Lectures & Courses

At Central Synagogue

Adult Engagement Programming


Click here to view a complete list of Fall 2018 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).

Meet the Adult Engagement Team!

Wednesday, September 26, Community House Rooftop, 6:15pm – 7:45pm

Drop in for our Adult Engagement team meet-and-greet in our rooftop sukkah. Learn about our classes, retreats, lectures, trips, volunteer opportunities, and other programs that aim to deepen your connection to others, to your community and to the ongoing story of the Jewish people. Drinks and appetizers will be served!

Click here and let us know you are coming.



Upcoming Lectures and Courses:


The Crescent and the Star - The Long Relationship of Judaism and Islam

Mondays, October 15 – December 17, 10:45 am | Announced upon registration
Taught by Rabbi David Kalb

Jews and Muslims have co-existed, both peacefully and contentiously, for more than a millennium. What do they have in common? What are the sources of tension and conflict? During the first thousand years after the founding of Islam, it was better to be Jewish in a Muslim country than in a Christian country. Only after that period did the relationship between Jews and Muslims deteriorate, particularly in the Middle East. This course will examine the longstanding relationship between Judaism and Islam, broadening our understanding and challenging our assumptions.

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Art and Wine: Monday Menorah Making

Monday, October 22, 6:30 pm | Pavilion Atrium
Taught by Sasha Kopp

Come enjoy an evening of art and wine with Central’s very own glass artist, Sasha Kopp. Sasha will guide you through the process of designing and creating your own fused-glass Menorah. Come alone, or with a friend – the evening will be fun for all! No prior art experience required. This class is open to members and non-members.

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Bereshit 2 – The Story of the First Jewish Family

Tuesdays, October 9 – December 11, 10:00 am | Announced upon registration
Taught by Rabbi Nicole Auerbach

This course follows the development of the first Jewish family, from “The Birth of Two Nations” and “Stolen Blessings” to “Reunion in Egypt” and “Blessing the Grandchildren.” These stories of sibling rivalry, wrestling with an angel, palace seduction, rape, and reconciliation provide some of the most dramatic and iconic images that reverberate across the millennia. Students must have taken Bereshit I in order to register.

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Vayikra – a Call to Holiness (Leviticus) (Morning Option)

Tuesday, October 9 – December 11, 10:00 am | Announced upon registration
Taught by Rabbi Lori Koffman

Chosen by the Rabbinic sages as the first book of the Torah that children should learn, contemporary readers often perceived Vayikra (Leviticus) as inaccessible. Yet, embedded in the laws of sacrificial practices, ritual impurity and purity, and the pursuit of holiness are messages and values that have relevance to the universal condition. In our study of Vayikra, we will examine themes including the role of rituals, responding to tragedy, bringing sanctity into one’s daily life, and more. Through a textual study of selected passages, this course uncovers the depth and wisdom of the third book of the Torah and reveals its enduring messages.

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The Psalms: Still Singing

Wednesdays, October 17 - December 19, 10:30 am | Community House
Taught by Jessica Greenbaum

Join award-winning poet Jessica Greenbaum for a unique approach to studying the sacred poetry of the Psalms. Using Rabbi Richard Levy’s Songs Ascending: The Book of Psalms, A New Translation, the class will focus on the lasting power these poems have carried over time. Students will be invited to do their own writing as well, responding to prompts drawn from the themes raised by these ancient texts. No prior poetry or Judaic knowledge is required. This class is free and open to members and non-members.

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Learning with Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

Wednesdays, October 24, November 28, December 19, 5:00 pm | Community House
Taught by Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

Oct. 24: “Jewish Superstition”; Nov. 28: “Heaven, Hell, and Resurrection in Reform Judaism, True or False?”; Dec. 19: “Biblical Stories of Abuse: Dinah, Tamar and Bathsheba”

Join fellow members and Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein for engaging and challenging learning sessions.

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10 Terrific Talmudic Tales

Wednesdays, October 3 - December 19, 6:15 pm | Community House
Taught by Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal

The Talmud is more than just laws and edicts. It is a fascinating account of the life of the rabbis – how they lived, loved, ate, argued and helped to form the basis of the Judaism we know today. In each class, we will study one story from the Talmud and you will uncover everything from supernatural acts to rabbinic scandals in an interactive conversation. We will do both hevruta (studying with a partner) and full group examination and debate.This class is free and open to members and non-members.

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The Ethical Life (A JTS Curriculum)

Thursdays, September 27 – December 20, 6:00 pm | Announced upon registration
Taught by Joe Septimus

“The Ethical Life” is about you. Your uniqueness, your choices, your community, your informed inclinations, your personal imperatives and the questions you choose to ask. We will use the JTS Curriculum as a spring board to explore various ethical issues, from conceptual issues like; do you need God or religion to be ethical, and filtering down to contemporary and practical ethical issues. We will primarily discuss “Jewish Ethics” and what our thinkers, texts and practices have to say about issues old and new, but we will also explore the philosophical and procedural issues that undergird ethical development including the foundational questions of “what is my responsibility to improve myself and the world around me”, “what if my ethical principles and religious understanding are at odds”,  “how does one infuse Judaism, a traditional system that draws from text and precedent, with contemporary knowledge and practices” and “in what ways is my uniqueness as a human being an ethical imperative for me to contribute”? Our goal will be to learn from our texts and one another, and to grow as Jews, in our knowledge, our hearts and our hands and feet.

