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Longboat Key Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 10 months ago

Education Center at Temple Beth Israel prepares for first season

The organization formerly known as the Longboat Key Education Center has made its final move.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

The Education Center at Temple Beth Israel is preparing for its first season, but students of the former Longboat Key Education Center can expect many of their favorite classes to return when the season starts in about two months. 

“At this time last year, the brochure was already out,” program director Susan Goldfarb said. “But there’s just been so much to do with going into Temple Beth Israel as the new organization … We dumped a lot of things and shredded a lot of things. That took six weeks.”

Goldfarb will have a brochure done at the end of September and will start welcoming students into the new space in October. There are more than 400 members who carried over from the Longboat Key Education Center and more than 500 TBI members get automatic membership, so it could be a busy season. 

Of course, the pandemic continues to loom large over plans to offer large, indoor gatherings, but with last year’s Zoom experience, the support of TBI and the big, social-distancing-friendly room available for lectures, Goldfarb is keeping her hopes high. 

“When I first took the position at the temple, we were all like, ‘Yay, the phoenix rising out of the ashes and soaring up to the future!’” Goldfarb said. “That still is our hope, but there's no predicting, really how it's going to all shake out. I'm still plugging away and hoping for the best and planning for the unexpected, if you can do that.”

Susan Goldfarb. Courtesy photo.

The Education Center at Temple Beth Israel will use the north end of the facility for now, which consists of the library, a room for medium-sized classes, a smaller room for discussions and the large community room that’s often used for Shabbat dinners or 92Y showings. At capacity, it will be able to fit 150 people. Goldfarb has been able to retain about 95% of her teachers from the old Education Center and said that those who weren’t returning had moved away or moved on from teaching. 

The fall will be light on classes, as it usually is, with Goldfarb planning for some yoga, painting and film classes. Many of the classics will stay more or less the same, but she’s tweaking some things; for example, she’ll focus more on chair yoga instead of more active hatha yoga. Other fitness classes will include a Functional Fitness and Balance class and a Dance Movement class taught by former Sarasota Ballet artistic director Robert de Warren. 

“I think it’s going to be a whole lot of fun, and I can’t wait for it because it’s new,” Goldfarb said. 

One of the three-part classes will be “The Glory That Was Greece” and will focus on the cradle of Western civilization. There will also be workshops throughout the fall and winter. One, which temple member Suzanne Schuster helped develop, will be with a panel of experts to help people combat loneliness, and another lighthearted offering will be an afternoon of origami.

“The teacher is going to teach simple paper folding and a lot of her instruction includes a kind of cross-cultural communication and understanding of Japanese culture,” Goldfarb said. 

Winter plans are already in the works, too, with plans for a magic workshop and theatrical productions with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. 

“All of the wonderful things that people loved at the Longboat Key Education Center will be available at Temple Beth Israel,” Goldfarb said. 


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