Jewish Study Center - Washington, DC

Spring 2019 Class Descriptions



Wednesday Nights at Adas Israel Congregation

2850 Quebec St. NW (Metro: Cleveland Park—Red Line)

Co-Sponsored with Adas Israel Congregation


April 10, 17 at 7:00 p.m.-- So You Think You’re a (Jewish) Poet?

Facilitator: Marilyn Cooper


Do you feel inspired to write when you hear the words of Yehuda Amichai, Emma Lazarus or Paul Celan? Is your nightstand full of drafts of half-finished, unpublished poems? If so, then this two-part Jewish poetry writing workshop is for you.

In the first session, we will explore the process of writing a poem, using prompts and questions that incorporate Jewish themes such as memory, identity and liturgy. By the end of the session, you will have begun (and perhaps finished) drafting several poems. During the week, you will refine and polish one draft and have the option of emailing it to the workshop facilitator for private feedback. In the second session, you will get to “workshop” at least one poem (after receiving guidelines for how to give positive and productive feedback to other writers).

By the end of the workshop, you will have generated a full working draft of at least one poem and explored your poetic voice and personal creativity.


Marilyn Cooper is a writer, editor and published poet.

JSC, Adas members $25, others $35. (S-1)


April 10 at 8:15 pm --Jewish Life, Revival and Memory in Poland

Instructors: Emanuel Thorne and Filip Jasinski


Emanuel Thorne’s father, Leon Thorne, was a rabbi, survivor and author of the recently released memoir “It Will Yet Be Heard: A Polish Rabbi’s Witness of the Shoah and Survival.” The son was the Generation After representative on a trip to Poland organized by the Polish Embassy in Washington. He and Filip Jasiński, the diplomat who organized the visit, will discuss Jewish life in Poland and the struggle to deal with the past.


Emanuel Thorne is an economist and a member of Fabrangen Chavurah. Filip Jasinski is First Counselor at the Embassy of Poland.

JSC, Adas members $15, others $20. (S-2)


April 17 at 8:15 p.m. -- After the Israeli Elections: When the Real Work Begins

Instructor: Paul Scham


On April 9, Israelis go to the polls to elect a new Knesset, which will choose the next Prime Minister, However, the election is just the first step in a process that may take weeks or even a couple of months. Join Paul Scham, who will use the election and up-to-the minute news, fact, and rumor to try to work out who who is likely to head and be part of the new Israeli government-and what could be the consequences for Israel, the region, and the world.


Paul Scham is Research Associate Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland and Executive Director of its Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies. He is a prolific writer on Israeli politics, the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and regional issues. He is also President of Partners for Progressive Israel.

JSC, Adas members $15, others $20 (S-12)


April 17, May 8, May 15 at 8:15 p.m. --Savoring the Psalms

Instructor: Amy Schwartz


The 150 religious poems that make up this most beloved book of the Bible feel strange, knotty and remote, and also as if they could have been written yesterday. Central to Jewish and also to Christian liturgy, translated and adapted by many hands and into many modes over the centuries, they speak to us in a modern, sometimes perplexing voice. We’ll read, compare translations and trace the powerful imagery in these works. Readings in English.


Amy Schwartz is president of the Jewish Study Center and opinion and book editor of Moment Magazine.

JSC, Adas members $40, others $55 (S-3)


May 8, 15, 22 at 7:00 p.m. --Adoption Through a Jewish Ethical Lens

Instructor: Minna Scherlinder Morse


American Jews adopt at twice the rate of the general population and are more likely to adopt transracially. For those considering or pursuing adoption, parenting through adoption, raised in adoptive families, or who have placed children for adoption, the realities--though filled with positive potential--are undeniably complex. What can we learn from our tradition and elsewhere that will enable those connected to adoption to feel sure we are agents of ahava/love, kavod/respect, and tzedek/ justice? In this class, we will explore fostering and adoption in Jewish lore and life (including halakha and common practices); ethical choice points and dilemmas in the adoption process and adoptive parenting; and Jewish values (or middot) that can ground us ethically and spiritually as we move forward in our particular journeys.


Minna Scherlinder Morse, an adoptive mom of two children, is a member of the advisory board of the Adoption and Jewish Identity Project (AJIP), a former board member of the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN), and a leader in Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation’s adoptive families chug (circle), which has offered programming for both its members and the broader local Jewish community.

JSC, Adas, Adat Shalom members $40, others $55. An optional fourth session may be arranged if the class wishes. (S-4)



****Note: "Beyond the Blintz: Creative Cheesecake Menus for Shavuot" has been postponed to a later date. Please stay tuned for more information!


May 8 at 7:00 p.m.--Beyond the Blintz: Creative Cheesecake Menus for Shavuot

Instructor: Susan Barocas


Hanukah has the latke, Purim the hamantashen and Passover the matzah ball. For Shavuot, it’s cheesecake that is the iconic food. In this class we’ll look beyond this treat’s deliciousness to explore the fascinating history of cheesecake and why we celebrate the day God gave the Torah to the Jewish people by eating dairy foods. Of course, the class wouldn’t be complete without tasting some different kinds of cheesecake. Participants will go home with recipes to fulfill cheesecake dreams on their own.