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An Evening of Remembrance

Thursday, October 25, 7 PM | Main Sanctuary

Join us for a night of learning and remembrance as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sanctuary fire. Our special guests will share stories about how we rebuilt our spiritual home and a stronger community in the process. We will be joined by Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, and Leaders in the Restoration. Small bites and refreshments will be served following the event.

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Hebrew 101 Bootcamp

Thursdays, October 4 - December 13, 7:00 pm | Community House
Taught by Michal Nachmany

Always wanted to learn to read Hebrew but weren’t sure how? Want to feel more comfortable in Shabbat services but are inhibited by all of the Hebrew? Get your Hebrew in shape with a Hebrew Bootcamp led by acclaimed teacher Michal Nachmany. In this class, you will learn (or re-learn) the Hebrew alphabet and gain basic reading and pronunciation skills. This class is open to members and non-members.

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End of Life Planning: Customs and Practices of Three Faith Traditions

Monday, October 29, 7:00 pm | Main Sanctuary

What do different religious traditions say about how we live life and how we prepare for death? How do we help people consider the quality of life at the end of life, and help to ensure their wishes are communicated to their loved ones?

Join us as we host an interfaith dialogue with three spiritual leaders: our Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Reverend Scott Black Johnston, of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Chaplain Tahara Akmal, Director of Clinical Pastoral Education and Certified Educator at the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in Reading, PA. This lively dialogue with spiritual leaders of three faiths will explore the customs, norms, and precepts of their faith traditions regarding the end of life and planning for death. Participants have the opportunity to examine the place of faith, beliefs, and practices at end of life with the support of their own community and religious leaders. For some participants, the conversation raises concerns about being in alignment with what their faith’s precepts prescribe and permit. The dialogue will address some of the most vexing questions of our time.

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Walking Tour - Jewish Harlem

Sunday, November 4, 10:45 am | Northeast corner of 125th street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
Led by Rabbi David Kalb

Harlem’s history as a Jewish community dates back to the 1870s. By World War I, it was the second largest Jewish community in the U.S. and the third largest in the world. On this tour, we will walk through this neighborhood and learn about the past, present, and future of this fascinating New York Jewish community. The tour departs from the Northeast corner of 125th street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. Open to members and non-members.

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Israeli Spice Workshop and Dinner

Monday, November 5, 6:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavillion
With Women Cook Delegates

Join us for a special evening of spices, cooking, eating, and storytelling on November 5. This spice workshop and dinner will be led by visiting female Israeli cooks from the organization Women-Cook, an Israeli social culinary initiative set up in 2006 to assist women from the periphery and distressed communities within Israel. Our visiting chefs represent the Moroccan, Bukharin, Ethiopian, and Yemenite culinary traditions. The guest chefs will present participants with unique spice blends from their vibrant culinary traditions, tell stories, and guide participants to collectively prepare various side-dishes. Upon finishing the preparations, participants will sit down together, get to know each other better and eat the delicious food that has been prepared. Participants can expect to enjoy a unique cultural experience, and treat for all the senses with beautiful traditional clothes, music and the wonderful aromas and flavors of delicious food. The program is open to members and non-members, and Adults and Children, 4th grade and higher.

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Movies and Midrash – Popular Film and Jewish Ideas

Mondays, November 5, 19, 26 and December 3, 6:45 pm | Community House
Taught by Scholar in Residence, Dr. Wendy Zierler

We are honored to welcome Dr. Wendy Zierler to Central as our scholar in residence this fall. Dr. Zierler is an acclaimed and beloved professor at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (where your clergy were ordained!). She is the author of Movies & Midrash: Popular Film and Jewish Religious Conversation, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in 2017. We invite you to join Dr. Zierler for four sessions bringing together popular culture, theology, and Jewish tradition. In alternating weeks, students will watch contemporary films like The Truman Show, The King’s Speech, and then come together to understand them in a new way – through the lens of theology and Jewish tradition. Dr. Zierler is a dynamic and accessible teacher of Jewish thought and literature, and this is an opportunity not to be missed.

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Lunch & Learn: Irving Berlin, An American Institution

Monday, November 19, 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavillion
Taught by Marty Schneit

Come and learn how this Jewish immigrant from Russia became the classic ragtime to riches story. Over the course of his career, he published an estimated 1,500 songs including: Alexander’s Ragtime Band, God Bless America, White Christmas, Puttin on The Ritz, and There is No Business Like Show Business.

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Lunch & Learn: Chanukah and the Menorah: Tradition and History

Monday, December 3, 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavillion
Taught by Steve Fine

Join historian Steven Fein as he explores the fascinating tale of an iconic seven-branched candelabrum, the menorah, and discover why it is a source of fascination and illumination for Jews, Samaritans, Christians, and even Freemasons. This program is a co-sponsored by Central Synagogue Chai Connections.

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Torah Matters: How Jewish Tradition Speaks to Modern Life

Thursdays, October 4, November 1, December 6, 6:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion
Taught by Central Clergy

In this new series, Central’s clergy will consider contemporary issues through the lens of Jewish text and tradition. Each evening will begin with dinner, followed by an hour of learning and discussion. A wonderful way to continue to get to know both the clergy and your fellow members! And if you come with your CORE Group, we’ll even save you a table!

On November 1, just in time for the midterm elections, join Rabbi Nicole Auerbach to learn what Jewish tradition has to say about taking an active role in government and other civic institutions.

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Challah Baking Workshop

Thursday, December 13, 6:30 pm | Pavilion Atrium
Taught by Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal

Come learn how to bake the best Challah with Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal! In this two hour session, you will learn how to make and braid Challah. Participants will go home with their very own baked Challah, plus another to bake at home.

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Ongoing Classes

No registration required.