College of Jewish Studies

This year, the VBS College of Jewish Studies invites you to explore:

Hosted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein

The VBS College is made possible by grants from the
Lill & Jess Beim Family Keruv Fund and the Harold M. Schulweis Institute

UPCOMING DATES & SPEAKERS:

Wednesday, February 22 at 7:00 p.m.
“Tomorrow's Zionism”
Guest Speaker Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Director of Israel Education Initiatives at the Graduate Center for Jewish Education of American Jewish University
Dr. Sivan Zakai's areas of expertise include curriculum, history education, and the teaching of Israel. Dr. Zakai is also an Affiliated Scholar at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University. She recently launched the AJU Teaching Israel Fellowship, a year-long course of study for exemplary educators who teach about Israel in Jewish educational settings. She is the senior researcher on the Children’s Learning About Israel Project, a longitudinal study of how American Jewish children think about Israel. She coaches organizations and educators seeking to improve their Israel education practice, and serves on the advisory board of multiple Israel education organizations. She earned her Ph.D. in Education and M.A. in History from Stanford University. She has taught in a variety of Jewish educational settings including day schools, supplementary schools, and camps. Dr. Zakai is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and a recipient of the Network for Research in Jewish Education’s Research Award.
Guest Speaker Rabbi Aaron Lerner, UCLA Hillel
Rabbi Aaron Lerner is passionate about creating inclusive and empowered Jewish community. He believes that Jewish tradition enriches and informs every aspect of life, and particularly enjoys encouraging college students to apply Jewish values as they grapple with life’s major questions during their most formative years. Over the past four years at Hillel at UCLA, Rabbi Aaron Lerner has helped expand Hillel’s leadership training program to include approximately 150 student leaders who reach nearly 1,700 Jewish students every year at UCLA. He has also played a key role in Israel advocacy and education on campus and in the national arena. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Aaron received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah with an emphasis in education.
Guest Speakers Leeav Nagola and Yael Zoken, External and Internal Vice Presidents of Bruins for Israel at UCLA

PREVIOUS DATES & SPEAKERS:

Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 p.m.
"From the Hilltops of Judaea to the Bars of Tel Aviv: Israeli Literature in the 21st Century"

Guest Speaker Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, Ph.D., American Jewish University
Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, Ph.D., is multi-faceted Jewish spiritual and intellectual leader, a literary scholar, lecturer, translator, and writer. Her first book, Burning Air and a Clear Mind, pioneered the translation of Israel’s women poets into English. She has also authored Dancing on the Edge of the World: Jewish Stories of Faith, Inspiration and LoveDreaming the Actual, a collection of contemporary Israeli women’s poetry and fiction; The Bedside Torah, with Bradley Artson, and, most recently, the highly praised translation and commentary, Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to their Beauty, Power, and Meaning. As a dedicated foodie, she also co-authored The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking with her sister, Israeli food guru Phyllis Glazer. Emerita Professor of Literature at American Jewish University where she chaired the Literature, Communication and Media Dept. for over 25 years, Rabbi Glazer has published many essays and articles and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Israel, Denmark, and Finland. She been a Visiting Scholar at USC, UCLA, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has been awarded grants by the National Institute of Humanities, Hadassah Brandeis Institute, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. She served as an AJWS Global Justice Fellow, a Greenfaith Fellow, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Hirschfield Fellow in the Humanities.

Wednesday, February 8 at 7:00 p.m.
“The L.A.-Israel Connection: Up Close and Personal with the New Consul General”
Guest Speaker Sam GrundwergConsul General of Israel in Los Angeles
Sam Grundwerg is the senior representative of the State of Israel to the Southwestern United States. Immediately before becoming Consul General, Mr. Grundwerg served as Director General in Israel for the World Jewish Congress (WJC). Before joining the World Jewish Congress, Consul General Grundwerg worked as an attorney at a major international law firm in the United States and held positions in the fields of law and finance in the U.S. and Israel. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law and holds an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Miami School of Business, as well as an undergraduate degree from Bar Ilan University. Originally hailing from Miami Beach, Florida, Grundwerg made Aliyah to Israel in 1990 where he served as a combat soldier in the IDF armored corps, and later in the IDF reserves as a casualty officer.

