Sign In Forgot Password

Archive of Past Adult Education Events



Shalom Hartman Institute Series: Together & Apart - The Future of Jewish Peoplehood in Israel and America 

March 7, 2021: Part #1: From No Home to Two HomesView the video recording of this presentation! 

March 21, 2021: Part #2: The Moral Implications of Jewish NationalismView the recording of this presentation! 

Within a very few generations the Jewish people have been transformed from being stateless to having two vibrant but different homes, in the United States, and Israel. Together and Apart is a three part series of video lectures and discussion that explores the complex and shifting relationship between American and Israeli Jews. In recent years the atmosphere of devotion and unity between our two Jewish centers has been challenged by divisions arising from nationalism, dual loyalties, antisemitism, and anti-Zionism. The sessions will explore these difficult issues and discuss ways to renew and reinforce the bonds between the Jews of Israel and America.

Sunday, March 14, 2021: Levine Lecture with David Oshinsky - Challenges to Democracy

View the video recording of this presentation! David M. Oshinsky (born 1944) is an American historian. He is the director of the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU School of Medicine and a professor in the Department of History at New York University. 

Oshinsky graduated from Cornell in 1965 and obtained his PhD from Brandeis University in 1971. He won the annual Pulitzer Prize in History for his 2005 book, Polio: An American Story. Oshinsky's most recent book, Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital, was published in 2016. His other books include the D.B. Hardeman Prize-winning A Consipiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy, and the Robert Kennedy Prize-wining Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice. His articles and review appear reguarly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Chronicles of Higher Education. He previously held the Jack S. Blanton chair in history at the University of Texas at Austin. 

February 20, 2021: Havdalah Program with Rabbi Postrel

View the video recording of this presentation!  The 2018 CCAR Press bookA Life of Meaning, is a deeply moving and informative work about who we are as Reform Jews. 

Please join Rabbi Oren Postrel for an evening of Havdalah, learning and reflection through the rich images and concepts of A Life of Meaning. Part ritual, part reflective, very collaborative and participatory.

January 31, 2021: Discussion with Gabriella Safran on Dybbuks, Golems, S. An-sky and Jewish Legends in Time of Fear 

View the video recording of this presentation! S. An-sky’s play The Dybbuk, a story of possession set in a shtetl (think The Exorcist meets Fiddler on the Roof), is the foundation of modern Jewish drama. Stanford scholar Gabriella Safran will explore The Dybbuk’s roots: in Jewish folklore, the scandalous blood libel trial in Kiev in 1913, and the political passions of Russian-Jewish revolutionaries.

In composing the play, An-sky was torn between two Jewish myths, each still modern: the tragic ambivalence of the dybbuk, a lost, wandering soul, and the technological triumphalism of the golem, a robot set in motion by practical kabbalah and capable of defending the Jews from every harm.

October 11, 2020: The 2020 Elections and the Jewish Vote with Professor Windmueller

View the video recording of this presentation!  This nonpartisan Zoom analysis of this November’s election is designed to inform audiences about the diverse and significant roles Jews are and have played in American politics.

August 16, 2020: Rosh Hashanah Customs from Sephardic and Mizrachi Traditions

Rosh HaShanah Seder FoodsView the video recording of this presentation! Download the presentation slidedeck (PDF), which includes the Rosh HaShanah seder recipes. Sephardic Jews who are Jews from Spain & Portugal, North Africa and the Middle-East welcome the New Year with the Rosh HaShanah seder. Additional links related to the presentation include this Selichot video as well as some additional food for thought on the Simanim. Thank you to our member Stephane Morali, whose family is originally from Algeria (North Africa), for sharing details with us about this very old tradition filled with special foods and blessings.

August 2, 2020: Israel Soundtrack with Sasha Domingues 

View the video recording of this presentation! Contemporary Israeli music defines and is defined by a complex conversation about the people and culture of Israel. The songs transcend language barriers, fostering a connection to the people and places. But what can we learn from this music about modern Israel? In this musical experience, we’ll explore the language, the themes, and the voices that reflect Israel today.

July 12, 2020: A Panel Discussion on Medical Ethics: Rationing of Limited Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic

View the panel discussion video recording:  COVID-19 virus has posed special dilemmas of medical ethics, relating to issues that have been much explored in the field of Jewish medical ethics. Three physicians in our congregation, Drs. George Kent, Steve Jackson and Jeff Young, share their perspectives based on their respective work in their fields and the special challenges they have encountered.

May 17, 2020: Israel's Political System in the Age of Coronavirus with Ambassador Ido Aharoni

View the video recording of this event! Israel’s parliamentary democracy is facing an unprecedented dual-challenge today: an historically complex and prolonged political deadlock which ended with a rotational unity government, coupled with the need to manage a first-of-its-kind health crisis. We will look at possible solutions and how can Israel’s uniquely vibrant democracy cope with both. We will explore the unique characteristics of Israel’s system, pointing to both, its advantages and disadvantages, trying to answer the question of what will happen in the foreseeable future.

