Rabbi Lotker's On-Line Classes & Talks

Rabbi Michael Lotker will be continuing to serve our community in connection with his role as Community Rabbi for the Jewish Federation of Ventura County [CLICK HERE TO MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION TO THE FEDERATION].  The classes and services are described immediatelybelow and, below that, please find some of the recordings of his classes.
All the times are Pacific.

RABBI LOTKER’S  ON-LINE PROGRAMS:
Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Ventura County
  

“A Taste of Judaism & Jewish Literacy” [3 Sessions followed by 15 sessions]  Wednesdays at 7-8:30PM Beginning September 29, 2001 and Thursdays at 7PM for candidates for conversion.  Since this is supported by the Jewish Federation of Ventura County, there is no charge for attendees.   

The three-part Taste of Judaism class, designed to introduce the main tenets of Judaism, will be followed by a 15-week Jewish Literacy class.  These classes are ideal for Jews, for their spouses, for those who are exploring conversion, and those who simply wish to broaden their knowledge about the fundamentals of Judaism’s extraordinary history, beliefs and faith.  The 15 classes of Jewish Literacy touch on most of the areas of concern and interest to adults who wish to explore the holidays, sacred literature, history, spirituality, mysticism, and living a full Jewish life.  This class is required for conversion candidates.  Click here for more info. 

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Past Classes Available for Your Viewing

Shabbat Evening Service Explained 

This is not a class per se but a video of “Learners’ Minyan” I conducted.  In it, I explained the meanings and origins behind many of the prayers and customs of the Friday night Shabbat service.

>  Click here for video

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“Children of Abraham:  Comparing Judaism, Christianity and Islam 

 
About half the people of the world worship the God of Abraham as members of faith traditions that trace themselves back 4000 years to this inspired individual.  In four classes, Rabbi Lotker will introduce these three faiths with special emphasis on where they are similar and where they differ.  We will read texts from the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Scripture and the Koran relating to the Garden of Eden, Abraham, Moses, and others to help understand the fascinating history and theology that shape our worlds to this day.  Differences in beliefs, historical origins and the reasons behind historical and current conflicts will be explored.  We will also take a detailed look at Holy Neighborhood of Jerusalem and the sacred sites to be found there.

 

“Introduction to Kabbalah 

In our 3 week exploration of the world of Kabbalah we will explore the simple (is it kabb-a-LAH or ka-BAL-ah?) to the deep (how does the interpretation of word echad in the Shema affect our understanding of God’s nature and our relationship with God).  We will address the history and practices of Kabbalah and have time for questions and discussion of this fascinating subject.   Our first class will be an Introduction to some of the key ideas of Kabbalah and to its interesting history.  Class #2 will introduce the central text of KabbalahThe Zohar which is a work of pseudepigrapha (don’t know what that means?  Come and find out!).  We will discuss the 10 Sefirot, the world of Gematria, the mystical names of God and more.  In the next class, we will explore Lurrianic Kabbalah, the Soul, Angels, Hasidim and focus on enhancing our own Jewish spirituality.
 

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What Happens After I Die? – Jewish Views of the Afterlife” 

Many Jews are surprised to learn that Judaism has always held that there is something beyond the grave – a life in the “world to come.”  We just don’t know (or teach) the details because no one has come back to tell us and because Judaism’s focus is on this life.   In this class, we will explore the wide range of authentic Jewish beliefs about the afterlife and how these beliefs have affected Jewish traditions of burial and mourning.  In our sessions we will examine what the Bible has to say, the Rabbinic and Talmudic thoughts and commentaries, the amazing world of medieval commentary, mystical and kabbalistic insights and well as what modern thinkers contribute.  We will also explore the world of Jewish funeral and mourning customs and their origins.

>  Copies of Slides

>  Moment Article: “What Does Judaism Have to Say About Life After Death”

>  Video of Session #1

>  Video of Session #2

>  Video of Session #3

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“Science & Religion: Conflicts, Confusion & Clarity

We explore the intersection of the worlds of science and religion.  We touch on everything from Quantum Mechanics to Kabbalah and Revelation to Relativity and even Einstein to Rashi.  I discuss how my religious faith is informed and strengthened by my scientific training and 30-year career as a physicist. I present the evidence for God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, the question of how a good and loving God can allow evil and tragedy in the world and the question of why be religious.  You don’t need to review your Calculus or Aramaic or even bring your slide rules. Just bring an open mind and lots of questions.

