WATERVILLE — The emotional and spiritual features of classical Jewish literature will be the topic of monthly classes to be hosted downtown starting later this month.
The free, noontime classes on Midrash, hosted by Rabbi Rachel Isaacs of Beth Israel Congregation, will be held June 25, July 25 and 30 and Aug. 1 and 6 at Thai Bistro, 147 Main St.
One does not have to be Jewish to attend — the classes are open to everyone, according to Isaacs.
“Midrashim” are sacred stories that explore the interior lives of Biblical characters as imagined by ancient rabbis, she said.
“They fill in the lacunae (gaps) left by the Biblical text which often does not describe the motivations of individuals, the contexts of their decisions or the connections among various stories within the Biblical Corpus,” Isaacs said. “Midrashim also contain aphorisms and other words of wisdom from our ancestors regarding how to live holy and rich lives.”
Last Fall, Isaacs started teaching a class in Talmud at Selah Tea Cafe downtown. The Talmud is a sacred book that records all of the questioning and debates of early sages regarding issues of ritual, law, and scriptural interpretation, she said.
“I wanted to teach the class so that community members and Colby (College) students could begin high-level Jewish learning and also begin to explore Jewish approaches to some of the most pressing ethical and social issues of our time,” Isaacs said. “Topics have included end of life choices, work-life balance and civil discourse.”
Choosing Selah Tea for the classes was important to Isaacs because it was a way to integrate Jewish life into downtown, increase visibility and emphasize the importance of supporting local businesses, she said.
In addition to serving at Beth Israel, located at 291 Main St., Isaacs also is Jewish chaplain at Colby.

Those wanting more information may access Beth Israel’s website at www.bethisraelwaterville.org

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]