Shalom Maine
Adult Jewish Learning

Shalom Maine Logo OUTLINES

A community partnership for adult Jewish learning with
Congregation Bet Ha’am, Temple Beth El, Sha’arey Tphiloh, Etz Chaim Synagogue - Portland, Congregation Etz Chaim – Biddeford, Beth Israel Congregation - Bath, and the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA)


Advanced registration required.  Classes are subject to change pending minimum enrollment.

Courses are offered with a suggested tuition.

Weather Closures

Closures will be determined by the organization hosting the class and announced via the host’s website and/or social media.

Class Cancellations

In the event that a class is cancelled unrelated to a weather closure, we will attempt to notify all registered students via email, and call any students who cannot be reached by email.

Withdrawals & Refunds

If you need to withdraw from a class – please contact the host organization. For JCA hosted classes, please email  Refunds are available prior to the first week of class. If you withdraw after the class has begun, we will issue a pro-rated refund for medical reasons only.

Code of Conduct

Shalom Maine and our host organizations are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all community members, guests, visitors, and staff, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, ability or financial status. Failure to abide by the Code of Conduct may result in the suspension or revocation of participation in Shalom Maine courses.

Course instructors and students commit to maintaining a respectful and pluralistic class environment. Harassing, bullying, threatening or proselytizing behavior will not be tolerated, and we reserve the right to remove from the premises any individual acting in an inappropriate manner. Distributing flyers, booklets or other literature is prohibited without prior approval. No one may enter the JCA facility while carrying or concealing weapons.

For more information and to register, please scroll down to the course listings below, or call (207) 772-1959.


Beth Israel Congregation
862 Washington Street
(207) 443-4606

Congregation Bet Ha’am
81 Westbrook Street
South Portland
(207) 879-0028

Temple Beth El
400 Deering Avenue
(207) 774-2649

Jewish Community Alliance
1342 Congress Street
(207) 772-1959

From Tribes to Nation - The Significance of the Davidic Monarchy - Part II
With Ellie Miller - CLASSES NOW ONLINE VIA ZOOM (See email for instructions)

Tuesday mornings, Feb. 25; March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 
9:30 - 11:00 AM
JCA – 1342 Congress St., Portland
Suggested tuition: $75
Registration deadline: Friday, Feb. 14

This six-session class will continue to explore King David’s monarchy, its continuity through the reign of his son Solomon, the splitting of the kingdom into Judah and Israel after grandson Rehoboam became king, and the ultimate end of both kingdoms at the hands of the Assyrians (Israel) and Babylonia (Judah). We will consider how the concept of 'messiah,' anointed one, changed over the generations and how David’s monarchy is now immortalized in the Jewish prayer liturgy. We will continue to explore how and why David’s dynasty created an enduring common memory for the Jewish people. The course will rely on Biblical texts, primarily from the Books of Samuel and Kings, as well as  several prayers in the Siddur (prayer book).

Participation in Part I is not a prerequisite for taking Part II. Please bring an English translation or Hebrew/English edition of the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible).

Passover Themes & Rituals
With Ellie Miller - CLASSES NOW ONLINE VIA ZOOM (See email for instructions)

Monday evenings, March 2, 16, 23, 30 (Skip March 9 - Purim)
6:00 - 7:30 PM
JCA – 1342 Congress St., Portland
Suggested tuition: $52
Registration deadline: Feb. 21

Childcare available for ages 3+ for $20 per family for all four sessions with advanced registration only.

While this 4-session class will primarily focus on Passover, our first session will provide a brief review of Jewish holidays throughout the year, along with an explanation of their origins.  The remaining three sessions will explore the Passover story as it is told in Exodus and its retelling (in the Haggadah) at the Passover seder.  What are the lessons to be learned and shared?  How did the Talmudic rabbis envision the seder and what are some modern points of focus?  What foods do we eat and why?  The class will include a variety of “how to” suggestions. Please bring an English translation or Hebrew/English edition of the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible). Other readings will be provided.

Toward a Better Understanding of Inter-Religious Dialogue
With Rabbi Bill Leffler

Thursdays, March 26; April 2
10:00 - 11:00 AM
Congregation Bet Ha'am - 81 Westbrook St., South Portland
Registration Required. Minimum 5 people for class to run.

Please join Rabbi Bill Leffler as he explores the differences in structure of religion between Judaism and Christianity that influence the manifestations of each religion and which frequently hinder genuine inter-religious understanding -- such as the role and place of belief  in each religion, why there is Jewish cooking and not Christian, the place of the State of Israel in Judaism, and much more. In a community where inter-religious dialogue so often occurs, it is important to know where the stumbling blocks are and why they occur.

Rabbi William Leffler is a graduate of Dartmouth College and was ordained at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, in 1959. He served pulpits in Concord, NH, and Lexington, KY, from 1960 to 1986. After he retired from being a pulpit rabbi, he became a financial planner. He has also been involved with libraries, serving as president of Friends of Kentucky Libraries and on the board of Friends of Libraries, USA. Rabbi Leffler has been a resident of Kennebunkport for 25 years.

Writing a 'Legacy Letter': Sharing Your Values & Life Lessons with Future Generations
With Jay Sherwin

Mondays, May 4, 11, 18
5:00 - 6:30 PM
Congregation Bet Ha'am - 81 Westbrook St., South Portland
Registration Required

A legacy letter is a written statement that allows you to share your life lessons, express your values, and transmit your blessings to future generations. A legacy letter is an enduring gift for your loved ones. This three-session course will begin by exploring the rich Jewish tradition around legacy writing. Then, through discussion and brief writing exercises, participants will examine their life histories, explore their values, and capture important insights. Jay will offer advice and a model structure to help everyone complete their own legacy letter.

Jay Sherwin created the Life Reflections Project to educate people about legacy documents. He has practiced law, given away money for Jewish and secular charitable foundations, and served as a hospital chaplain. Read more at

American Jewish History Part II
With Anna Wrobel

Wednesday mornings, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28; Nov. 4
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
JCA – 1342 Congress St., Portland
Suggested tuition: $72
Registration deadline: Sept. 25

This 5-session class examines American Jewish life in the 20th century and up to our own time in the 21st,

placing this unique narrative within the American historical context. Primary documents are used to illuminate specific events and persons of significance for Jewish life in America. As we enter the century of our parents, ourselves and our offspring, it is encouraged that we share relevant memoirs of family and personal history. (American Jewish History Part I is not a requirement for this class.)