Adult Education at WES

West End Synagogue is committed to universal adult study of Jewish sources, history and cultural expression in its many forms. Through our Adult Education Project, we pursue our vision of a congregation as literate and well-educated in Jewish terms as it is in secular terms.

Plan to join us for stimulating and thought provoking events!

Download our Winter-Spring 2022 WES Adult Education Brochure HERE
For the WES Racial Justice Salon list of readings and media, please click here.


Please Note: If the below events are in person at our synagogue, they will start at 7:00 pm. If they are on Zoom, they will begin at 7:30 pm.


January 26, 2022, 7:30 pm. Daniel Van Doren presents, “A Dramatic Reading Aloud of Jewish Short, Short Stories."

February 10, 2022, 7:30 pm, Aryeh Gold, David Prager and Moshe Sayer, along with an Israeli representative of the current Kibbutz movement, will analyze, “The Kibbutz, As it Was and As it is Today." Sponsored jointly with the Israeli Connections Committee.

February 23, 2022, 7:30 pm, Professor Robert Pollack. Join us for an evening of, "Jewish Journeys," , moderated by Professor Pollack: Three members of West End Synagogue, Rabbi Emily Cohen, Ms.
Sharon Jack and Dr. Mayris Webber, will tell their own stories of how their current self-identification as being Jewish, differs from the details of their ancestry, and in some cases their upbringing as well. Their presentations will be followed by an open discussion on the differences between Jewish ancestry and Jewish identity.

March 10, 24 and 31, 2022, 7:30 pm, Susan Schorr will explore “Voice of a Woman." Women have been writing prayers for centuries, even though their voices are not heard in the Siddur. We'll read and discuss woman-written prayers, on familiar and unusual topics.

March 28, 2022, 7:30 pm. David Webber, Professor of Law at Boston University, author of, "The Rise of the Working Class Shareholder," will speak on , “Mixing Politics and investments: Kosher or Treyf?" Webber presents the challenge of putting your money where your values are.

March 30, 2022, 7:30 pm. Bonnie Rabin, Amy Saltzman, Irit Tau-Webber, each a Family Law lawyer, with Fran Hoffinger as Moderator, will discuss, “Evolving Family Law," a topic relevant to both gay and traditional families.

April 11, 2022, 7:30 pm. Jerry Posman, Vice President for Administration and Finance, at the City University, will discuss, “The City University: As it Was Then, As it is Now."

April 27, 2022, 7:30 pm.Tris Farnsworth, “Stalin, Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Bolsheviks." Among the seven major figures, makers of Russia's Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, four were Jewish. What drew them to Bolshevism? Was their history unique in Stalin's Soviet Union?

May 2, May 9, 2022, 7:30 pm. Art Spar, “Shirat ha Yam, “Song of the Sea." A poem from Exodus; a grim description of the death of the Egyptians at the Red Sea. God is a brutal and victorious warrior. What happened to the God of Peace and Justice? Let's unpack and explore this puzzling warlike description of God.

May 12, May 26, June 9, 2022, 7:30 pm. Susan Schorr will examine"The Metaphor for Our Lives." The metaphors we use are not just figures of speech; they help to define how we experience our lives. We'll look at how the metaphors we use dictate our interactions and, sometimes, how they limit us.

May 23, 25, and June 13, 2022, 7:30 pm. Professor Emeritus Irwin Wall will explore, “The Jewish Community in England, France and Germany." The Jews of France, England and Germany together constitute one million of the roughly 15 million Jews in the world: 500,000 in France - 300,000 in England, and 200,000 in Germany. Each, powerful and influential in their own lands, plays increasingly important roles in the affairs of world Jewry, both Israel and the Diaspora, to the welfare of which they are all three committed.
The minicourse will examine these communities in three aspects: first, how they have internally, all three, been transformed since the Second World War. French Jewry has doubled in size and is today largely Sephardic; British Jewry was plunged from its almost charmed and idyllic past into the vortex of Zionism and the Center of the politics of Israel's creation, and the German community, once the most prestigious community of the Diaspora, having been dispersed and virtually destroyed, has been reconstituted from a tiny postwar almost invisible remnant into an entirely different version of its former self.
Second, what is the quality of Jewish life in all three? How has their traditional Orthodoxy been challenged by the growing appeal of Liberal or Reform Judaism on the one hand and the rise of Hassidim and Haredim on the other. And how are they buffeted by the powerful winds of secularization and assimilationism which seem to threaten the prospects of their long-term viability? Finally, all three, which have integrated the new reality of Israel into their own existence and identity, find themselves in the throes of an existential struggle against the new anti-Semitism.

