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1.22.16 Issue

by Mark Kirchhoff, Center for Jewish Life

The 2016 Klutznick Learning Series kicks off on Monday, Feb. 8 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Social Hall at the JCC. This year’s series, sponsored by the fund of the Klutznick Chair of Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, is titled Pirkei Avot: Ancient Wisdom in the Modern World. The remaining sessions will be held on subsequent Mondays, Feb. 15 and 22, also beginning at 7 p.m.

The commandments — the “Big Ten” in 2014 and “Beyond the Big Ten…” in 2015 — were the topics of discussion in the two previous installments of this Learning Series. The format adopted in 2014 and repeated in 2015 has proven so popular that it will be followed again this year. Each evening will feature two topics from Pirkei Avot. Each topic will include two 15-minute discussions: a clergy member will lead the first section, followed by a discussion on the same topic by a lay member of the community. A Q & A time will follow. The sessions will be unique, hopefully a bit entertaining, and will definitely make you consider new ideas. While everyone is encouraged to attend each week, people are welcome to attend selected sessions without concerns for continuity between sessions.

Pirkei Avot (also Pirkei Avoth or Pirkei Avos or Pirke Aboth), in English Chapters of the Fathers, is a compilation of ethical teachings and maxims of the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period, which covers the first two centuries of the Common Era. Pirkei Avot is the only tractate of the Mishnah dealing solely with ethical and moral principles; it contains little if any halacha (laws).

Dr. Leonard Greenspoon, Klutznick Chair of Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, has been instrumental in the planning of the series. “Pirkei Avot is among the most accessible writings of Classical Judaism and speaks to people today much as it did to its original audience two thousand years ago” reports Leonard. He commented that the topic was chosen this year because it logically and chronologically follows the biblical commands discussed during the first two years of the Klutznick Series.

The series is available free of charge due to the generous financial support from the fund of the Klutznick Chair of Jewish Civilization at Creighton University. The Klutznick Governance Council includes Dr. Leonard Greenspoon, the Klutznick Chair, along with Bonnie Bloch, Steve Riekes and Marty Shukert. While there is no cost, we ask you RSVP by calling Mark Kirchhoff at 402.334.6463 or you can email

While we finalize all arrangements, we encourage you to mark your calendars for these dates. The series receives organizational and promotional support by the Center for Jewish Life whose mission is to maximize involvement of Omaha’s Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences.