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. The Spring program, running for six weeks, comprises 10 courses offered Wednesday evenings beginning March 18, and four classes offered Tuesday mornings, beginning March 17. We are confident that you will find the courses interesting and informative.

Click here to download the Spring 2020 catalog.

Class Schedule
Wednesday evening, session 1: 7:30-8:20 pm
Wednesday evening, session 2: 8:40-9:30 pm (after evening minyan)
Tuesday morning, session 1: 10:00-10:50 am
Tuesday morning, session 2: 11:10 am-noon
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. 


The Dynamics and Diversity of Jewish Music

Instructor: Hazzan Abraham Lubin, Wednesday evening

Jews have lived in every corner of the world.  From Spain to Morocco, from Eastern to Western Europe, Italy, Yemen, and Ethiopia, Jews have developed distinct folk and liturgical musical traditions. These traditions have been influenced by acculturation and local musical traditions. Colorful examples will be illustrated with live and CD performances.


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? 


Innovative Jewish Thinkers: Henrietta Szold

Instructor: Rabbi Greg Harris, Wednesday evening

Henrietta Szold is most well known as the founder of the women’s organization Hadassah in 1912. Szold’s achievements include collaborating with JTS rabbi and academic Louis Ginzberg, founding the Ihud political party in Mandate Palestine which was dedicated to a binational solution, and saving 30,000 children from the Shoah through Youth Aliyah. We will look at her life, which has been mythologized and celebrated, and discuss her impact on Zionism.


George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda: Philo-Semitism and Proto-Zionism in 19th Century England

Instructor: Adjunct Rabbi Mindy Avra Portnoy, Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening

This course, set in a historical context, will focus on George Eliot's (Mary Anne Evans) last book, Daniel Deronda. A writer who defied conventional Victorian images of women, Eliot, a non-Jew, also provided a unique perspective on Jewish life at the time, including the stirrings of proto-Zionism in England. This novel, while remarkably prescient, is also primarily a brilliant tale of moral choices and romantic tragedy and triumph. Our studies will be particularly timely in light of recent anti- Semitic incidents. Our main secondary sources will be two works by the late intellectual and cultural historian, Gertrude Himmelfarb (The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot  and The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England from Cromwell to Churchill); biographer Jennifer Uglow’s George Eliot; and the 2002 BBC video, Daniel Deronda. No outside reading is required; excerpts will be discussed in class.  NOTE: This class will not meet Tuesday and Wednesday, May 5 and 6. The class will meet for an extra 10 minutes (11:10 AM-12:10 PM, Tuesday, and 8:40 PM-9:40 PM, Wednesday, each week beginning March 17-18. Registrants may attend another class of their choosing on May 5-6.


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.  


Jewish Resistance in the Holocaust

Instructor: Eric Gartman, Wednesday evening

Are the postwar charges of Jewish passivity during the Holocaust factually correct? The topic of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust has been misunderstood for many years. Only in recent decades have scholars begun to truly understand the extent and limits of Jewish revolts. We will examine the major episodes of armed Jewish resistance against the Nazis, including the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Treblinka and Sobibor revolts, and the Bielski Brothers. We also will look at why these particular actions occurred and if there could have been more armed uprisings. Our focus throughout will be to explain the situation from the perspective of the people involved and the options and possibilities open to them at the time, rather than from hindsight. 


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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