Welcome to Introduction to Judaism! On this site, you will find class materials and documents. 

Introduction to Judaism 2016-2017


This course will present an overview of the major aspects of Judaism, including practice, belief, and history.  Students will be exposed to Jewish thought and practice through lectures, class discussions, and readings.  Because Judaism is not something that can be fully understood from books and lectures, there will be several assignments and activities designed to give participants "real-world" Jewish experiences.

This class is being taught by five Rabbis, from four different synagogues as well as the Center for Jewish Life & Learning at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center.  This will give you exposure to a variety of approaches to Judaism.  Please note that the location of the class will change according to who is teaching on that particular night.  All teachers and locations are listed on the syllabus.

This course is open to Jews and non-Jews, those seeking to convert to Judaism, as well as those who are interested in learning more.  Conversion candidates should meet with their sponsoring Rabbi for additional requirements.

Class will begin at 7:00 pm with a 30 minute Introduction to Hebrew class, taught by Mike Maiten, followed by a 90 minute class on that week’s topics.

Try to attend class each week.  If you know that you are going to be absent, please inform Lacy McCoy at (408) 357-7413 or email lacy@apjcc.org.

Rabbi Melanie Aron

Congregation Shir Hadash (Reform)

20 Cherry Blossom Lane

Los Gatos, CA  95032

(408) 358-1751, ext. 4


Rabbi Dana Magat

Temple Emanu-El (Reform)

1010 University Avenue

San Jose, CA 95126

(408) 292-0939


Rabbi Josh Berkenwald

Congregation Sinai (Conservative)

1532 Willowbrae Avenue

San Jose, CA  95125

(408) 264-8542


Rabbi Philip Ohriner

Congregation Beth David (Conservative)

19700 Prospect Road

Saratoga, CA 95070

(408) 366-9104


Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia

Addison Penzak Jewish Community Center

14855 Oka Road

Los Gatos, CA  95032

(408) 357-7413


Mike Maiten



Shabbat for a day

Shabbat can only truly be appreciated from inside the experience.  As a component of this Introduction to Judaism course, participants are asked to observe one complete Shabbat.

See the handout distributed in class for more details.  Note that you must complete this component by January 30, 2017.

Kosher for a week

As a component of this Introduction to Judaism course, participants are asked to observe one complete week of keeping kosher.  See the handout distributed in class for more details.  This assignment should be completed by May 8, 2017.

Reading List

The following books will be provided to you as part of this course.  Reading assignments are indicated on the syllabus below.  Please come to class prepared, having read all assigned pages.  Mike Maiten will distribute materials for the Hebrew component of the class

Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin (all numbers refer to the chapter number of the 2008 Revised Edition, not the page)

The Jewish Holidays, by Michael Strassfeld

It’s a Mitzvah, by Brad Artson

How to Keep Kosher, by Lisë Stern (this book is out of print.  Copies are available for checkout from the APJCC library. Those with e-readers will receive a digital copy)

Finding God, by Rifat Soncino and Daniel B. Syme

Jewish Study Bible (JPS)

Yedid Nefesh, Shabbat benscher

This class is offered in partnership with Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Shir Hadash, Congregation Sinai, Congregation Beth

David, and the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center.

Shabbat Services and Meals

There will be four opportunities for the class to attend Shabbat services and enjoy a Shabbat meal together – one at each of the four sponsoring synagogues.  Two will take place on Friday night, and two will take place on Saturday morning.  Dinner/Lunch will follow each of the services.  Attendance at these services is considered to be a component of the class. More information will be provided in class.  The services will take place as follows:


Friday December 16th, 2016

Congregation Shir Hadash

Intro to Judaism Shabbat Dinner at 6pm - https://www.shirhadash.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=9225

Friday,  January   13th, 2017



Dairy potluck dinner at 6pm, services at 7pm --details will be presented in class.

Saturday, February 18th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Congregation Sinai

Community Lunch following services at 12 pm.

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Congregation Beth David

Community Lunch following services at 12 pm.

If you have any questions, please contact Lacy McCoy at lacy@apjcc.org or 408.357.7411.