Unlike many typical Jewish events, Marcel Infeld’s Tanach
adult education class, made up of Kol Ami: The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community
members, always starts on time.
“We don’t have time to waste,” he laughs.
Infeld—a Holocaust survivor and former Hasid
—began this course four years ago with the same group of 10 students. Starting with the Five Books of Moses (Torah) back in 2012, his students read 15-25 chapters prior to meeting every month for an hour and a half. After finishing the Torah in 2013, Infeld’s class wanted to continue through the rest of the Hebrew Bible, often referred to by the Hebrew acronym Tanach
. It refers to splitting the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible into three parts: Torah, Nevi'im
(Prophets) and Ketuvim
Infeld points out that even in a yeshivah
, students focus much of their energy in studying a small portion of the Hebrew Bible: the Torah, and select books from the Prophets. However, yeshivah
students spend years studying the Talmud
and many Orthodox rabbis are ordained without having ever read the full Tanach
is ancient literature, our literature,” Infeld says. “Every educated Jew and non-Jew should be familiar with it.”
just last year, the class created a special closing ceremony called a siyum
, similar to the ceremony typically celebrated on Simchat Torah
. The class plans to finish Ketuvim
and celebrate with another special siyum
on September 17, which RRC / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities President, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, RRC ’99, Ph.D., looks forward to attending.
“I’ve been fascinated with the Tanach
, trying to find wisdom in it, but not always finding it,” says Infeld. “The Tanach
was composed by a committee with varying points of view. My theory is that the editors were really saying to the readers: you decide what materials will meet your needs.”