Global Day of Jewish Learning returns for second year

It’s the Jewish prayer of prayers, but how much do most Jews know about the Sh’ma? Rabbi Lavey Derby wants to find out.

Derby is the coordinator of the free Global Day of Jewish Learning event that will be held Nov. 13 at the Peninsula JCC in Foster City. It will be one of about 200 such events around the world that Sunday — including at least three in the Bay Area — each with its own bent on Jewish learning.

For example, the focus at the Global Day of Jewish Learning event at the JCC of the East Bay will be on environmentalism from a Jewish perspective, while the theme at the Peninsula JCC will be “Hear, O Israel.”

Rabbi Bradley Artson, who has done much theological work around the Sh’ma, will teach a workshop and deliver the keynote address in Foster City. Artson is the dean at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Bradley Artson

“I want to provide people with a meaning of the Sh’ma different from what they think,” Derby said. “Most think of it as ‘there’s only one God, and no other.’ The kabbalistic take is that everything is one, there is nothing else but God, everything is a manifestation of divinity.”

Now in its second year, the Global Day of Jewish Learning was launched by the Aleph Society to mark the completion of Rabbi Aden Steinhart’s mammoth English translation of the Talmud. Events are scheduled in 40 different countries, according to

Derby expects the local events will draw people from all walks of the community.

“Different denominational affiliations, parents with children, senior adults, empty nesters — everyone,” he said. “No prior knowledge is necessary. The only prerequisite is curiosity about learning something new.”

The PJCC program is co-sponsored by a handful of Jewish schools, synagogues and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. It is free and will run from 2 to 4:45 p.m. Nov. 13 at the PJCC, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City. Pre-registration is encouraged. For more information, visit or call (650) 212-7522.

The program at the JCC East Bay, also free, is set for 10 a.m. at the JCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. Focusing on environmentalism, it will include presentations from Wilderness Torah, Hazon and Urban Adamah. For more information, visit or call (510) 848-0237.

A third local Global Day of Jewish Learning event is being run by Chabad of Greater South Bay, 3070 Louis Road, Palo Alto. Program details were still being worked on this week. For more information, visit or call (650) 424-9800.

— dan pine

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.