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Torat ha'tefillah: the year of the siddur

Why pray? What are we asking for? Does prayer always work? Is it always the answer?  Does prayer need to be in Hebrew? In a Shul? With other Jews? This year, join Rav Yosef and Morateinu Alissa at BDJ on a journey to answer these questions and more as we discover prayer and the Siddur in a whole new way. Through year-long  classes and mini series, experiential Shabbatot and Daily Minyanim -- plus some unforgettable Melave Malkas -- we’ll make 5777 a year that deepens our connections to prayer, to one another, and to God.


Classes with rav yosef & RABBANIT alissa



Sunday Nights: 8:30 - 9:00 PM
At the Home of Andrea and Larry Gill 

           As part of our Torat HaTefilla year, join Rav Yosef in studying both the Halachot and the broader meaning of the              most exalted parts of Davening, the sections that we refer to as the  דברים שבקדושה“” the “Holy Matters”. This                  category includes the Kaddish and Kedusha (in all of their varieties), as well as more specialized Tefillot such as           “The 13 Attributes of God” that we include at  various Tefillot throughout the year. We’ll be using the Mishna                    Brurah as a basic text, and supplementing with a variety of other texts as well. All learning levels and                              backgrounds are welcome and encouraged!

prayer in the talmud:

Gemara Shiur

Monday Nights 7:30 - 9:00 PM
BDJ Beit Midrash

Brush off your Gemara, and come join Rav Yosef for our interactive and thought-provoking Gemara shiur. As part of our Torat HaTefilla year, we’ll be dedicating our Gemara Shiur to studying the opening chapters of Masechet   Brachot, selecting both Halachic and Aggadic Sugyot which reveal important insights about how Jewish prayer is constructed and experienced. Every shiur begins with guided chavruta study, giving you the opportunity to strengthen and build your independent Gemara learning skills. Participants use their own choice of Gemara text (traditional, Steinsaltz, etc.) Prior experience with Gemara study is beneficial, however, the shiur is open to everyone who has a good Hebrew reading background.

midrash group

Tuesdays, 7:45 - 8:45 AM, following Schacharit
BDJ Beit Midrash
The Midrash is a fascinating amalgam of rabbinic wisdom, Biblical interpretation, and clever word play. Join Rav Yosef and this vibrant study group and get better acquainted with this wonderful text. The class is
ongoing, but newcomers are welcome to join at any time.

nothing But the pshat

During Seudah Shlishit
BDJ Beit Midrash

Each Shabbat, Rav Yosef, Rabbanit Alissa, or one of the wonderful cadre of BDJ teachers, selects one section of the upcoming week’s parsha, and delves into its “pshat,” i.e., the meaning that is yielded by a close, careful reading of the words and phrases the parsha uses. What a fantastic way to kick off the upcoming week!


prayer pings

Starts in November
Arrives in your inbox

This year’s Prayer Pings will take us beyond the text of the prayer and into the practice — from the choreography of how we bow, stand, and move, to the way the changing seasons and years set the stage for the words we say. Encounter prayer like never before in Rav Yosef’s and Rabbanit Alissa’s bi-weekly emails that take under 2 minutes to read. To sign up please email with the subject line “Prayer Pings”.


parsha plug

Tuesday, 7:30 - 8:30 pm
BDJ Beit Midrash

Looking to infuse your week with more Torah? Thirsting for a class with   in-depth Parsha learning? Longing to have a D’var Torah on hand at all   times? Plug into the energy of the Parsha with Rabbanit Alissa during  our weekly Parsha Shiur.  We will learn the Parsha together with a variety of commentaries, including the classics as well as modern, Chasidic, and Mussar perspectives! As part of Torat HaTefilla, our Parsha Shiur will focus on the relationship between the Parsha and our prayers when possible.


