Alumni Courses – Fall 2023

The ALEPH Ordination Program (AOP) is opening its courses to AOP alumni to further their continued education. Alumni can enroll in any AOP course at half price!

The half price cost of each course is $567, except for Rabbinic Hebrew Workshop (see below).


The information below describes the registration procedures that will be used when registration opens:

You may register now with a $100 deposit (per course).

If you have any questions about registration, please contact the AOP office: or (215) 247-9700 x210


Your registration is provisional. We will confirm enrollment as soon as possible or about two weeks before the course starts. If it turns out a course is full and no space is available, the deposit will be fully refunded. 

Each video-conference course has 13 weekly meetings and is conducted live using Zoom (required: high speed internet, webcam, and microphone). Our Fall 2023 semester starts on September 3 and ends on December 28 – the instructor will determine the schedule of class meetings within these dates.

Course Fee: $567

How to Register

STEP 1: IMPORTANT! Please view the “AOP Alumni Course Enrollment Policy And Learning Contract” document and read it carefully. As part of the registration, you will be asked to affirm that (a) you have read the document and (b) you comply with its terms.



The information below describes the registration procedures that will be used when registration opens:

Fill out the Registration Form and pay the deposit ($100 per course). The maximum number of courses you can register for is two. You can also indicate a 2nd-choice in case the course you have chosen is full.

Fall 2023 Alumni Courses

earth based judaism

Evolution of Earth-Based Judaism

Instructor: Rabbi Zelig Golden
Thursdays 6 – 8 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 7

Judaism is an ancient, earth-based tradition. Nevertheless, Judaism as we know it in Europe and America has largely abandoned traditional connections to earth and feminine archetypes. We are now witnessing a burgeoning Jewish environmental movement that incorporates feminine aspects of spiritual life.

This course will explore goddess worship in Ancient Israel, the rejection of such worship with the rise of patriarchy and rabbinic approaches to monotheism, the subversive persistence of the feminine within Jewish mysticism, and the reawakening of Jewish nature worship in early Chasidic and modern environmental movements. We will depend on both primary and secondary sources to trace the evolution of Judaism’s relationship to the earth and feminine spirituality, and explore this history from a Renewal perspective, integrating Reb Zalman’s call for a renewed Gaian Consciousness in our work together.

hebrew language

Rabbinic Hebrew Workshop

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Natan Margalit
Wednesdays 3:30 – 5:00 pm (Eastern)
Starting on September 6

Course fee: $375

This workshop will offer practice and instruction in Rabbinic Hebrew, both Rabbinic Hebrew Level One: Mishnaic Hebrew, which is relatively similar to Biblical Hebrew, and Rabbinic Hebrew Level Two, Medieval Rabbinic Hebrew, which includes a number of Aramaic terms that are common in the Talmud. We will also work on some common roshei teivot  (abbreviations) reading without vowels and reading Rashi script. (For those who have taken Reb Natan’s Reading the Rabbis courses through Hebrew College, this will follow a similar format). We will be primarily studying texts from the Mishnah along with medieval commentaries.  

The workshop may be taken by students who have passed Biblical Hebrew 102 or an equivalent level of Biblical Hebrew as approved by the instructor. 


Moadim L’Simcha 1

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Elliot Ginsburg
Two Sections: Sundays 3 to 5 pm (Eastern) OR Mondays 5 to 7 pm (Eastern)
Sunday section begins on September 10, Monday section begins on September 11

Two-semester course. This course is based on learning to read (decode, historically contextualize, interpret, and integrate into our lives) key Hasidic texts in the Hebrew original. The focus will be on the Sacred Year as a Guide to Spiritual Practice. Key texts to be explored include: the Sefat Emet, the Netivot Shalom of the Slonimer Rebbe, the B’nei Yissachar, and teachings of Nachman of Bratslav. We will also read a key Hebrew text on the Sacred Year by Reb Zalman, enabling us to confront the Paradigm Shift. Our focus will be on key primary texts that are sure to challenge and enrich your own practice.


Yesh Sod L’Dvar: Themes of Jewish Mystical Tradition

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Orna Triguboff
Two Sections: Mondays 6 to 8 pm (eastern) OR Wednesdays 6 to 8 pm (eastern)
Monday Section starting on September 11; Wednesday Section starting on September 6

This course is an engaged study of the development of Jewish mysticism, its symbolic universe, meditation practices, and social ramifications. While we will survey Jewish mystical traditions from the early Rabbinic period through the modern, the heart of the course is that many-branched (post)-medieval stream known as kabbalah.

All readings:  English translations provided for source texts in Hebrew and Aramaic


Jewish Pastoral Counseling 1

Instructor: Rabbi Deb Smith
Thursdays 3 – 5 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 7   

A primary aspect of clergy effectiveness is how one enters into and maintains healthy and holy professional relationships with those who come to us as students, congregants, clients, board members and employees. This introductory course provides a Jewish G-d connected lens and approach to learning and applying such fundamentals as professional conscious use of self, boundaries, pastoral counseling models and methods, common situations facing individuals who approach clergy for counseling (depression, conflict resolution, addictions, eating disorders, disfigurement, rape, unemployment, divorce and remarriage, difficulties with teens, suicide and crisis intervention, etc.), role limitations, and referrals.


