Jewish Study Center - Washington, DC

Fall 2017 Class Descriptions




JSC Wednesdays at Adas Israel
2850 Quebec St. NW (Metro: Cleveland Park)
Co-sponsored with Adas Israel Congregation


Jews, Identity and Racial Justice: Having the Conversations:
Oct. 18, 25, Nov 1 at 7 p.m. Co-sponsored with the Jewish Community Relations Council

Are Jews white? What is the role of Jews in current racial justice?
A series of candid and caring discussions on some of today’s most urgent and sensitive political questions, facilitated by Rabbi Batya Glazer.

Oct. 18: Let’s Talk Among Ourselves. This is an opportunity to gather together for a conversation about race. Some questions we may cover: As a Jew, do you consider yourself white? What does that mean and how does it relate to privilege? How does the Jewish community relate to Jews of color? How do we relate to members of other minority communities, how do we understand our relationship to members of communities of color, and what are the issues and concerns regarding relationships with the black community? Rabbi Glazer, JCRC Director of Social Justice and Intergroup Relations, moderates this participatory discussion.

Oct. 25: I’ve Always Wanted To Ask. . . James L. Stowe, Director of the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, will join us for a discussion of intergroup relationships and our relationships to the black community. Under Mr. Stowe’s leadership, the human rights office has pursued initiatives on fair and accessible housing, efforts to combat hate violence and bullying in schools, post-9/11 issues in the Muslim and Sikh communities, and many more. This is an opportunity for an open, candid and challenging conversation. Mr. Stowe welcomes all sincere questions. James L. Stowe, a native of Belmont, NC, has received numerous awards and recognition for his efforts in community service and advocacy for human and civil rights.

Nov. 1: What’s next for the Jewish community and racial justice? How do we, as a community, want to engage on issues of race? What is the best way forward? What is the role of history? How do we address conflicts and areas where our interests don’t coincide? What is the role for racial justice organizations? In this session we’ll process what we have learned and look at some new strategies being pursued by Jewish organizations locally, including efforts in the area of criminal justice reform and pro bono legal representation. Rabbi Batya D. Glazer is the Director of Social Justice and Inter-Group Initiatives and of D.C. Government and Community Relations at the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Three sessions: JSC, Adas members $40, others $55. Single sessions $15/$20




Global Jewish Cultures: Farideh Goldin: An Iranian Jewish Woman Tells Her Story

Oct. 18 at 8:25-9:25 p.m. (note late starting time) Farideh Goldin was born in 1953 in Shiraz, Iran, to her fifteen-year-old mother and into a Jewish community living in an increasingly hostile Islamic state—pre-revolutionary Iran. Her family included dayanim, judges and leaders of the Jewish community. She is the author of two memoirs: Wedding Song: Memoirs of an Iranian and Jewish Woman (2003) and Leaving Iran: Between Migration and Exile (2015). She will recount her path from an Iranian ghetto to a new life in the United States and other memories from a fascinating life.
JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



Why I Became a Military Rabbi
Oct. 25, 7-8:15 p.m.
Speaker: Rabbi Yonatan Warren
Yonatan Warren
, educated and ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, has had anything but a typical rabbinic career. As a military rabbi, he has served as chaplain to Marines in Okinawa and has deployed to Afghanistan, South Korea, and the Philippines. He is now in his last months of a stint as Jewish Chaplain at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. How did he choose this career path? What’s it like to serve? Rabbi Warren will speak on his choices and his experiences with the military. Rabbi Warren is happily married and is a father to a beautiful daughter (and, b’shaah tovah, a second daughter after printing).


