Jewish Study Center - Washington, DC

Fall 2018 Class Descriptions

****Snow Day, Feb 20****Resceduled for March 13****


Wednesday Nights at Adas Israel Congregation

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

Co-Sponsored with Adas Israel Congregation


Jan.23 at 7 pm -Loving the Earth: The Fourth Annual Community Tu B’Shevat Seder

Leaders: Gilah Langner & Susan Barocas


From its ancient origins as the deadline for determining offerings of tree fruit at the Temple, to the 16th century mystical creation of a Feast of Fruits, down to our climate-challenged times, Tu B'Shevat is the Jewish holiday that reminds us of our love for, and dependence on, the natural world. Join us for the fourth annual JSC Tu B'Shevat Seder at Adas Israel! We'll attune ourselves to the earth's rhythms and cycles, tasting the three types of fruits and seven species of foods from the land of Israel. We'll enter into "tree consciousness" and sing Tu B'Shevat songs.

On a practical level, we'll be hearing from a speaker involved in climate change work about positive signs of hope and how we can act in ways that could matter for the health of the planet. Join us for another memorable Seder evening!

Gilah Langner is the rabbi of Shirat HaNefesh in Chevy Chase, MD and Kol Ami Congregation in Arlington, VA. Susan Barocas is a writer, chef, teacher, filmmaker and organizer of special events.


Adas, JSC members $20, others $30 (W-1) Pre-registration required by Jan. 21 (or we’ll run out of food!)


Jan. 30 at 7 pm -- The Rich Legacy of Jews in Ethiopia

Instructor: Harrison Heller

Jews in Ethiopia have a long and fabled history, going back to the time of Solomon. Today, according to the State of Israel, there are no Jews left there. This class will offer a brief history of this rich and varied historical legacy.
Harrison Heller works for the Jewish War Veterans of the United States and has traveled to Ethiopia and other countries with the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian group. He will be traveling to Rwanda with the JDC in March.


JSC, Adas, JWV members $15, others $20 (W-2)


****Snow Day, Feb 20****Resceduled for March 13**** Jan. 30, Feb. 6,20, 27at 8:15 pm -- Savoring the Psalms

Instructor: Amy Schwartz


The 150 religious poems that make up the Book of Psalms are deeply familiar and deeply strange. Entwined in both Jewish and Christian tradition, they form the backbone of the liturgy and yet 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 JSC and opinion/book editor of Moment Magazine.

Four sessions: JSC, Adas members $55, non-members $75 (W-3)

***This event has been reschduled for April 3rd*** See Below - Feb. 6 at 7 pm --The Work Must Be Done: Raoul Wallenberg’s Mission to Rescue Hungary’s Jews



Feb. 13 at 7 pm -- When Rabbis Bless for Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers in the House and Senate

Instructor: Howard Mortman


Since the Civil War, more than 613 Jewish prayers from 430 rabbis have opened sessions of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Who are they and what did they say? Take a unique historical tour through a treasure trove of historical trivia—including seven prayers in Congress from Adas Israel rabbis, going back to a D-Day-themed blessing in June 5, 1944!

Howard Mortman is C-SPAN’s Communications Director and a seasoned Washington journalist. He has also written and performed political comedy, and his tweets have been featured on "Late Night with Seth Meyers."


Adas, JSC members $15, others $20 (W-5)


Feb. 13 at 8:15 pm -- Behind the Great Yeshivas of Prewar Lithuania

Instructor: Thomas Timberg


Many people have heard of the great 19th-century yeshivas in Lithuania, with their dramatic effect on Jewish life and scholarship, but few realize how radically this Jewish educational institution differed from its predecessors. It became a major cultural and political force in the Jewish community, but also—because of its funding from abroad—one that moved it away from the culture of the wider community and heightened scholars’ dependence on foreign (especially American) support. After the destruction of Eastern European Jewry, however, it was that link that helped transform the yeshivas into American and Israeli institutions.
Thomas Timberg is an independent scholar.


