Introduction to Judaism (ITJ)

Introduction to Judaism 2020-5780

Rabbi Julia Margolis

Shalom and Welcome! I’m honoured to have the opportunity to be on this Jewish journey with you. Each week through assigned readings, group study, lectures, and discussions we will explore concepts, beliefs and customs that are fundamental to Judaism.  I’m looking forward to both teaching you and learning from you.


Preparation is important: Please make sure to do the assigned readings for each class, and please read the weekly Torah portion before each class, this in order to have a context for our discussion. You can find a calendar with the weekly readings here:

D’var Torah: Each class member is asked to prepare a brief d’var torah, (a word of Torah or short sermon) which is based upon the weekly Torah portion.  It should include a summary of the content of the Torah portion and one or two ideas or themes that are relevant to its message.   Each of you needs to send a d’var torah to me.  

Questions/Suggestions:  Please do not hesitate to ask questions!  You will be entering a completely new world, full of new customs and ideas. Sometimes these may at first appear strange, unusual or in some instances disturbing traits, as such it is natural to have questions, which is why I’m here to help you to understand this new world. In truth we will all benefit from your questions, as we all learn from one another. If you have a question and are apprehensive to ask it, just remember the chances are someone else will have the same question in their mind too! Also please feel free to email me questions and/or suggestions at any time during the week.

Some final thoughts/ explanations: Judaism is a religion of practice and community. Everything you learn in our class represents only a part of what Judaism is about. You are therefore warmly encouraged to take part in communal life and programs. Please join us in as many services and activities as you are able too.

Wishing you great success and Good Luck.


Rabbi Julia Margolis

Guiding Questions for Your D’var Torah:

  1. What is this Torah portion about?
  2. What is the main theme or themes of the Portion?
  3. Why and how is this portion relevant to me?
  4. Why and how is this portion relevant to the Jewish Community or the World at large?
  5. How is this portion relevant to Jews and People today?
  6. Can this portion be applied to my own “Jewish Journey?”
  7. How did I feel about this portion? Reading this portion made me feel X because Y.

For additional guidance in writing your d’var Torah, visit:

Helpful Websites:

http://www.reformjudaism.orgWebsites of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Sign up for “Ten Minutes of Torah,” learn about Reform Judaism.

The Union will send you a one-page e-mail each day on a topic of Jewish interest. All you need to do is find 10 minutes a day to “do Torah.”

            Online, English edition of one of Israel’s major papers.

Online, English edition of another major Israeli paper.

Online edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, a weekly paper with stories of interest to Jews all over the world.

Good source for answers to all kinds of questions about Judaism.

An online Hebrew Calendar. An amazing resource which includes weekly Torah

 portions and corresponding English and Hebrew dates.

The ENTIRE Hebrew Bible (and more resources) online in English and Hebrew.

Fun, Jewish website with “hip” content.

A virtual “library” with a large number of sacred Jewish texts available to be read

directly online!