Welcome to Ocean County’s Jewish Virtual University!
As part of our efforts to connect members of the Jewish community with each other and with great Jewish opportunities, we are pleased to present this array of interesting, exciting, and meaningful learning opportunities from great Rabbis in our community, as well as some phenomenal educational resources from Israel.
Take a class, get connected, and support our Jewish community! 

Judaism's Great Spiritual Revolutions and What they can Teach Us to Navigate the Challenges of a World in Turmoil


Tuesdays, October 20 and 27 and November 10 and 17 at 7:00 pm


We are living through one of the most challenging times in human history. The world is battling a deadly pandemic, so many are struggling with racial and economic inequality and we live in a  society that has not yet achieved  justice for all. The division between people and communities has in some ways never been more strained.

Join Rabbi Bill Gershon as he explores the big ideas and spiritual revolutions that have defined the Jewish tradition over the centuries and which can unlock for our generation a path forward to create unity and bring light and even joy into our world.


Taught by Rabbi Bill Gershon, Congregation B'nai Israel, Toms River

Analyze this!  Looking at selected biblical characters through a psychological approach.


Sundays October 25, November 1, 8. and 15 at 7:00 PM


Who were they? What was their background and historical context?  What were the reasons or are there other, cognitive explanations for their behavior in certain cases?

We will look at such Jewish figures as King Saul, Queen Esther, Moses, and more.  This will include an examination of text, historical and archaeological evidence, and modern theories of self, personality, and behavior. 

Following this class, you will never approach reading text the same away again.


Taught by Rabbi David Amar, Congregation Ahavat Olam, Howell

Crash Course in Hebrew Reading


Learn to read Hebrew in time for Chanukah.  Class begins on Wednesday, October 28.  Register either for the daytime session at 12:00-1:30 PM or the evening session at 7:30-9:00 PM.


This introductory Hebrew program can teach participants to learn to read Hebrew in 6 sessions. 

Throughout Jewish history, Hebrew has been a connection between Jewish communities around the world. For many modern Jews, learning Hebrew is the first step to reconnecting with their roots.

The course is designed for Jews with little or no background in Hebrew and concentrates on teaching the Hebrew alphabet and reading skills. This course is fun and materials are provided as part of the Read Hebrew America program of NJOP.  Sessions meet once a week for an hour and a half.


Taught by Rabbi Robert Rubin, Temple Beth Or, Brick

Jewish Women and Social Reform


Wednesdays at 6 pm, November 4, 18, December 2 and 16


One of the greatest social reform movements was for women’s suffrage.  Many of the women who fought for the right to vote were not included in history textbooks.  Those women were the Jews and women of color, but they campaigned alongside their white counterparts even as they suffered discrimination in other areas of society based on religion and skin color.

Not only did they fight for the right to vote, women (and some men) campaigned to improve other areas of society such as child labor, working conditions, pay equity, medical care and more.  Moreover, many of these campaigns were waged against the backdrop of a World War and the Spanish Flu Pandemic. In many cases, these women were accomplished in the arts, journalism, and other professions and were guided by Jewish values of justice, righteousness and the dignity of every human being. 

In this course we will examine this history by learning about the lives of these women, including:

  • Pauline Perlmutter Steinem - 1864-1940
  • Gertrude Weil -1879 - 1971
  • Belle Winestine – 1891-1985
  • Marguerite Rosett Bishow -1900-1992


Taught by Rabbi Stephen Gold, Beth Am Shalom, Lakewood

A Textual Tour of Israel

The Struggles of Yesterday and Today: Walking with the Rabbis of the Sanhedrin


Monday, November 2 and November 9 at 7:30 pm


Exiled from Jerusalem following the Roman destruction in 70 CE, the Jewish Sanhedrin wandered from town to town as they struggled with some of the most fundamental questions surrounding the survival of Judaism. This year has reignited some of the same debates as our changing world struggles with the realities of living in 2020. Explore the sites and stories of Israel and Jewish text as we tour the archaeological sites of the Sanhedrin and discuss the same questions that still plague us in our changing world.

