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Gerson D. Cohen Institute for
Adult Jewish Learning

We are a center for serious Jewish learning. Synagogue classes offer everyone opportunities to discover new meanings in Judaism and Jewish culture. Our adult learning program is named for Rabbi Gerson D. Cohen, a widely respected historian and Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from 1972 to 1986.

All classes are open to the CSAIR congregation/public and requires no registration unless otherwise indicated.

*Over the course of the year, the dates and times of some services and other programs may change. Always be sure to check back for updated schedules and times.

Next Steps: Hebrew and Synagogue Skills
8 Thursdays, 8:00 PM starting October 24

You can read Hebrew and you can follow the service. What's next? Come learn about the language of the liturgy, both the Hebrew and the gestures of Jewish prayer. What is the significance of certain words and phrases, why do we bow here, what is the cantor's repetition of the Amidah and why do we do it? We will create a class list of questions, and spend the semester seeking answers!

Requisite skills: basic decoding of Hebrew. Please bring any Shabbat siddur.

Cantor Marcia Lane, a hazzan, a storyteller, an author, and a recording artist with three award winning CDs.

Sponsored by the adult bnei mitzvah class of 2019.

Torah for Today: Parshat HaShavua
Tuesday mornings, 10:30 AM starting October 29

For generations, Jews have lived their lives in conversation with Parshat HaShavua, the weekly Torah reading. Reading about the relationships of our ancestors to each other offered us perspective on our own families. Hearing how the ancient Israelites became a nation, gave us language to talk about the Jewish people and our place in the world. Questions about God, morality, leadership, what it means to be a human being and live a good life are all raised in the sweep of the year’s Torah reading cycle. Each week we will look at selections from the Parshat HaShavua for the coming weekend along with ancient and modern commentary. Our learning will focus on deep understanding and connecting the themes of the weekly reading to what is going on today in our lives.
No experience necessary. All texts provided in English along with the Hebrew.

Free to Sisterhood members and members of CSAIR affiliates. Nominal fee for others. Sponsored by Sisterhood (but open to men and women!)

Taught by Rabbi Barry Dov Katz

A Year in Song: 
A Spirited Weekend of Song with Rabbi Josh Warshawsky
October 31 - November 3

Join us for a weekend of singing with Rabbi Josh Warshawsky. Rabbi Warshawsky inspires and engages Jews across generations through his music and teaching. He travels across the country visiting synagogues to share music and prayer, including music from his new album, “Chaverei Nevarech – Friends, Let Us Bless.

Thursday night, October 31
7:30-9:00 PM: Singing as a Spiritual Practice

Friday night, November 1 
Libeinu: Heart & Soul Shabbat
6:00 PM: Rabbi Warshawsky will lead a musically and spiritually uplifting Kabbalat Shabbat service
7:00 PM: Shabbat dinner
7:45 PM: Teaching and Singing
Saturday morning, November 2
9:00 AM: Pesukei d'Zimrah and Shacharit
11:00 AM: Dvar Torah from Rabbi Warshawsky 
11:15 AM: Musaf davening led by Rabbi Warshawsky
12:15 PM: Communal kiddush lunch, followed by PrayerSong – An hour of songs and stories led by Rabbi Warshawsky

Saturday evening, November 2
8:00 PM: Café Achshav Concert – Rabbi Josh Warshawsky and Friends

Sunday morning, November 3
10:00 AM-12:00 Noon: Musical Program with Religious School Students

Israeli Cooking – The Ingathering of Cultures and Flavors
SESSION l: Mondays, November 4, and December 9,  6:30 to 8:30 PM
SESSION II: Mondays, January 13, and January 27,  6:30 to 8:30 PM

Join in the making of four diverse dinner menus: sumac chicken, lamb with eggplant, Veracruz fish with salsa, and mukmura (a gently spiced chicken dish from Calcutta). The dishes will be accompanied by flavorful salads and vegetables.

$90 per person per session (includes dinner and take-home leftovers).
Enrollment limited to 12 people.
Pre-registration required.

All classes taught by Judy Matthews, assisted by Leona Chudy and Faye Warren.

Poetry Workshop 
Thursdays, November 7, 14, 21,  8:00 PM

What makes a poem? Sarah Stern will lead a three-part poetry workshop and provide writing exercises that will inspire and motivate. In the first class, participants will read and discuss selected contemporary poems with a broad range of topics and techniques. In the following classes, participants will bring their own written poems to share and discuss. Beginning, emerging and seasoned poets are encouraged to attend. This workshop is meant for those looking for a supportive community of writers. Participants will have the opportunity to read their poems on December 14th after Kiddush to the CSAIR community.

