Lectures & Courses

At Central Synagogue

Adult Engagement Programming


Click here to view a complete list of Spring 2019 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).

Upcoming Lectures and Courses:


Shemot I, “Exodus” (Part of the Melton Curriculum)

Tuesdays, January 22 – April 16, 10:00 am | Community House
Taught by Rabbi Lori Koffman

This course delves into the story of the Exodus from Egypt; from our people’s dramatic rescue, to survival in the wilderness. Leadership, bravery, faith, and doubt define many of the critical moments in these texts and offer us a rich backdrop for challenging our own assumptions.

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Soulful Thursdays at Central

Thursdays, January 24 - June 27, 12:00 pm | Community House

Beginning in January, we will be offering a weekly series of drop-in programs on mindfulness, healing, and rejuvenation to help you restore, replenish, and reconnect. These programs are open to all.

Healing Service
First Thursday of the Month
Led by Rabbi Lori Koffman and Rory Michelle Sullivan
A sacred space to process our fears and struggles. Through prayer, meditation, sharing, and singing, we will find healing, strength, and hope in one another.

Mindful Movement and Meditation
Second Thursday of the Month
Led by Cantor Julia Cadrain
A rare time-out. A place to exhale, stretch, and meditate before we rejoin the fray and frenzy of our typical routines. No special clothing, background, or equipment is required.

Caregiver Café
Third Thursday of the Month
Led by Rabbi Lori Koffman and Social Worker Jackie Pykon
Caring for a sick loved one can be fraught, confusing, exhausting, and difficult. Offering support both practically and emotionally, the first half-hour will feature a visiting expert, followed by a facilitated sharing session.

Joy is Central
Fourth Thursday of the Month
Led by Rabbi Lori Koffman
Inspired by Rabbi Buchdahl’s Yom Kippur sermon reflecting on the Torah’s commandment to be joyful, this class will focus on a different practice each month—gratitude, mindfulness, relationships, and more.


The Ethical Life

Thursdays, January 10 – March 14, 6:00 pm | Community House, Room 903
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. The JTS Curriculum will be our spring-board to explore various conceptual, contemporary, and practical ethical issues.

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Jews in Context: A Class at the Met

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

Session 1: January 25 - March 8, 2019
Session 2: March 29 - May 17, 2019

Join our rabbinic intern Sarah Berman as she draws upon her ten-year background in art and curation to analyze historical artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and bring Jewish text and history to life. Discover what these objects and art can tell us about the lives of Jews from ancient times.

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Judaism and Christianity

Mondays, January 28 – March 25, 10:45 am | Community House
Taught by Rabbi David Kalb

In this class, we will explore the life and death of Jesus. What caused the schism between Judaism and Christianity? We will look at Jesus from a socio-economic point of view and analyze how Christianity began as a sect of Judaism and developed over time.

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Lunch & Learn: Great Jewish Opera Singers, Part 1

Monday, January 28 at 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Join Conductor Cesare Civetta as he presents an intriguing collection of rare photos, recordings, and footage about legendary Opera singers, including Leonard Warren, Joseph Schmidt, Roberta Peters, Robert Merrill, Beverly Sills, Jan Peerce, and Richard Tucker. We will take a trip down musical memory lane as we hear iconic pieces ranging from The Barber of Seville and Danny Boy to Roberto Devereux and Kol Nidre, among others.

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iEngage: Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

Thursdays, February 7 – March 14, 10:30 am | Community House
Taught by Rabbi Marion Lev Cohen

An iEngage Israel six-session seminar focusing on differing Israeli and Palestinian narratives, ideologies, and perspectives. Based on Yossi Klein Levi’s book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. We will examine current issues from multiple points of view, including the occupation of the West Bank, the new Nation State legislation, restrictions on free artistic and political expression, and the challenges to being a Jewish and democratic nation.

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Lunch & Learn: Meeting Places: Poems and Songs from Persian and Jewish Mystical Traditions

Monday, February 11 at 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Vocalist and poet Haleh Liza Gafori and oud musician Rabbi Zach Fredman will share gems from the mystical traditions of their ancestors. Through an exploration of texts by Persian mystics Rumi and Hafez, and Jewish kabbalist Yisrael Najara, engage in a poetic and musical dialogue exploring themes of love and liberation as communicated through these powerful traditions.

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Hebrew 102

Mondays, February 11 - April 8 | Community House

For those who have already taken Hebrew 101, this continuation of that class will help you to further progress in your spoken and reading Hebrew.

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Hebrew 101 Bootcamp

Wednesdays, February 13 – April 17, 10:30 am | Community House
Taught by Michal Nachmany

Have you always wanted to learn to read Hebrew? Would you like to feel more comfortable in Shabbat services? In this Hebrew boot camp, led by acclaimed teacher Michal Nachmany, you will learn (or re-learn) the Hebrew alphabet and gain basic reading and pronunciation skills.