June 18, June 25, 2022, 1:30 pm after Kiddush. Connie Goldfarb, “Art as Midrash." A study of Medieval Art as anti-Semitic Midrash; as well as three biblical and talmudic scenes as Midrash.

June 21, 2022, 7:30 pm. Daniel Van Doren, “A Dramatic Reading Aloud of Jewish Short, Short Stories". Cast of readers to be announced!



“Spiritual Autobiography,” Judith Friedman, Mondays, 4 – 5:30 pm.
Participants will write and share short pieces on childhood memories, spiritual awakenings, personal understandings of the Torah stories and more. WES members only. New members welcome. Contact Judith Friedman.

“Chug Ivri,” 2:00 – 3:00 PM, Led by David Goldfarb.
Meetings are held in members’ homes. Last Shabbat of each month. (Starting in October). A chance to obtain fluency in Hebrew by reading and discussing stories, poetry and articles on current affairs.

“Shabbat Study Minyan,” 12:00 –1:30 PM, led by Michael Graff.
Close study of Jewish literature. Reading in advance of each session required.

“Middah on Mondays Study Group,” Monthly, third Monday of each month 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Led by Susan Schorr.
All WES members are invited to join our study of West End’s Middah (ethical value/character trait) of the month. Discussions are shaped using texts from both our tradition and from modern authors, pop culture and more.

“Torah on Tuesdays” 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month, led by Susan Schorr.
Commemorating thirty years of study together! Watch for special announcements. All are welcome to join our ongoing study of the Torah. We read the text (in English) and consider it from the perspectives of literature, sacred text, religious mythology, family lore, psychology, drama, history, pop culture and more. Drop in and join the conversation, or just listen and enjoy. No prior background or knowledge is required.



9:00 am to 10:00 am
Shabbat mornings
Led by Rabbi Emily Cohen or various lay leaders.

Text study of the weekly Torah portion. As a learning community, we seek to draw on our texts, honor them for what they represented in their time of creation and explore how they can be applied in our time.

12:00 - 1:30 pm
Led by Michael Graff

Close study of Jewish Literature. Reading in advance of each session required.

2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Last Shabbat of each month
Led by David Goldfarb

A chance to gain fluency in Hebrew by reading and discussing stories, poetry and articles on current affairs.


West End Synagogue is committed to universal adult study of Jewish sources, history and cultural expression in its many forms. Through our Yad Mordecai Adult Education Project, we pursue our vision of a congregation as literate and well-educated in Jewish terms as it is in secular terms.  

Adult Education programs and activities focus on the vital areas of education, community, and outreach:

  • Education - Working to deepen the congregation's Jewish knowledge at all levels through educational and cultural programs and events.
  • Community - Involving members, enhancing interaction among the various WES populations, enriching the communal life of the congregation, and complementing school programs for parents.
  • Outreach - Providing educational opportunities for the community at large that enhance Jewish living and promote Reconstructionism.

Activities sponsored by Adult Education include:

  • Single-session lectures and courses, as well as longer series on selected topics by our Rabbi, Cantor, and invited speakers.
  • A variety of musical, theatrical, and literary programs.
  • Scholar in Residence and Artist in Residence programs that bring prominent figures in Jewish thought and culture to West End Synagogue.

For more information contact the wesoffice [at] (WES Office).


190 Amsterdam Avenue (at 69th Street)
New York, NY 10023
Phone: (212) 579-0777
Fax: (212) 579-2669
Email: office [at]
Affiliated with the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, Reconstructing Judaism

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