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



Book Talk: You Are the Book: A Spiritual Memoir by Rabbi Tamara Miller
Nov. 1, 7-8:15 p.m.
An interview with the author by Susan Barocas, former director of the DC Jewish Film Festival. Rabbi Tamara Miller has been a witness to the worst tragedies of hate and the greatest healing of love. Her life was touched by horrifying acts of bigotry, and she fought institutions, ingrained sexism, her own insecurities, and even her own family to forge a spiritual practice by which she could assist the sick and dying and help lost or wounded Jews find a spiritual path. Her memoir is a record of struggle, but there are lighter moments: devising environmentally sound ritual for Seattle techies, feeling mutual infatuation at a blind date with a Muslim man, and discovering a soul connection with a German monk. Tamara Miller grew up in a time when she was forbidden to read some books—yet went on to study them. She is a fixture in Washington religious life and her pluralistic approach to Judaism crosses all denominational lines. Rabbi Tamara Miller was ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York City. She served as the Director of Spiritual Care at George Washington University Hospital and founded The Capital Kehillah, the first outreach community for Jewish Spirituality in the Greater Washington area.

JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



Israel’s Other Arts
Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 at 8:15 p.m.

Jewish Street Art
Oct. 25, 8:15-9:25 p.m.
Instructor: Hillel Smith. Hillel Smith, an artist and graphic designer focusing on engaging Jewish communities with their heritage in innovative ways, has painted dynamic Jewish murals in Southern California and Israel with his Hebrew street art venture Illuminated Streets. He revitalizes ancient rituals with online projects like his GIF Omer Counter and Parsha Poster series, encouraging creative reconsideration of religious practice. Seeing Hebrew as the visual glue binding Jews together across time and space, he teaches Jewish typographic history, using print as a lens for Jewish life and culture. He also leads workshop focusing on artistic empowerment, continuity, and manifesting identity through the arts. You can see his work online at Copies of his book Parsha Posters will be available for sale.


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20

The Man Who Taught Ben Gurion to Stand on His Head: Martial Arts in Israel and the Improbable Career of Moshe Feldenkrais

Nov. 1, 8:15-9:25 p.m.

Instructor: Steve Shafarman. Moshe Feldenkrais was 15 when he emigrated to Palestine in 1919. Over the following decade, he learned jujutsu, was active with the Haganah, and wrote a book about unarmed combat. He moved to Paris in 1930, to England in 1940, and to Israel in 1951, where he became famous as “the man who taught Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to stand on his head.” The Feldenkrais Method of somatic education is now taught around the world. So is Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense and fighting system. We’ll discuss this history, and learn a few simple practices that can help people of all ages and any health condition. Steven Shafarman studied with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais and traveled with him as an assistant in 1981, the last time Moshe taught in the United States. Steven is the author of Awareness Heals: the Feldenkrais Method for Dynamic Health and the creator of FlexAware®, a fitness-healing-exercise practice inspired by Feldenkrais.


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



The Poetry Peace Game – Poetry Games in Yiddish and Arabic!

Nov. 8, 7-9 p.m.

Instructor: Zahara Heckscher

Join us for both languages from 7-9 or 7-8 for Yiddish and 8-9 for Arabic. Learn a bit of both languages and bring peace. There will be a break for refreshments between the Yiddish and Arabic Poetry Games.

7pm -The Yiddish Poetry Game: No Yiddish required! The Yiddish Poetry Game makes it fun and easy to write a poem while learning some Yiddish words and culture. Yiddish speakers are also welcome! Poems are written in English with some Yiddish words -- or fluent Yiddish speakers can write their poems in Yiddish! The Poetry Game is non-competitive and the class provides a supportive environment for learning, writing, and playing with words.

8pm -The Arabic Poetry Game —As with the Yiddish Poetry Game, no Arabic is required! The Arabic Poetry Game makes it fun and easy to write a poem while learning some Arabic words and culture. Poems are written in English with some Arabic words. A special guest speaker will share some Arabic poems in translation.
The Poetry Game is non-competitive and the class provides a supportive environment for learning, writing, and playing with words. The Poetry Game makes a lovely holiday gift, and pre-wrapped games (English, Yiddish, Arabic, and Spanish) will be available for sale at the workshop and at A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Jewish Study Center. Zahara Heckscher is a mom, writer, breast cancer thriver, and Chief Poetic Officer of the Poetry Game Project, which offers poetry workshops in local schools and faith communities.


