Questions about the Intro to Judaism Class
Updated June 6, 2023
Q: Are classes in-person only or is there an online option?
A: Because Judaism values community and forming relationships, we are discontinuing the hybrid format (meeting both in-person and online, simultaneously). While hybrid classes helped ease the transition out of COVID shutdown, we found it diminished the cohesiveness of the learning cohort. Still, we realized the tremendous value that online attendance afforded many people, more than just health concerns. During the 2023-24 academic year, we will test the model of offering the Intro to Judaism class ONLINE ONLY during fall term, and IN-PERSON ONLY during spring term.
Q. I have obligations that require I miss some of the classes. Is that a problem?
A. There are 18 classes in this course. You only need to attend 15 to earn the Certificate of Completion. Attendance is counted by being a live participant during the class whether online (fall term) or in-person (spring term), for at least 90 minutes of the 2-hour class (Thursdays, 7-9pm). Because 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).
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. Currently, there is no vaccine or mask requirement. Please do not attend in-person if you are symptomatic and have tested positive for COVID. If you are symptomatic only, please wear a mask to minimize the risk of transmission to other students. We provide disposable masks for student use as needed.
Q. I don’t have a PayPal account. What are other payment options?
A. Payment options include:
- Pay by cash or check (made to OBR) in person at one of these locations:
- at Congregation Neveh Shalom, 2900 SW Peaceful Ln, 97239 (open Mon-Thu 9a-5p or Fri 9a-4p)
- on the first night of class (spring term)
- Mail a payment by check to: Oregon Board of Rabbis; 2900 SW Peaceful Lane; Portland, OR 97239
- Sorry, credit card payments can only be made online. To make a payment by PayPal, click https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/intro2judaism
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. Electronic versions of these materials are available, but no discount is applied if students opt-out of physical copies. Once you have paid the course fee (or minimum deposit), here is how you can get the course materials:
- Fall term (online): Course materials will be available for pick-up beginning August 21, 2023 at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaceful Lane, 97239, open Mon-Thur 9am-5pm; Fri 9am-4pm). Alternatively, the fee to mail course materials is $18 in the US and can be paid here. If these options are a hardship, contact JoAnn to make an alternate arrangement.
- Spring term (in-person): Course materials will be given to you on the first night of class. Those enrolling mid-term may pick-up course materials at Congregation Neveh Shalom (see above).
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. Paper copies of lecture notes will be provided to students attending class in-person (spring term).
- Information about this week’s Torah portion
- Fall only: 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 JoAnn by request.
- Spring only: The location, address and parking info for Thursday’s in-person class
Friday emails are a follow up to Thursday class. They include:
- Resources for further topical learning recommended by the teacher
- An invitation to learn or worship with that rabbi and their congregation
- An invitation to join other synagogue Shabbat Services on Friday evening and Saturday morning
- Information about 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.
- Whether in-person or online, you must participate for a minimum of 90 minutes to receive attendance credit for a class.
- In-person attendance is tracked using a sign-in sheet. You must arrive no later than 7:30pm to be counted as present.
- Online attendance is counted by being a live participant during the class (Thursdays, 7-9pm). Zoom Cloud Meetings provides a report of participants, so please make sure your screen name is recognizable (not “iPad” or “mom’s laptop”)
- 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 can waive the participation requirement, allowing you to watch recordings of class made online during fall term. Your sponsoring rabbi would assess your learning and, if appropriate, provide direction to JoAnn to issue a Certificate of Completion. The second option is to forego the Certificate of Completion and just audit the class independently by watching recordings of class made during fall term. 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. Just be aware that for the 2023-24 academic year, fall classes are online only and spring classes are in-person only.
Q. Is there homework or a test at the end of the term?
A. Technically, no. The Intro to Judaism course does not utilize homework, tests or grading because it’s aim is experiential rather than academic. Even so, Judaism highly values learning and is set to an annual rhythm marked by holidays, life-cycle events, and Torah reading. We strongly encourage students to visit synagogue services, observe the Jewish holidays and attend events in the Jewish community as they are able. The only assigned reading during the term is the weekly Torah portion 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 behave and interact as adults may be counted as adults.
Q. Can I get a refund if I withdraw?
A. The course fee is 100% refundable providing you have not yet attended a class nor obtained the course materials. 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 you are able. Full-time college students may qualify for a scholarship of up to $180 by sending a screenshot of their course-enrollment receipt for that term.