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236 Kane Street / Brooklyn, NY 11231 / 718 875-1550

Pirkei Avot – A Community-wide Learning

About the Learning: Since March, 2019, our community has been engaged in community-wide learning of Pirkei Avot (Wisdom of Our Sages), a compilation of ethical teachings and sayings found in the Mishna. This is a treasure of our tradition whose ideas and insights are accessible and enlightening to all learners, whether you have never before engaged in Jewish learning or have an extensive background. We are completing all of Pirkei Avot in two cycles of study, learning the first half from Spring 2019-Rosh HaShanah and the second from Spring 2020-Rosh Hashanah (see learning schedule below).

How to Join the Study? The questions, challenges, and perspectives offered through Pirkei Avot are, like so much of Jewish text, often best learned with study partners who can help one another understand, appreciate, and argue over the meaning and significance of the ideas presented. You’ll get to know the text and each other.

A handful of community members have volunteered to serve as lead learners. Add your name to the the Study Sign-Up Sheet to either join one of their groups, form a new study group with other community members, or add your name and we will connect you with others who are interested in learning together. We suggest study groups of 2-6 people. You can also sign up to learn as a family.

When, Where, and How to Study: Pirkei Avot is made up of 108 individual teachings (mishnayot) that are only one sentence to a short paragraph each. In order to keep everyone simultaneously learning the same material, and engaged with an amount of text that can be regularly covered in an hour of study together, we have set a learning schedule (see below) of roughly four mishnayot for every two weeks, allowing us to complete approximately half of Pirkei Avot’s six chapters in an initial six months of learning. Learners can join the study at any time.

The schedule will be regularly updated with brief study aids for each set of mishnayot with suggested questions, or background context, for learners to consider. Study groups are encouraged to meet in person wherever is most convenient (homes, coffee shops, offices), on a virtual platform (such as Google Hangout), and/or we will also make the Kane Street Chapel available to study groups.

Throughout the study, we will also offer a few opportunities for all the study groups to gather together to learn from a guest scholar on Pirkei Avot and celebrate their accomplishments along the way over treats and drinks. We’ll begin with an Introduction to Pirkei Avot, and learning of the very first mishna, at a March 2 Shabbat Lunch and Learn following Kiddush at approximately 12:30pm in the Kane Street Chapel. 

Which Version of Pirkei Avot to Use? A wonderful new Illustrated Pirkei Avot has been recently published (pictured above) and we are recommending that learners purchase this engaging edition of the text (which includes both English and Hebrew)(discount code: “kanestreet”). You can also access free online editions of Pirkei Avot (in both English and Hebrew and with commentaries) through Sefaria and Chabad. Many other editions are also available.

Contact Rabbi Jason Gitlin for more information or questions.

Schedule & Study Resources

On Shabbat afternoon, March 2, we’ll offer An Introduction to Pirkei Avot, and study of the first mishna, with Rabbi Jason Gitlin and Miryam Wasserman, following Kiddush at approximately 12:30pm in the Chapel.

Learning Period 1 Material Study Aid
March 1 – 15, 2019 Chapter 1: Mishnayot 1-4 Study: 1:1-4
March 16 – April 5 Chapter 1: 5-8 Study: 1:5-8
April 6 – April 19 Chapter 1: 9-12 Study: 1:9-12
April 20 – May 3 Chapter 1: 13-18 Study: 1:13-18
May 4 – May 17 Chapter 2: 1-4 Study 2:1-4
May 18 – May 31 Chapter 2: 5-8 Study 2:5-8
June 1 – June 14 Chapter 2: 9-12 Study Ch. 2
June 15 – 28 Chapter 2: 13-16 Study Ch. 2
June 29 – July 12 Chapter 3: 1-4 Study Ch 3
July 13 – 26 Chapter 3: 5-8 Study Ch 3
July 27 – August 9 Chapter 3: 9-12 Study Ch 3
August 10 – August 23 Chapter 3: 13-18 Study Ch 3
August 24 – September 6 Chapter 4: 1-4 Study Ch 4
September 7 – Sept 20 Chapter 4: 5-8 Study Ch 4
Learning Period 2 Material                            Study Aid    
April 19 – May 2, 2020 Chapter 4: 9-12
May 3 – May 16 Chapter 4: 13-16
May 17 – May 30 Chapter 4: 17-22
May 31 – June 13 Chapter 4: 23-29
June 14 – June 27 Chapter 5: 1-4
June 28 – July 11 Chapter 5: 5-8
July 12 – July 25 Chapter 5: 9-12
July 26 – August 8 Chapter 5: 13-16
August 9 – August 22 Chapter 5: 17-20
August 23 – July 26 Chapter 5: 21-23
July 27 – August 9 Chapter 6: 1-4
August 10 – August 23 Chapter 6: 5-8
August 24 – September 5 Chapter 6: 9-11


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