Day of Learning

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Remember when we were young? We learned because we had to. Now we learn because we want to.

Day of Learning is a new opportunity for congregants to teach and learn from each other. The program is designed for people at least 50 years old, but all ages are welcome. We hope that studying together—Jewish topics or secular topics through a Jewish lens—will deepen profound connections to self, others, synagogue, Judaism, and God.

Day of Learning: Tuesday, May 15

Discount Deadline: $15 per person for members; $20 per person for non-members by May 4
After May 4: $20 per person for members; $25 per person for non-members

Off-site classes require registration by May 4 and will be held rain or shine.

There is an additional $10 per person fee for the Leonard Bernstein Guided Tour at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Questions? Contact Gail ‘Malka’ Meister at [email protected].

Day of Learning Planning Group: Bob Bierman, Ben-Zion Friedman, Jeffrey Saunders, Mel ‘Moshe’ Seligsohn, Jerry Silverman
Ellen Poster and Gail ‘Malka’ Meister, co-chairs



Morning Study Groups, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Off site, rain or shine
Must register by May 4


Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music Tour at NMAJH with Meryl Rodgers
OFF SITE: Meet in the lobby of the National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 South Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, at 9:30 a.m.
REQUIRES ADDITIONAL $10 FEE, a discounted rate made possible by a special subsidy from Day of Learning. Space is limited. Tickets for this tour and Day of Learning combined paid to RS by May 4.
Tour this “first large-scale exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) that illustrates Bernstein's life, Jewish identity, and social activism in the context of his position as an American conductor and his works as a composer,” according to museum materials.

Walking Tour of Philly’s Old Jewish Quarter with Jerry Silverman
Meet at Mikveh Israel Cemetery on Spruce between 8th and 9th Streets at 9:30 a.m.
Starting from Mikveh Israel Cemetery, we’ll meander around 4th and South, noting sites of current and former synagogues, Yiddish newspapers, social halls, banks, department stores, music schools, hot dog hangouts, delis, hospitals, and more. We’ll end at Society Hill Synagogue, 418 Spruce. The walk will last about two hours and cover 20 blocks (2 miles). Feel free to leave the group whenever you need to.


Lunch Break, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Bring your own lunch and schmooze with RS clergy and staff.

First Afternoon Study Groups, 1:00-2:30 p.m.


Why So Funny? Jewish Humor with Bob Bierman
Some statistics report that 85% of successful comedians in America are Jewish. Really? Why is that? What makes Jews so funny? We will try to answer the question along with lots of jokes. Bring your best Jewish jokes and you may get a chance to take the mic for your own minute of stand-up comedy.

Who Knew? Surprising RS Lives with Adelle Rubin, moderator, and Michael Coleman, Marilyn Deutsch, Jane Friedman, and Heshie Zinman
A clown, a bouncer, a designer of haute couture, and an impresario who are also a psychologist, a community activist, a Judaic fabric artist, and a lawyer and businessman. Our panelists will reveal the true stories of their unusual careers and activities, including how these fit into their Jewish journey. There will be time for questions, one-on-one conversations, and an opportunity to see samples or artifacts of these fellow congregants’ fascinating lives.

BREAK, 2:30-2:45pm


Second Afternoon Study Groups, 2:45-4:15pm


Shylock: Villain or Victim? with Louise Simons
What do Sir Laurence Olivier, Peter O’Toole, and Al Pacino have in common? They’ve all portrayed Shakespeare’s notorious Jewish villain, Shylock. But is Shylock actually a villain or is he a victim? We’ll delve into the fascinating world of Renaissance Venice to find out. Prep: If possible, bring a copy of Merchant of Venice to our session. It's helpful but not necessary to read the play ahead.

Pursuing Justice--Solutions to Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and Beyond with Brian Gordon and Rabbi Eli Freedman
We will look at partisan gerrymandering and its prevention through a Biblical lens, including the story of the Rebellion of Korach.  Our conversation will include the methods traditionally used to effect redistricting and some new rules which can reform and improve the process.         


Third Afternoon Study Groups, 4:30-6:00pm


Unnamed Women in the Bible with Gloria Becker
We will take a look at the stories of important yet unnamed women whose actions made a difference in our Biblical tradition like Noah’s wife, Potiphar’s wife, the Daughters of Zelophehad, the Witch of Endor, and Jephthah’s daughter.