briyut hanefesh

Thursday Mornings 7:45-9:00 AM
BDJ Beit Midrash

Briyut HaNefesh is a mental wellness support group. The first of its kind in the Pico area, it is a holistic fusion of Torah and psychology for those in need of emotional, social, and spiritual support. In each session we will draw from the wisdom and sensitivity of our Jewish tradition as well as together build your therapeutic toolbox. The support you will gain from joining this group will come from sharing your process with others who have similar experiences and from being guided by the facilitators. The group is facilitated by Rabbanit Alissa.. This is a closed group and is a safe and confidential space. Prior consultation is required. To participate and for more information please contact Rabbanit Alissa at

 special classes and series


Image result for magical book













Gems of the Siddur

November 2, 9 & 16, 2016 & February 8, 15 & 22, 2017

Have you ever opened up a Siddur, recognized the words, but had no idea what the prayers are about? Are you bored with Davening and looking for inspiration? Join Rav Yosef and Rabbanit Alissa in a two-part miniseries about uncovering the hidden gems within our Siddur. Together we will approach the Siddur with new eyes, drawing meaning from diverse sources spanning Rabbinic, Chasidic, and Modern approaches. We will emerge with practical ways to enhance both our relationship with the Siddur and our prayer lives. 


BDJ Mishmar: Learn Torah, Make Friends

November 10, 2016 & February 23, March 23 & May 18, 2017

Join B’nai David-Judea for our first-ever “Mishmar one-on-one  learning” program! Whether you are new to Torah study or call the Beit Midrash your second home, you are sure to meet great people and to encounter amazing ideas. Just tell us a little about who you are and what you would like to study, and we will pair you with a partner to explore Torah in an electrifying atmosphere of conversation, warmth and, even Cholent! Contact Abe Mezrich at to get set up with a partner in advance.


Exploring the Taboo: A View from Under the Bed

with Dr. BatSheva Marcus                                                                

November 11, 2016

Why is it important for the Orthodox community to address issues of sex and sexuality? How do we frame these issues for ourselves, and present them to our children?  We will look at these questions and explore how Tzniyut and privacy may affect our ability to effectively deal with issues critically important to our wellbeing and that of our community.


History of the Siddur with Rabbi Abraham Lieberman   

November 30, December 7 & December 21, 2016

In  History of the Siddur we will concentrate on the ongoing development of Tefillah from its roots in Tanach to the formalized prayers instituted by the Rabbis. The class will also analyze the earliest available Siddurim in both content and topics of prayer. 


From Tradition to Open Orthodoxy: A History of Modern Orthodoxy

with Dr. David Myers         

January 4, 11 & 18, 2017              

Until the Modern Age, Judaism did not know of the adjective Orthodox. When and why did it come into vogue?  This three-part course will explore the rise of Orthodoxy as it emerged out of traditional Jewish beliefs and practices in the nineteenth century up to the present. 




Scholars in residence






yonah jeremy bob

November 2015

Yonah Jeremy Bob is a foreign affairs lecturer and a correspondent and commentator for the Jerusalem Post. He lectures internationally about Iran, security issues, war crimes allegations, the peace process, cyber and drone warfare, politics and more; and has been interviewed by the BBC, Skynews, Voice of America, ABC Los Angeles Radio, Skynews  Arabiya, ABC New York Radio,  Russia Today, I-24 News and several other Israeli and American radio programs. He has previously worked for the IDF Legal Division, the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry.




dr. yael ziegler

January 12-14, 2017


Dr. Yael Ziegler is a lecturer in Tanakh at Herzog College (associated with Yeshivat Har Etzion) and Matan, an innovative institution dedicated to furthering women's Torah study. She is the author of Promises to Keep: The Oath in Biblical Narrative and Ruth: From Alienation to Monarchy. Dr. Ziegler has lectured widely on various Tanakh topics in Israel, the United States, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. She received her BA from Stern College and an MA and Ph.D. at Bar Ilan University. She lives in Alon Shvut, Israel, with her husband and their five children.







Rabbi michael paley

Shavuot,  May 31-June 1, 2017

Rabbi Michael Paley is the Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar in Residence at the Jewish Resource Center of UJA-Federation of New York. He also teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism, City College, and the Ivry Prozdor High School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Newsweek magazine named him one of the 50 most influential rabbis. Prior to his arrival at UJA-Federation,

Rabbi Paley was a professor of Jewish studies and dean at Bard College, and vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, where he remains a member of the permanent faculty. He also founded the Edgar M. Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel, and served as a chaplain at Columbia University and Dartmouth College. Rabbi Paley earned his bachelor's degree at Brandeis University and graduate degrees in Jewish and Islamic philosophy and science at Temple University. He was ordained at Yeshivat B'nai Or and was a student at Yeshivat Hamivtar in Jerusalem.


Sat, September 23 2017 3 Tishrei 5778