Susan Barocas is a writer, chef, speaker and cooking instructor who has taught at the JSC for many years. She was the founding director of the Federation’s Jewish Food Experience. Away from the kitchen, Susan also writes and produces documentary films.

JSC, Adas members $25, others $35. (S-5)

**** Pre-registration is strongly encouraged to make sure there's enough food to go around, though walk-in registrations will be allowed. Sign up now!



May 15 at 7:00 p.m. -- ****New! Introducing the Jewish Study Center Book Club. This is the FIRST Meeting

Group leader: Marilyn Cooper


First meeting: May 15 at 7:00 p.m. For the inaugural meeting of the JSC book club, please join us for a lively discussion about Daniel Mendelsohn’s acclaimed book, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic. In this moving memoir, the relationship between Mendelsohn and his 81-yearold father is transformed and forever changed as they embark on a journey following Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. The book provides a uniquely Jewish view of the Greek masterpiece and explores timeless themes of home, family and secrets. The book club will meet once a semester, plus once over the summer, and will explore books of all kinds— fiction, poetry and nonfiction, as the participants choose—through a Jewish lens. Come read with friends!


Marilyn Cooper is a certified bookworm and bibliophile. She haunts D.C.’s used book stores, libraries and book fairs. She is also an experienced book group facilitator and has written and published numerous articles on Jewish books and authors.

Free (donations welcomed) (S-8)


Two Classes and a Movie: How Do We Experience Sacred Space?

-----May 22 at 8:15 p.m. -- Rebuilding Sacred Jewish Spaces in Sambir

Instructors: Miriam Gusevich and Peter Miles


Landscapes tell stories. The old Jewish cemetery in Sambir, Ukraine bears witness to the tragic murder of innocents during the Holocaust under Nazi occupation and the subsequent desecration of the site under Soviet rule. “Remember Sambir!” is a project that seeks to create a renewed garden of reconciliation. Our vision is to tell the tragic story of the site with respect and reverence. The concept honors multiple generations: the memory of the vibrant old Jewish community; the innocent martyrs of the Holocaust; and the current generation’s righteous efforts to remember and heal.


The instructors are principals at Gusevich-Miles LLC, an urban design firm based in Washington, D.C.

JSC, Adas, Fabrangen members $15, others $20. Both sessions: Members $25, others $35 (S-6)


-----May 29, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. -- Security and Sacred Spaces: A Community Conversation

Lead by:Rabbi Aaron Alexander, Gerald Garfinkel and community voices.


What do we do when there is a conflict between the need to keep Jewish spaces safe and the need for those spaces to feel sacred, open and welcoming? Ever since the tragic events in Pittsburgh, Jewish communities of all shapes and sizes have been grappling with the need for increased security and the issues that this raises. In the first of these two sessions, Rabbi Aaron Alexander will discuss the ways in which Jewish law and custom can teach us how to walk this tightrope. In the second session, we’ll ask: What can members of communities across the city tell us about their practical experiences negotiating the delicate balance between sacredness and security?


Rabbi Aaron Alexander is co-senior rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation. Gerald Garfinkel is Treasurer of the Jewish Study Center and security coordinator at the Fabrangen Chavurah.

JSC, Adas, Fabrangen members $15, others $20. Both sessions: Members $25, others $35 (S-7)


***** Preregister for one or both classes and get a discount to the Washington Jewish Film Festival’s movie “Sacred Spaces: From Temple to Synagogues,” May 23 or 26.




-----May 23 and 26-- Related Film: Sacred Spaces: From Temple to Synagogue - @ The Washington Jewish Film Festival.

Dir. Celia Lowenstein

Thursday, May 23, 6:20 pm – Bethesda Row Cinema

Sunday, May 26, 12:15 pm – AFI Silver Theatre

From the catalogue: Celia Lowenstein’s visually audacious tour of the 3,000-year history of the Jewish Diaspora is told through a globetrotting escapade of Jewish spaces of worship. If synagogues could speak, they would tell the story embodied in Sacred Spaces—the architectural and spiritual tale of a people’s beliefs, perseverance, and diversity. For information: or Tickets:






Weather-Related Cancellations:
Classes may be canceled 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 canceled to inclement weather is to call the building where your class will be held:
Adas Israel Synagogue, (202) 362-4433

Temple Rodef Shalom, (703) 532-2217

Illness related Cancellations
If a class is canceled due to teacher illness we will notify you as soon as possible. Class sessions canceled 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.

Enrollment-Related Cancellations We request that you pre-register and pre-pay for the classes so we can inform you of any potential changes to the class. If there are no pre-registrations 24 hours before a class, that class may be canceled. If fewer than five students show up for a class’s first session, the instructor has the option of canceling the class after waiting 15 minutes. (However, many instructors choose to proceed.)
If your class is canceled due to under-enrollment prior to the first session, we will make every effort to inform you if you have signed up. Cancellations will also be posted on our web site. All advance cancellations will be posted by 12:00 p.m. the day of a scheduled program. We suggest you check our web site after 12:00 p.m. the day of your program to confirm your course status.


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.