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Jewish Studies

The Program of Jewish Studies is generously sponsored by Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary.
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Our Jewish Studies classes inspire learners from all knowledge levels and backgrounds looking to add meaning and purpose to their everyday lives. We offer classes with master teachers to help you gain a better understanding of ancient texts or today’s headlines, with classes in Torah and Talmud, Jewish Film and History, Archaeology and current events. Join our community of learners to connect with our tradition and learn how it relates to us today.

  • The Currents in Current Events (Morning Class)

    The Currents in Current Events (Morning Class)

    Your weekly news magazine. We will examine the connections between events both near and far. We will seek history and context in order to be informed, knowing that knowledge is power and fights the despair of helplessness and hopelessness. We might even laugh as we remember Marx (Karl not Groucho) writing that History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Read More

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  • The Currents in Current Events (Evening Class)

    The Currents in Current Events (Evening Class)

    Your weekly news magazine. We will examine the connections between events both near and far. We will seek history and context in order to be informed, knowing that knowledge is power and fights the despair of helplessness and hopelessness. We might even laugh as we remember Marx (Karl not Groucho) writing that History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Read More

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  • The Roots and Bitter Fruits of Anti-Semitism

    The Roots and Bitter Fruits of Anti-Semitism

    The oldest xenophobia begins before Christianity but is codified in the Gospels for a specific purpose and in a specific verse. We'll discuss how this bigotry has poisoned the world and explore how even the Torah/Hebrew Bible and other ancient texts are misused to justify hatred. From ancient slurs to modern excuses, Anti-Semitism remains alive. Read More

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  • American Art in the Roaring Twenties

    American Art in the Roaring Twenties

    Georgia O'keeffe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alfred Stieglitz helped to define the independent spirit of America in the roaring twenties. The Jazz Age gave birth to the Haarlem Renaissance and deeper connection between the races, while a flashy new materialism would cause artists to search for the spiritual side of Modern life. Dynamic speaker John Paul Thornton presents the story of how America found its voice in the twentieth century. Read More

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  • In Days to Come with Author and Former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg

    In Days to Come with Author and Former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg

    The unorthodox former speaker of the Knesset offers his assessment of Zionism's failings, and what the future holds for Israel and for Judaism from the perspective of his generation, the children of the mythical “founders” of the state. Read More

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  • Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Body and Soul: An American Bridge

    Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Body and Soul: An American Bridge

    Join us and our special guest, Kari Howard, caberet singer and AJU lecturer on the Great American Songbook, for a screening of Body and Soul: An American Bridge. Share your thoughts about the film and enjoy some popcorn! The story of one of the most popular songs in the jazz repertoire, this film illustrates the complex musical interplay between Jewish and African-American cultures. It is a tribute to the enduring power of song to break down barriers and unite disparate peoples. Read More

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  • Rembrandt's Jews: A History of the Jews of Holland to 1945

    Rembrandt's Jews: A History of the Jews of Holland to 1945

    In this historical survey, we touch on the following themes: •The growth of the Sephardi colony in Amsterdam (circa 1600) •Rembrandt's Jew: Profile of Amsterdam's Chief Rabbi and Renaissance man, Menashe ben Yisroel • Renegades: The excommunication of Baruch Spinoza and the suicide of Uriel da Costa •Rabbi Aboab de Fonseca and the Dutch Jewish enclave in Recife, Brazil • The Haskalah and its impact on Dutch Jewry •Eastern European Jewish migrations into the Netherlands •Quiet Heroes: Christians who rescued Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland Read More

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  • Jewries of Africa

    Jewries of Africa

    In this Power Point presentation we cover the following communities: • The Berber Jews of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco • Jews in the cave of Jebel Gharian, Tripolitania, Libya • Y Chromosome Jews: The Lemba of southern Africa • The Beta Israel and Agau Kemant of the Ethiopian Highlands • Righteous Proselytes: The Abayudaya of Uganda • From the Land of the Lotus Eaters: The Jews of Jerba, Tunisia • A Lost Tribe of Israel?: The Igbos of Biafra Read More

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  • Jewish Dissidents Lecture Series: Elie Wiesel, When A Dissident Sets the Agenda for Establishment

    Jewish Dissidents Lecture Series: Elie Wiesel, When A Dissident Sets the Agenda for Establishment

    When one thinks of Elie Wiesel, one imagines him as the embodiment of Jewish values and a central part of the Jewish community. The early Wiesel was a dissident, with respect to the God of Israel, to the values and aspirations of the American Jewish community, against passivity, indifference and complacency. Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Director, AJU's Sigi Ziering Institute, examines Wiesel's early years and his dissidence that ultimately became part of the American Jewish agenda. Read More

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  • How Goya's Art Saved the Jews

