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 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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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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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 October 4th, join Rabbi Kolin to explore gender in our texts and how we, as a Jewish congregation, might make our community ever more welcoming to those with varying gender expressions.

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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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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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Walking Tour - Hipsters and Chasidim

Sunday, October 14, 10:45 am |
Led by David Kalb

South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is home to hipsters and Chasidic Jews alike. In fact, it is the capital neighborhood of the Satmar Chasidic community. Join us on a fascinating tour through this continuously transforming area of Brooklyn. Along the way, we will learn about its history and culture. Our tour will conclude with a meal at a fantastic deli, one of the best kept secrets among the great eateries of New York.

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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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Lunch & Learn: Concert with Bivolița (bee-vo-lee-tsa) Bessarabian Chamber Klezmer Ensemble

Monday, October 15, 12:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavillion

American Klezmer is indelibly linked to the clarinet. For the Ashkenazim of Europe, a great “klezmer” was a violinist renowned for his virtuosic performances, and a necessary figure (along with his ensemble of klezmorim) at every Jewish wedding. Our ensemble of two violins, viola, and accordion presents old European klezmer through a contemporary, improvisational chamber music lens. The program will highlight the way the klezmorim transformed many musical inputs into a distinctly Jewish art form and will explore the ways that Ashkenazic expressive culture reinforced Derekh HaShas within European Jewish communities. Lunch will be provided

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Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook in Conversation with Rabbi Buchdahl

Tuesday, October 16, 7:00 pm | Main Sanctuary

Come hear Rabbi Buchdahl in conversation with the 2017 James Beard Foundation “Outstanding Chef” Michael Solomonov and James Beard award-winning restaurateur, Steve Cook, on the occasion of the launch of their new cookbook, Israeli Soul. We’ll get a taste of how they rose to success, how they choose to give back, and, of course, how they landed on the perfect hummus recipe. This event is co-sponsored by the UJA Federation of NY.

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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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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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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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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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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

What religious or theological function can be performed by popular culture? What role can contemporary movies play in a curriculum of sacred study? Can films provide occasions of transcendence, divine encounter, and Jewish religious exploration? In this course, we will engage in a process of inverted midrash, “reading” contemporary movies as an entry point into the study of Jewish text and belief. Each film will provide an occasion for the exploration of a central Jewish theme or text: Truth (The Truman Show); The Spiritual and Moral Value of Tests (Exam, British Thriller, 2011); Legacy and Birthright (The Descendants) and Leadership and Speech (The King’s Speech).

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Israeli Spice Workshop and Dinner

Monday, November 5, 6:45 pm | Lindenbaum Pavillion
With Women Cook Delegates

Join Central and “Women-Cook” for a special evening of spices, cooking, and storytelling this November. Through the meal and spice workshop, Israeli women representing the Moroccan, Bukharin, Ethiopian, and Yemenite culinary traditions will share the ancient knowledge and wisdom that come from their families’ kitchens. The evening will begin with a light reception where our guest chefs, traditionally dressed, will present their spice blends and share stories. Participants will then use the spice blends to collectively prepare the meal side dishes.

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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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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.