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New B’nai Sholom Course Examines “The Story of the Jews”

This past spring, PBS presented Simon Schama’s epic five-part series “The Story of the Jews,” exploring the story of the Jewish experience from ancient times to the present day.

A new course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation will feature a viewing of each episode and a discussion led by Rabbi Don Cashman of Jewish history as related in Schama’s documentary.

“The Story of the Jews” will be offered six Monday mornings beginning November 14 from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at the synagogue, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.

Each week, Rabbi Cashman will set the stage for the period and events in the episode, which run about 55 minutes each, and then will lead a post-video discussion based on participants’ questions, comments and reactions.  Week 1 will present an overview of Jewish history. Ensuing weeks will cover: In the Beginning: The start of 3,000 years of Jewish history; Among Believers: Medieval Judaism among Christianity and Islam; A Leap of Faith: The Enlightenment; Over the Rainbow: Eastern Europe; Return: How the Holocaust and the creation of Israel changed Jewish identity.

PBS describes Schama’s documentary as “at once deeply historical and utterly contemporary, taking viewers on a journey from the Biblical past to tomorrow’s front pages. At the heart of ‘The Story of the Jews’ is a compelling argument about distinctiveness and difference, separation and isolation, tolerance and prejudice, but it also is a celebration of the ways in which Jewish thought, Jewish imagination and Jewish achievement have transformed the world for all.”

B’nai Sholom’s spiritual leader since 1985, Rabbi Cashman has taught the full range of the Jewish experience: ancient, medieval and modern thought, texts and history. In recent years, he has taught on ideas linked to contemporary food concerns in Judaism and on emerging notions of sexuality within Judaism. Rabbi Cashman has taught Judaic studies at the University at Albany since 2006 and is offering “Foundational Jewish Texts” in spring 2017.




“The Story of the Jews” is open to the public. Fee for the six-session course is $45 ($30 for B’nai Sholom members), and registration is required.

For more information, visit or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or

Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region. Nearly 130 diverse households from six counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.


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