Being Jewish Abroad Then and Now with Rob Levin, moderator, and Gloris and Jack Dunnous, Patricia Isakowitz, Bella Schafer, and Philippe Weisz
Travel with us across space and time to learn how it is or was to be Jewish in places like Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, and elsewhere. Presenters will speak from first-hand experience or intimate knowledge of family members’ everyday lives, Jewish communal life, and relations with non-Jewish neighbors, co-workers, and officialdom. Come ready to listen, ask questions, and share your own stories of being Jewish abroad.


Dinner Break, 6:00-6:30pm

Bring your own dinner and schmooze with fellow congregants. Snacks provided.

Evening Study Groups, 6:30-8:00pm


Laughter and Tears: A Jewish Musical Journey with Lee Herman
Open your heart and ears as we go on a multimedia journey through Jewish music. We will highlight songs that tell our story over the years.



Gloria Becker was born on Broad Street (Temple University Hospital) and has been a learner ever since. She’s been teaching about Judaism since 1980 and is proud to say she’s gotten better at it over the years! If you have a pulse and want to learn, she is happy to sit beside you and help. Gloria is happy to be at RS where her grandparents and great-grandparents were members.

Bob Bierman was born and raised in the Bronx and moved to Philadelphia about 12 years ago, thereby refuting W.C. Fields’s supposed epitaph that “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” Bob was chosen as the funniest psychotherapist on the East Coast three years running.

Eli Freedman graduated from Brandeis University and was ordained at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 2010. Before coming to RS, Rabbi Freedman interned at the NYU Hillel, attended rabbinical school in London, and ran outreach programs at Columbia/Barnard Hillel. Among his RS duties is coordinating our RiSe Up! social justice initiative.

Brian Gordon is an attorney who has devoted a portion of his practice to civil rights and constitutional law.  In January 2017, Brian co-founded Concerned Citizens for Democracy, an anti-gerrymandering think-tank dedicated to developing rules for non-partisan redistricting.  Brian worked with grad student physicist-engineer Anne Hanna to develop a methodology for drawing districts without partisan intent, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court followed in its recent gerrymandering decision.

Lee Herman is a practicing attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Having been president of the Men of RS and member of the congregational choir, he currently serves as a congregational trustee. In the 1960s and '70s, Lee was a founding member of a band which created and performed Jewish liturgical music in contemporary motifs. He continues to compose modern interpretations of prayer.

Rob Rafi Levin is a linguist, published poet, intergenerational IMPROV alumnus, multi-faith facilitator, and nexus of narratives bridge-builder. He has lived, studied, worked, and traveled extensively in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Over the past 15 years, he was the intercultural educator and community relations liaison for NMAJH. Currently he consults for ADL, Mighty Writers-El Futuro, and NHD/National Archives, and others.

Meryl Rodgers has been an NMAJH docent since November 2010. She loves history, Jewish history, Judaism and teaching. She has an MA in French Language and Literature with a lot of history thrown in the mix. She and her husband love being members of RS and the Philadelphia community.

Adelle Rubin grew up in Bath, Maine, and received a bachelor’s degree in music from Tufts University. She came to Philadelphia for graduate school in theater at Temple University. After completing her master’s degree, Adelle joined the faculty of Drexel University. She founded the theater program there and became its first director. Adelle retired in 2005 after a 38-year career of directing, producing, and teaching theater.

Jerry Silverman has a master’s degree in Jewish education from Gratz College and a long career in math education. These prepared him to teach and administer in numerous Hebrew schools in our area, including both branches of RS in the late '70s. His love for Philly led him to a new career as a tour guide for Mural Arts Philadelphia, American Jewish Committee, the Preservation Alliance, and RS.

Louise Simons, a noted Philadelphia poet, was co-founder and co-editor of The Painted Bride Quarterly and taught poetry in schools for the National Endowment for the Arts. She earned her doctorate in British Renaissance literature, writing her dissertation on Shakespeare and Milton. Louise retired as an English professor. All five of her children became b’nai mitzvah at RS.