Adult Engagement

Deepen Your Understanding

While restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic prevent us from meeting in person, we continue to foster a vibrant learning community. See below for our current course offerings. For other special events and programs, please see our Community page.​


​Upcoming Classes


Psalms as an Emotional Experience

Mondays, 9:30 am- 10:45am
January 11 - February 15
Taught by Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
$100 members/$150 non-members

Join Rabbi Lisa Goldstein to look at how the Psalms express six different spiritual experiences: gratitude, despair, joy, yearning, celebration, and wonder. Together, we will see how the psalmist expressed these spiritual and emotional experiences. We will read selected Psalms, as well as contemporary poems and prayers that reflect the same themes. Come ready to learn, discuss, and share your own experiences.


American Jewish Thought Since 1934

Tuesdays, 5:30pm - 6:45 pm
January 12 - February 16
Taught by Rabbi David Ellenson
$125 members / $175 non-members

This six-session series, taught by Rabbi David Ellenson, will focus on the nature and diversity of American Jewish Thought generated in North America since 1934. Based on a new anthology co-edited by Ellenson and Michael Marmur, the course will focus on six major topics:

1) God, Revelation & Commandment

2) Spirituality

3) Hermeneutics & Politics

4) Holocaust & Israel

5) Feminism, Gender & Sexuality

6) Peoplehood

The course hopes 1) To understand and describe some of the key questions to have occupied the American Jewish community over the last eighty years, 2) To identify and characterize some of the most significant figures in contemporary American Jewish Thought, and 3) To have you articulate some of your own views and commitments in the wider context of an ever-unfolding American Jewish conversation.

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., currently serves as Chancellor Emeritus as well as I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor Emeritus of Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he previously served as President. He served as Director of the Schusterman Center of Israel Studies at Brandeis University from 2015-2018 and is currently Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. Ellenson also been a Visiting Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary and UCLA and a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies, and a Lady Davis Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 2015, he was Distinguished Visiting Professor at New York University in the Skirball Department of Judaic Studies. Colgate University, The College of William and Mary, Hebrew College of Boston, and the Jewish Theological Seminary have awarded him honorary doctoral degrees.

Rabbi Ellenson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1977. He also holds an M.Phil. degree from Columbia University as well as the M.A. degree from HUC-JIR and the University of Virginia. He received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969.

Rabbi Ellenson’s extensive publications include award-winning volumes and articles on Jewish history, practice, and thought. His newest book, American Jewish Thought Since 1934, co-authored with Michael Marmur, was published by Brandeis University Press in 2020. A copy of this book is included in the class registration fees.


Collage Art-Beit-Midrash

Thursdays, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
January 14 - January 28
Taught by Michal Nachmany
$10 members / $20 non-members

Collage is an accessible, creative, and deeply personal form of art. All you need are scissors, glue, different materials (like photographs, old magazines, stickers, and pieces of fabrics), inspiration, and some guidance.

This hands-on class of collage-making over three Thursdays this January will introduce you to the works of leading collage artists, such as Matisse, Schwitters, Rauschenberg, Hans Arp, and Miro, among others. In addition, you will develop your own collage project, considering design, layouts, coloring, and more. Participants will present their creative process and their work in the final session.­

The class will meet from 3:30 - 5:30 PM on the following days:
Participants will receive a box ( sent to them) with a variety of materials for the class. For this reason, the registration for this class will close on December 31. Doing so will allow us enough time to send the boxes to you!

  • 1/14/21
  • 1/21/21
  • 1/28/21

Michal Nachmany (MichalNachmanyArt.com) is a Jerusalem-born collage artist living in New York City whose art is inspired by these cities’ mixes of cultures and colors, collages of people and traditions, and richness of objects, images, and memories. She has run college workshops during many of her exhibitions, including in NYC and Taipei.


