Gratz Scholars Program

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The Gratz College Scholars Program is for adults in the community who enjoy learning in an intellectual atmosphere with instructors who are highly regarded experts in their fields. Ongoing courses are offered each semester in a variety of subjects and topics as well as Hebrew and Yiddish language. The Scholars Program also sponsors Distinguished Lecture Series, Yiddish programs, Israeli films and other special events.

For more information about the Gratz College Scholars Program please contact Hope Matles at or 215-635-7300 x172.

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Lunch and Learn

Wednesday, May 24
12:15 - 1:45 p.m.
$15 by May 16; $18 starting May 17

The Music That Got Us Through World War II
Speaker: Herbert Kaufman

World War II "was a glorious time for songs." Families depended on their radio for home entertainment.  During the war, radios were filled with new patriotic and sentimental songs; romantic ballads and many novelty songs reached the top of the music charts.  This was the era of the big band and many young vocalists became stars.  The program includes the music and songs of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, and many more. Using CD’s and highlighted by many original World War II era 78 rpm records -- patriotic music, sentimental songs, comic melodies and music that has been woven into the fabric of our American culture are presented. Learn about the composers, bands and singers that got us through the war.

Tuesday, June 27
12:15 - 1:45 p.m.
$15 by June 19; $18 starting June 20

American Jews in Sports
Speaker: Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Religion Professor - Temple University

While Jews are often seen as “the people of the book” they are also a “people of the body.” This session will look at the history of Jews in relationship to athletics and body image. We’ll focus on the American experience to understand sports in the American context, looking not only at the major sports with which Jews have been involved (baseball, boxing, basketball and track) but also how immigration, urbanization, gambling, assimilation, and anti-Semitism have played roles in how Jews have been involved in sports.

All registrants are invited to attend a free screening of "Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story" in our Auditorium immediately following the Lunch & Learn. The documentary is 1 hour, 31 minutes.

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All classes held at Gratz College unless otherwise noted

Summer 2017 Continuing Education

Jewish Secrets of the Sistine Chapel
Dr. Ruth Sandberg
Mon-Thurs, June 5-8
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Most people assume that the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican is the epitome of Christian art, but in reality Michelangelo included many Jewish images and symbols within his work. There are many figures and events from the Hebrew Bible depicted, including dramatic representations of the Biblical prophets. But there are also hidden images and symbols that express Michelangelo’s interest in Judaism and its enduring legacy which he kept secret from his Papal patrons. We will uncover these secrets during this mini-course.

The Reaction of Arabs and Muslims to the Holocaust: The Rise of Pro-Nazi Regimes and Institutions in the Middle East
Dr. David Rabeeya
Tues/Thurs, June 6, 8, 13, 15
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

This course examines the Shoah and its tragic effect on Jews in Europe and the Middle East. Specifically, we will discuss the reaction of liberal Westernizers, Marxists and Nationalists toward the catastrophic events of the Holocaust. We will also discuss the reactions of the fundamentalist and Islamists, as well as the denial of the Holocaust by Muslim and Arab groups. Attempts to compare the Jewish Holocaust with the removal of Palestinians from their lands within the stigmatization of Zionism and the existence of the Jewish state will also be analyzed.

19th Century Potpourri
Romance and War: The Music of the Victorian Era
Bitters and Bullets: 19th Century Medicine
Secrets and Spies of the Civil War
Herb Kaufman
Thursdays, 6/29, 7/6, 7/13
6:30 – 8:30 pm


Learning ABC’s in Galicia: From a Heder to a Modern Classroom
Dr. Andrew Zalewski, Gesher Galicia
Mon-Thurs, July 10 - 13
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The journey from a heder to a modern school was a story of human aspirations and heated controversies. From the 16th century, Galician Jews ventured as far as Italy to attend universities. Nevertheless, the subject of secular education unleashed furious discourse across the Ashkenazi world in the 18th century. When compulsory German schools were established in Austrian Galicia, they met intense opposition from rabbinic elites, while Jewish parents turned against the coercive brand of reforms. Later, however, Galician centers of the Haskalah (Tarnopol, Brody, Lemberg) proudly claimed educational successes, though not free of dramatic developments. More schools became accessible only in the latter half of the 19th century. Despite the earlier controversies and government neglect, Jewish attendance quickly surpassed expectations. In the closing years of Galicia, thirty percent of the university students were Jewish (men and women)—even more remarkable, as the Jews comprised only about ten percent of the population.

With historical images of Galicia, archival records, and maps, we will “travel” with Galician students to Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland and back to Galicia. If you wonder how and in what language(s) Galician Jews learned their ABC’s, the course will help you uncover their story.

The Savage in Judaism: An Anthropology of Israelite Religion
Rabbi Jon E. Cutler
Mon-Thurs, July 10 - 13
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Since the Enlightenment, interpreters of religion in Western culture have typically classified Judaism above other non-Christian religions. In this course we will examine the distinction between Judaism and the ‘savage’ religions and how ancient Israelite or Biblical Judaism was affected by the surrounding ‘savage’ religions and the impact that it had on the Judaism we practice today. We will look at dietary restrictions, animal sacrifices, blood, circumcision, sexual prohibitions and rules of contamination. To this day we still practice as Jews some of the ‘savage’ religion rituals.
Session 1: Savage: Is it Judaism?
  “You Shall Not Boil a Kid...”
Session 2: Blood and Goats: Discharge
  The Yom Kippur Ritual
Session 3: Unmanning Israel
  Marriage of God and Israel
Session 4: Circumcision
  The Ritual of Circumcision and Pruning Trees

Historic Haggadot Exhibit at The Tuttleman Library
Collector: Ierachmiel (Yerach) Daskal M.D, Ph.D.
Exhibit is on display through May 2017.

Registration/Refund Policy

Minimum class size required to run each course. Full tuition payment is due upon registration prior to the start of the first class.  If a cancellation is received at least two days before the course begins, 100% of tuition will be refunded.