Federation Midreshet June 2022 Session


Classes begin on Wednesday 6/1 and Thursday 6/2.


Registration Deadline: May 25

Cost per course: $75

Full vaccination required to attend in person

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

J1. The 3 R’s of Jewish Thought: Rashi, Rambam and Ramban

Wednesdays, 9:30-10:45

  • 4 sessions in person or online (instructor online). Please specify preference when registering.
  • Cost: $75
  • Instructor: Rabbi Daniel Pernick

Join Rabbi Daniel Pernick in a journey to the 11th – 13th centuries, a period of incredible excitement, scholarship and physical danger for the Jews of western Europe. We will look at three of the most influential figures on Jewish life for the past millenium: Shlomo ben Yitzḥak, Moshe ben Maimon and Moshe ben Nakhman, popularly known as Rashi, Rambam and Ramban.


Their impact on many areas of Jewish life was and remains enormous. We will discuss their similarities and their differences, while looking at the most critical moments of their careers. The choices they made can guide us in navigating our own Jewish journey through life.


J2. Magical and Mythical Creatures in Judaism

Wednesdays, 11:00-12:15

  • 4 sessions in person or online (instructor in person). Please specify preference when registering.
  • Cost: $75
  • Rabbi Daniel Graber

Unicorns and Dragons? Mermaids and Giants? The Bible, Talmud, and Midrash refer to many such strange creatures. The tabernacle is reported to have been made with unicorn hair. The Psalms speak of great sea serpents and the behemoth. Did these creatures really exist? Did the Sages think they were real?

This course examines a host of mythic and not so mythic creatures from both their Torah descriptions and modern zoological research, giving us a new perspective on the interface between science, myth, and Torah thought. We will look to understand what place these fantastic beasts held in Jewish tradition, and how the sages really thought about them, as well as how we can approach them ourselves.

J3. American Jewish Identity in 21st Century Film

Thursdays, 9:30-10:45

  • 4 sessions in person or online (instructor online). Please specify preference when registering.
  • Cost: $75
  • Instructor: Rabbi Brian Leiken

What does the cinematic portrayal of Jews in American society say about our place in it? In this class, we will discuss and watch scenes from films made in the last twenty years that have characters with common American-Jewish stereotypes. Using Professor David Reznik’s New Jews?: American Jewish Identity in 21st Century Film as our sourcebook, we will come to terms with the choices made by filmmakers in their portrayal of such stereotypes


We will ask why these stereotypes still exist and what they say about the acceptance of American Jews into the broader culture.  We will then connect these ideas to the work of Isabel Wilkerson, whose book Caste has come to teach us profound lessons about the ways we organize our social structures. 

Instructor Bios

Rabbi Daniel Graber is in his third year as Assistant Rabbi of the New City Jewish Center where he fosters a caring community and engages adults in meaningful study. He received ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary as well as a Masters of Arts in Jewish education from JTS’s William Davidson School. Rabbi Graber has a passion for Jewish texts and finding relevance in them for modern readers.

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.

Rabbi Daniel Pernick was ordained at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1982. He has served as Rabbi of Beth Am Temple in Pearl River since 1985. Rabbi Pernick has made adult education and community outreach central features of his rabbinate. A past president of the Rockland Board of Rabbis and a two-time past president of the Pearl River Interfaith Council, Rabbi Pernick has been a campus minister and an adjunct faculty member at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill since 2002.