Arabic in Israel: An Official Language and a Cultural Bridge

Sundays, 10:00 am –11:15 am
January 24 – February 7


Combining language-building skills with an opportunity to learn about Arab culture in Israel, this three-part Arabic intensive lesson (presented in memory of Central member Ron Walter) is presented by the Abraham Initiatives which works to create widespread positive social change in the field of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel.



In Case You Missed It

Let’s Talk Climate, Part 1: Dr. Kim Knowlton

On August 14, we had a conversation with Dr. Kim Knowlton, Senior Scientist and Deputy Director of Natural Resources Defense Council Science Center, for the first in the new Let’s Talk Climate series. Initiated by a group of passionate Central teens (Abby Berman, Rachel Berman, Lila Stevens, and Hannah Youngwood), this four-part series brings to the forefront important climate change and key environmental issues through talks with climate experts.


Being Jewish in France Today: The Challenge of Antisemitism and the Promise of the Republican Spirit

On June 17, Central’s Rabbi Emeritus Peter Rubinstein and Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, writer and co-leader of the Liberal Jewish Movement of France, participated in a fascinating conversation as part of the 92Y series “France and Judaism: 2,000 years of Intertwined History,” in partnership with the Consulate General of France in New York, the World Jewish Congress, and the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme in Paris.


What Matters: Advance Care Planning with Rabbi Nicole Auerbach and Howard Sharfstein

On June 23, Rabbi Nicole Auerbach and Howard Sharfstein, Coordinator of Central’s What Matters initiative and former President of the Board of Trustees, hosted a webinar on the topic of Advance Care Planning. Click below to learn why it’s more important than ever to have “the talk” and learn the process of designating a health care proxy.

Spotlight NYC: Jennifer Finn and Concerts in Motion

Central’s Adult Engagement Program Manager, Lauren Dickel, moderated a conversation with Jennifer Finn, the found and executive director of Concerts in Motion (CiM). Viewers learned about Central’s partnership with the organization and also got a taste of CiM’s intimate virtual concerts through a 30-minute live performance with professional musician Tereasa Payne (flute, world flutes, reeds) and two young musical prodigies, Lucas (piano) and Leah Amory (violin).


20s and 30s at Central Synagogue

Find out about opportunities to meet, worship, learn, volunteer and virtually socialize with fellow Jewish 20s and 30s.

Click here for ways to stay connected and join our mailing list.

Virtual Coffee with Rabbinic Intern Chelsea Feuchs or Rabbi Dan Ross

Date: Sunday, August 9, 2020, through Thursday, December 31, 2020

Location: Zoom

Let us know if you want to grab a virtual cup of coffee! We’ll follow up about the day and time after you register. Either Rabbi Dan or Chelsea will be in touch to confirm.

Register here.


Center for Exploring Judaism

Now accepting registrations for our March 2021 cohort. Please register here.

The course is open to non-Jews alone or non-Jews with their Jewish partners, who are either members or non-members of Central Synagogue. For students exploring the possibility of converting to Judaism, this course serves as the first prerequisite step at Central Synagogue. Jewish partners of potential converts are welcome and strongly
encouraged to attend classes. For more information, click here.

Questions? Contact Center for Exploring Judaism Director, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Access to Programs and Events

Members, please check your Daily and Weekly Newsletter emails for login information and passwords where needed; all others may contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) during business hours for information on how to join.

Some Technological Tips

Many of our programs are accessed on the Zoom platform. New to Zoom? Check out this video from Candootech.com for help.


Other Learning Opportunities:

A few virtual programs being offered outside of Central Synagogue.

Virtual Beit Midrash from Hadar

This pluralistic Jewish learning organization offers a number of recurring online classes and other programs.

My Jewish Learning

A Daily Guide to Zoom Events, Livestreams and Other Online Resources

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality

A compilation of resources for challenging times including free Torah study and daily online meditation.

The IJS is also offering the course, “Learn The Jewish Practice That Teaches You How To Be Your ‘Best Self’”.