Talmud Circle Institute

Jul 20, 2015 - Jul 24, 2015

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Sadly, Arthur Kurzweil is recovering from a serious health issue and will not be able to teach this session of TCI. His Hebrew name is Avraham Abba ben Zisel for those who might want to include him in prayers for healing.

We are very pleased and grateful that Rabbi Naftali Citron (of NYC’s Carlebach Shul) will be leading the week’s Talmud learning retreat while Arthur recovers.

Learning with Rabbi Citron will be accessible to learners of all levels, and will take place in morning and afternoon sessions as follows (diverse evening activities will be offered as well):

Mornings:    Talmud on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, sections that will enhance our understanding of these holidays and build  Talmud learning skills.

Afternoons:   Talmud and Maimonides on Prayer.  Selections from Tractate Brachot and Maimonides Mishna Torah with the commentary of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloviechik.



Minds open, beginners are honored, questions are celebrated

Two-Year Leadership Training or Weeklong “101” Workshops with Arthur Kurzweil

We had the the honor of studying Talmud with Arthur Kurzweil during the summer of 2013 at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Neither of us had studied Talmud before and had no idea what it would be like. Arthur has a unique teaching style that is warm and inclusive. He shared how the Talmud can be accessible to anyone. He taught us, not to just accept what we were reading from the Talmud, but to question as well. He has a special way of listening to you, with his whole being- making you feel that what you say is of great value. He is a man of humility and has a wonderful sense of humor! He lives the kabbalah that he teaches. It was an amazing opportunity to learn Talmud with Arthur Kurzweil and his lovely wife Bobby. We hope to be able to attend more of his classes at Isabella Freedman.
—Melissa and Rich Kurtz

The Talmud Circle Institute is dedicated to teaching those with little or no experience how to “learn Talmud.” The word “Talmud” means learning, so to learn Talmud means “learning how to learn.” This is the goal of Talmud Circle Institute. At the Talmud Circle Institute, participants do not study about the Talmud from the outside. We study Talmud itself – from the inside. You will learn how to learn how to learn. Using the English edition of the Talmud with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, The Talmud Circle Institute is dedicated to the study Talmud as a Jewish spiritual practice.

The Talmud Circle Institute offers two ways to participate:


Immerse yourself in the sea of Talmud and emerge with enough wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to lead a Talmud Circle in your community.

  • Four retreats (discounted!) over two years (two retreats each year) leading to Talmud Circle Leadership Certificate.
  • Absolutely no knowledge of Hebrew necessary; all texts and discussion are in English and will be provided.
  • No previous Jewish education necessary – and might even help.
  • Learn how to be a Talmud Circle Leader, and learn why a Talmud Circle leader need not be an expert or a rabbi.


Talmud 101 workshops for the absolute beginner are held during the same weeks as Talmud Circle Leadership Training retreats. Students in both groups will have opportunities to learn from each other in the living laboratory of our Talmud study hall.

  • For the serious student or the “just curious.”
  • Learn the Jewish art of asking questions.
  • Take home the ability to learn Talmud on your own or with others.
  • No knowledge of Hebrew necessary – all texts and discussion are in English.
  • No prior Jewish education necessary – it might even help.

In the Talmud Circle Institute:

We jump in. The Talmud is called a sea: there is no beginning and no end. We jump in and start swimming.

We honor beginners. As seasoned Talmud students well know, a beginner in a Talmud class can uplift the others on so many levels.

We learn in English. Using the English edition of the Talmud text, commentary and notes by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, we encounter profound ideas and are able to have meaningful discussions immediately.

We invite diversity. Female and male, older and younger, novice and experienced, all learn together deliberately, for it offers us strength and wholeness.

We experience timelessness. We are not acquiring historical information; rather, we are seeking eternal, timeless ideas and ideals.

We practice enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is derived from the roots en (in or within) and theos (God). Enthusiasm is a spiritual practice.

We laugh, we question, we probe, we cry, we get entangled, we doubt, we discover, we lose ourselves, we find ourselves. We learn Talmud.

Arthur Kurzweil
Arthur Kurzweil‘s own personal quest eventually led him to explore his spiritual identity, which resulted in his seminal book on Jewish genealogical research, the classic best seller From Generation to Generation. Realizing that there were relatively few serious Jewish books available to the English language reader, Arthur Kurzweil developed what has been described as a visionary plan to transform the experience of the Jewish seeker looking for nourishing Jewish books. During his tenure as an editor and publisher, Arthur Kurzweil has commissioned and published over 700 volumes of Jewish interest.

