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Gratz College
Gratz College
Gratz College
Gratz College

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Adult Learning Classes

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Dr. Ruth Sandberg standing teaching a room full of seated students

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. In addition to courses, Gratz adult education offers Distinguished Lecture Series, Yiddish programs, Israeli films and other special events.


Summer 2022

All classes are online using the Zoom platform. Some classes will also be offered in-person, in addition to Zoom. Proof of Covid-19 vaccination AND masks are required to take classes in-person. All classes are recorded and available for viewing at a later date.

The Jew at the Table
Dr. Saul Wachs
Tuesday - Thursday
June 7, 8, 9
10:00 am – 12:00 pm US ET

Judaism is essentially a religion of the home. Welcoming physical enjoyment, it seeks to transfer ordinary human activities like eating into opportunities to sense the presence of the divine. This course will examine the rituals and texts connected to meals. Some are echoes of Temple practices that were limited to the priests in the biblical era, but have since been democratized. Others are vehicles for celebration and family experience. Join us as we examine some of these texts and possibly learn some melodies!

Register Here

My Yiddishe Mama
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
Monday – Thursday
June 13 – 16
10:00 am – 12:00 pm US ET

Using primary source documents, music, film and other visuals, this course explores the dynamics of immigrant Jewish family life in America. It focuses on the significant challenges that family separation, difficult living and working conditions and cultural adjustment posed to family solidarity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will discuss the ways in which family members, as well as Jewish organizations, coped with these challenges as the immigrants accommodated to American life.

Register Here

Sects and the City: The Dead Sea Scrolls
Dr. Steven Chervin
Monday – Thursday
June 20 – 23
10:00 am – 12:00 pm US ET

Some 2000 years ago a sect of Jews (possibly the Essenes) left Jerusalem to settle in Qumran by the Dead Sea. There they assembled in urns and stored in caves a library of sacred texts, which remained hidden until they were discovered by a Bedouin boy, who stumbled upon them in 1947. With fragments of virtually every book in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) as well as many other scrolls, these texts reveal to us a wealth of knowledge about daily life and religious life in those times. Come with us (virtually!) as we explore these ancient texts and excavate some of their secrets! Strongly recommended purchase: The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Philip R. Davis, George J. Brooke, and Philip R. Callaway.

Register Here

Ukrainian Jewish History and Culture
Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, PhD
Monday – Thursday
June 27 – 30
10:00 am – 12:00 pm US ET

Sadly, Ukraine has made worldwide headlines. Let’s take a closer look at its complicated Jewish history and beautiful culture. In this course, we’ll examine four topics: Origins and Pale; Hasidism and Modernity (Haskalah, Bund, Zionism); Pogroms and Diaspora under Czars and Soviets; and From Holocaust to Zelenskyy.

Register Here

The Path To Modernity: The Jews of Galicia
Andrew Zalewski, M.D.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: July 5, 7, 12 and 14

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm US ET
What drove Jews to have a participatory voice in the modern society? How did they respond to new ideas from within and without? Which laws misfired on their path to civil integration? We explore these questions with a focus on Galicia, home of the largest Jewish community within the Austrian Empire. Passing through European capitals, we witness the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), and the controversies it provoked. Back in Galicia, home-reared intellectuals challenged the traditional community, while increasingly diverse cultural identities were embraced by 19th-century Jews. As a part of the continuum, the next century brought pressure to emigrate, WWI and the collapse of the old order. The course is illustrated by unique records, maps, and documents.
Session 1: Disappearing Countries, New Borders, and Jewish Communities
Session 2: Quest for Education and Jewish Enlightenment
Session 3: Jewish Emancipation and Jews in the Public Square
Session 4: World War I and the Identity Crisis

Recordings of this course will be available for one week only.

Register Here

Controversial Torah Passages
Rabbi Albert Gabbai
Monday – Thursday
July 11 – 14
10:00 am – 12:00 pm US ET

Selected passages of the Torah will be examined through the prism of ancient and modern contexts. Over the course of four days, we will discuss "the rape of Dina," "the Sota," " the Eradication of Amalek" and " Marriage, Divorce, Birth, and Abortion."  Classroom questions and discussion are encouraged. The ability to read Hebrew is not required.

Register Here

Jews and Slavery: A Long and Complicated History
Dr. Paul Finkelman
Monday – Thursday

July 18 – 21
10:00 am – 12:00 pm US ET

6 CLE CREDITS AVAILABLE for an additional $125
Every year Jews celebrate the Exodus, remembering “we were slaves in Egypt.”  This is the central moment in the transition of the ancient Hebrews to becoming Jews.  The Ten Commandments begin with the statement:  “"I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  Jews should be inherently opposed to slavery.  But, the Biblical text and history is more complicated. In this four-part course we will discuss several topics, including: Abraham and Jacob, the Ten Commandments, rules for how to enslave people and how to treat slaves, Jews expelled from Spain, Jews in the New World who owned slaves and fought for slavery, and Rabbis on each end of the debate.

For more information or to register for classes, please contact Hope Matles at 215-635-7300 x172 or at
Mail In Registration

Registration Notes
Minimum class size is required to run each course. For all Scholars Program courses, 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. If cancellation is received by the second session, a 50% refund will be issued. Tuition includes a non-refundable $25 registration fee.  For all classes full payment is due upon registration. An internet connection is required for online classes. Gratz is not responsible to make up classes for a limited, local power outage or technical problem.  If a technical issue affects more than half of the class, Gratz will make-up the class at a mutually agreed upon time -- much like any weather-related closing. All classes are recorded. A link will be sent to view the class if you missed it live. The recording will be available for 3-4 weeks.
Covid-19 infection rates change rapidly. Currently scheduled in-person classes may move to remote learning if local health guidance recommends the change. Refunds will not be given.
Gratz College is committed to making its programs, events, and courses accessible.  Should you need an accommodation, please contact Naomi Housman, ADA Coordinator All accommodations must be requested by no later than ten (10) business days prior to the start of the course or day of the program.