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:


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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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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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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Enduring Disagreements: A Speaker Series on Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, April 3, 6:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Recognizing and Combating Everyday Anti-Semitism

Journalist Yair Rosenberg leads the next installment of our Enduring Disagreements Series; “Recognizing and Combating Everyday Anti-Semitism.” Rosenberg is currently Senior Writer at Tablet Magazine where he covers politics, culture, and religion, and has chronicled the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and America. Rosenberg will help us identify and respond to the more subtle anti-Semitism that has crept into regular discourse, including anti-Semitic tropes that seem to resurface, even with altered forms, in every generation.

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We will continue to delve even deeper into this topic on Thursday, May 23, from 6:00-8:00 pm, as we are led in conversation by Ilana Kaufman, who will discuss the intersection of U.S. Jewish identity and race, as animated by modern movements for social justice.  Kaufman is Director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, and a nationally regarded thought leader on issues of race and racism in the Jewish community.  Informed by community pain-points such as Jewish communal reactions to the Women’s March and Movement for Black Lives Platform, Kaufman will explore notions of anti-Semitism, community and movement-building, as well as how to effectively partner with groups with whom we disagree—or who disagree with us.Click here to register for this event.

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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Reflection is Central: Embracing the Omer with Rabbi Nicole Auerbach

Tuesday, April 9, 6:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Celebrate our latest installment in our Joy is Central series – Reflection is Central. Jewish tradition teaches that the period of the Omer—the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot – is a time for personal reflection, as we prepare to celebrate receiving the Torah. Join Rabbi Nicole Auerbach to learn more about the tradition of “counting” the Omer, and the tools our ancestors created for examining who we are, and how we live our lives.

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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 27, April 24, 5:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion
Taught by Rabbi Peter Rubinstein

Feb. 20: The Evolution of the Jewish Calendar: Part I- Are the High Holidays Ever on Time?
Mar. 27: 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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BRCA The Next Frontier: Testing, Prevention, Ethics, And Law

Tuesday, April 30, 6:30 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion
Join the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania and Central Synagogue for a dynamic panel discussion about BRCA mutations and hereditary cancers.Topics will include recent research updates, insurance and discrimination issues, genetic testing, fertility, and more. Q&A will follow. Light snacks will be served.

Panelists: Dr. Susan Domchek, Basser Center Executive Director and Medical Oncologist; Dr. Kenneth Offit, Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Oncologist; Dr. Nicole Schreiber-Agus, Community Genetics Educator; Erika Stallings, Attorney, BRCA carrier and Patient Advocate; Moderated by journalist Jill Werman Harris

This event is free to the public with registration.

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Torah Matters: How Jewish Tradition Speaks to Modern Life

Thursday, 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.

Clergy often hear a familiar refrain from community members: “I’m sorry, I’m a bad Jew because I don’t believe in God / don’t know Hebrew / don’t attend services often enough…” the list goes on. On Thurday, April 4, j oin Cantor Cadrain for an evening of study and discussion that explains why we are neither alone in these feelings, nor a “bad Jew.” Together we will study texts that illuminate the myriad and varied ways our tradition provides for being “good Jews.”

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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.

Register »


Enduring Disagreements: A Speaker Series on Anti-Semitism

Thursday, May 23, 6:00 pm | Lindenbaum Pavilion

Join us as we are led in conversation by Ilana Kaufman, who will discuss the intersection of U.S. Jewish identity and race, as animated by modern movements for social justice.  Kaufman is Director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, and a nationally regarded thought leader on issues of race and racism in the Jewish community.  Informed by community pain-points such as Jewish communal reactions to the Women’s March and Movement for Black Lives Platform, Kaufman will explore notions of anti-Semitism, community and movement-building, as well as how to effectively partner with groups with whom we disagree—or who disagree with us.

Register »


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: Feb. 7, Mar. 7, Apr. 4, May 2, Jun. 26
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: Feb. 14, Mar. 14, Apr. 11, May 9, Jun. 13
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: Feb. 21, Mar. 21, Apr. 18, May 16
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: Jan. 24, Feb. 28, Mar. 28, Apr. 25, May 23
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.


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.