Questions about the Intro to Judaism Class

Q: Are classes in-person only or is there an online option?

A: Since COVID-19, we have incorporated an online option for the sake of community health. We currently offer hybrid-style classes that meet in-person (at rotating locations among Portland-area synagogues) and provide the option to join virtually through Zoom Cloud Meetings. Regardless of how you participate, we want to emphasize that Judaism is about community and forming relationships. The rabbis want to meet and get to know the students, just as the students get to meet and learn from the rabbis. Also, we want the students to meet each other, and to get used to learning within a community of learners. Therefore, active participation is highly encouraged.

Q. Are there health requirements for in-person attendance?

A. Yes. The Intro to Judaism class will comply with COVID policies set by our host synagogues, all of which require full COVID vaccination with booster. Masking is optional but strongly encouraged for in-person attendees. We will provide hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, tissues, and disposable masks for student use as needed. 

Q. What is included in the course materials? How and when can I get them?

A. Course materials include a 3-ring binder of reference materials, a Chumash (Hebrew/English Bible), and a bookmark/magnifying glass. Course materials are available for pick up in-person on the first night of class. If you are attending virtually and paid the required fee you may pick up your course materials at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaecful Lane, 97239, Mon-Thur 9am-5pm; Fri 9am-4pm). Postage cost to mail course materials is $16.25 and can be paid here if you prefer to have them mailed.

Q. What can I expect from weekly communications?

A. Throughout the term, email updates are sent out twice each week:

Tuesday emails include:

  • The topic & teacher of Thursday’s class along with links to lecture note or other resources for enrichment. Hard-copies of lecture notes will be provided to students attending in-person at class on Thursday.
  • The location, address and parking info for Thursday’s in-person class
  • The link to join the Intro to Judaism class using Zoom Cloud Meetings. If you are new to Zoom, watch this short video about “How to Join a Zoom Meeting for the First Time.” If you are unsure about your technology skills, you can arrange a zoom practice meeting with me by request.

Friday emails are a follow up to Thursday class. They include:

  • resources for further topical learning recommended by the teacher; invitations to upcoming opportunities to learn or worship with that rabbi and their congregation
  • a link to the recording of Thursday’s class
  • Invitation to join Shabbat Services on Friday evening and Saturday morning, along with links to the Torah portion of the week
  • A preview of the upcoming class for next Thursday, including next week’s Torah portion

Q. What are the Attendance Requirements to earn a Certificate?

A. There are 18 classes in this course. You only need to attend 15 to earn the Certificate of Completion.

  • In-person attendance is tracked using a sign-in sheet. You must arrive no later than 7:30pm to be counted as present.
  • Zoom attendance is counted by being a live participant during the class (Thursdays, 7-9pm). However, you can receive attendance credit for up to 4 classes by watching the recording (accompanied by a brief email summary of something you learned in class). That means you can earn the Certificate of Completion by participating in 11 “in-person” or “live-Zoom classes,” plus watching 4 class recordings with brief, written summary (total of 15).\
  • Since the Intro to Judaism class is repeated twice each school year, attendance can be accumulated over more than one term (at no additional cost to the student).
  • Anyone unable to meet these attendance requirements should contact JoAnn directly to find a workable solution or may elect to forfeit the Certificate of Completion.

Q. Are classes offered on days other than Thursdays?

A. No. If Thursdays cannot ever work for you, then you have 2 options. If you are working with a rabbi toward conversion to Judaism, the rabbi may waive the active participation requirement and allow you to audit the class by watching the video-recordings. With express permission from this rabbi, you may still earn the Certificate of Completion by writing a brief summary of learning after each video and submitting it as “proof of attendance.” The second option is to forego the Certificate of Completion and just audit the class independently. There is no discount for this option as you still have full access to all the course material.

Q. Do you offer classes over the summer? 

A. No. The course of 18 lectures is held twice each year, once in fall and again in spring.

Q. Do I have to wait until the start of the next semester to join classes?

A. No. Because the course is repeated twice during the year, you have the option to join after the start of the term and rollover your enrollment into the following semester. There is no extra cost to do this. Each class stands on its own and no prerequisite knowledge is required.

Q. Is there homework or a test at the end of the term?

A. Technically, no. Because this is not an academic course, there is no homework, tests or grading. Still, the Jewish experience highly values learning and is set to a rhythm marked by holidays, life-cycle events, and the annual Torah reading cycle. We highly encourage our students to visit synagogue services, observe the Jewish holidays and attend events in the Jewish community as they are able. We also ask students to keep up with each week’s Torah portion while they are in the course as the rabbis begin each class with a short discussion on the topic.

Q. I see couples may attend together for the same prices as an individual. What if I have more than one partner? What if I want to attend with a different family member or roommate?

A. Adults who live in the same household may attend classes together for the individual price, providing they share one set of course materials. The adults need not be in a romantic partnership. Teens who are able to comport themselves as adults may be counted as adults.

Q. Can I get a refund if I withdraw?

A. If you withdraw for any reason and have not yet attended a class nor obtained the course materials, the course fee is 100% refundable. There are no refunds once you start attending classes, however, your payment may be applied to a future term or transferred to a family member.

Q. What if I cannot afford the $360 course fee?

A. A minimum deposit of 50% ($180) is required by the first class in order to cover the cost of the course materials. If this is a hardship, please reach out directly to JoAnn to discuss options. Remaining payments can be made in installments as your are able. College students may qualify for a scholarship of up to $180 by sending a screenshot of their course-enrollment receipt for that term.