The Downtown Beit Midrash
Learn Torah together in an open and supportive environment.
This is not a class, but a weekly space for you to:
- Enjoy soup and socializing 7:00-7:30pm
- Choose a Jewish text that interests you – we have a wide variety, from weekly Torah portion to ethics, mysticism to law, and much more; or bring your own book
- Find a havruta (study partner) – come with a friend or we’ll help pair you with someone with a similar interest as you
- Sit and learn together – read aloud, ask each other questions, discuss, debate, and reflect
Rabbi Aaron will be your Torah concierge to help you pick a text that works for you, find a havruta, get started, and navigate any difficulties you encounter.
Everyone is welcome, no matter your Jewish learning background!
And of course, LGBTQ+ folks, interfaith couples, and people from interfaith backgrounds are always absolutely welcome.
This program is free (though we always appreciate donations to help us cover costs!). Please sign up below so we know which resources to prepare and how much soup to heat up.
What’s a Beit Midrash?
Beit Midrash is usually translated as House of Study, a place in which people come together to learn, discuss, and debate Jewish texts of all sorts. But the root of the word “midrash” means searching. When we study Torah, we’re not just trying to comprehend it intellectually, but seeking meaning from it to apply in our lives. Hence, House of Searching.
Why is this important?
As Rabbi Aaron spoke about on Rosh Hashanah, it’s the Torah that gives meaning and substance to being Jewish.
Torah literally means “teaching,” so it refers not only to the Torah itself (the 5 Books of Moses), but to any Jewish teaching. There are so many ways to learn Torah, whether by reading the parashah (weekly Torah portion), studying the rabbinic debates of the Mishnah and Talmud, examining halakhah (Jewish law), delving into kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), and on and on.
Torah can enlighten us. It can teach us our people’s stories, about Jewish ritual and ethics, the world, each other, God, even ourselves.
Torah – in its fullest sense – is so vast and varied, there’s definitely something that’s just right for you to learn.
Who is this for?
Torah is for all of us! It’s not some secret knowledge just for certain people. As the Torah says about itself: כִּי־קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ – “This thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart” (see Devarim 30:11-14). House of Searching is intended for all adults; high school teens are also welcome.
How are we funding this?
Thank you to a generous, anonymous donor for partially sponsoring House of Searching and to Sunflower Kitchen for donating large amounts of soup.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Please connect with Rabbi Aaron if you’re interested in supporting this program in general or for a particular week, perhaps in honour or memory of someone or to mark a special occasion.
Donations are tremendously helpful and greatly appreciated; if you’re able, please contribute.