Centre for Continuing Education

Modern Living Course: Maintaining Balance

Jewish culture. Learn about Jewish culture with us.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

In partnership with the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
Course materials developed by The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning - a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For specific enquiries regarding the program, please contact Hinda Young on 0432 567 917.


This course aims to expose you to a variety of Jewish texts approaching the topic of work/life balance.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify how the Jewish tradition prioritises commitments in a work/life balance
  • describe the Jewish focus on family, work and community and self.


Searching for ways to find balance in our lives is a recurring theme in modern living. Throughout this course, texts will be studied related to the various elements of our lives that are constantly hanging in the balance.

For the sake of organisational clarity, this course has been broken up into four topics of focus:

Focus on family

Family often serves as the focal point for decisions we make in our lives. Keeping in mind what is best for our families is the basis for deciding where to live, what kind of house to buy, what kind of car to drive, what kind of occupation to pursue, and what kind of synagogue to join. Considering what is best for particular members of our family or our family unit as a whole, ranks as one of the highest priorities.

How do the Torah and other Jewish texts articulate the importance of family?

This lesson will introduce several of the priorities associated with family life for consideration and discussion.

Focus on work and community

Though many of us would consider our families, our children and our grandchildren to be the focus of our lives, in reality, most of us spend a very large percentage of our lives at work or involved in other communal activities.

This lesson focuses on work and communal activities through the study of Jewish texts that discuss the important value of both. Work has a value beyond the purpose of making a living and paying our bills; and concern for the needs of the members of our community is not just an optional activity for those who have the time or interest. Both work and communal involvement are viewed as priorities in these texts, showing us that our tradition contains wisdom related to the challenge of maintaining the work/life balance.

Focus on self

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" (Pirkei Avot 1: 14)

These words of Hillel the Elder remind us that in the midst of balancing our other obligations, we must not forget about our own needs. While we are enjoined to consider our spouses or partners, our children, our parents, our work, and our community priorities in our lives, we are also bidden to look out for ourselves, not to neglect our own needs in the process of extending ourselves to other people and other concerns and responsibilities.

This lesson presents a series of texts that emphasize the significance and infinite value of each and every individual, and the need to care for oneself.

Finding the balance

This final lesson includes texts that illustrate rabbinic thinking on the topic of creating balance in life. Reading between the lines, we sense that the sages were concerned about the imbalances they saw occurring in the lives of their community members which led them to make bold statements, to give advice, and at times, to even legislate rulings or make adjustments to previous Jewish legal rulings. Contemporary rabbis also attempt to guide us to seek a healthy balance in the way we live.

Intended audience

Suitable for anyone wishing to explore the Jewish approach to a life of balance.

Delivery style

This four-lesson course centres around text study and discussion between participants and the facilitator.


You will be provided with a course reader during the first class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

We acknowledge the tradition of custodianship and law of the Country on which the University of Sydney campuses stand. We pay our respects to those who have cared and continue to care for the Country.