Sarah Stern is the author of the newly published We Have Been Lucky in the Midst of Misfortune and is a recipient of a 2018 Pushcart Prize nomination.

Free and open to the public.

Sunday, November 10, 8:00 PM

Details forthcoming. 
Free and open to the public.

At the Crossroads: The History and Culture of the Bukharian Jews 
Shabbat, November 16, 12:30 PM

The story of the native Jews of Central Asia—Bukharian Jews—is situated at the intersection of Sephardic, Mizrahi, and Russian-speaking Jewish life. Weaving together a tapestry of culture, history, personal narrative and religious traditions,we will explore the rich and dynamic experiences of the millennia-old Bukharian Jewish community—as well as how their journey fits into the broader saga of the Jewish People. After services and before this fascinating talk, enjoy a special Bukharian-themed kiddush.

Ruben Shimonov,  Director of Cross-Community Engagement and Education at Queens College, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Sephardic-Mizrahi Q Network, a grassroots organization for LGBTQ Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. 

Free and open to the public.

Israel and Cyber War: How Israel Became a Cyber Power and the Future of Cyber Conflict
Wednesday, November 20, 8:00 PM

Governments use the internet to wage war and spy on, coerce, influence, and damage each other. Israel has become a major player in this new arena of conflict. Today Israel has close to 450 cyber security companies and $10 billion in exports. Israel, along with the United States, allegedly conducted one of the most sophisticated cyber attacks known, disrupting Iran's nuclear program. In this discussion, Adam Segal will explore what cyber war really is, how Israel became a cyber power, and the risks and rewards of cyber conflict.     

Adam Segal is the chair in emerging technologies and national security and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the author of The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age.

Free and open to the public.

The Resurgence of Antisemitism in America: Why Now, Why Here?
turday, November 23, 12:15 PM

Together we’ll review the deep roots of antisemitism, explore why it has persisted throughout the millennia, and examine its most recent manifestations in America. We’ll discuss how best to respond today in light of both history and contemporary developments.

Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, Provost of JTS and Dean of The Kekst Graduate School.

Free and open to the public.

Bringing Home Big Jewish Values

Come learn with Rabbi Katz, Rabbi Greenberg and Mason Voit about how as parents you can engage your whole family in Jewish traditions and holidays, both at synagogue and in your own home. 

Meets on the following dates at 9:45 AM

Sunday, November  24: Shabbat with Rabbi Greenberg
Sunday, December 22: Chanukah with Rabbi Greenberg
Sunday, January 26: Tzedakah with Mason Voit
Sunday, March 15: Hachnasat Orchim, inviting guests, with Rabbi Katz
Sunday, April 5: The Passover Seder with Rabbi Katz
Sunday, May 3: Israel with Mason

Free and open to the public.

Weird and Wild Stories from the Tanakh
Wednesdays, December 4, 11, 18,  8:00 PM

Did you know there is child sacrifice in the Bible? Children of divine beings and humans? Witches and Ghosts? Come study stories about Yiftach the Judge, the heroes of old, and King Saul that they never taught you about in school and delve into what these stories can teach us today. 

Rabbi Katie Greenberg, Director of Engagement and Programming CSAIR.

Free and open to the public.

Ask Dr. Ruth 
Sunday, December 8th, 8:00 PM

Come watch the critically acclaimed movie that chronicles the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, an orphan of the Holocaust, who became America's most famous sex therapist. With her diminutive frame, thick German accent, and uninhibited approach to sex therapy and education, Dr. Ruth transformed the conversation around sexuality. Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and unlikely path to a career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

There will be a talk back after the screening with Dr. Ruth.

Free and open to the public.

LGBTQ Allyship As Spiritual Practice
Thursday, December 12, 8:00 PM

Join us to hear Rabbi Moskowitz address how we can see the physical needs of another as part of our spiritual responsibility; and explore the implications of that spiritual responsibility with regard to trans and gender nonconforming Jews.  Rabbi Michael Moskowitz has three ultra-orthodox rabbinic ordinations and is one of the leading thinkers, educators and researchers working at the intersection of trans issues and Jewish thought.  

Rabbi Michael Moskowitz, Scholar-in-Residence for Trans and Queer Jewish Studies at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan and is the author of the book Textual Activism.

Free and open to the public.

Book Group

Facilitated by Sharon Kern-Taub by Nathan Englander
Sunday, September 22, 10:30 AM
- See home page for details

Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Sunday, December 15, 10:30 AM
Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist. The golden age of comic books has begun, even as the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe.

Three floors Up by Eshkol Nevo
Sunday, March 1, 10:30 AM - 12 Noon
Set in an upper-middle-class Tel Aviv apartment building, this best-selling and warmly acclaimed Israeli novel examines the interconnected lives of its residents, whose turmoil, secrets, unreliable confessions, and problematic decisions reveal a society in the midst of an identity crisis.

