Mila Vasser, program coordinator for Temple Emanu-El, sets out plates of Jewish bread called challah and a sweet noodle dish called kugel. The Taste of Judaism class includes tastings of traditional Jewish foods prepared by Temple Emanu-El's Women of Reform Judaism.


The public is invited to celebrate the bar mitzvah of Taste of Judaism in Tucson, which is in its 13th year.

The free, interactive, three-part series on Jewish spirituality, values and community is presented by Temple Emanu-El and taught by Rabbis Samuel M. Cohon and Jason Holtz.

Taste of Judaism is for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge and understanding of Jewish culture, history, rituals, community and practice, rediscover their roots, or are simply curious about Judaism.

The class includes tastings of traditional Jewish foods prepared by the temple's Women of Reform Judaism.

The sessions are free and open to all, regardless of religious background.

The classes are offered during the day and in the evening in central, east and northwest Tucson.

Taste of Judaism has been a popular education and outreach program here, attracting more than 4,500 people over the past 12 years.

"The success of Taste is that we are able to make Judaism interesting and enjoyable for everyone, while preserving the integrity of our great tradition," Cohon said.

Participants come from a range of backgrounds, families and religions, and attend for a wide variety of reasons, but virtually all say that they feel welcomed, and leave the program more knowledgeable and inspired to learn more.

Once again the temple is partnering with the Tucson Hebrew Academy to offer the Taste of Judaism Family Class for those who have young children. While adults have a regular Taste class with the rabbis, kids have their own age-appropriate educational program of Jewish stories, crafts and activities with academy teachers.

Those without children are welcome as well.

Taste of Judaism classes begin in August. There are no fees and no obligations, but space is limited and pre-registration is required. Call Mila Vasser at 327-4501, Ext. 16, for more information and to register.

Here's the schedule:

Taste Family Class: 2-4 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 12, 19 and 26 at the Tucson Hebrew Academy, 3888 E. River Road.              

Regular Taste classes:

NORTHWEST: 6-8 p.m. Mondays, Aug. 13, 20 and 27 at the Nanini Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road.

FOOTHILLS: 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays, Aug. 22 and 29 and Sept. 5 at the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library, 8959 E. Tanque Verde Road.

CENTRAL: 6-8 p.m. Thursdays, Aug. 23 and 30 and Sept. 6 at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road.

Also, 1-3 p.m. Sundays, Oct 14, 21 and 28 at Temple Emanu-El — free childcare will be provided for these sessions.