Introduction to the Siddur

Instructor: Rabbi Rachel Hersh
Tuesdays 5:30-7:30 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 5

With roots in the ancient rites of the First Temple, and yet still evolving down to the present, liturgy has been a central element of Jewish civilization throughout the ages. Our shared prayer canon has given us a common language through which to express our gratitude, our fears, our praise, our dismay for more than two millennia. Jewish clergy of all stripes need to have their own understanding of and their own relationship to this ancient, still developing treasure chest of prayer.

This course provides an introduction to and basic understanding of our liturgy and its central concepts and terms. Participants will explore both the structure (kevah) and the intention (kavanah) of Jewish prayer. We will explore basic terms such as matbe’a shel t’fillah, chiyyuv, sh’ma u-virchote’ha, and heiche k’dushah. We will look at what makes a shacharit service whole and how weekday, Shabbat, and holiday services are similar to and different from each other.


North African Jewish Music

Instructor: Dr. Sam Thomas
Mondays 11 am – 1 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 11

This course explores the musical traditions associated with North African Jewry – herein defined as Maghrebi Jewry and including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and al-Andalus (historical Sepharad or Spain) – from both ethnomusicological and practical perspectives. The scope of the course will include exploring different historical periods, regional and interregional connections between Jewish communities, intercultural connections between Jewish and non-Jewish communities, through the vantage point of liturgical, paraliturgical, and non-liturgical musical expressions. Students will attend group classes in an online classroom environment and work on practical performance and analysis projects outside of class.


First Encounter w/Talmud

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Natan Margalit
Tuesdays 3 pm – 5 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 5

In the first part of this course we will introduce students to the basic periods, genres, nomenclature and personalities of Rabbinic Literature. In the second part we will take up an intensive reading of Mishnah in order to appreciate the paradigm-shift thinking which the Sages used to create this first document of Rabbinic Literature. This will also be essential training in reading rabbinic literature in the original Hebrew.


Ketuvim: The Feminine Books of Tanakh

Instructor: Rabbi  Dr. Aubrey Glazer
Thursdays 1 pm – 3 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 7

The Book of Ruth and the Book of Esther are named after women. Song of Songs and Lamentations present the reader with powerful female characters and archetypes. No wonder, then, that scholars have called the Book of Ruth, the Book of Esther, Lamentations, and Song of Songs the “feminine” books of bible. We’ll explore these books on their own terms, which will include their historical context, literary themes, and theological assumptions. We will also consider their female representations and depictions, asking how these square with what we think we know (and what we can learn from the archeological record) about the role of women in Ancient Israel. Each book will be explored for what it brings to us and our time in the way of emotional, psychological, and spiritual truth. Lastly, we will ask: Is there a Jewish Renewal way of interpreting and understanding these books?


Listening for God’s Voice – The Biblical Prophets

Instructor: Rabbi  Ebn Leader
Mondays 1 pm – 3 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 11

In the introduction to his book on the prophets, R.A.J. Heschel writes – “Prophecy is not simply the application of timeless standards to particular human situations, but rather an interpretation of a particular moment in history, a divine understanding of a human situation. Prophecy, then, may be described as an exegesis of existence from a divine perspective.”

We will use exegetical methods to get as close as we can to understanding how the prophets tried to share that “divine understanding.” Through careful reading of selections of biblical texts, in both prose and poetic styles, relating to both men and women identified as prophets, and informed by academic scholarship on these texts, we will attempt to come closer to understanding the biblical experience of speaking “from a divine perspective.” Towards the end of the semester, we will also spend some time studying the Classical Rabbinic rejection of prophecy, and the ways that some forms of that yearning for access to that “divine perspective” remained.

Students should have completed Biblical Hebrew 102 or the equivaent in order to enroll.



Narratives of Bible

Instructor: Rabbi  Dr. Leila Gal Berner
Thursdays 1 pm – 3 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 7

Tanakh offers us ideas about revelation and covenantal promises. Its texts conceptualize a society based on divine law and built in a promised land. Students will explore the wide-ranging theologies in these texts, how they were composed, and how they present “revelation” through law, rites, prophecy, and more. Students will become familiar with the major methodologies and disciplines of biblical studies and will explore how to teach biblical narratives from a Jewish Renewal perspective in ways that make the texts meaningful and relevant for today’s Jews.


Modern Jewish Thought

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Aubrey Glazer
Wednesdays 11 am – 1 pm (eastern)
Starting on September 6

Modern Jewish thought began with Spinoza (The first secular Jew) to Nachman Krochmal (according to Reb Zalman the first Jewish Renewalist) to the mysticism of the early Martin Buber, and to Franz Rosenzweig—arguably the most influential Jewish Philosopher of the 20th century. We will examine the roots of our contemporary Jewish thought.