Gratz Scholars Program

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The Gratz College Scholars Program is for adults in the community who enjoy learning in an intellectual atmosphere with instructors who are highly regarded experts in their fields. Ongoing courses are offered each semester in a variety of subjects and topics as well as Hebrew and Yiddish language. The Scholars Program also sponsors Distinguished Lecture Series, Yiddish programs, Israeli films and other special events.

For more information about the Gratz College Scholars Program please contact Barbara Rosenau, Director of Adult Jewish Learning at brosenau@gratz.edu or 215-635-7300 x182.

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Registration

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All classes held at Gratz College unless otherwise noted
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FALL 2015

All Courses run 10 weeks - Tuition: $275 per course (unless otherwise noted)

Tuesdays

Understanding and Combatting BDS:  The Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement against Israel.
Dr. Asaf Romirowsky
Tuesdays 10:00-12:00pm October 13- December 15

BDS refers to three distinct yet related forms of punitive action against the State of Israel designed to isolate, delegitimize, and punish the Jewish state. The BDS campaign against Israel is often vitriolic and crosses the line from legitimate criticism to outright anti-Semitism. Colleges sometimes remain shockingly ambivalent toward the hostility expressed by students, faculty and visitors against Jews and their homeland in the name of “free speech”. Combating BDS requires a deep understanding of the movement, its origin, funding, organizational architecture, and the plethora of NGOs who train on its behalf. Winning the BDS war requires a playbook that understands the opposing players and their respective strengthen and weaknesses and a clear narrative that is slowly getting lost in the sea of propaganda.

The History and Culture of Islam– And Why the Rise of Radical Islam Today
Dr. David Rabeeya
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30pm October 13- December 15

The course will include the life of Mohammed, the guided caliphs, the spread of Islam, Suni and Shi'ite schism, the five pillars of Islam, pertinent Islamic texts, Islamic jurisprudence, Sharia laws, dietary laws, the position of women, Muslim clothing, heaven and hell, sects and offshoots including Druze and the Nation of Islam. The course will also deal with the roots of Islamic militancy (Muslim Brotherhood, Osama ben Laden, Taliban, Hamas). The course will conclude with Islam and terrorism and the appeal of radical Islam to youth around the world and the use of modern technology to recruit youth.

The Three Things on Which the World Depends
Joanne Doades, MA
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30pm October 13- December 15

Simon the Righteous, one of the last of the Great Assembly said: "The world stands on three things - Torah [study], Avodah [prayer], and Gemilut Chasadim [Acts of Loving Kindness.]——Pirke Avot 1:2
This course will explore the three pillars of Judaism beginning with Torah and its essential Biblical laws and ideas, followed by the background, basics, and understanding of Jewish prayer and concluding with the exploration of Jewish texts on social justice including business and sexual ethics.

Jews and the Modern World: Challenges and Opportunities
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
Tuesday evenings - 7:00-9:00pm - October 13 - December 15

This course explores major themes and issues in modern Jewish history from the mid-seventeenth through the mid twentieth centuries, through the reading of primary sources. Topics to be discussed include: Enlightenment, Emancipation, migrations and demographic shifts, antisemitism, Jewish religious life, leadership and communal dynamics, and Jewish political movements. Emphasis will be placed on applying what we learn from this history to Jewish life today.

Wednesdays

Caught in the Middle: Jews in the Medieval World
Dr. Ruth Sandberg
October 14-December 16   10:00am-12:00pm

This course explores the many facets of Jewish life in the medieval world. Jews were caught between many differing forces during this time: Christianity and Islam; tradition and change; superstition and reason; despair and hope. The gamut of medieval Jewish life will be studied, including: religious and synagogue life; challenges of daily life; Jewish-Christian-Islamic relations; Jewish art; Rabbinic and philosophical thought; and mysticism and Kabbalah.

The Book of Kings 1 and 2 – A Modern Look at an Ancient Jewish Monarchy
Dr. Uzi Adini
October 14-December 16    10:00am-12:00pm

In this course we look through a modern lens at the Kingdom of Israel starting with the building of the First Temple in 960 BCE by King Solomon through its destruction and the exile of the inhabitants to Babylon in 586 BCE.  We apply our own investigation tools to dig deeper into its main events, kings and prophets. Under King David Israel had grown into a great regional power and prospered further under his son Solomon who built the Temple in Jerusalem. This Early Monarchy period ended when the Kingdom of Israel fell apart in 931 BCE and split into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel. This Jewish Monarchy period ended with the destruction of Jerusalem.  Please bring a copy of the Bible/Book of Kings if you have it.