Wednesday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m.
“The Melodies of Israel: Israeli Music Since '67 - A Concert-Lecture”
Guest Speaker Yuval RonAward-winning World Music Artist, Composer, Producer and Educator
Yuval Ron's most notable composition is music for the Oscar-winning short film West Bank Story (2007). His world music group, The Yuval Ron Ensemble, focuses on peace issues and interfaith dialogue and tours internationally. Yuval Ron also lectures at major universities on the subjects of sacred Middle Eastern music, spiritual foundations of creativity, and the impact of sound on healing. Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m.
“How Islam Has Changed”
Guest Speaker Professor Amir Hussain, Loyola Marymount University
Dr. Amir Hussain is Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he teaches courses on world religions. His own particular speciality is the study of Islam, focusing on contemporary Muslim societies in North America. His academic degrees (BSc, MA, PhD) are all from the University of Toronto where he received a number of awards, including the university’s highest award for alumni service. He has a deep commitment to students, and holds the distinction of being the only male to serve as Dean of Women at University College, University of Toronto. Before coming to California in 1997, Amir taught courses in religious studies at several universities in Canada. He is active in academic groups such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and the American Academy of Religion. He is on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals, the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace; the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies; and Comparative Islamic Studies. Amir is also interested in areas such as religion and music, religion and literature, religion and film and religion and popular culture. In 2008, he was appointed a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.

Sunday, January 22 at 3:00 p.m.
“The Evolution of the Secular Israeli”
In conjunction with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America Los Angeles Synagogue Collaborative Lecture Series: Visions for a Shared Society: The "Tribes" of Israel (Click here for more info.)
Guest Speaker Micah Goodman, Shalom Hartman Institute Research Fellow
Dr. Micah Goodman is a leading voice on Judaism, Zionism, the Bible, and the challenges and opportunities facing Israel and contemporary world Jewry. He is the author of three Israeli bestsellers on canonical Jewish texts: Moses’s Final SpeechThe Dream of the Kuzari, and The Secrets of the Guide for the Perplexed, all published in Hebrew by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir. Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism, published by JPS and the University of Nebraska Press in 2015, has endorsements by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Dr. Goodman was one of two recipients of the Marc and Henia Liebhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance in 2014, along with leading Israeli musician Ehud Banai. Dr. Goodman directs Ein Prat – The Midrasha, Israel's leading pluralistic Beit Midrash for young adults, which nurtures connections between Israelis of different backgrounds and builds a bridge between Israeli young adults and their Diaspora peers. Dr. Goodman has a doctorate in Jewish Thought from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and teaches at his alma mater. He is a member of the recently formed Global Forum of the National Library of Israel.

Wednesday, January 18 at 7:00 p.m.
“Israel’s Post-1967 Transformation: Growth Spurts and Growing Pains”
Guest Speaker Steven W. Popper, Ph.D.Rand Corporation
Steven W. Popper is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. As associate director of the RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute (1996–2001), Popper provided research and analytic support to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and other agencies of the Executive Branch. His current work is on science and technology policy, socio-economic long-term strategy, energy, decisionmaking under uncertainty, and security planning. He coauthored the flagship study of the RAND Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis (2003), which provides a new methodological framework for decisionmaking under deep uncertainty that has been applied to an expanding set of policy issues. His research also focuses on regional economic development and international economics. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank and OECD. He is past chair of the Industrial Science and Technology section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and serves as an external advisor to the Ohio State Battelle Center for Science and Technology Policy, the Shoresh Institution and the Israel Innovation Policy Institute. 

Wednesday, January 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Zionism Unsettled and Resettled in a Fractured Israel, 1967-2017"
Guest Speaker Yoav Ben Horin, Director of Global Jewish Education, de Toledo High School
Yoav Ben-Horin is the proverbial wandering Jew: Born in Manhattan, arrived in Israel from Turkey at the age of four, spent half his youth in Burma (where he learned English) and Venezuela, before returning to Israel and serving in the IDF for 3 and 1/2 years. After completing his service as Lieutenant, Yoav studied the Middle East at Oxford and Harvard. Yoav joined the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica to work for a decade on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues ranging from non-nuclear strategic weapons and U.S. Airforce strategies in the Pacific to Israel's Strategic Doctrine and methods to assess military balances in the Middle East. In the 90's he was the Associate Director of the Wilstein Institute of Jewish Policy Studies. Finally, in his dotage, Yoav discovered the passion and purpose of his life -- giving teenagers a hard time by confiscating their iPhones while chasing them around the Jewish world in Israel, South America and Europe as Director of Global Jewish Education at de Toledo High School. As of last week, his prescriptions are covered by medicare.

Tuesday, December 13
"Jewish Power, Jewish Responsibility and Jewish Fear in the Age of Trump"

Guest speaker Peter Beinart, Contributing Editor, The Atlantic and Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at City University of New York
Peter Beinart is Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York. He is also a Contributor to The Atlantic and National Journal, a Senior Columnist at Haaretz, a CNN Political Commentator, and a Senior Fellow at The New America Foundation. His first book, The Good Fight, was published by HarperCollins in 2006.  His second book, The Icarus Syndrome, was published by HarperCollins in 2010. His third, The Crisis of Zionism, was published by Times Books in 2012. Beinart has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, the Atlantic, Newsweek, Slate, Reader’s Digest, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Polity: the Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Studies Association.  The Week magazine named him columnist of the year for 2004. In 2005, he gave the Theodore H. White lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has appeared on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” “Charlie Rose,” “Meet the Press,” “The Colbert Report” and many other television programs. Beinart also served as the editor of The New Republic from 1995 to 2006.

