Lectures & Courses

At Central Synagogue

Adult Engagement Programming


Click here to view a complete list of Spring 2020 Adult Engagement Events and Courses.

Interested in presenting at Central Synagogue? Please contact Lauren Dickel, Adult Engagement Program Manager, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

SPOTLIGHT: Shabbat is Central

Friday, January 24, Various locations around NYC

This opportunity is open to Central Synagogue members, participants in our 20s/30s programs, and those on our waitlist.

Our big, congregation-wide, Shabbat Is Central event returns in just a few weeks. And now more than ever, we ask you to join us as we celebrate the strength of our community and the beauty of our traditions.

Sign-up today to join a Shabbat dinner in the home of a fellow Central congregant as we come together across New York City on Friday, January 24. Meet fellow members, expand your community circle, get together with friends new and old, and celebrate the special joy of Shabbat.

Choose from more than 20 dinners (and growing!) with a variety of themes, menus, and cuisines.

We look forward to connecting and unwinding with you. Interested in hosting a dinner? Click here.

Explore the options available for all Shabbat dinners on the sign-up page and register for a seat (or seats). Once you’ve registered, an exact address will be sent to you prior to the dinner. For questions about the dinners please contact, Lauren Dickel at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Reserve Your Seat »


Upcoming Lectures, Courses and Special Events:


Bible and Bagels 

Wednesdays: September 11, 2019-June 17, 2020, 8:15-9:15 am |

Led by Central’s Rabbinic Intern Sarah Berman
Join us as we continue our journey through the Torah, reading a chapter a week. We will pick up where we left off with the Book of Kings, but participation is encouraged at any time.


Prayer Book/Biblical Hebrew

Wednesdays, January 22 - March 18, 2020, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm | Community House

Taught by Jewish Educator Michal Nachmany

Would you like to better read and understand Hebrew used during Shabbat or the High Holy Days? In this class, we will go over basic prayers and develop an understanding of key words in liturgy.  Members: $150; Non-Members: $175

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Weekly Torah Study with Central Clergy

Wednesdays: September 4, 2019-June 17, 2020, 12:00-1:15 pm | Community House

Led by Central’s Rabbi Mo Salth

This class explores the weekly Torah portion from ancient and modern perspectives.

Join anytime! No registration required.


Samuel I and II

Wednesdays: September 4, 2019-June 17, 2020, 1:30-2:30 pm | Community House

Led by Cantor Suzanne Skloot

Explore the text of Samuel I and II. Together we will look at and compare the translations of the Jewish Publication Society and the more recent translation by UC Berkeley professor Robert Alter, and learn why Alter believes that the character of David is the finest portrayal of a human life from antiquity. Our discussions will work to understand the agendas of the original authors and their subsequent editors.

Join anytime! No regiration required.

Heart, Mind, Soul: The Wisdom of Shabbat and Jewish Holidays

Thursdays, January 23 – March 26, 2020, 6:00 – 7:15 pm | Community House

Taught by Jewish Educator Joe Septimus

Together we will examine what it means to live in “Jewish time.” Using ancient, medieval, and modern texts we will explore the transformative power of Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, and why the rituals of the past still have meaning and importance in today’s world. Members: $150; Non-members: $175

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Alper Talmud Study

Fridays: September 13, 2019-June 19, 2020, 8:15-9:15 am | Community House

Led by Jewish Educator Dr. Rachel Rosenthal

Explore one of the most radical rabbinic texts in all of Judaism, the Talmud. This year, we will be examining what it means to be a responsible person in a larger society.

Join anytime! No registration required.


