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Introduction to Judaism: St. Louis

Introduction to Judaism: St. Louis

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Register now for two new classes this fall in St. Louis.


A course for anyone interested in exploring Judaism—interfaith couples, those considering conversion and Jews looking for adult-level basics—to the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice. Topics include Jewish holidays and life cycle events, theology and prayer, Israel, history and Hebrew.

Introduction to Judaism is a 16-week class for those who are seeking adult-level basic education about Judaism.  Interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and Jews looking for adult-level basics will be introduced to the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice. Topics covered include beliefs, traditions, holidays, prayer, history, having a Jewish home, interfaith families, raising children Jewishly, and choosing Judaism.  All classes are taught by Reform Jewish rabbis in the St. Louis area. A referring rabbi is required. If you do not have one, we are happy to help you find a rabbi who will discuss your interest in Judaism with you. 

Tuition: $250/individual

Length: 16 weeks, Tuesday nights, 7 - 9 PM, September 6, 2016-January 24, 2017, at Congregation Shaare Emeth, 11645 Ladue Road at Ballas Road in Creve Coeur. 

Introduction to Judaism II is an advanced class only for those who have successfully completed the basic Introduction class or have special permission from a rabbi.  The class covers many of the topics more in depth and also explores new areas. Topics include God, Torah, and the Bible, mitzvot, rituals and traditions, spirituality, death and dying, and integrating Judaism into a busy life. The class will be taught by Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh from Temple Emanuel.

Tuition: $100/individual

Length: Six weeks, Thursday nights, 7-9PM. October 13-November 17, 2016,  at Temple Emanuel, 12166 Conway Road, 63141 in Creve Coeur.  

More Details About the Introduction to Judaism Class

Introduction to Judaism is sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism and taught by members of the Association of Reform Rabbis of St. Louis. Instructors are rabbis ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the seminary for Reform Judaism.

The class curriculum reflects the approach of Reform Judaism. This two-hundred-year-old Jewish movement includes the largest number of religious Jews in America. It has forged a dynamic synthesis of tradition and modernity that allows for an encompassing yet flexible Jewish consciousness. The rabbis who teach the class encourage students to raise questions and enter into spirited discussions on all topics.

Partners in interfaith relationships are encouraged to enroll together. Introduction to Judaism is not a conversion course, but Reform rabbis in the St. Louis area consider the course an important element of the conversion process, and strongly encourage those considering converting to Judaism to take the class.

Course Requirements

All students are asked to have a referring rabbi— a rabbi with whom you have discussed your interest in Judaism and whether this class is suitable for you.  If you do not already have a rabbi, please contact Steve Sorkin at 314/983-0229 or He will be happy to help you find a rabbi who meets your needs and interests.  (There is no charge for this.)

Students who complete all the requirements of the URJ Introduction to Judaism course will receive a Certificate of Completion. The requirements are:

  • Attend at least thirteen of the sixteen class sessions. (All students are always welcome to attend future classes and events at no extra charge, and are encouraged to do so to make up any classes missed.)
  • Attend the tour of the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, or if that is not possible, tour the museum on your own before the class ends.       
  • Attend the scheduled Friday night Sabbath service, or if that is not possible, attend a Friday or Saturday Sabbath service before the class ends.


Two books are used to supplement the class teachings:

  • What Is A Jew? by Morris Kertzer, revised by Lawrence Hoffman.                                                  
  • A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood by Raymond P. Scheindlin                                                                    

Four other books are also recommended to add to your understanding and appreciation of Judaism, but are not specifically used in class:

  • Living a Jewish Life by Anita Diamant
  • Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas by Arthur Green
  • Settings of Silver by Stephen Wylen                
  • Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin

Students are responsible for obtaining the books, new or used, by purchasing, checking out, borrowing, downloading.  

About the Coordinator

Steve has worked in the nonprofit sector his whole adult life, in the fields of public health, environment, consumer rights, campaign management, and Jewish community relations. He has served as an advocacy and community relations consultant to many national and local nonprofit organizations, and currently serves as the Administrative Director for the St. Louis Rabbinical Association.

Steve was born and raised in St. Louis, and has lived there all of his life except for his college years, when he received a BA in Urban Affairs from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is married and has a son aged 20 and a daughter age 16. His outside interests include oldies music and the St. Louis Cardinals.

General Information

Intro I and Intro II classes available

Intro I
$250/individual or $275/couple

Intro II
$100/individual or $125/couple

16 weeks / 6 weeks
Steve Sorkin