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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.

  • Yiddish - Intermediate

    Yiddish - Intermediate

    For Students who have completed Beginners Yiddish. This class provides Yiddish speaking students with intensive practice in reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar. The class is taught entirely in Yiddish. Its purpose is to facilitate the increased use of Yiddish conversation, reading and writing. Read More

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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: Zeresh

    Short Stories at the Sperber: Zeresh

    Do not have time to read an entire book? Join us each month to discuss literary short stories with our Sperber Librarian. This month we will be discussing Michal Lemberger's "Zeresh" from the author's "After Abel" story collection. Contact the Sperber Library at 310-440-1264, or email Lisa Silverman at lisa.silverman@aju.edu to request that a copy of the story be sent to you! Read More

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  • Yiddish - Advanced

    Yiddish - Advanced

    This class provides Yiddish speaking students with intensive practice in reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar. The class is taught entirely in Yiddish. Its purpose is to facilitate the increased use of Yiddish conversation, reading and writing. Read More

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  • Prophecy in Ancient Israel

    Prophecy in Ancient Israel

    The prophets played an important role in Jewish history. Who were the prophets and what was their message? Why did the people dislike them? Who was qualified to be a prophet? In this class we will examine the history and essential messages of the three major prophets and the twelve minor prophets and place them in the context of Jewish history. Join us for a lively discussion of these great Jewish figures and their contributions to our faith. Read More

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  • Yiddish - Beginners

    Yiddish - Beginners

    This course emphasizes the joys to be found in day-to-day Yiddish conversation; basic sentences and expressions. This course includes a very user friendly introduction to reading Yiddish; a skill needed to form the basis of further learning. Additionally students will be introduced to Yiddish/Eastern European culture through poetry, visual art, songs, stories, folk traditions, and history. Read More

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  • Hevra Mikra, Bible Study Circle

    Hevra Mikra, Bible Study Circle

    Taught by a master rabbi-scholar Hevra Mikra is comprised of students of varying backgrounds and expertise in Biblical study. The group is informal in learning style. Participation is an integral part of the study process. Join this energetic and thought provoking class to discuss the ethical, historical, spiritual and personal implications of the most important book in the Jewish tradition, the Torah. Read More

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  • Biblical Images in Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen

    Biblical Images in Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen

    Dylan and Cohen are Poets, Preachers, Prophets and Psalmists. They found images and inspiration in the rich soil of biblical literature. Dylan, in the prophetic tradition, raised alarm and foresaw both triumph and disaster. Cohen, in the tradition of the Psalms of David, took us for a ride, both intensely personal and universal; a ride of longing, despair, passion and finally peace. We will listen to their songs, discuss their words and examine their sources in Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism. Read More

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  • Great Classic Jewish Trials - The Inquisitions

    Great Classic Jewish Trials - The Inquisitions

    Major religious trials share a lot in common. They are public exhibitions beyond the facts in the cases and are meant to caution the people as much, or more, than punish the alleged miscreant. Often the "crime" itself is of little importance and is, in fact, simply a challenge to authority. Read More

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  • Marranos: The Sephardic Crypto-Jewish Experience

    Marranos: The Sephardic Crypto-Jewish Experience

    Topics covered: •Jewish life in Germanic, Moorish, and Reconquesta Spain •Major events leading up to the massacres of 1391 and the expulsion decree of 1492 •Jewish turncoats who fanned the flames of violent anti-Semitism •New Christians, Old Christians, and the concept of lipieza de sangre •Procedures of the Inquisitors •The religion of the crypto-Jews Varieties of Spanish converso communities around the world, including the Xuetas of Majorca, Spain, the Anusim of Belmonte, Portugal and Crypto-Jews of the American Southwest Read More

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  • Litvaks Among Cape Buffalo: History of the Jews of South Africa

    Litvaks Among Cape Buffalo: History of the Jews of South Africa

    In this lecture, we touch on the following topics: •Earliest arrivals: Jews and the Dutch East Indies Co. •The Litvak diaspora in Johannesburg •Profile of South African Chief Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz: His struggle for Jewish religious emancipation and against the Jewish white slave trade •The "Undesirables": Anti-Semitism Afrikaner style •The apartheid system and the Jewish accommodation to South African race relations •The rise of the Greyshirts and their links with the Nazis •Jews in the struggle for democracy and human rights in South Africa •Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu: Their relationships with South Africa Jewry and with Israel •South African Jewry today Read More

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  • History of the Jews of Poland