Jews in the City - People & Places

Fridays, January 24 - February 21, 2020, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM | Various locations around NYC

Taught by Central’s Rabbinic Intern Sarah Berman

In our long history, Jews have always shaped and been shaped by the places we have lived. Jews in New York City are no diff erent, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Over this five-week course, we will explore modern Jewish history through the stories of the people and places that defined them. The first class will meet at Central Synagogue; each subsequent class will take place elsewhere in the city. Together, we will explore museums, synagogues, and other historic buildings as we learn about the Jews of our city. Members: $150; Non-Members: $175

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Conversational/Modern Hebrew

Mondays, January 27 - March 30, 2020, 6:30 - 8:00 pm | Community House

This class is for anyone hoping to improve their basic conversational Hebrew. Learn practical words and phrases and make your Hebrew sababa!

Members: $150; Non-members: $175

Register »


“Ask Dr. Ruth” Screening and Discussion with Rabbi Angela Buchdahl

Wednesday, February 5, 2020, 6:00 - 8:15 pm | Beir Chapel, Lese Lobby

Join Rabbi Angela Buchdahl for a discussion with the one and only Dr. Ruth Westheimer. As her 92nd birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth will reflect on her past as a survivor of the Holocaust, and the career path that led her to become America’s most famous—and favorite—sex therapist. Together we will view portions of the recently released film “Ask Dr. Ruth” and then open up the floor for a Q&A session. A short wine and cheese reception will follow the program.

Registration required. Open to all; Cost: Free

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Lunch and Learn: Does Faith Have to Be About God?

Monday, February 17, 2020, 12:30 - 2:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Taught by Filmmaker and Animator Hanan Harchol

Hanan Harchol, the creator of the popular animated series for adults and teens “Jewish Food For Thought,” uses his acclaimed animations to explore Jewish wisdom and fuel lively conversation. This program will focus on faith and how it can be applied to our daily lives and relationships. He will also discuss his creative process and the journey that led him to begin making animations about Jewish ethical wisdom.

Members: $15; Non-Members: $18

Register »


Learning with Central’s Rabbi Emeritus Peter Rubinstein

Wednesdays, February 19, March 18, April 29, 2020, 5:30 - 6:45 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Taught by Central’s Rabbi Emeritus Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

Join Rabbi Emeritus Peter Rubinstein and fellow members for engaging and challenging sessions on a variety of topics related to Jewish learning.

February 19 - The Inquisition and the Jews

March 18 - An Early History of Jews and Finance

April 29 - Financial Inequality

Members: Free; Non-Members: $15

Register for February session »

Register for March session »

Register for April session »


Dilemmas of Faith

Mondays, March 2 - May 4, 2020, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm | Community House

Taught by Rabbi Hilly Haber

In an age of radical polarization in modern society, with a rise in religious fundamentalism on the one hand and a rise of atheism on the other, how does Jewish tradition approach dilemmas of faith? Based on classical Jewish tradition and contemporary Jewish thought and life, Rabbi Haber will address the big questions raised by the intersection of faith and reason, faith and history, and faith and politics.

Members: $150; Non-Members: $175

Register »


Jews in Context: A Class at the Met

Fridays, March 13 - May 1, 2020, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm | Central Synagogue Community House and Metropolitan Museum of Art

Taught by Central’s Rabbinic Intern Sarah Berman

Join Rabbinic Intern Sarah Berman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore texts and objects that illustrate the lives of Jews from antiquity to modernity. With her 10-year background in art and curation, she will demonstrate how these historical artifacts can bring Jewish history to life. The first class will be held at Central and the next five in the series will be at the Met.

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In Jewish Harmony: Music from Synagogues Around the World

Monday, March 16, 2020, 12:30 - 2:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Led by Elad Kabilio (cello), Inbar Goldmann (mezzo soprano), and Avigail Malachi-Baev (clarinet)

Don’t miss this multisensory virtual visit to ten historic synagogues around the world, performed by an Israeli classical music trio. In this multimedia presentation, you will be treated to live musical performances, authentic to each era and civilization, while viewing the unique architectural features and artistic design of these structures central to Jewish life.

