Sign In Forgot Password

Verein = Society

Contact: Ralph Graff or Richard Gavatin for more info

What were we?  In the early 1800's, a group of young intellectual Berlin Jews founded “Der Verein fur Wissenshaft der Judentum” (Society for the Scientific study of Judaism).The positions taken would prophecise changes in Judaism leading to Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox Judaism. In recognition, we have chosen the word Verein for the name of our Discussion Group.   
If you would like to learn more about the Verein (the original), please visit The New Jewish Thinker, and specifically an excellent article by Dr. Ralph Graff, here is the link:

What were we?  We started as a book club in support of Scholars in Residence. We would pick a book which related to a Scholar’s program and review it to help us appreciate the Scholar’s presentation.
Our third Scholar, Hillel Kieval, recommended Ismar Schorsch’s book
Text and Context.

A large part of that book dealt with a group of German intellects of the early 1800's who formed a self-learning discussion group (the “Verein”, often translated as “society”) to better understand Judaism.
The Verein led to the development of the Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox movements.
The nature of our books changed to emulate that group. We wanted to understand our authorities, Maimonides, Schechter, Spinoza etc. Although we sought Rabbinic oversight (Rabbi Skoff, z’l’, attended regularly), self-learning became a critical aspect.

Where are we?
In recent months we have attempted to address current issues: Elliot Dorff’s book, The Unfolding Tradition: Jewish Law After Sinai, the role of the Matrilineal concept in modern Judaism, Gillman’s Sacred Fragments and Doing your own Theology, we've also had programs on Chazzanute and on Israel.
During 2021 we are planning a Series on
"Judaism and Science"  which promises to be spectacular.  Keep an eye out for more information 

What should we be in the future?

The simple answer is we must fill a need. We would point out that there are multiple Orthodox facilities in Clayton/University City offering sophisticated traditional educational programming. We are the only non-Orthodox facility in that area.

Our membership is rich with educators who innately are self-learners, and we’ve had a bottom-up way of doing business: Our members have contributed to the programs with interesting topics and excellent presentations. We’ve also have had the benefit of having Rabbi Pamela Barmash here and she has bestowed upon us her vast knowledge and experience. Nevertheless, this has been – to a great extent – a lay-led endeavor.

We would like to continue operating that way and we are asking you for your feedback.

Rabbi Arnow has suggested that we plan regular meetings over the next year. To do so, we need to pick interesting subjects and increase the number participating. We must increase our appeal so that individuals are willing to set aside their limited social time to participate, to increase the number of those taking ownership.

What venue will best attract individuals? We have used individuals’ homes, Lunch and Learn following Shabbat services and Sunday in-house programs.

As we have done periodically, we are asking for responses. We ask that you take a few minutes to think about our questions and send a response.



Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784