Arthur is the author of On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz: 25 Years of Pre-Dawn Car Trips, Mind-Blowing Encounters and Inspiring Conversations with a Man of Wisdom. The book is Arthur’s spiritual memoir about his experiences as a student and chauffeur for one of the great Jewish leaders of our time, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Arthur is also the author of Pebbles of Wisdom from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (2009), a collection of teachings on a wide range of subjects by Rabbi Steinsaltz.

Arthur was approached by the famous “for Dummies” series, who invited him to write Kabbalah for Dummies, based on his serious private studies with some of the leading authorities in the field of Kabbalah, and because of Arthur’s reputation as a teacher who is able to explain difficult spiritual concepts in down to earth, accessible language. Arthur is also the author of The Torah for Dummies.

Arthur has had a lifelong passion for books. Trained as a professional librarian, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Book Club for 17 years, past president of the Jewish Book Council, Judaica acquisitions editor and literary agent, Arthur Kurzweil came to a personal conclusion that the ultimate book for him is the one often described as the cornerstone of Jewish culture, the Talmud.

With the guidance of his teacher, the renowned Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Arthur Kurzweil has inspired many people across the United States to discover and get entangled with the Talmud. As the Coordinator of the Talmud Circle Project, under the direction of Rabbi Steinsaltz, Arthur Kurzweil’s mission has been to introduce the Talmud to Jewish spiritual seekers. He has been the catalyst for many individuals as well as synagogue groups who now study Talmud regularly.

Arthur Kurzweil is also an accomplished magician. A member of the Society of American Magicians (founded by Harry Houdini) as well as a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Arthur Kurzweil blends his spiritual interests with magical effects, adding his own insights and weaving together an enchanting presentation for his audiences.

What is a Talmud Circle?
Any two or more people studying the Talmud together regularly is a Talmud circle.

How is it possible for someone with no background study Talmud?
Study Talmud and you’ll acquire background.

Why do the skills for leading a Talmud circle have nothing to do with Jewish knowledge?
The crucial skill required is the one many can’t access: the ability to say, “I don’t know; let’s find out.”

7:00 am Optional Prayer or Yoga
8:00 am Breakfast
9:30 am Class
12:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Class
6:00 pm Dinner
8:00 pm Evening Program

Register 8 or more weeks in advance and use discount code EARLY15 to receive a 15% discount.
Register 4 – 7 weeks in advance and use discount code EARLY10 to receive a 10% discount.

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If you would like to sign up for all four weeklong workshops in the two-year institute (at a discounted rate), please email adam.sher@hazon.org for more information about discounts and how to apply.

If you’re new to Isabella Freedman, click here for information about where we’re located, arrival and departure times, what to bring, etc.

All-inclusive rates start at $450 per person. Click the “register now” button above for information, room rates, and to register online. Online registration is for full credit card payments only. If you would like to pay in installments, pay by check, or apply approved financial aid, please call 800.398.2630 x4. Please review our lodging options and rates prior to calling.

You will receive a confirmation email once you have registered and made a payment online or by phone. If you do not receive the confirmation email within 24 hours of registering, please call us at 800.398.2630 x4.

We strive to make our programs affordable to everyone.

Click here for information about Financial Aid. »
Hazon is committed to making our Transformative Experiences financially accessible to as many people as possible. We believe that participation in these kinds of events are a core feature of a healthy and sustainable Jewish community in the 21st century. Please note that in our efforts to provide access to our events, we must balance our ability to meet individual requests with our ability to spread our resources among as many participants as possible. You can help support us in this endeavor by considering your request carefully. Financial aid is awarded on a rolling basis. Applications must be received at least two weeks prior to the start date of the event. Please submit your financial aid application prior to registering. If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar at registrar@hazon.org or (860) 824-5991 x0.


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Camp Teva is for kids ages 5 – 12, and runs simultaneously with retreats geared toward adults. Camp Teva combines the best of Teva’s signature Jewish environmental education with all of the opportunities provided by the Adamah Farm to create a distinctive and creative way for kids to have a fun and safe Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education experience while their parents are enjoying Hazon’s many retreats, conferences, holidays, and workshops at Isabella Freedman. A transformative experience for the whole family!

When you register kids during your event registration process, they are automatically enrolled in Camp Teva! All-inclusive kids’ rates include Camp Teva programming.

more information about camp teva