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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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  • Judaism of the Second Temple and the Rise of Christianity

    Judaism of the Second Temple and the Rise of Christianity

    Following the Babylonian Exile, Cyrus the Great allowed the Israelites to return to the former kingdom of Judah and rebuild the Great Temple. For 600 years, several Jewish sects arose with competing expressions of Judaism: Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, Sicarii, Essenes as well as Samaritans and Nazarenes, the first followers of Jesus. We will explore each of these sects and their beliefs and examine how the Jewish Nazarene movement eventually led to Christianity. 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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  • The Children of Abraham: Jews, Christians, Muslims

    The Children of Abraham: Jews, Christians, Muslims

    This comparative religion course explores the core beliefs and biblical images of Judaism and how they "begat" and influenced the beliefs and images in the Christian Gospels and Islam's Quran and Haddiths. We'll find amazing similarities among these three religions as well as theological deal-breakers based on seemingly innocuous biblical passages. 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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  • Meet the First Jews of America

    Meet the First Jews of America

    Who were the first Jews to set foot on North American soil? These pioneers were a group of 23 Brazilian/Portuguese Jews who fled from northeastern Brazil seeking shelter in New Amsterdam (future New York) in 1654. Throughout American history, their descendants left their mark with memorable achievements and exemplary lives. This course aims to tell the origins, adventures and accomplishments of these Jews in America throughout the country's history - unveiling some secrets that may link the Jews from Portugal and Spain to the continent's discovery. Read More

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  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - November

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - November

    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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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: While I Stand Here Ironing

    Short Stories at the Sperber: While I Stand Here Ironing

    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 Tillie Olson's "While I Stand Here Ironing." This work is from the story collection "Tell me a Riddle." 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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  • Jews & the American Presidency: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush & Barack Obama

    Jews & the American Presidency: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush & Barack Obama

    Dr. Raphael J. Sonenshein, Executive Director, Cal State LA's Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs Read More

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  • Holocaust Film & Discussion Series: Sunshine (Hungary)

    Holocaust Film & Discussion Series: Sunshine (Hungary)

    This film describes the fate of three-generations of a Hungarian Jewish family – originally Sonnenschein (German: “sunshine”), later changed to Sors (Hungarian: “fate”) – throughout the 20th century. The patriarch (Ralph Fiennes) becomes a prominent judge but is torn when his government sanctions anti-Jewish persecutions.  Read More

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  • Jews & the American Presidency: Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter & Ronald Reagan

    Jews & the American Presidency: Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter & Ronald Reagan

    Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Director, AJU's Sigi Ziering Institute and Professor of Jewish Studies Read More

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  • A History of the Jews of Hungary

    A History of the Jews of Hungary

    This class will explore: • Pre-Magyar Jewry • Cossack pogroms, and the mass migration of Ukrainian and Polish Jewry to Central Europe the life and times of the Chasam Sofer • Munkacs, Satmar, and the rise of militant anti-Zionism among Hungarian chareidim • The controversy of the "Kasztner train" out of Auschwitz • "Marranos" under Communist repression in the post WWII period • "Goy Columns": The rise of the fascistic Jobbik Read More

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  • Jews and the Silk Road

    Jews and the Silk Road

    Topics covered in this class: • Aurel Stein and the discovery of Jewish treasures in the Cave of Thousand Buddhas • Tracing the spread of the Jewish Diaspora through the odyssey of the Jewish glass-makers • Rhadanite merchants on the Silk Road • Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and the decimation of the Jews of Central and West Asia • Sino-Judaic civilization in Kaifeng • How emissaries from Israel revived Jewish life along the Silk Road and causes for the demise of the Silk Road Read More

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  • Heritage Square Museum & Jewish D.T.L.A. Walking Tour

    Heritage Square Museum & Jewish D.T.L.A. Walking Tour

    We will travel back in time by Metro and on foot, with JHS docents Stephen Sass and Jeremy Sunderland. Starting at Union Station, we'll explore the beginnings of Los Angeles and our Jewish community. We'll visit: • Heritage Square Museum, the living history "architectural petting zoo" of Victorian-era structures • The newly rebuilt Colonial Drug, operated for six decades by Jewish pharmacist George A. Simmons and family • Downtown Los Angeles where we'll discover the role played by the Jewish community in the growth and development of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, the Shtetl of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels Read More

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  • Dissident Series: Martin Buber, Philosopher, Political & Religious Rebel

    Dissident Series: Martin Buber, Philosopher, Political & Religious Rebel

    What does it mean to consider Martin Buber, one of the most important and influential modern Jewish philosophers, as a dissident, who redefined our thinking? He bridged Hasidic spirituality and the secularism of Freud. He was an ardent Zionist who worked to unite with Palestinians. Journalist and popular Whizin Center instructor Jonathan Dobrer joins us to explore this question. Read More

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  • The Jews of Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico

    The Jews of Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico

    Topics covered in this class: • Inquisition in Mexico City; Brazilian Jewry under Dutch rule (17th cent.) • Moroccan Jewish rubber tree growers along the Amazon (1840s) • Yiddish Gauchos of the Argentinian Pampas; Juan and Eva Peron and Argentinian Jewry • The hunt for Eichmann and Mengele in South America • Jewish detainees who disappeared during the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-83) • The AMIA Bombing: Argentine Jewry and Islamic terrorism Read More

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  • Moses Maimonides (1135-1204): His Life and Times

    Moses Maimonides (1135-1204): His Life and Times

    Topics covered in this class: • The Rambam's milieu: 12th century Spanish Jewry • Curricula of the budding intellectual giant; the Almohades invasion: did Maimonides and his family temporarily convert to Islam? • In the court of Saladin • Maimonides on Christianity and Islam • Maimonides on the candidacy of the Messiah • Medical writings of Maimonides: on asthma, hemorrhoids, sex • The "Maimonidean Controversy" and the burning of the Rambam's books by the Dominicans (1232) Read More

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  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - December

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - December

    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
  • 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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  • Dissident Series: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis: the Courage of Art

    Dissident 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 Liebowitz -- To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial

    Award-winning Author Kathy Kacer and Jordana Liebowitz -- 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 Leibowitz, 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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  • 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

    Register