Gratz Scholars Program | Gratz College

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 2021 Online Registration
Mail-In Registration


Spring 2021 Online Continuing Education

All classes will use the Zoom platform.

Foundations of Western Philosophy – A (somewhat) Jewish Perspective
Joshua Weinstein, Ph.D.
Mondays, 10:00 – 12:00 pm ET
January 25 – March 22, excl. 2/15  (8 sessions)

What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem? The early Christian thinker Tertullian asked this question rhetorically, but even today we can’t help taking it seriously. In this course we will consider some Greek views, especially those of Plato and Aristotle, both in their own right and how they relate to Jewish views with which they later interacted. Since these interactions gave rise to many influential traditions -- Christianity and Islam, medieval religion and philosophy, as well as various modern approaches -- we will also need to “undo” some of our presuppositions to let these earlier thinkers speak to us directly.

Topics include: How does our world work? Can we understand the changes around us? What is the source of our errors, and how can we correct them? Since speech can tell the truth as well as falsehood, how do we tell the difference? What kind of life is worth living, both for each of us and for us all together?
No knowledge of Greek or Hebrew is required.


Rabbis in Love
Dr. Saul Wachs
Tuesdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET
January 26 – March 16 (8 sessions)

Rabbis are teachers and spiritual leaders. They are expected to model the finest values of the Jewish tradition. But they are also flesh and blood. Until recently, they were all men, living in societies in which men tended to dominate in the public sphere and, to some extent, in the private sphere as well. Jewish literature, including primary religious texts, does not shy away from the topics of love, sex, and marital relationships. These yield some surprising insights into the private lives of religious leaders of the past.


African Americans and Jews: Alliances and Struggles
Dr. Ruth Sandberg
Wednesdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET
January 27 – March 17 (8 sessions)

In today's troubled social climate, it is vital to remember the history of the relationship between African Americans and Jews in the United States. We will start with the Atlantic slave trade and the question of Jewish involvement. We will then delve into the tragedy of Black victims of the Holocaust and how we must remember that they were also included in the Nazis' discriminatory racial laws. Moving into the 1960s, we will discuss what factors brought Blacks and Jews together in the US to form a strong alliance, including the friendship between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, as well as the reasons for the rift that formed in the alliance and brought the two communities into conflict and separate struggles. We will then investigate the work of Dr. Cornel West and Rabbi Michael Lerner and how they view the Black-Jewish alliance. Lastly, we will learn how Black Jews see themselves and their struggles fitting into the two communities. 


“We’ve Come A Long Way, Ladies!”
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman
Thursdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET

January 28 – March 18, 8 sessions
In the wake of the momentous 2020 presidential election, and having recently (in August 2020) marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote, we are all thinking about the importance of voting. This course will explore the key roles played by Jewish women and men in the American women’s suffrage movement. Jewish women, such as Maud Nathan, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon and Rose Schneiderman, worked alongside leaders of the movement to enhance women’s participation in the political process. There was significant support for women’s suffrage in the broader Jewish community as well. We will read primary sources describing the goals and achievements of these pioneering figures in their own words.


History of Sefardic Jews: Myths and Realities
Dr. Joseph M. Davis
Thursdays, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET
January 28 – March 18, 8 sessions
This course will survey the history of Sefardic Jews from the beginnings of Jewish settlement in Spain until the present day.  Jewish life in Spain during the Middle Ages will be the first topic, but most of the course will focus on the history of Sefardic Jews after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.  The course will focus on the changing mythic conceptions of Sefardic Jewry, both those that are derogatory and marginalizing, and those that are romanticizing and idealizing.  

Topics: (1) Jews of Medieval Spain (2) Expulsion, 1492 (3) The Spanish Inquisition and Crypto-Judaism (4) The Sefardic Diaspora in Turkey and the Mediterranean (5) The Sefardic Diaspora in the Netherlands and the New World (6) Sefardim and Ashkenazim 1650-1900: The Better Kind of Jew ? (7) Sefardim/Mizrahim and the Israeli Lower Class  (8) Sefardim in the Jewish World Today


Jewish Ethics and Social Justice
Dr. Steven Chervin

Tuesdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET
April 6 – May 11 (6 sessions)

In this class we will explore how Jewish texts and tradition address many of the challenges and problems facing contemporary society: racism, economic injustice, human rights, health injustice, just to name a few.  Participants are also invited to suggest topics for discussion.  


Secrets, Deceptions, and Lies: The History of Spying from the American Revolution to Today
Herb Kaufman
Mondays, 10 am – 12 pm ET

April 12 – May 17 (6 sessions)

The often untold stories of spying, deception, clandestine operations, secret missions, double agents and code-breakers are some of the most fascinating narratives of American history.  The accounts of the Culpeper Spy Ring, Nathan Hale, Mata Hari, the Ghost Army, and the “Man Who Never Was” continue to intrigue us. Beginning with spies of the American Revolution, we will investigate the history of American espionage, sabotage and dis-information including lesser known secret operations, code-breaking, and spying in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War through to the present.


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


Registration Notes
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. All online classes are recorded. A link to the recording will be sent to all registrants and is available for a limited period of time.