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Open Beit Midrash

(Left-to-Right: Rabbis David A. Schuck, Zach Sitkin, and Ethan Linden)

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Beth El to Launch Communal Jewish Learning Experience

Rabbi and Scholar Led Beit Midrash Free and Open to All


Non-judgmental communal learning – especially given the current political and social climate – is crucial. That’s why Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle has created their Open Beit Midrash, a yearlong Jewish learning initiative that is free and open to the public beginning this November.  


“This is not simply a class or a program. This is a unique experience,” Beth El’s Assistant Rabbi Zach Sitkin explained. “It’s an opportunity for the community to come together and learn in a way they never have before: to explore traditional texts in the hopes of finding answers to questions they didn’t even know they had. At Beth El, we believe that Limmud, or Jewish learning, can change lives and lead to renewal and transformation.”


Each week (on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays), Open Beit Midrash attendees will study Jewish texts – from Chassidic thought to Jewish law - with Beth El Rabbis Sitkin and David A. Schuck as well as Rabbi Ethan Linden, the executive director of Ramah Berkshires.

Scholars will teach once a month on topics related to their respective fields– from prayer and ethics to contemporary Jewish issues. They include Rabbi Danny Nevins, the dean of the rabbinical school at the Jewish Theology Seminary, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, PhD. of Mechon Hadar, and Rabbi Bronwen Mullin of Town & Village Congregation. (For full list of each scholars, please visit


Overall, the initiative expands on the traditional Beit Midrash or “House of Study” concept, which Rabbi Sitkin explains as, “the place where rabbis and scholars would congregate and pore over the Torah and other Jewish texts in order to better understand the essence of Judaism.”


Rabbi Linden is thrilled to be involved with the Open Beit Midrash.  “Part of our mission at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires is to partner with synagogues in our region to find ways to expand Jewish learning and community.  Beth El is doing some of the most exciting work around on those issues,” he said.  “It was exciting to be asked to be part of such an inspiring effort to bring serious Jewish learning to adults.”



While the learning will be intensive, Rabbis Schuck and Sitkin reiterated the atmosphere will be very relaxed.  “The evenings will be informal; conversation and spirits (in all senses of the word) will flow.  There will be themes that touch on all aspects of life. All are welcome: seekers and skeptics, religious and secular,” Rabbi Schuck explained.


Keeping with the informal theme, Rabbi Sitkin said people should attend as often as they would like, and are encouraged to bring friends to share in the experience.  “Come for some or all. We will start with a l’chaim by sharing a glass of wine; we will break bread with one another.  Bring friends and/or make new ones,” he said.


Adding to that sentiment, Rabbi Schuck said, “This is an opportunity for friends to have a drink and share some food together and then spend time engaging with ideas that have animated people for thousands of years.”


Beth El Synagogue Center is located at 1324 North Ave. in New Rochelle. The institution is currently seeking sponsorships for the Open Beit Midrash program, which can be made in honor of a loved one who has passed away.  As Rabbi Schuck explained, Our tradition teaches that we can honor a person's life by learning a text in their memory. Sponsoring one of our nights of learning in their honor is a beautiful way to celebrate the lives of those we love."

For more information or to sponsor one or more nights of the Open Beit Midrash, please visit or contact Rabbi Sitkin at or 914.235.2700 x338.

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Click here for Open Beit Midrash dates.

Click here for Scholar dates.

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Sat, November 27 2021 23 Kislev 5782