The Montefiore Endowment aims to follow Sephardi custom in presenting Judaism pleasantly and without aggression, in approaching halachic decision-making with mildness, stressing the middle way and avoiding extremes. It recognises the virtue of inclusivity as well as the value of the world around us – and not merely tolerance of it for the purpose of earning a living.
One purpose of this part-time Diploma Course is to provide lay men and women with detailed knowledge of parts of the Halacha (Jewish Law) most relevant to present-day living, such as Shabbat, Kashrut and Prayer – with focus on practical topics such as the use of electrical appliances on Shabbat.
And, the other and equally important purpose is to promote deeper understanding of our faith and heritage by study of
- Revelation and interpretation of texts,
- Working for a living,
- Creation and Science, Human consciousness,
- Midrash (ancient interpretations of the scriptures),
- What Kabbalah (the mystical tradition) is about,
- Jewish history.
The instruction is in English to enable the course to be accessible to those with differing levels of previous knowledge. More advanced notes on sources are available for those who are equipped to benefit from them; but the course itself will continue to be accessible to those with little previous knowledge. We introduce a variety of specialist speakers to tackle different topics.
This is one-year study course, extendable to two-years to gain the diploma. It involves a class every week in term time, some home study and revision sessions on Sunday evenings. There will be some gentle testing from time to time – but no formal exams.
Students are issued with a copy of ‘Our Glorious Tradition’, part of the Endowment’s Heritage Programme, as back-up for parts of the Course.
Full advantage is taken of the internet to enable students to join from outside the London area.
I commend the excellent delivery and content of the first lectures (on the Diploma Course just started), light-hearted but with substantial content and the exciting promise of those to come . . .