Adult Jewish LearningGerson D. Cohen Institute for Adult Jewish Learning

We are a center for serious Jewish learning. Synagogue classes offer everyone opportunities to discover new meanings in Judaism and Jewish culture.

Our adult learning program is named for Rabbi Gerson D. Cohen, a widely respected historian and Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from 1972 to 1986.

Click here to view all 2016-2017 Adult Programming





Poetry Workshop
Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 7:45pm (2nd class)
This two-part workshop is for beginning, emerging and seasoned poets looking for a supportive community of writers. Participants should bring a notebook and a pen.
Taught by Sarah Stern, award-winning poet.
Free and open to all.


Yom Hashoah
Sunday, April 23, 2017
10:45 am & 7:30 pm
In the morning, we will have a program in memory of the victims of the Holocaust with Hebrew School classes and the CSAIR community (see below). During the evening minyan, we will light six candles and recite the memorial prayer.

Jeffrey Shandler

Before Anne Frank: Young Jews in Interwar Poland Tell their Life Stories |
10:45 am

One of the greatest challenges in Holocaust remembrance is how to include some awareness of the lives that European Jews led before they became victims of mass murder. An especially rich response to this challenge is found among hundreds of autobiographies written by Jewish adolescents in Poland, collected by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research during the 1930s. Their portraits of life in that time and place offer revealing insights into a period described very differently by many Holocaust survivors in postwar memoirs. The lecture explains the context in which this singular project was undertaken and offers a selection from these autobiographies, Jeffrey Shandlertranslated into English, which will be read aloud and discussed.

Jeffrey Shandler is Professor and Chair of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Shandler's books include While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust (1999); Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture (2005); and Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America (2009). Shandler is also the co-editor of Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (2012) and the editor of Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust (2002), the subject of his talk at CSAIR on Yom HaShoah. Shandler has served as president of the Association for Jewish Studies and is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Please note: Teenagers and young adults are encouraged to attend. The focus is on adolescents writing about their lives.


Yom HaZikaron-Riverdale Community-Wide Commemoration
Sunday, April 30 at 8:00 pm

The Riverdale Jewish community will hold a community-wide Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance for Israel's Fallen Soldiers) commemoration on Erev (the evening of) Yom HaZikaron. Part of the Jewish institutions of Riverdale continued efforts towards expanded community building and collaboration, one centralized, collaborative commemoration for Yom HaZikaron will be held at the Riverdale Y.


Yom Ha'atzmaut
Monday evening, May 1, 2017, 7:30pm
A celebration in honor of the anniversary of the State of Israel.
Free and open to all.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Tuesday evening, May 30, 2017, 7pm
Unroll the Torah, hear 5th graders chanting sweetly for the first time and learn Torah with us in honor of Shavuot. Learning will go all night long and conclude with a sunrise service.
Free and open to all.




The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 10:30am
In an astonishing feat of empathy and narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh's election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America‚Äďand with it, his mother, his father, and his older brother.


Fables And Talking Donkeys in the Hebrew Bible
Thursdays June 8 & 15, 2017, 8:00pm Free and open to all.
In general, the Bible is realistic in its depiction of events, limiting supernatural phenomena to the effect of God's presence in the world. However, there are several stories in which non-human beings speak intelligibly. We will examine these fables to see what they reveal about Biblical theology and about the mysterious ways in which God works in the Bible. And also because they're fun to study. Please bring a complete Tanakh to each session, the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh is suggested.
Taught by Dr. Diane Sharon, Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning.



King David: It's Complicated
Every Tuesday, (unless otherwise noted) now through April 25, 2017, 10:30am-Noon
Taught by CSAIR Rabbi Barry Dov Katz

(There will be NO CLASS on (Passover) April 11 & 18

Free to Sisterhood members and members of CSAIR affiliates.
Nominal fee for others. Sponsored by Sisterhood (but open to men and women!)

David is the Biblical character we know best. His transition from shepherd to king is the longest narrative in the Bible. Some call him a passionate poet. Others say that he was a ruthless monarch. The Book of Samuel (which tells his story) includes political intrigue, moral questions, and stirring moments of humanity. Come share in our discussions about David and his complex relationships with the men and women of his era and with his own family. In this year-long class, consider how he navigates the challenges of his own life and consider what this story has to teach us about our own. Texts provided in English and Hebrew.


Text Wrestlers
April 22, May 13, 2017, 11:00am - Free and open to all.
Join the discussion as Dr. Diane Sharon leads an exploration of the weekly Torah portion.


Hazzan's Tisch
During Kiddush on April 22, May 13 & June 3, 2017
Between Mincha Maariv on April 29, May 20 & June 17, 2017

Led by CSAIR Cantor Elizabeth Stevens - Free and open to all
Enjoy Shabbat to the fullest with more chances to sing. We will gather on Shabbat during Kiddush or between Mincha and Maariv to sing zemirot (table songs), niggunim (wordless melodies) and more.

Rehearsals will be on Wednesday nights - 7:45-9:00pm. Gala rehearsals will be scheduled - to be announced.
Sing along with CSAIR's pop-up choir. If you love to sing in harmony, join our group. We will sing simple arrangements in two or three parts.
You do not need to be able to read music or Hebrew. We will sing at the Tu Bishvat dinner sponsored by the Havurah at the Gala, Sunday, May 21st.

Home Learning
Would you like to study Jewish texts together with a small group of friends and neighbors in an intimate setting? This year, you have the chance to invite Rabbi Katz or Cantor Stevens to your home to teach an exciting three-session class. What do you need to do? 1) Recruit 15-20 people who will commit to the classes. 2) Send out monthly reminders to your group. 3) Prepare your home for an evening of Jewish learning! Interested? Contact Sandra in the synagogue office to find out more. A limited number of these classes will be offered this year.

Yiddish After Kiddush
Informal classroom style Yiddish conversations held monthly after Kiddush with an array of members. Enjoy the joys of Yiddish with a group that meets to schmooze together.
Charles Pripas, Coordinator. Free and open to all.

CSAIR :: 475 West 250th Street :: Bronx, NY 10471 :: 718-543-8400