Individual hr session - JSC, Adas members $15/non-members $20

Both sessions - JSC, Adas members $20/non-members $30




Looking Outward: A Taste of Other Faiths

Nov. 8 and 15 at 8:15 p.m.


Nov. 8 -The Balance of Buddhism: What Everyone Should Know

8:15-9:25 p.m. Instructor: Matt Regan. Buddhism is a complex spiritual tradition with over two-and-a-half millennia of history. Its influence reaches millions of Buddhists and countless more non-Buddhists in the modern world, and has deeply shaped the cultures of Asia. In this session, we will explore the outline of Buddhist history, philosophy, and practice to better understand this complex and diverse tradition.

Matt Regan is the secretary of the International Buddhist Committee of Washington DC, an umbrella group for local Buddhist organizations dedicated to inter-Buddhist and interfaith cooperation. Matt served on the organizing committee for the Dalai Lama's 2011 visit to Washington and completed seminary training in the Taego Order of Korean Zen.


Nov. 15 - Jesus and the Rabbis: The Jewish Version.
8:15-9:25 p.m.
Instructor: Rabbi Ethan Seidel What do Jewish sources really say about Jesus? In this class, we'll take a look at a few of the Talmudic texts about Jesus, as well as contrast and compare Jesus' maxims (as described in the Christian Gospels) with those of the rabbis of the Talmud. Ethan Seidel has been the rabbi at Tifereth Israel since 1992. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, holds degrees in mathematics and music, and sets aside time each day to expand his knowledge of Jewish texts and commentaries.

Both sessions: JSC, Adas members $25, others $35 Single sessions $15/$20



Hitler’s “City of the Jews”: Recently Unearthed Memories from Theresienstadt
Nov. 15, 7-8:15 p.m.
Instructor: Thomas Timberg


Six million Jewish deaths in the Holocaust is hard to comprehend; records of individual lives can help. Recently the instructor came across two extensive accounts of very distant German relatives who were in Theresienstadt, both a typical camp (only a little more than 10% of its inmates survived) and an atypical one (because of its connection with highly assimilated German In the context of the immense literature that has emerged on the camp and its position in the “archipelago” of Nazi camps, these records give some insight into the broader social processes of which the Holocaust was the horrendous culmination. This session will share the context and the stories of the people involved. Thomas Timberg is an economist and historian.

JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



What is happening with the Western Wall
Nov. 15, 7-8:15pm

Discussion led by Michelle Sumka and Rabbi Tamara Miller, members of Washington DC Friends of Women of the Wall

JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



The Janice Garfunkel Memorial Lecture—lecturer to be announced

Nov. 29, 7-9 p.m. Free of charge—refreshments!

Rabbi Janice Garfunkel was a Reform rabbi, a director of the Jewish Study Center in the 1990s and a valued member of many local communities, including Adas Israel and its Traditional Egalitarian Minyan. She passed away Oct. 25, 2013, leaving two young daughters, after a valiant battle with cancer. This memorial program, sponsored by the Jewish Study Center with support from her friends and family, is intended as an ongoing tribute to the values she held dear, including family, community, education and caring for the sick.



Book Talk: Embroidery and Sacred Text: New Designs in Judaic Needlework

Dec. 6, 7-8:15 p.m.

Rachel Braun will share ideas from her recent book, Embroidery and Sacred Text. You will see some of her pieces, learn how Rachel uses blackwork needlework design to create a drasha for the selected texts, and understand some of the mathematical structures underlying this type of embroidery. and creator of these embroideries show Jewish and Biblical texts can be embroidered – literally and figuratively – in original needlecraft designs. The results have been elegant and inspiring, and have graced the walls of libraries and places of worship.