    History of the Jews of Poland

    In this class, we survey the history of Polish Jewry from the arrival of the German Ashkenazim in the eleventh century to the assassination of Czar Alexander II and the mass stampede to New Worlds. Among the topics to be dealt with in these lectures: •Origin theories of Ashkenazi Jewry, including the Khazar theory •The development of the Yiddish Language •The Culture of the shtetl •The world of the yeshiva •Khmelnicki and Haidamak pogroms (1658 and 1760) •Chassidism vs. Misnagdism •The partitions of Poland (1772-1795) •Chafing under the Tsars: The Pale of Settlement Read More

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  • Jews and the Silk Road: History of the Jews of India

    Jews and the Silk Road: History of the Jews of India

    The Silk Road, the greatest of the ancient routes linking the West to South China, has been traversed by merchants, pilgrims, refugees, criminals, and nomadic peoples of many races and creeds for more than ten thousand years. As far back as the fifth century B.C.E., skilled Jewish artisans engaging in the production of luxury items such as glass vessels, departed from Babylonia and Persia and established themselves at the core of the Chinese empire in order to serve this developing, lucrative market for their ware. Some of the themes we cover in this class: • Sericulture and the Jewish requirement of p'til t'chailet (blue dye) for tzitzit • Archaeologist Aurel Stein and the discovery of Jewish treasures in the Cave of Thousand Buddhas (6th century CE). • Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and the decimation of the Jews of Central and West Asia (circa 1220) • Sino-Jewish civilization in Kaifeng, China • Shashmakoma: Tadjiki Jewish musical traditions in Uzbekistan • Causes for the demise of the Silk Road in the 16th century Read More

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  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - May

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - May

    Here is a chance to listen to our rich Jewish heritage through Ellis' extensive collection of Israeli, Yiddish, Jewish comedy, folk and popular music cd's, cassettes and LP's -- not to mention his mp3's. His collection includes some of the greatest Cantors, comedians, shows, dance music; even songs recorded by non-Jewish artists. Ellis' knowledge of the recordings and stories about his life in Jewish music are comedy are the "glue" that makes this class a winner! Read More

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  • All Aboard for Jewish L.A.: Back to the Beginning, Boyle Heights

    All Aboard for Jewish L.A.: Back to the Beginning, Boyle Heights

    Who says L.A. has no subway and no Jewish History? Not us! Travel back in time with the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California docents Stephen Sass and Jeremy Sunderland -- entirely via metro and on foot -- to the beginnings of Los Angeles and our Jewish community, which dates back to 1841. Focusing on Boyle Heights, the tour includes the Breed Street Shul and the original 1837 site of L.A.'s first synagogue, Congregation B'nai B'rith (forerunner of today's Wilshire Boulevard Temple). Further information and instructions will be sent out to participants prior to the tour. Read More

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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: Sarah's Story

    Short Stories at the Sperber: Sarah's Story

    Do not have time to read an entire book? Join us each month to discuss literary short stories with our Sperber Librarian. This month we will be discussing Jill Hammer's "Sarah's Story." This work is from her story collection about women in the Bible, "Sisters at Sinai." Contact the Sperber Library at 310-440-1264, or email Lisa Silverman at lisa.silverman@aju.edu to request that a copy of the story be sent to you! Read More

    Register
  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - June

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - June

    Here is a chance to listen to our rich Jewish heritage through Ellis' extensive collection of Israeli, Yiddish, Jewish comedy, folk and popular music cd's, cassettes and LP's -- not to mention his mp3's. His collection includes some of the greatest Cantors, comedians, shows, dance music; even songs recorded by non-Jewish artists. Ellis' knowledge of the recordings and stories about his life in Jewish music are comedy are the "glue" that makes this class a winner! Read More

    Register
  • Bagels on the Boardwalk: A Tour of Jewish Venice Beach with the Jewish Historical Society

    Bagels on the Boardwalk: A Tour of Jewish Venice Beach with the Jewish Historical Society

    On Independence Day, 1905, Abbott Kinney opened "Venice of America" as a resort on the Pacific for high-brow patrons of the arts and culture modeled after its Italian namesake. Ten years later, with its amusement piers and carnival atmosphere, the area became known as "Coney Island of the West." From the first High Holy Day services in 1914, Jews have been a part of the scene that makes Venice, California a place unlike any other. Join us for a midsummer half-day's walking tour with the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California focusing on Jewish Venice’s past, present and future. We'll start with bagels, shmoozing and a special screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary Number Our Days with members of Jewish Family Service's Israel Levin Senior Center, then enjoy sunshine and cool summer breezes as we trace the area's colorful Jewish history. Read More

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