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NYChoral and Orchestra: Le Roi David (King David), by Arthur Honegger

Thursday, February 28, 8:00 pm | Main Sanctuary

Music Director David Hayes brings together the NYCHORAL orchestra and a group of renowned operatic singers to perform one of Arthur Honegger’s most popular and evocative works; the monumental and magnificent biblical epic “Le Roi David.” For Central Synagogue members ($30 ticket price), please use discount code “CENTRALSYNM.” For Central Synagogue non-members ($37 ticket price), please use discount code CENTRALSYNFR.

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Poetry Toward a Promised Land: A New Haggadah

Wednesdays, March 6 – April 24, 10:30 am | Community House
Taught by Jessica Greenbaum

A sneak preview of a forthcoming Poetry Haggadah from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Pairing traditional haggadah liturgy with thematic poetry from 70+ poets, this text enhances engagement between tradition, history, themes of Exodus, and the aspirational self participating in a Seder. We will study two steps of the Seder per week, and read and write our own poems.

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Lunch & Learn: Tasting the Best Chocolate with Rabbi Debbie Prinz

Monday, March 11 at 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

How do Jewish principles relate to a love of chocolate? Rabbi Debbie Prinz will explore the complexities that arise when measuring our food values against our chocolate choices and consumption. Lunch and chocolate will be served.

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An Evening of Conversation with Iconic Cartoonist Roz Chast

Tuesday, March 26, 7:00 pm | Main Sanctuary

Since joining The New Yorker in 1978, cartoonist Roz Chast has
established herself as one of our greatest artistic chroniclers of the
anxieties, superstitions, and surreal imaginings of modern life. Her
recent memoir and #1 New York Times Bestseller, Can’t We Talk
About Something More Pleasant? addresses the realities of aging
in America and what it means to have aging parents today. Join us
for an evening with Roz as we learn about her work, partake in an
engaging Q&A session, and gather for a book signing.

This event is co-sponsored by Park Avenue Synagogue and What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life. Central’s support is provided by the Jill and Howard Sharfstein Fund to Support Life’s Journeys.

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An Evening of Art and Wine: Glass Making with Sasha Kopp

Thursday, March 28, 6:30 pm | Atrium

Enjoy an evening of art and wine with Central’s very own glass artist, Sasha Kopp, as she guides you through the process of designing and creating your own fused-glass Mezuzah. No prior art experience required.

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Lunch & Learn: Art as a Bridge to Israel’s Past and Beyond

Monday, April 15 at 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Join artist and educator Michal Nachmany as she discusses the link art creates between past and present, and between viewers. Drawing upon childhood memories growing up in Israel and her years exhibiting in New York and around the world, Nachmany discusses her own artistic journey and experiences bringing communities together to connect over works of art.

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Learning with Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

Wednesdays, February 20, March 20, April 24, 5:30 pm | Community House
Taught by Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

Feb. 20: The Evolution of the Jewish Calendar: Part I- Are the High Holidays Ever on Time?
Mar. 20: The Evolution of the Jewish Calendar: Part II- What We Learn from the Book of Esther (The Diaspora in the Persian Empire)
Apr. 24: Coming Through the Sea:The Beginning of Jewish History?

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

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Torah Matters: How Jewish Tradition Speaks to Modern Life

Thursdays, Jan. 10; Feb. 7; Mar. 7; Apr. 4; May 2; 6:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion
Taught by Central Clergy

Central’s clergy reflect upon contemporary issues through the lens of Jewish text and tradition. Each evening will begin with dinner, followed by an hour of learning and discussion. Come with your CORE Group or on your own, these discussions are a wonderful way to continue to get to know both the clergy and your fellow members.

Join us January 10 for Rabbi Mo Salth’s session entitled, Judaism and Judah: What Our Namesake Can Teach Us About Accountability and Leadership. This session explores the dramatic and sordid life of Judah. Why were our people named after such a character? Learn what Judah’s story can teach us about the standards that our tradition holds for each of us, for society, and for the leaders of our land.

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Walking Tour with Rabbi David Kalb: Jewish Gangsters of the Lower East Side

Sunday, May 5, 10:45 am | Meeting location announced upon registration

Walk the streets of the Lower East Side – the base of operations to Prohibition-era gangsters Meir Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, and Arnold Rothstein – as we visualize where these Jewish criminals engaged in their nefarious activities, and discuss the issues of power, ethics, and acculturation that ensued.

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Walking Tour with Rabbi David Kalb: Exploring Borough Park

Sunday, June 23, 10:45 am | Meeting location announced upon registration

Brooklyn’s Borough Park is home to many different Chasidic Jews, as well as other types of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and the area remains a continuously transitional part of New York. Join us as we explore the area and learn more about the past, present, and potential future of this dynamic neighborhood.

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Ongoing Classes

No registration required.