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 or 215-635-7300 x182.

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All classes held at Gratz College unless otherwise noted


All Courses run 4 days (July 18 - 28) - Tuition: $135 per course

The Psychology of Religion
Rabbi Jon Cutler
July 18 - 21   10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The past century has seen the relationship between psychology and religion progress from wary antagonists to strange bedfellows to complementary worldviews. Psychology of religion consists of the application of psychological methods and interpretive frameworks to religious traditions, as well as to both religious and irreligious individuals. It attempts to accurately describe the details, origins, and uses of religious beliefs and behaviors. While religion and spirituality play a role in many people’s lives, it is uncertain how they lead to outcomes that are at times positive, and at other times negative. We will examine the nexus of psychology and religion from early psychological critiques of religion and responses from major religious thinkers.

Islam in a Nutshell: All You Need to Know in 4 days
Dr. David Rabeeya
Tuesday and Thursday - July 19, 21, 26, 28   10:00 am-12:00 pm

This 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 (Twelvers, Fivers, Seveners, Alawi, Druze, Nizari, Kharijites, Ahmadiyya, Sufi, Wahhabis, Bahai, Nation of Islam). We 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 effects of these changes and their influence on the economy and security of Israel and the United States will be discussed.


Judaism as a Guide for Positive Aging: How Jewish Texts and Tradition Can Guide Us in Life's Next Chapters
Rabbi Richard Address
July 18 - 21   1:00 - 3:00 pm

This class will examine how key classic texts from Torah; can provide a textual and theological foundation for healthy and sacred aging. The themes of these texts are risk, choice and the embrace of change. Explore Jewish approaches to longevity, the spirituality of aging and the impact of longevity on our community.

The History of Jewish Philadelphia
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
July 18 - 21     1:00 - 3:00 pm

This course will feature highlights of Philadelphia Jewish history, illustrating the unique and pioneering role that this city has played in American Jewish life. Using primary sources describing the thoughts and experiences of key Philadelphia Jewish personalities in their own words, we will discuss the tremendous impact that these individuals had both locally and nationally.

The US-Israel Relationship Challenge in a US Presidential Election Year
Dr. Asaf Romirowsky
July 25 - 28     10:00 am - 12:00 pm

As we approach the end of the Obama administration, a careful look of the past eight years is needed given the growth of foreign policy debacles especially in the Middle East. Moreover, with collapse of many Arab States a careful re-examination of American foreign policy is needed.  We will explore various candidate and party platforms.

From Pulpit to Pop:  Jewish Music in America
Dr. Marsha Bryan Edelman
July 25 - 28      10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Most of us have experienced "Jewish music," whether it's through synagogue attendance, a bar mitzvah celebration, a klezmer concert, or the playing of "Hava Nagila" at a baseball game. Today, though, an explosion of "Jewish" musical forms fills concert halls and the airwaves of popular culture - and brings sounds to the synagogue that we never heard before! This course will discuss American Jewish Music in a context of Jewish history, philosophy, and sociology and examine the nature of folk and liturgical music. We will explore these developments through a series of musical illustrations, and explore the question of whether the music is American or Jewish - or both.

Introduction to Talmud: The Rabbis on Blessings
Dr. Joshua Gutoff
July 25 - 28 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

In this class, we will focus on passages from the Mishna tractate Berachot.  We'll learn something about how this classic Jewish text works, and explore some early rabbinic attitudes towards prayer.  All texts will be in English, and no previous experience is required.

The American Jewish Experience in Film
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
July 25 - 28   1:00 - 3:00 pm

This course will explore major themes in American Jewish history-such as immigration, acculturation, family relationships, attitudes toward religion, and antisemitism - as they are reflected in classic American films. We will view segments of the films “Hester Street,” “The Jazz Singer,” “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “Avalon,” and discuss the issues raised by the films within their historical context.

Registration/Refund Policy

Minimum class size required to run each course. Full tuition payment is due upon registration prior to the start of the first class.  If a cancellation is received at least two days before the course begins, 100% of tuition will be refunded.