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Small Group Discussion Guide

Based on guidelines developed by Rabbi Micah Weiss, Thriving Communities department at Reconstructing Judaism.

The following discussion guide is designed for small groups of people with pre-existing relationships, whether through a synagogue, havurah, workplace, or friendship network, to meet following the weekly lecture and discuss the material presented. You might also gather to discuss any of these introductory materials.

We recommend participants in the discussion group come having both watched the afternoon lecture and read through some of the accompanying materials from the lecturer. Suggested discussion questions will be posted along with the video-recording within a few days of the lecture.  

Some weeks, some participants might have missed the lecture or not have time for extra reading. Discuss at the start of the group what your needs are from one another in terms of joining the discussion if you weren’t able to fully engage with the material that week.  

We also suggest establishing some community norms for the discussion group. Make sure everyone agrees on how much of the discussion can be shared outside the group and how you will make space and time for each participant to speak. (Will you go around the circle? Wait to be called on?) Before you delve into the material, discuss how you will enact respect and care and keep lines of communication open when you disagree. 

We recommend having a rotating facilitator and assigning the facilitator for the following week’s discussion at the end of each week’s gathering.

Sample 1-hour “standard seder

0-5 minutes: opening schmooze 

Reminder of community norms about respect and care, about whether the discussion may be shared outside the group and about how everyone will have space and time to participate. 

5-15 minutes: Opening go-round 

Each person can respond to the following prompts: 

  • A highlight from your week 

  • A new idea from today’s lecture you don’t want to forget 

  • A question or idea from today’s lecture you want to discuss with the group 

15-55 minutes: Facilitated discussion. 

  • If it is a large group (more than 10), consider breaking up into break-out groups 

  • The facilitator can either synthesize the questions from the go-round, or pick a few of the discussion questions provided on the website 

55-60 minutes: Closing go-round. 

  • Share a personal takeaway from this week’s lecture and discussion