Adult Jewish Learning Brochure


Gerson 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.

All classes are open to the CSAIR congregation/public and requires no registration unless otherwise indicated.



King DavidKing David: It's Complicated (Fall Semester)
King Solomon's Wisdom (Spring Semester)

Tuesday mornings, from 10:30 AM - Noon
Taught by CSAIR Rabbi Barry Dov Katz
Palace intrigue combines with personal drama to make the end of King David's reign a study in complexity. After his death, Solomon assumes the throne and is known for his wisdom, building, and political prowess. Come share in our discussions about David's last days then study the very different story of King Solomon's successes (and excesses) as king. No background necessary. All texts provided in English along with the Hebrew.

FINAL CLASS: March 20, 2018

Free to CSAIR Sisterhood members and members of CSAIR affiliates. Nominal fee for others. Sponsored by Sisterhood.

Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah Class
Wednesdays, 7:45 PM-9:00 PM

Taught by Rabbi Barry Dov Katz, Rory Katz (Rabbinic Intern), and
Cantor Elizabeth Stevens

Perhaps you never had the chance to ascend the bimah as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Maybe you did, but want to do it again at a time in your life when you will appreciate your connection to Judaism in a different way. This course is designed for adult learners of any age who are members of CSAIR. It will provide an in-depth study of the Jewish lifecycle, holidays, history, and core Jewish concepts. You will learn to chant from the Torah and participate in a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony in Spring 2019. No prior experience is necessary. If you need to learn/improve your Hebrew reading, we will work together to find a tutor/class who can help you. RSVP to

Class Meets: March 14, 21, 28, April 11, 18, 25 (No Class 4/4), May 2, 9, 16, 2018


Scholar in ResidenceScholar-in-Residence ~ Speaking up for Social Change
Friday, March 16 - Saturday, March 17, 2018
Sponsored by the Helen and Leonard Tureff Memorial Fund

Join us for a Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat on the topic of Jewish Feminism featuring Dr. Judith Rosenbaum.

Dr. Rosenbaum is Executive Director of the Jewish Women's Archive, a pioneering national organization that documents Jewish women's stories, elevates their voices, and inspires them to be agents of change. Judith earned a BA in History from Yale University and a PhD in American Studies from Brown University. She won a Fulbright Fellowship to study women's collective communities in Israel, and received a dissertation grant from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study to pursue research on the women's health movement. Judith has taught and lectured widely on Jewish studies and women's studies at institutions including Brown University, Boston University, Hebrew College, and Gann Academy. She also serves on the faculty of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships.

Friday, March 16 | Talk, 8:15 PM
6:00 PM - Kabbalat Shabbat Services (note the early start time) followed by Shabbat dinner.

7:15 PM - Approximate start of Shabbat Dinner /Cannot make Shabbat dinner? Come for the talk.

8:15 PM - Dr. Rosenbaum talk: Speaking Up for Social Change
This talk will examine four texts (historical and contemporary, ranging from 1907-2015) that offer different models through which Jewish women have spoken up for communal change. What do we learn from these models and which ones resonate with us today?

Dessert will follow the lecture.

Saturday, March 17
Dr. Rosenbaum will speak again on Shabbat morning, following Kiddush.

"Heirs to and Shapers of a Tradition": Learning from Jewish Feminism
What can we learn from Jewish feminism about being socially engaged Jews in the 21st century? This talk will explore the insights of pioneering Jewish feminists to address some of the questions and challenges of Jewishness, gender, and identity that we face today.

Bake Your Own Matzah

Bake Your Own Matzah
Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 10:00 AM - Noon

Join Rabbi Ethan Tucker, President and Rosh Yeshiva of Mechon Hadar, for a special opportunity to bake your own matzah for the Seder. Learn a bit about the laws of matzah baking and get ready to move quickly to get the dough into the oven! This activity is intended for adults; older children can attend if they are being fully and actively supervised by a parent.


Journeying to Freedom: Interfaith Model Seder
Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 4:00 PM
(Note, date and time change)
Christians, Muslims and Jews join together to experience elements of the Passover seder and to share personal and communal stories about freedom.


Coordinated by Sharon Kern-Taub
Free and open to all. Pre-registration required - email

The Zookeeper's WifeThe Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 10:30 AM

A true story in which keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating true life story – sharing Antonina Zabinski's life while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.




Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Sunday, June 3, 2018 at 10:30 AM (Note date change)
A wonderful book that celebrates the power of family bonds and the slipperiness of memory. Moonglow is an enchanting story about the circuitous path that a life follows, about the accidents that redirect it, and about the secrets that can be felt but never seen, like the dark matter at the center of every family's cosmos.


Yehuda AmichaiHebrew Book Club: Reading Yehuda Amichai
Back by Popular Demand!
Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 8:00 PM
Join the Amichai Reading Group: This group meets every couple of months to read and enjoy together the poetry of Yehuda Amichai.

Amichai was the supreme poet-citizen of Jerusalem -- a playful modernist-biblical bard whose work reflected the entire span of 20th century Jewish experience. Our group discussion will reveal the intricacies of Amichai's masterful voice and technique, and explore how his work continues to move and touch readers. Texts will be distributed in advance in Hebrew and English translation.


Text Wrestlers
Saturdays, May 5, June 2, 2018 at 11:00 AM
Join the discussion as Dr. Diane Sharon leads an exploration of the weekly Torah portion.

Immolation and Conflagration In The Biblical
Thursdays, May 31, June 7, and June 14, 2018 at 7:45 PM
Taught by Dr. Diane Sharon, The Skirball Academy at the Streicker Center of Temple Emanuel

World Fire signifies God's presence in the Bible. It is an agent of the miraculous, a comforting sign of civilization, and an element of Israelite worship. It is also punishment for transgression as it falls from the sky or erupts from the earth. In this course we will examine selected biblical episodes marked by fire, and discover the astonishing range of meanings embedded in this powerful element. Please bring a complete Tanakh to each class. The JPS Hebrew-English edition is recommended.


Regular Programming

Hug Ivri
CSAIR's monthly Hebrew discussion group meets following Kiddush one Shabbat a month to talk about politics, literature, current events, and more. Dr. Yaakov Taitz, Coordinator. Free and open to all Hebrew speakers.

Yiddish Vinkl
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. - Charlie Goldfischer, Coordinator. Free and open to all Yiddish speakers.

Hazzan's Tisch (Led by CSAIR Cantor Elizabeth Stevens)
During Kiddush on Saturdays:
Tentatively set for April 7, June 2 and June 9, 2018
Between Mincha and Maariv on Saturdays, March 24, April 28 and May 26, 2018
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. Free and open to all.

Yom Hashoah
Saturday, May 19, 2018
A program of song, names, music, and testimony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Thursday, April 12, 2018 Yom Hazikaron An evening remembering Israeli fallen soldiers with the Riverdale Jewish community. Wednesday, April 18, 2018 Yom Haatzmaut A celebration in honor of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. Thursday, April 19, 2018 Tikkun Leil Shavuot 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.

Yom Hazikaron
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
An evening remembering Israeli fallen soldiers with the Riverdale Jewish community.

Yom Haatzmaut
Thursday, April 19, 2018
A celebration in honor of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Saturday, May 19, 2018
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.

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