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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.

  • Sixty-Seven Words that Changed the Jewish World -- A Century After the Balfour Declaration: Visions and Realities

    Sixty-Seven Words that Changed the Jewish World -- A Century After the Balfour Declaration: Visions and Realities

    Presenting two public lectures by world-renowned Middle East scholars in honor of this historic 100th anniversary. From a Vision to a Plan: Balfour and Pre-State Zionism with Dr. Robert Wexler, President, AJU in conversation with David Makovsky, The Washington Institute's Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and The Dayenu of Zionism 1917: The Idea of a Homeland for the Jewish People with Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, President, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. Read More

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  • Yiddish - Intermediate

    Yiddish - Intermediate

    For Students who have completed Beginners Yiddish. This course is for students who understand the fundamentals of reading and are able to have a basic conversation in Yiddish. Intermediate students continue to explore Yiddish language and culture through art, literature, songs, films and folk traditions. Read More

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  • Holocaust Film & Discussion Series

    Holocaust Film & Discussion Series

    AJU's Whizin Center & the Sigi Ziering Institute and the Consulate Generals of France, Germany, Hungary and Poland present a major Holocaust related film series featuring The Zookeeper's Wife, Sunshine, Labyrinth of Lies and La Rafle (The Roundup). Following each film, Holocaust scholar Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute, will be in conversation with the respective Consul General. 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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  • 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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  • Listen, Laugh & Learn - October

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - October

    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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  • Jews and the American Presidency

    Jews and the American Presidency

    From the birth of this nation, the American President and his policies have been consequential to Jews in the U.S. and around the world. This special relationship continues to be vital both to the American system of government and to the conditions under which Jews live here and throughout the world. 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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  • Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage at LACMA and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust: Conversation with Woman in Gold attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg

    Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage at LACMA and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust: Conversation with Woman in Gold attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg

    Connecting art, history and Jewish heritage, our day begins with a private guided tour of Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that highlights the principal role that music and dance played in Chagall's work. The exhibit features the artist's vibrant costumes and set designs - some of which have never been exhibited since they appeared on stage. Visiting points of interest along our walk, we'll reconvene at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, for a tour and a discussion between Jewish Historical Society President Stephen Sass and attorney E. Randol Schoenberg, former President, LAMOTH, who specializes in legal matters related to the recovery of looted or stolen artwork. He was one of the principal figures in the case of Maria Altmann vs. the Austrian government and ultimately recovered her family's Klimt painting, Woman in Gold, the focus of the recent film, starring Helen Mirren as Altmann and Ryan Reynolds, who played Schoenberg. Read More

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  • Four Jewish Dissidents: Challenging the Status Quo

    Four Jewish Dissidents: Challenging the Status Quo

    Throughout history, certain members of society have challenged leadership and expressed opposition to official policy. What can we learn about Jewish ethics and values by examining those who were labeled as dissidents? What can we learn about this present moment by looking back at those who redefined Jewish culture, history and scholarship? Read More

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  • Short Stories at the Sperber: Sister Hills

    Short Stories at the Sperber: Sister Hills

    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 Nathan Englander's "Sister Hills" This work is from the story collection "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" 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 and Hollywood

    Jews and Hollywood

    Tracing the complicated relationship between Jewish immigrants and the movies they made. Since the turn of the 20th century, Jews have been involved in all aspects of filmmaking - but what did they think of their Judaism? In this fast-paced seminar, we will discuss Hollywood's shifting attitude about Jews, Judaism and Jewish identity by looking at the way Jews were (or were not) depicted on screen. Read More

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  • An Evening with Golda Meir

    An Evening with Golda Meir

    While conducting research for a biography of Golda Meir, Elinor Burkett longed to pose questions directly to Israel's near mythic Iron Lady. The author culled through hours of rare TV and film interviews, creating a virtual Q&A. Hear Golda in her own inimitable voice discuss war and peace, refugees, women's rights and Israel's relationship with America. 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

    Register
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 - October

    Listen, Laugh & Learn - October

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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