>  Science & Religion 3 Session Class
>  Science and Religion Bibliography
>  Significant Quotes on Science & Religion

>  Video of Session #1

>  Video of Session #2

>  Video of Session #3

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Deep Jewish Insights from the Music of Fiddler on the Roof
Although it may not be apparent on the surface, there is quite a bit of Jewish tradition, insight and depth in the music and story of “Fiddler On The Roof.”  In this class, we will enjoy many of the scenes and songs from the movie and discuss such issues as our relationship with God, perspectives on the afterlife, Jewish superstitions, a reason for Jewish intelligence (and all those Nobel Prizes), Talmudic logic, the true meaning of “Mazel Tov,” Jewish understanding of miracles, Jewish marriage customs and a lot more.  It’s even OK to  sing along with the wonderful music!

 

Wait! – What!  The Delightful & Surprising Mythology of Judaism
Judaism has a rich mythology that is unknown to most of us.  In a series of 5 classes, Rabbi
Lotker will introduce the en
ormous range of classic texts (including Torah, Bible, Talmud,
Midrash, Kabbalistic, medieval folklore and Hasidic) that contribute to this eye-opening
treasure.  Subjects will include myths of Angels, the Garden of Eden, the Messiah, Hell, the
Angel of Death, Lilith and the Shekinah – the bride of God.  Much of the material will be draw  from Howard Schwartz’s Tree of Souls: the Mythology of Judaism.  The class is brought to us courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Ventura County and there is no charge to attend.

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“A Taste of Judaism & Jewish Literacy” [3 Sessions followed by 15 sessions]  Wednesdays at 7-8:30PM Beginning August 26th.  Since this is supported by the Jewish Federation of Ventura County, there is no charge for attendees.   

The three-part Taste of Judaism class, designed to introduce the main tenets of Judaism, will be followed by a 15-week Jewish Literacy class.  These classes are ideal for Jews, for their spouses, for those who are exploring conversion, and those who simply wish to broaden their knowledge about the fundamentals of Judaism’s extraordinary history, beliefs and faith.  The 15 classes of Jewish Literacy touch on most of the areas of concern and interest to adults who wish to explore the holidays, sacred literature, history, spirituality, mysticism, and living a full Jewish life.  This class is required for conversion candidates.

“Science and Religion: Conflicts Confusion and Clarity”

Join Rabbi Michael Lotker as he explores the intersection of the worlds of science and religion. We will touch on everything from Quantum Mechanics to Kabbalah and Revelation to Relativity and even Einstein to Rashi. Rabbi Lotker discusses how his religious faith is informed and strengthened by his scientific training and 30 year career as a physicist. He will discuss the evidence for God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, the question of how a good and loving God can allow evil and tragedy in the world and the question of why be religious. You don’t need to review your Calculus or Aramaic or even bring your slide rules. Just bring an open mind and lots of questions.

Sephardic Jewry:  About 95% of American Jews trace their ancestry to Ashkenazi Jewry (Jews of Eastern European origins) but about 50% of Israelis are Sephardic (Jews of Spanish and Islamic lands).  Come learn about the distinctive customs and practices of the Sephardic world.
click here to see recording

The Joys of Hebrew:  Anyone who speaks more than one language knows that
translation is never exact.  This is your chance to get a glimpse into the original language of the Hebrew Bible as Rabbi Lotker reveals some of the wonderful insights that studying sacred scripture in Hebrew uncovers.  The discussion will range from the grammatical to the mystical and address many of the unique characteristics of Biblical Hebrew.  The various historical translations of the Hebrew Bible, into Aramaic, Greek, Latin and English will also be discussed
click here to see recording

Ethics:  Judaism has a lot to say about how we should treat one another under a wide variety of situations.  Reform Judaism especially stresses Ethics over Ritual
o        Medical Ethics – 
click here to see recording
o        Business Ethics – click here to see recording

Why/When Bad Things Happen to Me!  How many of us believe that life is
unfair? Why?  Do we have it better or worse than would be “fair?”  The most difficult issue
religion need to face is how we reconcile a good, just, loving, powerful, all knowing, all seeing God with Evil and Tragedy.
o        The Problem of Human Evil 
 click here to see recording
o        The Problem of Random Tragedy – click here to see recording

 

Illicit Sexual Encounters in the Bible.  
We will be carefully reading some of the most interesting and unusual stories in the Hebrew Bible – ones that you never, ever studied in Hebrew School.  A careful review of the lineage of King David and the Messiah and what it teaches us about your family and mine and the ultimate task of redemption.

>>  Since this class is complete, here are videos of the sessions – click and enjoy  <<
Session #1
Session #2