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart
Sunday, May 17, 10:30 AM -12 Noon
How two flawed characters navigate the chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.

Contemplative Gaze – Seeing our Neighbors
Saturday, January 4 and Sunday, January 5

A two-part workshop with Christ Church Riverdale, in which we will visit each other’s places of worship and learn about each other’s faith traditions through sharing each other’s sacred art. Discussions led by the Rev. Posey Krakowsky, artist and Episcopal priest.

Free and open to the public.

Famous Poets Tackle Torah: All About Eve in Poems by Emily Dickinson and William Butler Yeats 
Thursday January 9, 8:00 PM

Many of the greatest poets in the English-speaking world have taken on the often excruciating challenges confronting us all when we wrestle with biblical texts. We will focus on closely reading two such poems -- Emily Dickinson's "The first Day's Night had come" and Wiliam Butler Yeats' "The Sorrow of Love" -- both midrash-like in their seeming contemplations of Genesis' creation story, especially the creation of Eve.

Professor Richard Sacks, English & Comparative Literature and Classics, Columbia University

Free and open to the public.

A Conversation with Jack Lew
Saturday, February 8, 8:00 PM

Jack Lew was the United States Secretary of the Treasury  from 2013-17, the White House Chief of Staff from 2012-13 and served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget
in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations.

Free and open to the public.

This event is co-sponsored by the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

Community Beit Midrash
Shabbat Day
Saturday, February 29

Join the whole CSAIR community in an afternoon of communal study of traditional rabbinic sources. There will be a great variety of classes for all ages and all different knowledge levels and backgrounds. Whether you are an advanced student of Talmud or whether you have never before engaged in Jewish text study there will be rewarding learning opportunities available to you, as well as the opportunity to shmooze and spend time together on a Shabbat afternoon.  Come experience the extraordinary range of Jewish teaching talent that exists within our own CSAIR community.

Free and open to the public.

CSAIR Three Part Series on Mental Health

Love and Marriage...and Couples Therapy
Wednesday, January 29,  10:00 AM

Dr. Stern will outline his approach to working with couples, focusing especially on the role of conflict in the growth and evolution of a couple, while also examining how these concepts intersect with Jewish sources on love and marriage.

Barry L. Stern, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at the Columbia University College, where he chairs the course on Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy.  


Free and open to the public.

Challenges of Adjusting to Parenthood: A panel discussion about breaking the stigma of Postpartum depression and meeting the spiritual needs of new parents
Sunday, March 22, 10:00 AM

Join us for a panel where we will address the causes of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and what we can do as a community to ensure that women do not suffer in silence. We will share research on the spiritual needs of families in the first few months of a babies life.

Marilyn Laves is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and treats a wide range of mental health issues, with expertise in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and addiction.

Rabbi Katie Greenberg, Director of Engagement and Programming, wrote her Pastoral Care thesis on Loneliness in the Fourth Trimester.

Free and open to the public.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety: More helpful than chicken soup?
Sunday, April 26, 10:00 AM

Join Dr. Tamar Gordon as she discusses how she uses CBT to help people find healthy ways to experience their emotions, address anxiety, and live a valued life.

Dr. Tamar Gordon is a New York State licensed psychologist and an expert in cognitive behavioral therapy and evidence based mental health treatment for adults and children as well as the founder of The Gordon Therapy Group.

Free and open to the public.

Our Common Prayers
Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM, March 4, 18 and 25

Torah is God speaking to us; prayer is us talking to God.  So what did our people decide to say when we wanted to talk to the Holy One?  How did we decide to pray in this way? Why do we talk to the Eternal One like this?  Come join us to look for the answers.

Rabbi Joel Schwab, served as the spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Orange Country for over three decades.

Free and open to the public.

The Shape of Water (Middle East Edition): Israeli Perspectives on Contemporary Regional Water Issues
Saturday, March 7, 12:15 PM

Come hear a senior Israeli Legal Adviser and former regional water negotiator on behalf of Israel discuss contemporary Middle Eastern water issues involving Jordan, the Palestinians and others.

Sarah Weiss Maudi, Senior Legal Advisor for the State of Israel and former Director of the International Law Department of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Free and open to the public.

Bake Your Own Matzah
Sunday, April 5, 6:00 PM

Join Rabbi Ethan Tucker, President and Rosh Yeshiva of Mechon Hadar, for a special opportunity to bake your own matzah. Learn a bit about the laws of matzah baking and get ready to move quickly to get the dough in the oven! 

Free and open to the public.

