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The Contemplative Talmud Beit Midrash with Rabbi Lauren Tuchman
Dear learners,

We are living in increasingly challenging and fractious times, in which relationships are breaking down, bonds of mutuality, authenticity and trust feel more fragile than they ever have and our need for self-care, spiritual care and tools for building resilience feels stronger than ever. Along with many of my teachers and guides, particularly those at SVARA, A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva based in Chicago, I believe that our people have cultivated incredible spiritual tools and technologies over the centuries for such a time as this. One of those enduring practices is talmud Torah--the study and learning of Torah broadly and the study of Talmud in particular.

I am privileged to be a part of the SVARA Transformative Teaching Fellowship this year and as part of that fellowship, I am honored to be offering a seven-session beit midrash in DC this spring. This beit midrash, as evidenced by the name, is going to be focusing on how learning Talmud can be a truly transformational, contemplative practice. We'll be learning using the SVARA method, which involves the following elements:
We learn using the traditional, unvocalized Vilna Shas without translation. In spaces which adhere to the SVARA method, we are primarily interested in helping learners gain facility with traditional learning techniques so they can become independent learners themselves. Our interest is in helping learners understand how the text says what it says, rather than in focusing only on what the text says. We accomplish this through careful attention to each and every word.
Chavruta: Chavruta, or learning with another person, is a foundational aspect of learning in our beit midrash. We will match learners as best as we are able. Each two-hour class, save for our first session which is an orientation session, will be divided in roughly equal portions between chavruta and shiur. Shiur is the discussion and unpacking of the text we will do together as a group.
Those who have not learned in a SVARA method space before are required to attend the orientation to learning session on April 10. Those learners who have learned in a SVARA method space before may attend just the six beit midrash sessions, beginning April 17.
*important notes*
Date/location: Our beit midrash will be from April 10 through May 29, 2019.
*Time* Each session is two hours duration, from 7-9PM.
*Specific dates* We will be meeting on the following dates:

Wednesday, April 10
Wednesday, April 17
Monday, April 29
Wednesday, May 8
Wednesday, May 15
Thursday, May 23
Wednesday, May 29
Our Wednesday location will be Adas Israel. You will notice that there are a few weeks during which we will not be meeting on the Wednesday. If either of those dates pose a problem, please let me know. In the event that we need to make adjustments, I will communicate that as soon as I can.

Again, our Wednesday venue is Adas Israel. On Monday, April 29 and Thursday, May 23, we will be meeting at another location in the Cleveland Park neighborhood.

*Cost* Cost for this beit midrash is $144 for the entire seven weeks. Payment may be made at the following link:
No one will be turned away for inability to pay. If you wish to discuss alternate arrangements, please email All conversations are kept in strictest confidence.
I so look forward to learning with you.

Rabbi Lauren Tuchman

Email address *
Can you commit to attending all six weeks of this beit midrash session? *
If no, please elaborate as necessary. I may get in touch with you to discuss this further. *
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Why do you want to learn in this beit midrash specifically? *
Your answer
Have you learned in a SVARA-method or Queer Talmud Camp Beit Midrash in the past? *
How would you describe your facility with Hebrew? We require all SVARA learners to know their aleph bet before beginning to learn in a SVARA-method setting. We are also committed to a mixed level beit midrash, in which seasoned Talmud learners learn with and alongside folks whose first experience with Jewish learning is our beit midrash. *
Your answer
What is your experience learning Rabbinic texts in the original Hebrew and Aramaic? In SVARA-method settings, we learn in the original, without the use of translations. We know that this takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and sometimes the path feels slow-going. I promise you we will all get there together! Wherever you are at in your learning, I am thrilled to have you on this journey. *
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What excitements, concerns, questions or curiosities are arising for you about this beit midrash, SVARA-method pedagogy or anything else related to the space? *
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Please note any access needs or anything else I should know here.
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