Wednesday, December 7
" Jewish Aspirations and Israeli Reality"

Guest speaker Tal Becker, Legal Adviser and Senior Negotiator, Israel Foreign Ministry (presented with the Shalom Hartman Institute)
Dr. Tal Becker is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a leading member of the Institute's iEngage Project. He serves as principal deputy legal adviser at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is a senior member of the Israeli peace negotiation team. He is on the front lines of many of Israel's most pressing diplomatic, legal and policy challenges and is a veteran negotiator, and key behind the scenes representative, for Israel in a wide variety of contexts. Dr. Becker has been a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, senior policy advisor to Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, a lead negotiator and drafter in the Annapolis peace talks, director of the international law department at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, counsel to Israel's UN Mission in New York, and an international law expert for the Israel Defense Forces. He is the author of Terrorism and the State, which won the Guggenheim Prize for best international law book, and has served, among numerous positions, as the Vice-Chairman of the United Nations General Assembly's Legal Committee, the first Israeli to hold a position of this stature in over 40 years. Find articles by Tal Becker on the Shalom Hartman Institute website.

Wednesday, November 30
"Peace Negotiations: A Playbook for the New Administration"
Our annual APN Gerald Bubis Lecture

Guest speaker Debra DeLee, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now (APN)
Debra DeLee is a leading figure in the pro-Israel, pro-peace American Jewish community who has held top positions in the American political world. She regularly travels to Israel for meetings with Israeli and Arab leaders, including heads of state, and just this month participated on such a visit to Israel and Palestinian areas in the West Bank. Prior to joining APN, DeLee served with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as Executive Director, and was appointed by President Clinton to be DNC Chair and then CEO of the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
Guest speaker Lara Friedman, Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now (APN) 
Lara Friedman is widely recognized as a leading authority on US - Israel and US - Middle East foreign policy. A former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Friedman served in Jerusalem and several other Middle East countries. She frequently publishes opinion and analysis pieces in the U.S. and Israeli press, and was listed as one of 9 Must-Read Female Pundits on the Middle East in the Jewish Daily Forward Newspaper. Friedman is a highly requested speaker at policy, academic, and community forums across the US and Internationally, and in October, 2016, she provided the Americans for Peace Now testimony to a UN Security Council special session on Israeli Settlements.

Monday, November 21
"Behind the Headlines: A View from the Palestinian Street"

Guest speaker Khaled Abu Toameh, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Gatestone Institute (in partnership with AIPAC)
Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab, is a veteran award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is the West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and U.S. News and World Report, and has been the Palestinian affairs producer for NBC News since 1988. Abu Toameh is a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and his articles have appeared in numerous newspapers around the world.

Wednesday, November 16
"Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel"

Guest speaker Professor Joshua Muravchik of the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University
Joshua Muravchik, a Distinguished Fellow at the World Affairs Institute, is the author of hundreds of articles appearing in all major U.S. newspapers and intellectual magazines, as well as ten previous books including Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of SocialismExporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny;Traiblazers of the Arab Spring: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East; andLiberal Oasis: The Truth About IsraelClick here to read more about Muravchik's professional biography on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 9
"After the Miracle"

Guest speaker Yoav Ben Horin, Director of Global Jewish Education at de Toledo High School
Yoav Ben-Horin is the proverbial wandering Jew: Born in Manhattan, arrived in Israel from Turkey at the age of four, spent half his youth in Burma (where he learned English) and Venezuela, before returning to Israel and serving in the IDF for 3 and 1/2 years. After completing his service as Lieutenant, Yoav studied the Middle East at Oxford and Harvard. Yoav joined the Rand Coporation in Santa Monica to work for a decade on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues ranging from non-nuclear strategic weapons and U.S. Airforce strategies in the Pacific to Israel's Strategic Doctrine and methods to assess military balances in the Middle East. In the 90's he was the Associate Director of the Wilstein Institute of Jewish Policy Studies. Finally, in his dotage, Yoav discovered the passion and purpose of his life -- giving teenagers a hard time by confiscating their iPhones while chasing them around the Jewish world in Israel, South America and Europe as Director of Global Jewish Education at de Toledo High School. As of last week, his prescriptions are covered by medicare.


Explore our archive of past programs:
CLICK HERE to view our vast archive of past College of Jewish Studies programs available to watch online. 
 

Ever wanted to take a great course on Jewish culture, history and topical subjects, taught by experts? Well this is it. The VBS College of Jewish Studies offers Jewish adults an experience of university-level learning on many Wednesday evenings, and no there are no homework or tests.

Each year a different area of focus is selected, and our Rabbis, along with their guest speakers, provide us with insights and history that is just wonderful. And did we mention the cost - none!