April 26, 2020: American Jews & Israel: What a Difference 40 Years Makes

View the video recording of this event! In 1980, before Lebanon, before Sabra and Shatila, before the Intifadas, before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the immigration of the Jews of the FSU, before Oslo and the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, before Start-Up Nation and Birthright Israel, the relationship between American Jews and Israel was quite different and seemingly more straightforward. With three outstanding American Zionist leaders, we will explore contemporary developments in the relationship between American Jews and Israel.

April 19, 2020: A Portrait of Bay Area Jewry: An Historian Analyzes the 2018 Demographic Survey

Download the Demographic Survey PDF and then view the video recording of this event! Has Jewish life here in the bay area been fundementally altered and seriously threatened by the rapid social and technological change in the past generation? Or does today's Jewish identity, practice, and activism reflect patterns that haver persisted from the Gold Rush? 

March 22, 2020: What a Difference 40 Years Makes: The New Antisemitism with David Sandmel

Download this event's Antisemitism presentation PDF or watch the video recording! Topic: “The New Antisemitism” - What is "new" and what is "old" about today's antisemitism, compared to previous generations and what tactics can be used to combat it?


January 12, 2021: A discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine

View the video recording of this event! Our congregants, Dr. Topaz Levenberg and Dr. Steve Jackson, will speak about the COVID-19 vaccine as well as the ethics involved in distribution of the vaccine.


Scientists in Synagogues Past Events

July 2019: A Visit to the Lick Observatory

If you look to the east you will see the Lick Observatory way up on top of the summit of Mt. Hamilton. Inspired by our Scientists in Synagogues Series, a group of forty Shir Hadash members braved the winding road up Mount Hamilton for an extraordinary evening together. 

The tour of the facility was amazing. We visited and learned about the Shane 3-m telescope. Seeing the astrophysicists at work and video conferencing with the UCLA research team was a treat and they readily answered our questions about black holes.

The evening included an outside picnic dinner followed by a fascinating lecture from Professor Clare Max, the Director of the University of California Observatories at the University of California at Santa Cruz who spoke about the likelihood of discovering life on another planet and what it may mean for Judaism. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session and a discussion about discovering other intelligence life in the universe and the impact upon our view of God.   

We also learned about the historic Lick 36” Reflector.  Watching the roof open and the telescope move into place was fascinating. We were treated to a magnificent view of Jupiter, a globules cluster and a spectacular nebula with a green light ring around it. 

One of the most beautiful parts of the evening was watching the sunset over the Santa Clara Valley and celebrating Havdalah together at an elevation of 4,200 feet. If you have not seen the sunset from the summit of Mt. Hamilton it is well worth the trip for this moment of beauty. 

Thank you to Jim Katzmann for making this memorable evening possible, to Professor Clare Max for her fascinating lecture, to the wonderful Lick Observatory volunteers and staff who hosted us so nicely, to Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, the Founding Director of Sinai and Synopses who sponsor our Scientists in Synagogues program, to Jack Siegel who worked diligently to secure our Scientists in Synagogues grant, to the Shir Hadash Scientists in Synagogues committee members and to all who were able to participate

2019: Dana Bash on Journalism and Social MediaThe Dana Bash event was a huge success for our Scientists in Synagogues program and drew a large crowd of about 220 people. Dana spoke about how journalism has been influenced by social media and how it has been shaping politics in our country and around the world.

  • She spoke about how easy it was these days for organizations as well as for individuals to publish fake news that shapes public opinion and the harm it can cause.
  • Dana spoke about how extensively social media has been utilized by President Trump and his administration to reach out to and shape public opinion. People had greater responsibility today to check the sources of the news they hear so they can form opinion based on facts and not fake news.  
  • Social media has made it easy for Journalism to get the story out to many people very fast. In the present environment, as technology and social media are taking center stage, Dana Bash pointed out that journalism can and should maintain its historic commitment to truth and ethical values. She noted that now, more than ever before, the need for journalism to get to the truth, to highlight and spotlight the truth, was most important. She said that "Ironically, the world we are living in now is good for traditional journalists like me because it's even more important for our journalism [to get to the truth]."
  • Dana spoke about how Judaism influenced her career in journalism. She said that her Jewish identity, values and heritage shaped the kind of journalist she was and how she approached journalism. 
  • Dana Bash was an excellent speaker, personable, interesting, and approachable.  The audience loved her and listened to her attentively. The Q & A session following her talk was interesting and people raised good questions.  Bash was very kind to talk with a number of people who had follow up questions. 

2019: Russia's Impact on Current World Events and Implications for the Middle East

  • Professor Naimark discussed Russia’s strategic thinking and ambitions, its interest in destabilizing democracies around the world, the relationship between Putin and Netanyahu, and Israel’s relationships with Syria and Iran. Professor Naimark has written extensively on Soviet policies and actions in Europe after World War II, and on genocide and ethnic cleansing in the twentieth century. In his latest book, Genocide: A World History, he presents the history of genocide in a comprehensive but concise way.
  • He earned his Ph.D. in History from Stanford University in 1972, and, before returning to join the faculty in 1988, he was a professor of history at Boston University and a fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard.
Sat, April 17 2021 5 Iyar 5781