Fall 2023-2024 Session

Classes begin on Wednesday 9/27 and Thursday 9/28. Full vaccination required to attend in person.

F1. The Miracle and Challenge of Israel – 75 Years Young

Wednesdays, 9:30-10:45

  • Instructor: Leslie Goldress
  • 12 sessions in person
    (online participation allowed only if necessary)
  • Cost: $210


This course will focus on some major accomplishments in Israel’s 75 years as a nation-state. Explore the arrival and integration of the diverse immigrant groups- pre-state arrivals, Holocaust survivors, Yemenites, Russians, Ethiopians and Anglos. Also, we will take a look where the settler movement and the ultra-orthodox fit into Israel’s melting pot. Other topics to be examined could include:

Israel’s economy- how it has changed from a socialist economy to the start up nation and the development of high tech; the miracle of the army in shaping Israeli society; Israel and her Arab neighbors in light of the Abraham accords; the future of a settlement with the Palestinians and the expanding role of Israel’s NGO’s (example-SAHI: Turning Israeli youths at risk into community activists)

F2. Exploring Islam and Judaism: A Journey of Understanding

Thursdays, 9:30-10:45

  • Instructor: Rabbi Brian Leiken
  • 12 sessions in person or online (hybrid)
  • Cost: $210

Join us as we delve into the core beliefs, practices, history and cultural aspects of both Islam and Judaism. By examining shared values, principles, and teachings, we aim to build bridges of knowledge and empathy while promoting co-existence. Our class sessions will begin with a general history of both traditions, continue with a deeper understanding of basic texts and will help us understand common misperceptions. We are hoping to include guest lecturers from the Rockland Muslim community to join us for a number of sessions as well.

F3. Antisemitism: The World’s Oldest Hatred

Thursdays, 11:00-12:15

  • Instructor: Rabbi Jill Hackell
  • 12 sessions in person or online (hybrid)
  • Cost: $210

This class will investigate the history of antisemitism over the last 2000+ years. But our primary concern will not be the question of what happened. Rather, in studying these well-known and maybe some not- so-well-known events, we will be concerned with the larger question – Why did it happen? And why does it keep happening? In every era of history, who stood to benefit from the convenient scapegoating of the Jews?

Instructor Bios

Leslie Goldress

Leslie Goldress has taught Melton and Midreshet since their inception in Rockland. A Jewish educator for over 40 years, she has a graduate degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Leslie served as Educational Director of the NCJC for over 20 years. She has taught Dramas of Jewish Living, a Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning core class, Melton graduate courses on American Jewish Experience, Contemporary Jewish Issues, Israel, and the Development of the Jewish Denominations.

Dr. Rabbi Jill Hackell

Dr. Rabbi Jill Hackell received her M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and practiced pediatrics for several years. She worked for over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where she did clinical research on new vaccines for children. She was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic rabbinical school. Rabbi Hackell is the rabbi at the West Clarkstown Jewish Center. She also teaches Jewish Bioethics at AJR, secular Bioethics at Dominican University in the Graduate Nursing program, and has taught a wide range of subjects at the Federation Midreshet since 2012.

Rabbi Brian Leiken

Rabbi Brian Leiken has been the Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since June of 2012. He is passionate about social justice, Jewish history, and the study of modern American Judaism. As the religious leader of Temple Beth Sholom, Rabbi Leiken has transitioned the temple into a relational synagogue, one that is built upon the inter and intra-relationships between the clergy and its members. He attended the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion where he was ordained in May of 2007.

Financial need scholarships and spouse discounts are available.

For more information, contact Barry Kanarek at bkanarek@jewishrockland.org or (845)362-4200 ext 170.