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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 - 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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  • Yiddish - Advanced

    Yiddish - Advanced

    This class provides Yiddish speaking students with intensive practice in reading, building vocabulary and conversation. The class is taught entirely in Yiddish. Together we explore great literature, songs, films, art and folk traditions. Read More

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  • Ketuvim - The Writings

    Ketuvim - The Writings

    The third section of the Hebrew Bible contains 13 books including Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Daniel. In this class, we will read from these first 9 books and discuss their importance to Jewish history, tradition and theology. Join us for lively discussions and lots of fun as we examine the wisdom of the Psalms and Proverbs, the theological challenges of Job and Lamentations, the love poetry of Song of Songs, the courage of Ruth and Esther, the cynicism of Ecclesiastes, and the visions of Daniel. 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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  • Explore Your Roots: Jewish Genealogy Workshop

    Explore Your Roots: Jewish Genealogy Workshop

    Explore your Roots with AJU's Jewish Genealogy 4-session Workshop! Have you ever wondered where your ancestors lived? What kind of work they did? When they came to the U.S.? How many siblings were in the family? This workshop will help you to find the answers. It will also get you started on the process of creating a family tree. It is more than a class.....it is an adventure: an adventure into your family history. We will explore what types of records exist, what they can tell you about your family members, and where these records can be found. We will be discussing census records, passenger manifests, and naturalization documents, as well as birth, marriage, death and adoption records. Come join us for this exciting adventure and get started creating a family tree for yourself, your children and your grandchildren. Four two hour sessions (10:30 AM - 12:30 PM each) $160 Location: Sunday January 21, and January 28 - Frank Family Learning Center, AJU Location: Sunday February 4, and February 11--Los Angeles Family History Library, 1631 E Temple Way, Los Angeles Read More

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  • Hevra Mikra, Bible Study Circle

    Hevra Mikra, Bible Study Circle

    Taught by a Master Teacher of AJU 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. No prior knowledge of Hebrew required. Read More

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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: The Cousins

    Short Stories at the Sperber: The Cousins

    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 Joyce Carol Oates "The Cousins." This work is from the story collection "The Gravedigger's Daughter," where a woman believes that she and a prominent professor are related as cousins. 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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  • Jewish Dissidents Lecture Series: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis: the Courage of Art

    Jewish Dissidents Lecture Series: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis: the Courage of Art

    How did a courageous art teacher trapped in a Nazi internment camp bring light and clarity to hundreds of children whose lives were threatened by darkness? Art historian and popular Whizin Center instructor John Paul Thornton traces the true, inspiring story of Friedl-Dicker Brandeis, revealing the brilliant methods she created and documented while literally inventing the discipline we now call "Art Therapy." Read More

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  • Award-winning Author Kathy Kacer and Jordana Lebowitz -- To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial

    Award-winning Author Kathy Kacer and Jordana Lebowitz -- To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial

    Prolific Canadian children's author Kathy Kacer collaborates with 19-year-old Jordana Lebowitz, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, to tell the fascinating, true story of her experience attending the trial of Oskar Groening, known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, possibly the last trial of its kind in Germany. Read More

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  • Dr. Micah Goodman: Catch '67, 50 Years Since the Six Day War

    Dr. Micah Goodman: Catch '67, 50 Years Since the Six Day War

    50 years after the stunning victory of the Six Day War, Israel finds itself caught between two ideological visions of what Zionism is meant to be. Explore how both the right and left have succeeded in this enduring battle, and where they have gone wrong. What are the possibilities if we focus on practical, common-sense wisdom rather than purely ideological commitments. Read More

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  • Jewish Dissidents Lecture Series: Last Thing/Late Work, Sigfried Kracauer & the Crisis of History

    Jewish Dissidents Lecture Series: Last Thing/Late Work, Sigfried Kracauer & the Crisis of History

    What is the relationship between photography, exile, and the late work of an artist? How might all three serve as powerful metaphors for the writing of history and the truth it can tell? Dr. Megan R. Luke, Associate Professor of Art History, USC focuses on Kracauer's last, posthumously published book, History: The Last Things Before the Last, connecting it to the "photo-inflation" and accompanying "crisis of historicism" of the Weimar era. Read More

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  • Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity with Rabbi Steve Greenberg

    Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity with Rabbi Steve Greenberg

    Presented with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Rabbi Greenberg is an award-winning author and religious iconoclast who has broken boundaries and led the fight to make Orthodox Judaism more open and inclusive of homosexual members. Read More

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  • 3-Part Series -- Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity

    3-Part Series -- Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity

    A text-based study series with world class scholars, including learning in small groups and hevrutah. Rabbi Steve Greenberg, Rabbi Shaul Magid, Ph.D. and Dr. Elana Stein Hain. Each evening begins with a wine and cheese reception. Read More

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  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - February

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - February

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • First A Trickle: Jewish Life in Colonial America

