Program Highlights

21st Century Antisemitism: Not Your Father’s Antisemitism
Michael Berenbaum

How are we to understand contemporary antisemitism? Is it in continuity with the past — more of the same with new tools and new targets — or is there something fundamentally new about the longest hatred today?

Standards of Beauty and Ugliness in Hollywood and Beyond
Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik grew up in front of the world’s eyes as television's Blossom. As a prominently-featured Jewish female, she was compared to every other prominently-featured female (and male) alive. Now a four-time Emmy-nominated actress, Mayim still lives under constant observation as a public person. In this session, she explores the standards for Jewish beauty and the lessons she has learned about her ongoing struggle to see herself as her mother sees her.

Ugly Men and Beautiful Rabbis: What is Beauty in Judaism?
Yaffa Epstein

Let's face it — looks matter! But should they matter in Judaism? How do looks play a role in the world and in Jewish life? This class will look at the concept of beauty and ugliness in the Talmud, and attempt to gain an understanding how beauty can and should be a part of our lives.

Fixing a Broken World: Jewish Humanitarianism in Action
Diana Fiedotin

Tikkun olam — repairing the world — has new urgency when major crises and disasters are shaking the Western Hemisphere. How can we address the needs of our fellow Jews, and our neighbors, at times of danger? Learn about global hotspots where Jews are leading, and are impacted by, efforts to save lives.

Hallways and Rooms: Navigating Life’s Transitions
Sherre Hirsch

You will probably be in transition many times in your life. You may be in one now, or the next one may be right around the corner. Will you be prepared? Join Rabbi Hirsch as she shares teachings from our tradition to help us transform these thresholds into opportunities, so we can live fearlessly and regret-free.

What War Zone? Standup Comedy from Israel
Benji Lovitt

Benji Lovitt’s hilarious stand-up comedy about life in Israel is a must-have user guide for anyone considering a trip to the Holy Land. By deconstructing the details of Israeli culture and the immigrant experience in Israel, Benji’s energy and enthusiasm will make you laugh out loud as he sheds light on embarrassing Hebrew mistakes, Tel Aviv versus Jerusalem, and exactly what makes American and Israeli Jews different from one another.

Sexual Repression and Obsession in the Jewish Tradition
Chaim Seidler-Feller and Doreen Seidler-Feller

Although Jewish tradition is generally open-minded regarding sexual behavior within marriage, certain repressive ideas have gained currency over the centuries and have determined sexual attitudes within segments of the community. We will identify the textual and ideological sources of these views while offering a psychological critique of the resulting practices. A counter-tradition that is central to the Talmudic discussion will be offered in response.

Expressing Jewish Identity Through Art, Past and Present
Hillel Smith

For as long as there have been Jews, we have been engaged in producing Jewish art and design. A closer look at that creative output — from ancient synagogue mosaics to contemporary graffiti — reveals much about what we value and how we see ourselves in relation to the world around us. What does Jewish art look like, and how do we mark ourselves as Jews through visual expression?

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