Lunch and Learn - Parshat Ha’Shavua – Weekly Torah Portion – NEW!
Rabbi Reba Carmel
October 14-December 16 - 10 sessions   12:15-1:15pm
$160 – Please bring your lunch – dairy or parve. Beverages will be provided.

Rabbi Elazar, son of Azaryah said….If there is no flour, there is no Torah and if there is no Torah there is no flour. [Ethics of the Fathers 3:21]
Come and get sustenance in body and soul with a lively lunchtime discussion of the weekly Torah portion.  Relying on sources both old and new our conversation will be engaging, fearless and energetic.  Our goal is to raise questions which at times may have many answers or none at all but we aim to fill the white spaces between the black letters with all the wisdom we bring to our lunchtime table.

Hebrew Calligraphy and the Gilded Word- NEW!
Dr. Susan Leshnoff
5 Sessions - November 18- December 16- 1:30-3:30 pm
Fee:  $175 - Includes all materials

Learn the art of Hebrew calligraphy.  Students will practice writing Hebrew letters in formal calligraphy followed by the embellishing techniques of gilding and decorating letters and words. Instruction will be linked to the art history of medieval and Renaissance Hebrew illuminated manuscripts through the more contemporary design of haggadot and ketubot.  No prior calligraphy, art or craft experience is required.  Materials will be supplied.

Many Jews, Many Views: Conflict Management in Judaism
Rabbi Reba Carmel 
Wednesday evenings - October 14 - December 16   6:30-8:30 pm

Even father and son, master and disciple who study Torah at the same gate become enemies of each other; yet they do not stir from there until they come to love each other. [Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 30b]
Conflict has the power to energize or debilitate, to create or to kill.  What does Judaism teach us about the qualities and skills needed to nurture peace?   Can an enemy be turned into a friend and does there reach a point in which a conflict can be deemed intractable? Relying upon early Rabbinic sources which describe Aaron as the quintessential peace maker and Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai’s creative shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem and Vespasian, we will articulate the skills and characteristics needed for peace making.  We will explore the meaning of a controversy for the sake of heaven [Mishnah Avot 5:17] and how the schools of Hillel and Shammai at times disagreed so vehemently that bloodshed ensued [Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 1:4 (3c).

Thursdays

The Music of Israel
Dr. Marsha Bryan Edelman
October 8 - December 17 (no class November 26)     10:00 am -12:00 pm

Songs of the Israeli pioneers with "borrowed" Russian tunes; Middle Eastern melodies inspired by the sounds of our Arab neighbors; Works for orchestra, attempting to blend "East and West; and so much, more!  Israel is a cultural "salad bowl" in which many musical styles co-exist. Students in this class will explore the nature of, and varied influences on Israeli folk, art and popular music. The place of Israeli music in the main body of "Jewish music" will also be discussed.

Maimonides: The Laws of Repentance and the Messianic Era
Rabbi Albert Gabbai
October 8 - December 17 (no class November 26)   10:00 am - 12:00 noon

After a brief review of Maimonides' biography, we will explore the text on the topic of repentance (teshuva) and the messianic era. We will enter the world of the great Jewish rationalist thinker to spiritually uplift our souls and get answers to the meaning of our existence. No prior knowledge of life or death is required, but you must be “alive” (lively discussions) to be there.

The Story of Israel through the Eyes of Its Artists
Dr. Sharon Gershoni
October 8 – December 17 (no class November 26)    1:30-3:30pm

From the early days of the yishuv, Israeli artists participated in shaping the identity of the “new Jew,” the Sabra, and Israeli national mythologies and ideologies. At the same time, Israeli artists have also been Israeli society’s harshest critics. Their art offers us a complex view of Israeli society.
This class explores the first 100 years of the formation of Israeli society and the Jewish state through the eyes of its artists – from its utopian collective identity, through political struggles, and into a nation fragmented by diverse cultures and social realities.

Jews and the Modern World: Challenges and Opportunities
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
October 8 – December 17 (no class November 26)   1:30-3:30pm

This course explores major themes and issues in modern Jewish history from the mid-seventeenth through the mid twentieth centuries, through the reading of primary sources. Topics to be discussed include: Enlightenment, Emancipation, migrations and demographic shifts, antisemitism, Jewish religious life, leadership and communal dynamics, and Jewish political movements. Emphasis will be placed on applying what we learn from this history to Jewish life today.

Registration/Refund Policy
For all Scholars Program, Hebrew and Yiddish courses, full tuition payment is due upon registration prior to the start of the first class. If a cancellation is received by email at least two days before the course begins, 100% of tuition will be refunded. If cancellation is received before the second session, a 50% refund or credit towards another course will be issued.