Scolnic Institute Spring 2020 Registration

About the Scolnic Institute
The Rabbi Samuel Scolnic Adult Institute, founded in 1977 in memory of Saul Bendit, is one of the leading synagogue-based adult education programs in the Washington, DC area. Now in its 42nd year, the Institute has received national and international recognition.

We have had to cancel all in-person Scolnic Institute classes this spring. However, we will be able to offer many of our classes online. The online classes will begin the week of March 24 and 25. We will offer several opportunities before that for students to learn how to use Zoom, the online platform we will be using for our courses. Students can use Zoom on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or cell phone. Using Zoom students will be able to see and hear and interact with their instructors and his or her visual materials. Instructors may also send students handouts by email.

Class Schedule

Tuesdays from 10:00-10:50 am

  • Grief as Righteous Anger in Lamentations (Bex Stern Rosenblatt )
  • What is Modern Judaism and the Jewish Cultural Identity? (Dr. Jerome Copulsky)   

Tuesdays from 11:10 am - noon

  • From Sepharad to Jamaica: The Unlikely Story of the Jews of the Caribbean (Dr. Naomi Daremblum)

Wednesdays from 7:30-8:20 pm

  • Experiencing Talmud for the First Time (Rabbi Fabián Werbin)    
  • Jewish Bioethical Approaches to Contemporary Challenges: Addiction and Global Health/Human Rights (Dr. Toby Schonfeld) 
  • From Sepharad to Jamaica: The Unlikely Story of the Jews of the Caribbean (Dr. Naomi Daremblum)
  • Jewish Approaches to Illness and Healing (Rabbi Evan Krame)

Wednesdays from 8:40-9:30 pm

  • Grief as Righteous Anger in Lamentations (Bex Stern Rosenblatt)
  • What is Modern Judaism and the Jewish Cultural Identity? (Dr. Jerome Copulsky )
Class Descriptions

Experiencing Talmud for the First Time

Instructor: Rabbi Fabián Werbin, Wednesday evening

The Talmud is probably the most fascinating text produced by the Jewish people. It includes many amazing stories and lessons in its 2,711 pages. The Talmud covers all the topics you could imagine, given the time it was written: animals, houses, diseases, idolatry, relationships, war, drinks, and many more. The Talmud includes amazing stories and lessons. Discover topics that you never imagined from a Jewish perspective. We will dive into this engaging world by learning the basics of the Talmud and reading selected sections. 


Jewish Bioethical Approaches to Contemporary Challenges:

Addiction and Global Health/Human Rights

Instructor: Dr. Toby Schonfeld, Wednesday evening 

In this course, we will explore two contemporary issues in health care from the perspective of Jewish bioethics. First, we will examine issues of addiction, particularly focusing on dependence on tobacco/vaping, opioids, and food. Then, we will apply the lens of Jewish bioethics to focus on issues in global health and human rights, including the Coronavirus and immigration, to round out our discourse. 


From Sepharad To Jamaica: The Unlikely Story of the Jews of the Caribbean

Instructor: Dr. Naomi Daremblum, Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening 

This course tells the story of the Jewish communities of the Caribbean, one that predates the better-known arrival of Jews to the Americas in the 19th century. This extraordinary history began as far back as the 16th century, after the tragedy of the Expulsion from Spain. The Jews from Sepharad were able to make a spectacular success of their exile and dispersal across the Ottoman Empire and some outposts in Europe. This was an advantage that allowed them to be crucial participants in the age of discovery and settling of the Caribbean, showing us a very different path to Jewish emancipation. 

NOTE: This class will not meet Tuesday morning, March 17. The class will meet for an extra 10 minutes (11:10 AM—12:10 PM, Tuesday, each week beginning March 24. This schedule change does not affect Wednesday evening classes. Registrants may attend another class of their choosing on March 17.


Jewish Approaches to Illness and Healing

Instructor: Rabbi Evan Krame, Wednesday evening

Physical illness and healing are core spiritual concerns – and are a unique way to focus individuals, families and communities on life’s Big Questions. Our course will explore Jewish approaches to illness and healing, using Tanakh, Talmud, Codes, Hasidut, liturgy and modern sources. We will mine tradition’s depths to ask (and perhaps even answer): How does Judaism respond to illness? What tools can we offer amidst illness and healing (or not-healing)? What do the spiritual and psycho-emotional dynamics of illness and healing ask of us in our own journeys of faith and spiritual practice? What might these dynamics suggest about the soul and the flow of Jewish tradition?


Grief As Righteous Anger in Lamentations

Instructor: Bex Stern Rosenblatt, Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening

How do we respond to the unimaginable? In this course, we will do a close reading of the Book of Lamentations, written in the wake of the total destruction of Jerusalem. Confronting truly horrifying texts, we will explore how we process trauma and what God's role is in the creation of trauma. We will examine the multiplicity of voices in the text responding to the destruction, from personified Lady Jerusalem's shock and disbelief to a dispassionate observer taking note of what has happened. Our reading will expose questions of how blame works and what happens when anger has no outlet. 


What Is Modern Judaism and the Jewish Cultural Identity?

Instructor: Dr. Jerome Copulsky, Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening

The modern world has created new possibilities for Jews. Modernity also poses profound challenges to the religion and to Jewish culture, creating a space for new forms of “Jewishness.” What is the relationship between religious Judaism and secular Judaism? Through an analysis of various forms of literature and media, including autobiography, theological and philosophical writings, political treatises, fiction, and film, the course will explore the ways in which modern Judaism, Jewish identity and commitment are expressed with a focus on the connection between the religious and the secular.   

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