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).

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.


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

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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

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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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Jewish Civic and Moral Responsibility in an Age of Political Polarization

Sunday, March 8, 2020, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm | Central Synagogue

A Public Day of Jewish Learning and Conversation for the 2020 U.S. Election Season

Come join Central members and others for a full day of learning about “Jewish Civic and Moral Responsibility in an Age of Political Polarization.” The day will include both large and small group learning on a range of topics relevant to Jewish responses to political polarization and civic engagement, taught by experts from Hartman. Central members receive discounted registration. Cost: $36/$18 students. Includes kosher lunch and snacks.

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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

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Lobby Day in Albany for TAP Campaign

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - Day Trip | Albany, New York

Join us for an urgent and meaningful day in Albany to raise our voices as a Jewish community to advocate for the passage of the Turn on the TAP campaign in this NYS legislative session. In partnership with other organizations, including College & Community Fellowship, and college-in-prison graduates and teachers, we’ll be attending a press conference and meeting with elected officials and/or their staffs to discuss the moral urgency of restoring college financial aid to qualified low income New Yorkers who would be eligible were they not in state prison.

We’ll travel together to Albany by bus with Central congregants and other lobby day participants. No previous lobbying or justice experience necessary. Expect to spend a full day in Albany, leaving early morning and arriving back in Manhattan about 7 PM. This is a great way to meet other Central congregants and clergy, see our government at work, and have an impact. Friends from other congregations and faith groups, particularly in Westchester, Long Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, are also welcome. A full schedule and more info will be emailed to participants. Register here by Wednesday, March 11. Your contact info will be shared with College & Community Fellowship.

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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 »


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

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Ongoing Classes

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