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One of the most important traditions of Judaism is a dedication to lifelong learning. At TBS, we support this tradition through a variety of learning opportunities for Jews of all ages. We strive to encourage interesting educational programs that are not only thought provoking, but fun and engaging.

Join us in our quest for knowledge, understanding, and a connection to our community, our people, and our commitment to Judaism and the land of Israel.  Our goal is to expand our knowledge and understanding of Judaism and what it means to us as an individual and as a community.  We challenge all members to think, question, and contribute creatively to our common journey.  Our Jewish education and exploration is an ongoing journey.  We hope to offer something of interest to everyone, and to encourage our members and friends to search for a deeper meaning and understanding through study and reflection.

TBS lecture photo

2023-24 JCEC events

JCEC events are scheduled from fall through spring with the summers off.  More events will be added as they are confirmed.

Upcoming Events

Past Events

Sunday, April 28, 2024

1:00 pm
In Person ONLY

Graphic for the Last Laugh documentary

The Last Laugh is a feature documentary which asks the question whether it is ever acceptable to use humor about major tragedies. Are any topics off limit or are such jokes acceptable expressions of free speech? Mel Brooks, Carl and Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried, David Steinberg, and others give their views and tell their jokes. The movie also features a Holocaust survivor. Find out how she gets “the last laugh”.

Sunday, April 7,  2024

1:00 pm
In Person

Image of human genes

Christian Nationalism: Is it a threat to American Jews?

You’ve probably encountered the term “Christian Nationalism” in the media over the past few years. It has emerged as a shorthand way to refer to the distinctive variety of far right, white evangelicalism that has intensified in the Trump era. Christian Nationalists are of concern because they tend to be critical of, if not hostile to, the traditions of religious pluralism and multi-racial democracy that many Americans, and especially American Jews, have taken for granted as unquestioned pillars of American political life. Scholars of American religion find that approximately 20 to 30% of Americans can be accurately described as “Christian Nationalists.” Adherents of that world view form an increasingly large and especially activated portion of the Republican base, and they tend to be far more comfortable with the idea that political violence might be necessary to “save America” from the perceived threat of “the radical left.” The current Republican Speaker of the House is arguably the first Christian Nationalist to hold such a powerful position.

This presentation will summarize the scholarly literature on “Christian Nationalism” and assess the usefulness and limitations of that term for understanding the intersection of religion and politics on the contemporary American right. Professor Cotlar will also draw on his research into the history of the far right in post-WWII Oregon to talk about the specific ways in which Christian Nationalism has manifested inside the Oregon Republican Party and in Oregon society more broadly. While many people (rightly) associate late 20th century Oregon Republicanism with moderates like Mark Hatfield or Tom McCall, there was also an increasingly strong contingent within the Oregon GOP as early as 1960 that could be classified as “Christian Nationalist.” It is that far right contingent that contributed to the gradual transformation of the Oregon Republican Party away from the moderation of figures like Senator Hatfield, and toward the far right politics of the OR GOP’s 2020 and 2022 US Senate candidate, Jo Rae Perkins.

 Seth Cotlar is a Professor of History at Willamette University. His current research project is entitled “Rightlandia: Walter Huss and the Long History of the Far Right in Oregon, 1955-2005.” Huss was an anti-communist crusader with ties to white nationalists, Christian supremacists, and neo-Nazis who, in 1978, was elected chair of the Oregon Republican Party. Cotlar teaches courses on the history of the far right and the history of American Conservatism. His first book was Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Transatlantic Radicalism in the Early American Republic (University of Virginia Press, 2011), which won the James Broussard Prize for Best First Book from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He also co-edited Historian in Chief: How Presidents Interpret the Past to Shape the Future (University of Virginia Press, 2019) with Richard Ellis.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

1:00 pm
In Person and on Zoom

Image of human genes

Heritable Mutations

Tabitha Phillips from Salem Health will be presenting information about heritable mutations, specifically BRCA1/2, which are known to have up to 5x higher rates of mutations among women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent when compared to general population. She will review some of the mechanism of the genes, how they lead to increased risk for certain cancer types, as well as testing and surveillance or treatment options.

Tabitha Phillips works as a Physician Assistant at the Salem Health Breast Center. In addition to surgical management of breast cancer, she sees patients in consultation for high risk breast cancer screening and management. She has undergone intensive training in cancer genetics and provides surveillance for patients with high-risk mutations.

