Southwest Torah Institute

What Is It?

Founded in 1986 by Rabbi Israel Becker and Esther Becker, the Southwest Torah Institute responds to the contemporary challenge of presenting in-depth Jewish learning  for both men and women in a way that is exciting and accessible. The Institute has connected thousands of people of the Tucson Jewish community to their Judaism through stimulating learning experiences. In 1994, Naomi Adir gave an endowment  to establish the Naomi Adir Center for Jewish Education to extend the work of the Southwest Torah Institute.

The Women’s Academy of Jewish Studies (WAJS), founded by Esther Becker in 1997, is a division of the Southwest Torah Institute that responds to the educational, moral, ethical and spiritual needs of Southern Arizona’s Jewish Women. It provides the opportunity for women to experience in-depth Jewish learning together with other women and presented by women.

We invite you to join us for one or more of our 2015-2016 Classes.

Why Was It Established?

To open classes to all Jews regardless of affiliation. As the educational and outreach arm of Congregation Chofetz Chayim, the Southwest Torah Institute is a totally separate entity established for members of other congregations and the unaffiliated, designed to focus on the needs of all Jews in Tucson regardless of background or commitment. Synagogue membership is not required.  Through the Southwest Torah Institute, Rabbi Becker has not only serviced the community on site but offsite as well, whether playing guitar for the preschool and kindergarten at the JCC, teaching at THA as a guest lecturer, teaching at the former Melton Institute, doing downtown Brown Bag lectures, at Hillel and in private homes. Our mission is to make Jewish learning approachable, enriching and exciting for all.

We established the Southwest Torah Institute to:

  • Make Jewish learning meaningful, stimulating the mind, connecting the mind and heart.
  • Create a comfort level with Jewish learning.
  • Take Jewish concepts that may be perceived as complicated and present them in a down-to-earth, accessible manner.
  • Provide excitement for Jewish learning and show the relevance and power of Jewish learning while living in today’s challenging world.
  • Help participants become increasingly better people through developing character via Jewish teachings.

What People Are Saying

“I love Rabbi Becker’s classes because he is not only extremely knowledgeable but also funny and accessible to any level.”

– Laura Sagerman

Classes & Schedule

For Women’s Academy Classes, see the Women’s Academy page, or view the Complete Class Schedule.