Dr. Michal Raucher:  Scholar in Residence April 17, 18

Friday night: Embodying God: Pregnancy as a Pathway to Religious Authority for Haredi Women
Based on extensive interviews with Israeli Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women, Professor Raucher will discuss the ways some of them used pregnancy as an opportunity to bypass rabbinic authority. We will explore the sometimes surprising ways these women think about Jewish law, pregnancy, and God. We will discuss what was at stake for these women and what other Jews can learn from them.

Saturday morning: Jewish Reproductive Rights and Wrongs
Israeli and American Judaism are often characterized as pro-natalist, or encouraging of reproduction. At the same time, Israeli policies and American Jewish attitudes are overwhelmingly supportive of abortion in a wide array of circumstances. How does Judaism reconcile these potentially opposing values-being pro-natalist and pro-choice?  In this discussion we will highlight the tension between these two values and bring nuance to our conversation about Jewish views on reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Dr. Michal Raucher is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Her research lies at the intersection of Israel studies, the anthropology of women in Judaism, and reproductive ethics. Michal’s first book, an ethnography of Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish women’s reproductive ethics, titled, “Conceiving Authority,” will be published by Indiana University Press in 2020. Michal is currently conducting ethnographic research on the ordination of women in Orthodox Judaism in Israel and America.

Free and open to the public.

Yom HaShoa: These We Remember
Monday, April 20, 7:00-8:30 PM

Join us for an informal and intimate setting as we remember the lives of the six million Jews lost in the Holocaust. We will hear testimonies of people impacted by the Holocaust. We will share the names of those who perished and have open conversations about the meaning of the shoah in our lives. (Includes evening minyan, Kaddish, memorial prayers, and music).  We encourage people to bring their children to this unique event. 

Free and open to the public.

Iftar Dinner
Wednesday, April 29, 6:30 PM
Muslims, Christians and Jews join together to break the daily fast of Ramadan by eating an Iftar meal together and sharing communal religious ideas around fasting.

Free and open to the public.

More interfaith programming to look forward to, including  a screening of Chi-town, a Thanksgiving turkey drive and more.

Contested Women, Contested Texts: The Afterlives of Vashti, Judith and Mary Magdalene
Thursdays, May 7, 14, and 21, 8:00 PM

How are these mysterious women represented in ancient texts? What can we learn from the changing images put forth by scholars, artists and poets? How have marginalized women throughout history used these characters to describe their realities and aspirations?

Claudia Setzer, Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College.

Judith Baumel, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Adelphi University.

Free and open to the public.

The Image of Moses in Art and Visual Culture

Meets on the following dates at 8:00 PM

Tuesday, May 13: “yet the bush was not consumed” – Moses and Divine Revelation
Tuesday, May 20: “his face was radiant” – Moses as Leader and Lawgiver
Thursday, May 28 (Shavuot): “I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross there” – The Death of Moses

No Hebrew biblical figure has exercised as much fascination for artists as Moses, including ancient, medieval, Renaissance and Baroque masters from Botticelli and Michelangelo to Rembrandt and Poussin. They found in the figure and story of Moses an unparalleled source of visual inspiration and a multifaceted subject for exegesis. This three-part series explores the figure of Moses within the context of art and visual culture in order to gain a richer understanding of Moses within world culture and a deeper appreciation for the character of art.

Jacob Wisse is associate professor of Art History at Yeshiva University, director of the Yeshiva University Museum and is the author of City Painters in the Burgundian Netherlands

Free and open to the public.

Jewish Music History - Part 2

Tuesdays, 8:00 PM, May 26, June 2 and June 9
This year we will listen to and discuss the 20th and 21st centuries: Music of the great chazzonim, the growth of synagogue music in the post WW II era, and the rise of folk-congregational melodies. We'll also listen to Israeli pop and rock music and to Jewish classical compositions.

Cantor Marcia Lane, a hazzan, a storyteller, an author, and a recording artist with three award winning CDs.

Free and open to the public.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot: Judaism and the Five Senses
Thursday, May 28

Unroll the Torah, head fifth graders chanting sweetly for the first time, and learn Torah with us in honor of Shavuot. Learning will go all night long and will conclude with a sunrise service.

Free and open to all.

Intimate Voices
Chamber Music in an Intimate Setting

Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM

November 23
January 11
February 29

Come join us in 2019-2020 for the 11th season of Intimate Voices, presenting world-class chamber music in the intimate and acoustically excellent sanctuary of CSAIR. Music Director Sheila Reinhold (a long-time member of CSAIR) and the other participating musicians have performed in venues all over the United States and abroad as soloists as well as in ensembles ranging from major string quartets to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. The performers introduce the pieces, and each concert features complimentary refreshments and an informal reception with the musicians.

For artist, program and ticket information, visit www.intimate


Mon, October 14 2019 15 Tishrei 5780