, and consider its ramifications for English Jewry.