You’re Invited: Sampler of Jewish Culture

adath-rabbisWhat do craft beer, the Kotel and baseball have in common? They will all be topics at the “Sampler of Jewish Culture” held at Adath Jeshurun Congregation on Saturday night, January 25. Now in its 20th year, the Sampler is a community-wide evening of fun, diverse sessions and learning activities for adults of all ages. (There will be separate activities to engage children who are K-6 graders. There is no charge for these children, not even for their pizza dinner.)

Beer, an inherently kosher product so long as no non-kosher ingredients are added in as flavorings or are processed on the same equipment, has been growing in popularity among Jewish-owned micro-breweries in the last few years. The rabbis at the time of the Talmud had a lot to say about it too. Beer enthusiast Rabbi Adam Titcher, assistant rabbi at Adath, leads an 8:10 pm gourmet beer-tasting session at the Sampler titled “From Belgian to Micro-Brews: Why Beer Matters for the Jews. Come learn, and taste some beer!

The conflict among some Jews about whether or not women can pray at the Kotel (the Western Wall) grew more widely worldwide after a traditional group known as Women of the Wall (WoW) received an Israeli Supreme Court ruling with the go-ahead to hold a non-traditional prayer gathering there. On the day of the event attended by thousands, it was reported that WoW supporters were insulted and even had objects thrown at them. The issue of women praying at the wall goes much deeper than this, as Rabbi Harold Kravitz, senior rabbi and Max Newman Family Chair in Rabbinics at Adath, will discuss in the 7 PM Sampler session “Who Prays Where? Digging Deeper into the Kotel Conflict.”

In the 8:10 pm session “Jackie Robinson and the Kid: A Story of Friendship, Courage and Adversity,” Ron Rabinovitz, a local, long-time pen pal of the baseball great, will discuss how his relationship with Jackie affected his life ever since Ron was 7 years old and continued until Jackie’s death in 1972. “He came to my 10th birthday party and sang to me” Ron told Larry King in a December interview. “He was a phenomenal guy. It was a fantastic relationship.”

Choices abound: Other Sampler sessions include “Why Be Jewish? A Frank Conversation on the Pew Report,” led by Rabbi Aaron Weininger, assistant rabbi at Adath, and “Aftermath of the Holocaust: Jewish Life and Culture in the Germany Today,” led by Prof. Leslie Morris of the University of Minnesota.

“There is something for everyone, every year at the Sampler,” says Nina Samuels, the Adult Learning Director who has overseen programming for Adath’s Sampler since its inception in 1994. “It can be very provocative, with topics ranging from current Jewish politics, news, and literature, to very social, as people throughout the community get a chance to mingle during and between sessions, as well as over hot cider and a delicious pizza meal. Hands-on crafts and cooking projects are also popular.”

The evening kicks off at 5:30 PM with a pizza dinner. For those who come after dinner, there will be a 6:30 PMsession where Adath will unveil and dedicate its new Legacy Wall, a stunning collage of photographs, ritual objects and history to honor the legacy of Adath Jeshurun, Bnai Emet and other predecessor congregations. Then there’s the difficult choice between delightful sessions at 7:00 and again at 8:10 pm,followed by a delicious dessert reception.

For adults, the cost is $15 in advance by January 20, or $20 at the door. All pizza dinner reservations must be received by January 20. Register securely online at or by mail with check to Adath Jeshurun, attn: Sampler of Jewish Culture, 10500 Hillside Lane West, Minnetonka, MN 55305. For a full Sampler schedule and more information, see or e-mail [email protected].