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20. (W-6)


****Snow Day, Feb 20****Resceduled for March 13**** Feb. 20 at 7 pm --Echoing the Maccabees: How Jewish Soldiers Restored Synagogues after WWII

Instructor: Michael Rugel

By the summer of 1945, the war in Europe was over, but repairing the destruction was just beginning. In the Pacific, and particularly in Europe, synagogues had been damaged, destroyed, defamed. Many American Jewish service members, like their forebears the Maccabees, followed their military victory over an enemy who sought to destroy Jews by restoring the temple.

Michael Rugel is the Programs and Content Coordinator at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. He writes and speaks frequently about Jews in the American military and produced a series of videos featuring American Jewish liberators of concentration camps. He recently appeared in the PBS documentary film GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II.

JSC, Adas, Museum members $15, others $20. (W-7)


Feb. 27 at 7 pm -- The Secrets of Ashkenazi Comfort Food

Instructor: Susan Barocas


In the depths of winter, even the most adventurous eaters sometimes long for the old-fashioned tastes of Eastern European comfort cooking. Can these old recipes be made modern and healthy? Beloved community chef Susan Barocas will lead us through the planning and cooking of such multi-generational standbys as borscht, eggplant caviar and even a cholent. She'll feed us with recipes, stories and, of course, copious samples.

Susan Barocas is a writer, chef, teacher, filmmaker and organizer of special events.


This program is in memory of Phillip S. Lewis, CPA, of blessed memory, whose commitment to the Washington Jewish community lasted for more than 93 years.


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20 (W-8)

Pregistration required by Monday, Feb. 25


Mar. 6 at 7 pm -- Annual Max Ticktin Memorial Latke-Hamentasch Debate!

Which is better—the latke or the hamentasch?

Our yet-to-be-revealed celebrity moderator and learned panelists address the eternal conundrum: Diane Bolz, Arts Editor David Fallick, Yiddishist Elissa Silverman, at-large member, D.C. Council

. . .and others to be announced The audience is invited to join the panel afterwards in mouth-watering, hands-on research.


JSC, Adas members $10, others $12. Refreshments included! (W-9)


April 3 at 7 pm --The Work Must Be Done: Raoul Wallenberg’s Mission to Rescue Hungary’s Jews

Speaker: Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter


Raoul Wallenberg, scion of a distinguished Swedish family, variously architect, businessman and diplomat, paid with his life for his all-consuming efforts to use all means at his disposal to enable Hungarian Jews to escape death at the hands of the Nazis occupying Hungary in the course of WWII. Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden’s current envoy to the United States and, earlier, Sweden’s ambassador to Hungary, has found the story of Mr. Wallenberg’s wartime activities enormously compelling. While serving in Hungary, she was able to learn more from various sources about Raoul Wallenberg’s resourceful efforts to save as many Hungarian Jews as possible.

We are honored to host Ambassador Olofsdotter, who will share what she has discovered with a class she is presenting especially for the Jewish Study Center.

Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter took up her post as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Sweden to the United States in 2017. She has served in many government and foreign service posts, including Director-General for Trade at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden, and was Ambassador to Hungary from 2011 to 2014.


JSC, Adas members $15, others $20 (W-4)


Tuesdays at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History

7:00-9:15 p.m


Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26 at 7-9:15 pm with 15 minute break-- From Generation to Generation: An Introduction to Jewish Genealogy

Instructors: Sheila Wexler and Mary-Jane Roth


Rapid advances in technology have brought about a golden age of genealogical research. If you’ve been wanting to join in, here’s your chance! In this four-class course, seasoned genealogists will introduce you to tracing your Jewish family history, providing participants with crucial resources and key tools. Students will learn how to enrich their personal stories through out-of-class assignments and then share their work in class.

You must have basic computer skills and internet access to complete the assignments. A helpful optional resource book, "Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy," will be available for sale ($12 for JGSGW members, $15 for non-members). Class size is limited to 20 students, so register soon!

Sheila Wexler is the president and Mary-Jane Roth is the vice president for programs of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington.


Four sessions: JSC, Museum, JWV, JGSGW members $80, others $95 (W-10)





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.