Sunday, January 28, 2024
1:00 – 2:30pm
Zoom only
Norma Libman photo

The Secret Jews of the American Southwest

Jews have had to hide their identity in the past and hopefully we will not have to do the same in the future. For more than 500 years some Spanish Jews, exiled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, have kept their Jewish heritage a secret. Over the centuries many have forgotten that their families ever had a Jewish past, but many others have not forgotten. Indeed, they have struggled to retain the memory of their Jewish history, and to pass their customs down through the generations. Today there are still a significant number of Christians who know the secret of their Jewish history and strive to retain as many Jewish practices as possible in their lives. This presentation will examine the lives of those who came to what was then New Spain and took up life as Christians in the New World, determined to pass their Jewish secret to their children and future generations. We will look at how the descendants of these people live today, why so many think they must still keep their Jewish lives a secret, and what happens to those who decide, finally, to return to the open practice of Judaism.

Norma Libman is a journalist and lecturer with degrees in Education and Literature. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers nationwide, and has taught at universities, colleges, and workshops in New Mexico, Illinois, and around the country. She has published three award-winning books. 

Norma leads writing workshops and lectures extensively on literary topics and Jewish history. In her research on the Crypto-Jewish story she has interviewed, over a period of more than 25 years, some 50 individuals and families with hidden Jewish histories. She has designed two Jewish content programs for Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) and lectured and led tours for that educational touring company for 19 years. Now she lectures for OASIS and OSHER, two national older adult educational programs. She is a recent recipient of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society Hurst Award for her efforts in education in the field of Crypto-Jewish history and culture.

Visit Norma’s website at formore information and to sample some of her writing.

Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023

1:00 pm

Roger Weiss

Jews in Space !!

Ever see a dreidel floating and spinning in microgravity aboard a rocket flying above Earth? Or hear the Torah read by an astronaut orbiting our precious planet? Over the last 60+ years, Jewish men and women have played a significant part in exploring space, and some have brought up with them or acknowledged various aspects of their Judaism while soaring amidst the twinkling stars. You’ll learn about these super cool cosmic Hebrew heroes and amazing factoids, and relive the joy of their memorable experiences to elevate your own pride to infinity.. and beyond!

Roger Weiss, a Chicago native, has proudly supported the International Space Station (ISS) Program at NASA/Johnson Space Center in Houston since his immigration to Texas in 2000.  A longtime member and former adult education trustee of Congregation Shaar Hashalom in Clear Lake, TX, Roger has organized talks by Jewish astronauts about their mega-exciting missions. Roger has authored and delivers an informative, entertaining, and exhaustive presentation, Jews in Space, and is writing a book on this special theme. His everlasting dream is to fly in space since seeing his hero Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the Moon in 1969, and to explore the depth of the vast heavens after viewing his other hero Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos series on PBS in 1980. Roger and his wife, Nancy, have two sons/mensches, Zack and Justin.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

1:00 pm

Rabbi Harvey Winokur

A Taste of Mussar with Rabbi Harvey Winokur

Rabbi Winokur will lead an online presentation on this treasured body of teachings and practices that provides distinctively Jewish answers to the questions we all ask about life.

§  Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over?

§  What steps can I take to bring my life closer to my spiritual potential?

§  Are there lessons I can learn from the experiences of previous generations?

§  How can I create a better version of my self?

Mussar also guides you in identifying your unique, personal path of spiritual growth and offers practices to assist you on your journey.

A Taste of Mussar was developed by Dr. Alan Morinis, founder of The Mussar Institute. This orientation will introduce you to the experience of Mussar. You will learn about the anatomy of the soul and how this curriculum is the basis for personal growth. You will explore some of the middot, or traits of the soul.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

1:00 pm
In Person ONLY

Jewish Humor

Ever since childhood as a class clown, Mark Levy has been making friends and strangers alike laugh at the foibles of modern life. Hailing from the east coast, he cut his comedy cuspids in the Catskills for 20 years, until the buildings couldn’t take it anymore. He is also known as a singer of older Jewish folk songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, and is an un-ordained cantor who has served many synagogues and temples throughout the country. Having moved to Oregon in 2019, he continues to travel the land bringing Jewish humor and music to far flung areas, shedding light on why and how Jews are funny and how we got over ourselves in the New World.