Rachel Braun a high school mathematics teacher, Torah chanter, synagogue service leader, Jewish educator, and former teacher for the Jewish Study Center. Her talents – artistic, spiritual, and mathematical – come together in her embroidery work. Books will be available at a discounted price, with profits benefiting the Jewish Study Center. You can learn more about Rachel’s work in her recent Lilith magazine blogpost, and at her website,


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20



Ask the Rabbis Live: How Can We Disagree Jewishly? Balancing Civility with Political Disagreement

Dec. 6 at 8:15-9:25 p.m.


Part of an ongoing series co-sponsored with Moment Magazine. Is argument a form of worship? Can we debate substantive disagreements while adhering to Jewish values? Local rabbis will revisit last year’s discussion of this always pressing question. Moderated by Amy Schwartz, Moment opinion editor.

JSC, Adas members $15, others $20





Click here for class descriptions for
Thursday Nights at Temple Rodef Shalom





Celebrate Chanukah with the Jewish Study Center!


Thursday, Dec. 14 at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History

1811 R St., NW (Metro: Dupont Circle)
from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Eat, drink sing, light candles, and tour the Museum!

Co-sponsored by the Museum, the JSC and the Jewish War Veterans

SAVE THE DATE – Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7-9 p.m.: Max Ticktin Memorial Latke-Hamentasch Debate




Class Cancellations

Weather-Related Cancellations

      Classes may be cancelled for the following reasons:
The building is closed due to inclement weather.
The teacher cannot make it to the class due to inclement weather.
The teacher cannot make it to the class due to illness.

      The easiest way to see if a class is cancelled to inclement weather is to call the building where your class will be held:  Adas Israel Synagogue: (202) 362-4433.

       If a class is cancelled due to teacher illness we will notify you as soon as possible. Class sessions cancelled due to weather will be rescheduled as soon as possible and when possible at the same place, time and day of the week as the original session.   For information about rescheduled class sessions, refunds or other matters, please call (202-332-1221) or message the Study Center at

Do you have an idea for a class? Contact the Study Center to make class suggestions.

Hebrew Classes:
For other levels of biblical and prayerbook Hebrew, contact Adas Israel Congregation for community classes.


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.....I REALLY enjoyed last Thursday's class. The challah had doubled in size by the time I arrived home!  I couldn't believe my eyes. I now understand why bread is used as a symbol of fellowship and life in both the Jewish and Christian traditions.  It truly is a miracle of life.  And the satisfaction I felt when I took the baked loaves out of the oven that night, it was indescribable. The only thing better was breaking that bread with friends on Shabbat and being told that it was delicious.  Maraming, maraming salamat (thank you very much) for this wonderful gift!
Warmest thanks, 
Tanya Lat (from the Philippines)


On behalf of Hill Havurah, we thank the Jewish Study Center for sending us Master Storyteller Bob Rovinsky, who enthralled our eight participants with his Tales from the Heart.  Bob was a terrific workshop leader who kept everyone's attention, even the two children who attended.  We all agreed that the Hill Center is, indeed, a lovely venue, and the room they gave us was perfect! Thanks again.  And we're looking forward to continuing collaboration.

Laurie Solnik for Hill Havurah


Thanks to the JSC, I became "Zahara"! I first took Judaism 101 at the JSC with Barbara White, because I wanted to learn more about my own heritage -- I was serving on the board of a Jewish organization and knew very little about Judaism due to my secular, interfaith upbringing. After that class, I was hooked. I went on to learn basic Hebrew so I could start to say the blessings. Then when I learned Barbara was hosting a Bat Mitvah class at Fabrangen, I signed up. At the ceremony two years later, I was called up to the bimah, using my new Hebrew name, Zahara Aviva. Later I even taught a JSC class on Jewish Poetry. I am grateful that the JSC has been there to guide me on my journey of learning and transformation.