    How Goya's Art Saved the Jews

    The mockery of Jews and Muslims in European art dates back to 1100 C.E., when it suddenly appeared throughout Europe as a visual tool intended to promote Christianity over Semitic religions. The Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828) lived long enough to witness the Spanish Inquisition surrender to social justice. The constant subject of Goya's art--deep humanism and compassion--did much forge this positive social change. In three lectures we will learn how Goya used art to fight anti-semitism in Spain. Read More

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  • Holocaust Film & Discussion Series: La Rafle (The Roundup)

    Holocaust Film & Discussion Series: La Rafle (The Roundup)

    This film recounts the true story of the infamous Vel'd'Hiv Roundup of July, 1942, in Paris. During this mass arrest by French police, 13,000 Jews, including more than 4,000 children, were sent to the Velodrome d'hiver, an indoor bicycle stadium, held under inhumane conditions, and the deported to Auschwitz. Read More

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  • Step by Step on the Road: Celebrate the Jewish History & Heritage of San Diego with the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California

    Step by Step on the Road: Celebrate the Jewish History & Heritage of San Diego with the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California

    Travel by bus from the AJU Familian Campus to visit the San Diego History Center for a docent tour of this new exhibit followed by a walking tour of Old Town San Diego. San Diego's Jewish pioneers arrived with statehood in 1850, looking for adventure, good weather, better health, and, above all, the opportunity to make the American dream their own. Many who arrived in San Diego were responsible for shaping the early town, building theaters, owning vast tracts of land, engaging in civic service, and participating in politics. In the early 20th century, San Diego's Jewish community faced obstacles to greater community involvement as restrictive covenants (race restrictions) were attached to particular neighborhood subdivisions like La Jolla, pushing those who helped to fund and build San Diego out of particular locations. But by 1963, Jonas Salk, a Jewish medical researcher and virologist, established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, (designed by Jewish architect, Louis I. Kahn) and with the completion of UCSD--a school intending to specialize in the intersection between biology and technology--the restrictions were ended as Jewish scientists were some of the top in their fields. Today, San Diego's Jewish community thrives and is different than other Jewish populations in other parts of the state and country given that 19% of San Diego County's Jewish population was born outside the United States, mainly Mexico. Be sure to visit Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diego's Jewish Community and understand the struggles, triumphs, contributions, and legacy of San Diego's Jewish community. Read More

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  • Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Streit's: Matzo and the American Dream

    Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Streit's: Matzo and the American Dream

    Our popular documentary film and discussion series continues! Join us for a screening of Streit's: Matzo and the American Dream. Share your thoughts about the film and enjoy some popcorn! An iconic New York institution and a fifth generation family business, the Streit's factory and the Streit family itself have long held firmly to tradition, churning flour and water into matzos through ovens as old as the factory itself. The film is a story of tradition, of resistance and resilience, and a celebration of a family whose commitment to their heritage and to their employees is inspiring proof that the family that bakes together, stays together. Read More

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  • Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Plastic Paradise

    Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Plastic Paradise

    Our popular documentary film and discussion series continues! Join us for a screening of Plastic Paradise. Share your thoughts about the film and enjoy some popcorn! Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet it's become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way, she meets scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined. Make sure to stay afterward to hear Dave Weeshoff, Community Ambassador for Heal the Bay organization, who will lead the discussion and fill everyone in on what has changed since the making of the film. Read More

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  • Breed Street Shul & Boyle Heights Walking Tour

    Breed Street Shul & Boyle Heights Walking Tour

    Boyle Heights was the largest Jewish neighborhood on the West Coast from the 1920s until after World War II. Starting at Union Station, we'll board the Gold Line with JHS docents Stephen Sass and Jeremy Sunderland. We'll visit: • Breed Street Shul, an architectural and cultural treasure that serves as a bridge between the Jewish and Latino communities and is the last remaining of 30 synagogues that once dotted the area. • We'll also explore the area's history as we walk by former landmarks: • L.A.'s first Jewish day school and elementary schools, JCC and outpatient clinic • The original Canter's Deli • Libros Schmibros Lending Library Read More

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  • Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Welcome to Kutshers: The Last Catskills Resort

    Movie Matinees at the Sperber: Welcome to Kutshers: The Last Catskills Resort

    Our popular documentary film and discussion series continues! Join us for a screening of Welcome to Kutshers: The Last Catskills Resort. Share your thoughts about the film and enjoy some popcorn! As the famed Catskills resorts decline, this film provides unprecedented eye-witness documentation of Kutsher's from its 100th anniversary season through the next seven years until the hotel is sold and demolished in 2014. The story of Kutsher's is a uniquely American, previously unexplored story of the modern Jewish experience. Read More

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