You are here

Exploring the World of Judaism

2018–19 Program

Lecture (With South Bay Institute): Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of ALS, with Marissa Moss
October 14, 2018
For years, Berkeley children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss has delighted young audiences and critics alike with her upbeat stories and creative drawing style. Best known for the “Amelia’s Notebook” series,  Moss has written over 50 children’s books and has been awarded the California Book Award gold metal. Moss’s latest project, Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love, takes a dramatically darker turn, Last Things tells the heartbreaking story of her husband, Harvey, a gentle medieval art historian and professor, and his deterioration and death from ALS. Moss chronicles the impact of the illness on her husband, their three children, and herself in a profound tale of a family’s struggle to survive.
Havdalah Program — Hollywood and the Jews: 1930–1960
Saturday, November 3, 7:30 pm
We will explore themes such as The Disappearing Jew, The G.I. Hollywood, and In the Shadow of the Cold War, relating to Hollywood and the Jews between 1930 and 1960. We will delve into how Jewish characters and issues disappeared from the silver screen making American Jewry almost invisible while anti-Semitism rose in the US, how Hollywood moguls were at first hesitant to “screen up” about The Third Reich, while behind the scenes, there were Jews who secretly investigated Nazi agents in Los Angeles. Despite the increasing knowledge about the Holocaust, few films were made in the immediately post-WWII period. The HUAC investigations shook Hollywood leadership, destroyed many careers and impacted what was seen on the Big Screen. Program leader: Riva Gambert, former Director of the 2016 East Bay International Jewish Film Festival
Sunday, November 11, 9:30 am
What is privacy? Is it the right to be let alone? The right to control the distribution of information about yourself? And is it possible to have privacy in a society that has ubiquitous public and private collection of information? What would such privacy mean? Join us for a talk by Susan Landau, Bridge Professor of Cyber Security and Policy at Tufts University, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with some of our congregants from the tech industry.
Varieties of Orthodox Judaism: From Blu Greenberg to the Satmar Rebbe, with Rabbi Joey Felsen
Sunday, December 9, 9:30 am
We often speak about Orthodox Judaism as if it were a single entity, but actually some of the variations within Orthodoxy are quite broad. From participation minyans to charedi activists, the Orthodox world includes both Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Chassidim and Mitnagdim. Our speaker will be Rabbi Joey Felsen, founder and executive director of the Jewish Study network, who teaches regularly at our Jewish Community Center. Rabbi Felson is a recipient of the prestigious Grinspoon-Steinhardt National Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.
Hamsa Workshop with Claire Sherman
Sunday, January 13, 9:30 am
A hamsa is a stylized hand for protection against the “evil eye,” frequently worn as jewelry. Made by both Jews and Muslims, it is found all over the Middle East, but is older than either religion. Come learn about the folklore of hamsas and Jewish amulets, as we make them out of paper or fabric. No artistic talent is required to make stunning hamsa designs. The finished papercut hamsa can be framed, to hang on the wall, and a fabric hamsa can become a wall hanging or a challah cover. Claire Sherman is a quilt maker and ceramic sculptor. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Mizrachim in Israel
with JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa)
Sunday, February 24, 9:30 am
Jews from the Middle East had a significant presence in Israel during the Ottoman Empire and before the beginnings of Modern Zionism. They also represented the vast majority of Israel’s new citizens in the 1950s and 1960s. From where did they come and why? Prejudice and discrimination existed in the early days of the state—to what extent do they continue today? Learn about the majority of today’s Israelis who are not Ashkenazi Jews.


Russia's Impact on Current World Events & the Implications for the Middle East
with Professor Norman Naimark
Sunday, March 10, 9:30 am
Professor Naimark will discuss 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.

Journalism & Social Media, Through the Lens of the Jewish Commitment to Truth

with CNN’s Dana Bash
Sunday, April 28, 9:30 am
Has technology and social media enhanced or diminished the role of journalism? A free press has played a large role in American democracy: what is the future of that role today? Based in Washington, D.C., Dana Bash is CNN’s chief political correspondent. She was the primary reporter covering the Republican field of presidential candidates and serves regularly as a moderator for CNN’s political town hall pecials. She played a key role in CNN’s presidential primary debates and as part of her coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, she conducted a sit-down interview with Donald Trump.
Prospects for Democracy in Iran, & the Impact for Israel’s Future

with Professor Abbas Milani
Sunday, May 5, 9:30 am
Abbas Milani is an expert in U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iranian cultural, political, and security issues. He will speak about the current geopolitical situation of Iran and its influence on world events. Professor Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies, and Adjunct Professor at the Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University.


Our lecture series events are free and open to everyone!



A partnership between Jewish LearningWorks and Congregation Shir Hadash, supported in part by the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust and the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation

We’re excited to invite you to the another year of Exploring the World of Judaism, adult learning specially designed by and for religious school parents.

The sessions meet on Sunday mornings while your kids are in Religious School, and they feature a wide range of topics all taught at an adult level by leading experts in the field. Each session is self contained, requires no advance reservation, and is free to congregants. Babysitting will be provided for all programs. One of the great things about this series is that whether you’re a rabbi or someone who has never attended a day of religious school, you are certain to find these speakers engaging and interesting.

Exploring the World of Judaism, offered in partnership with Jewish LearningWorks, is an easy and convenient way for your to broaden your Jewish horizons, enrich your Jewish experience and show your kids that Jewish education is important. 

We hope to see you there!

If you would like to receive weekly email reminders and descriptions of each talk, please send your name and email address to and specify CSH/EWJ.

Website developed by Jvillage Network. Powered by Jmanage.