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.

Spring Online Registration
Mail-In Registration

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.

Spring 2020 Continuing Education


Jewish History Between the Middle Ages and the Modern Age, 1492-1781
Dr. Joseph M. Davis
Tuesdays, 10 am – 12 pm

1/7 – 1/28
4 sessions

Week 1: The Expulsion from Spain (1492)
Week 2: The Revival of the Jews (1530-1630) 
Week 3: Crisis East and West: Shabbetai Zevi and Benedict Spinoza
Week 4: The Eighteenth Century: Hasidism and the Enlightenment

Now online!
America’s Response to the Holocaust

Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
Thursdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

1/9 – 3/26 (excl. 1/30, 3/5)
10 sessions

Since Arthur Morse's book, While Six Million Died, appeared in 1967, debate has raged about the American response to the Holocaust. Many books have been, and continue to be, published on the subject,  and a current exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, entitled "Americans and the Holocaust," addresses it as well. How did President Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. Congress, the State Department, the American public, and the American Jewish community react to the refugee crisis,  and to news of the "Final Solution"?  Did America "abandon" European Jews, as historian David Wyman maintains? Did some Americans and American Jewish leaders try to do what they could under the circumstances?  In this class, we will evaluate the historical record and seek to draw lessons from this dark period that can be applied to our own times.  

Life, Death, and the Afterlife in Jewish Thought
Dr. Saul Wachs
Tuesdays, 10 am – 12 pm
1/28 – 3/31 (excl. 2/11, 3/3)
8 sessions

As with all theologies or philosophies, Judaism has confronted questions about life and death. "Is belief in Resurrection a Jewish dogma? Why was the blessing for resurrection restored to recent Reform prayer books after many years of absence from the Reform liturgy? Why is the liturgical blessing for resurrection recited when seeing a friend for the first time in a year?" While different answers have been offered to these questions, certain emphatic trends may be discerned. Using primary and secondary texts, we will consider these questions and others, and ponder their relevance for our lives.


Now online!
What Do We Mean When We Say Jews Believe in God?

Dr. Ruth Sandberg
Wednesdays, 10 am – 12 pm (or 12:15 pm)
1/29 – 3/18
8 sessions

Many Jews say that they believe in God, but what does this mean? Communities of Jews may say they believe in God, but their conceptions of God may differ greatly. In fact, the Jewish conception of God has varied widely over the centuries: the biblical conception of God as creator differs greatly from the ancient Rabbinic conception of God as a Torah scholar, and this differs from the Kabbalistic conception of God as comprised of ten divine emanations, which differs from the philosophical view of God as an abstract and unchanging Being, which differs from the Jewish concept of God as “the Force…!” Confused yet? Come find out all the various ways in which Jews conceive of God and learn how they are similar and where they differ.


Now online!
Antisemitism: Why the Jews?

Dr. Steve Chervin
Thursdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
1/30 – 3/26  (excl. 3/5)
8 sessions

This class will review the history of antisemitism, from its roots in the New Testament and Christian tradition, through the Middle Ages, in the Muslim world, and up to today.  We will survey explanations that have been advanced for why Jews have been persecuted throughout history and in a variety of settings.  We will identify the primary libels and false accusations that have been made against the Jews, and see how these tropes have morphed over the centuries.  Finally, we will take a closer look at the primary manifestations of antisemitism today, especially among white supremacists, political progressives, on college campuses, and in international politics.
Required book: Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism, by Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager (paperback on Amazon)

Perspectives on the Civil War: Society, People and Culture
Herb Kaufman
Mondays, 10 am – 12 pm
3/30 – 5/4
6 sessions

The three million soldiers who served the armies of the Blue and Gray each represent a unique story waiting to be told. This course includes a discussion of who the soldiers were, their thoughts and emotions through actual letters written home; interesting and unusual personalities and incidents; tactics, strategy and the development of modern weaponry; life in the home and the dramatically changing role of the 19th century woman; and citizens at war including newspapers and their influence, photography, medicine, music and Victorian customs.

For more information or to register for classes, please contact Hope Matles at 215-635-7300 x172 or at [email protected].