Members: $15; Non-members: $18

Register »


Celebrate “National Refugee Shabbat” With Emma’s Torch

Friday, March 20, 2020, 7:30 - 9:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

In the spirit of “welcoming the stranger,” we invite you to join our community for a special Shabbat dinner catered and hosted by training chefs from the organization Emma’s Torch, which provides refugees with culinary training, ESL classes, and job interview preparation. During the dinner we will not only eat a delicious Shabbat meal together, but we will also hear from alumni of the program and other speakers about important issues relating to refugees in the United States.

Adults: $25; Children under 18: Free

Register »


The Poet and the Statue: Emma Lazarus and American and Jewish Identity

Monday, April 6, 2020 | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Led by Dr. Annie Polland, Executive Director at the American Jewish Historical Society

Join historian Annie Polland on a journey through the adventurous and multifaceted life of Emma Lazarus. Best known for writing “The New Colossus” in 1883, the poem quoted on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, Lazarus was also the author of poetry, prose, and translations, and a well known activist for Jewish causes. Polland will share rare photos, letters, and other primary sources to illustrate the story of this iconic Jewish New Yorker.

Members: $15; Non-members:$18

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Counting the Omer

Tuesdays, April 7 - May 26, 2020, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm | Community House

Taught by Award-Winning Poet Jessica Greenbaum

Come learn and find community during the Omer —a traditional time of self-reflection between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. Led by award-winning poet and beloved Central teacher Jessica Greenbaum, this class will look at the traditional practice of reflecting on divine and personal attributes such as loving kindness, humility, and goodness, and will explore those attributes through contemporary texts and poetry.

Members: $150; Non-Members: $175

Register »


SAVE THE DATE: Art Opening: “Beyond the Shadows” with Judy Glickman Lauder

Monday, April 20, 2020 | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Join Judy Glickman Lauder at an opening reception for her exhibition of photographs from her book “Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception.” In this exhibition, Lauder captures the devastation of Nazi death camps in a series of dark and haunting photos, and then, in contrast, presents uplifting portraits of Danish citizens who risked everything to save Jewish lives. The photo exhibition will remain in the Pavilion through the end of May. The reception will begin immediately after our annual interfaith Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) service, which begins at 6:00 pm in the sanctuary.

Open to all; Cost: Free

Registration information coming soon.


Interfaith Scriptural Reasoning

Wednesdays, February 12, March 25, April 22, 2020 | Community House

Led by Spiritual Reasoning Interfaith Program Facilitators

Study texts from the Quran, New Testament, and Hebrew Bible alongside Christians and Muslims. Scriptural Reasoning, a tool for interfaith dialogue, explores the common heritage of the three Abrahamic religions through their sacred books, and builds community through study. Trained facilitators encourage participants to share and learn from one another while respecting the similarities and differences between their faiths. This is a three-session series, with different texts read at each meeting. We ask registrants to plan to attend all three sessions.
Cost: Free

Register »


“The College Behind Bars” Film Screening and Discussion with the Bard Prison Initiative

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 | Beir Chapel

Join Rabbis Nicole Auerbach and Hilly Haber to learn more about the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), a groundbreaking program that gives men and women in New York State Prisons an opportunity to earn a college degree. Together with graduates of the BPI program, we will watch parts of the documentary “The College Behind Bars”, which highlights the radical transformation of criminal punishment into access and opportunity for higher learning. After the film, Max Kenner, BPI’s Founder/Executive Director, and graduates of the program will lead a discussion and Q&A.

Open to all; Cost: Free

Register »


The Great Jack Benny

Monday, May 11, 2020 | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Led by Cesare Civetta

Cesare Civetta returns to explore the fascinating life of the inimitable Jack Benny. One of the most beloved comedians of the 20th century, he is less well known for his significant philanthropic contributions to the arts, and his work raising millions of dollars for concert halls and symphony orchestras. The presentation includes rare photos, interviews, and excerpts from radio and TV.

Members: $15; Non-members: $18

Register »


Ongoing Classes

No registration required and free of charge. Classes take place in our Community House..