    First A Trickle: Jewish Life in Colonial America

    Some topics covered: • Inauspicious beginnings: Jewish life in New Amsterdam under Governor Peter Stuyvesant • New Israel and Old Israel: Encounters between Puritans and Jews in New England • Sephardi merchant princes: Jacob Rivera and Aaron Lopez, and the Newport, R.I., whaling industry • Colonial Jewry and the slavery issue • Profiles of Jewish patriots in the American Revolutionary War • Financier Haym Salomon and his contribution to the American Revolutionary War effort: Myths and Realities • The founding fathers -- Paine, Adams, Monroe, Jefferson, and Franklin -- what were their attitudes towards Jews? • "To Bigotry No Sanction": George Washington's correspondence with Hebrew Congregation, Newport, Rhode Island, 1790. Read More

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  • Blacks and Jews: Allies and Antagonists

    Blacks and Jews: Allies and Antagonists

    Some themes covered in this class: • Booker T. Washington's philosophy of black self-reliance and the Jew as a role model for former slaves • Marcus Garvey, the African National Congress, and the Jews •The Bronx "Slave Market" • A Grand Alliance: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Civil Rights Movement • The rise of Black militancy and the deterioration of the Black-Jewish coalition • From black anti-Semitic rabble-rouser to devout Jew: Profile of Brandeis University professor Julius Lester • Malcolm X on the Jews • Black anti-Semitism and Jewish racism • "Shvartzes": Appropriate and inappropriate uses and abuses of The Word Read More

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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: The Old World

    Short Stories at the Sperber: The Old World

    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 Molly Antopol's "The Old World." This work is from the story collection "The UnAmericans," and explores the search for identity and meaning on a lonely honeymoon in Kiev. 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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  • 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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  • Sold Out: 15th Annual Biblical Trial: The People v. Aaron for Inciting Rebellion

    Sold Out: 15th Annual Biblical Trial: The People v. Aaron for Inciting Rebellion

    Presented by Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary. 
    In a most unusual day of courtroom drama, Aaron, the high priest and brother of Moses, faces charges of inciting rebellion. Join our esteemed counsel: Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, Berkeley Law, and Laurie Levenson, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Ethical Advocacy, Loyola University Law School. Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Senior Rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom, begins with an exploration of the Biblical story and later, Judge Burt Pines reads the instructions. Then you, as members of the jury, render the verdict. Don't miss this riveting event! 
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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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  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - March

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - March

    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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  • 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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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: The Conversion of the Jews

    Short Stories at the Sperber: The Conversion of the Jews

    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 Philip Roth's "The Conversion of the Jews." This work is from the story collection "Goodbye, Columbus" (1959), where a bright Hebrew school student is entirely too inquisitive for his teacher, Rabbi Binder. 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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  • Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity with Rabbi Shaul Magid, Ph.D

    Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity with Rabbi Shaul Magid, Ph.D

    Presented with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Rabbi Magid is Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, and his academic work focuses on Jewish mysticism, Hasidism and Jewish thought with emphasis on American Judaism, Jewishness and collective identity. 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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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: Casualties

    Short Stories at the Sperber: Casualties

    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 Ayelet Tsabari's "Casualties." This work is from the story collection "The Best Place on Earth," where a mother travels from Israel to visit her daughter in Canada and is stunned by her grandson’s upbringing. 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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  • Gittelson Seminars: The Relationships Between Law and Ethics

    Gittelson Seminars: The Relationships Between Law and Ethics

    What Kind of Person Should I Be? Exploring the Ethics of the Ideal Person. Made possible through a generous grant from Pat (z"l) and Arnold Gittelson. What Kind of a Person Should I Strive to Be? Jewish Visions of the Ethics of the Ideal Person Ancient and Medieval Jewish Visions of the Ideal Jew In each class, Rabbi Dorff will present different chapters from his book the Oxford Handbook on Jewish Ethics and Morality. Read More

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  • Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity with Dr. Elana Stein Hain

    Community Beit Midrash: Judaism and the Self: Personal Dimensions of Jewish Identity with Dr. Elana Stein Hain

    Presented with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Dr. Hain is the Director of Leadership Education at Hartman where she oversees the content of the lay and professional leadership programs. Read More

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  • Marriage: For Life Retreat: a weekend experience in relationship building

    Marriage: For Life Retreat: a weekend experience in relationship building

    Spend the weekend at our Brandeis-Bardin Campus, a 2,700 acre retreat center nestled in the beautiful Santa Susana Mountains. This retreat provides a safe, open environment to learn to share, develop and enrich intimate loving relationships. During the weekend, couples will: --Identify areas of strength and growth in intimacy, communication, finances, lifestyle, family, religion and more. --Learn communication tools to resolve conflict with respect and love. --Discover how family history influences marriage. --Discuss expectations and hot topics, values and traditions. --Address financial planning and emotional aspects of money. Open to Jewish and interfaith couples. Includes sessions with licensed therapists, a rabbi and a financial planner, accommodations and meals. Read More

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