Spring 2023-2024 Session

Classes begin on Wednesday 1/31 and Thursday 2/01. Full vaccination required to attend in person.

Registration deadline: January 24

S1. American Jews and Their Roles in Industry, Business, Arts and Media

Wednesdays, 9:30-10:45

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

Did you know how many prominent American companies were founded by Jews? Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Dunkin Donuts, Google, H&R Block, Snapple, Starbucks and many more. Do you want to understand why some people say that Jews run Hollywood? Do you want to know how and why Jews thrived in the garment industry? Jewish Media – power, myth and reality - Do Jews control the media?

We will try to answer these questions and learn about the lives of American Jews in industry, business, the arts, and media. How has their Judaism impacted their lives – do they embrace their Judaism or shun it?

S2. Oslo, October 7th and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Guide to the Current Conflict

Thursdays, 9:30-10:45

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

In the nineties, many of us believed we were at the dawn of a new era. As President Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat stood together on the White House Lawn, we believed that peace was possible. But today, as a war rages in Gaza, we acknowledge that our dreams were unreal.

Go back in time as we learn about the failed hopes of the Oslo peace accord agreements signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993 and 1995, the attacks of October 7th and the possibility of peace in Israel. The course will provide a history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with a focus on Oslo as a critical point.

  • We will come to terms with the reasons for Oslo’s failure, consider the lessons that were learned and examine the solutions that now exist for the future.
  • We will spend time thinking about the horror of October 7th, and consider what Oslo means in a post-10-7 world.
  • We will spend time looking at the Abraham Accords and other contemporary potential solutions.

Students will walk away from this course with a deep understanding of the myriad of challenges faced by Israel and the hopes for the future of a peace plan. A must for anyone interested in learning more about the current conflict.

S3. A Treasury of Jewish Folklore

Thursdays, 11:15-12:30

  • Instructor: Rabbi Daniel Pernick
  • 10 sessions in person or online (hybrid)
  • Cost: $180

Escape the stress of modern life as we travel back in time to a seemingly-simpler way of life with the Jews of the Shtetl. Through "A Treasury of Jewish Folklore," we will explore simple wisdom, humor, ethics and much more. The focus of the stories and the humor is as diverse as rabbis and robbers, fools and frauds, plus the wise and the wealthy. We will read stories of the wise people of Chelm and figures from the Bible as well.

The topics we will discuss after reading the short stories are far ranging and relevant to today, though the perspective offered will be of a time gone by. From the evil to the righteous, the miserly to the tzaddikim, those seeking marriage to those seeking God and/or Paradise, we will read, discuss and compare the perspectives of life in the old-country shtetl to those of the present.

Please join us for a lot of nostalgia, discussion, fun and opportunities for reflection as to what it all means to us in 2024/5784.

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.

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.

Rabbi Daniel Pernick

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.

Financial need scholarships and spouse discounts are available.

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