Rabbi Hannah Estrin excels at bringing new and personal connections to the traditions of Judaism. An avid educator exploring the intersection of text, spirituality and Israel, she believes in the power of deep and honest conversations. She utilizes a decade at Congregation Beth Am in San Diego and another as a professional tour guide in Israel to meld Israel, tradition, and daily life in new ways cultivating conversations which encourage the reexamination of 'routine' parts of our lives. Discover more at rabbihannahestrin.com.


Taught by Hannah Estrin

Israel Educator & Tour Guide, Rabbi

Jewish Values in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Explore different attitudes towards the conflict through a study of Jewish narratives about Israel and the unpacking of the complex meanings of peace in Jewish tradition. 

Note – this course will be offered in two semesters – this fall and the second half in the spring


6 Tuesdays starting Nov. 10 at 8 PM.


Explore one of the most divisive issues affecting the Jewish people today.

Through the study of Jewish narratives about Israel and the unpacking of the complex meanings of peace in Jewish tradition, participants are invited to explore the ideas and values that animate different attitudes toward the conflict and how these values shape their own political understandings. Though a common political platform may not be attainable, this course strives to achieve a shared respect for our differences.

Central Themes of the course: 

  • Talking About Israel: Foundations for a Values Discourse
  • The Current Discourse: Living with Difference examines the sociological categories of pluralism, tolerance, and deviance
  • The Israel We Imagine addresses the most essential narratives and assumptions that the Jewish community holds about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Jewish Narratives of Peace explores different models of peace within our sources
  • Attitudes Towards the Land – Perspectives from Within Israel examines the historical and religious significance of the land in Jewish sources
  • Attitudes Towards the Land – Perspectives from Outside the Land
  • Justice explores the central meanings and implications of justice within our tradition
  • Justice: X Happened…looks at the ways a controversial claim can be addressed in a genuine and morally appropriate manner
  • Self-Preservation explores the core moral commitment to self-preservation in Jewish tradition
  • Compromise examines the ways in which our tradition views the idea of compromise
  • A Light Unto the Nations: The Idea of Exceptionalism

Through these sessions we hope to model an approach to conversations about the conflict in which values and ideas, rather than politics, take center stage.


Taught by Rabbi Michael Jay, Jewish Community Center of Long Beach Island, Spray Beach


Days are Coming: The Jewish View on Messiah and Redemption


Thursday, November 5, 12, and 19 at 7:30 PM


For millennia, Jews have lived and died with their faith in the coming of a righteous redeemer.  During times of life and death, as during the Shoah, Jews recited “Ani Maamin” – I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. 

What is the Messiah?  Who is it or will it be?  When is he coming?  And is there anything we can do to hasten this arrival?

This course will take place over 3 sessions.

The first will focus on the general idea of what the Messianic era will look like.  How will life change?  Does it happen all at once?  What happens to the revival of the dead? 

The second session will look at Elijah the prophet.  We talk about him each year during the Passover seder.  He is a unique figure and harbinger of the Messianic era.  Who is he?  What role does he play?

The third session will look at the circumstances that will lead up to the coming of the Messiah.  Some have used the words “apocalypse” or “Armageddon” – and many look around us at the world today and see elements of these terms.  What do we need to look forward to?

This will be an engaging and eye-opening series of discussions.


Taught by Rabbi Moshe Gourarie, Chabad of Toms River


Ocean County Community Challah Bake


Thursday, November 12 at 5:30 pm


Shabbat has long been a means to reconnect with ourselves, our families and our community. And nothing embodies the Shabbat table more than delicious fresh baked Challah.

Baking challah is a time-honored Mitzvah dating bake to our Matriarchs. It is taught that when a woman bakes Challah and makes the appropriate blessings on the dough, she is bringing additional blessing into her home and into the food that she lovingly prepares for family and friends. It is a time for women to pray for their personal needs, the needs of their families and communities.

Learn the best braiding techniques and the meaning behind this Biblical ritual relevant to your life.

You will receive an ingredient list and recipe before the program and after you sign up.  You will then be able to create a Challah ready to bake in your own oven.


Taught by Chani Gourarie, Chabad of Toms River