Days of Learning Spring 2024

“Guard the month of the spring,” begins Deuteronomy 16:1. Our 2024 Spring Days of Learning from May 6 to May 13, following Passover, and leading into Shavuot, celebrates the Exodus themes of renewal, rebirth, and learning, while commemorating Yom Hashoah which falls on May 6. Our ten classes, including a day trip to New York, are designed to welcome the spring with opportunities for laughter, reflection, exercise and friendship. Take as many or few of our classes as you would like and invite your friends.

Questions? Contact Ellen Poster 

Days of Learning Planning Group: Joella Claman, Ben-Zion Friedman, Howard Green,  Jeffrey Saunders
Co-Chairs: Marc Lowenstein and Ellen Poster 

Helpful Links:

  • Click here to see our class schedule at a glance
  • Click here to learn more about our presenters.
  • Click here  to register for classes. Click here to register for the New York trip.



Monday, May 6

Let There Be Laughter Redux, 10:00 to 11:00 AM with Jerry Silverman (RS)
They say Jews have the best sense of humor, so come and prove it. Bring your favorite stories or jokes. If you have nothing funny to share, you can still attend and spend an hour laughing. Bagels, spread, and beverages provided.

Getting to Know You, 12:00 to 1:00 PM with Cara Schneider Bongiorno (RS)
Let’s get to know each other better over lunch. Good company, food, and--knowing Cara--warmth and humor will abound. Whether you are a new member or have a long family history at RS, this is a wonderful opportunity to make our RS connections broader and deeper! Cara will facilitate the structured discussion.

Tuesday, May 7

A Visit to the Rail Park and Jewish North Broad St., 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM with Jon Broder and Jerry Silverman (off-site)
Come for a walk on Philly’s elevated rail park, located just steps away from Rodeph Shalom! As we walk down North Broad Street toward the Rail Park, learn how industry and the German Jewish community were integrated. You will also learn about the history of the Park and how the railroad created an incredible center of commerce just a few hundred yards from our synagogue.

This Terrible True Thing, 6:00 to 7:30 PM with Jenny Laden (RS)
Hear from a life-long RS member who will discuss writing her debut novel, This Terrible True Thing, as quoted by Rabbi Maderer during Shabbat services. Jenny will discuss learning a new craft to tell her story and the larger story of AIDS in the 1990’s using drawings and poetry alongside prose. She is thrilled to be returning to the RS Community Room where she wrote much of her book while her daughter was in Berkman Mercaz Limud! Book purchase and signing after the talk. Dinner provided

Wednesday, May 8

A Kosher Table at the Banquet: Religious Freedom and the Revolution in Philadelphia, 2:00 to 3:00 PM with Rose Lerner (RS)
Historical romance author Rose Lerner shares her research into Jewish social, legal, and political life around the time of the American Revolution. Pennsylvania's Quaker founding offered Jews a kind of civic equality that was unavailable to them in Europe. Rose will shine a spotlight on the tumultuous career of Philadelphia-born Lt. Colonel David Salisbury Franks, who served under Benedict Arnold at West Point, George Washington at Valley Forge, and diplomats Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in Europe. He later returned home to Philadelphia to work in Alexander Hamilton's national bank, until his early death in the yellow fever epidemic.

A Holocaust Survivor's Tale, 6:30 to 8:00 PM with Ben-Zion Friedman, Jeffrey Himelstein, and Frieda Tabak (RS)
Thrill to a story of courage and triumph as Frieda recounts her journey of survival from persecution by the Nazis and the Soviets, time in a displaced person’s camp and finding a new life in the United States.

Thursday, May 9

Hound Dog and Other Great Jewish Songs of the '50's & '60's, 12:30 to 1:30 PM with Louis Bernstein, Jon Broder, and Cantor Brad Hyman (RS)
Join us for the Days of Learning annual musical offering. We will focus on the 1950’s when Jewish composers penned unforgettable songs for Broadway, jazz, movies, rock and roll, and more. Lunch provided.

Right or Wrong: Moral Conundrums Through a Jewish Lens, 2:00 to 3:00 PM with Rabbi Eli Freedman and Ben-Zion Friedman (no relation) (RS)
According to Professor Jonathan Haidt, “morality binds and blinds.” Join us in looking at some provocative ethical dilemmas and discussing how they might be resolved using Jewish values.

Friday, May 10

Walkin' and Talkin' in Rittenhouse Square Park, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM with Mindy Solkin (off-site)
Join in a vigorous walk through Rittenhouse Square Park, led by fitness expert Mindy Solkin.  During the walk, Mindy will discuss how health and fitness can help us strengthen our families and inspire our efforts to repair the world.

Monday, May 13

A Jewish Day in New York, 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM with Susannah Trubman (off-site)
Share a full day in New York City with other RS members. Visit two major Jewish-related institutions and enjoy an Israeli lunch. Our bus will leave RS at 9:30 AM and arrive back at 6:15 PM.

We will first tour the Tenement Museum, where we will see the Epstein Room, the recreated room of Holocaust survivors Kalman and Rivka Epstein who lived on Orchard Street, where the Tenement Museum is located. Our bus will then take us to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, where we will eat an Israeli-inspired lunch from Breads Bakery. Participants will learn about the YIVO Institute from Susannah Trubman. She will delve into YIVO's history and commitment to the study of Jewish life in Eastern Europe.

There will be a behind the scenes tour of the archival stacks featuring a few of the many Jewish cultural treasures that YIVO has saved and preserved. There will also be a chance to learn about the lives of interwar Jewish youth in Poland through a look at autobiographies written and collected by YIVO 90 years ago, featuring related archival materials. After our tour of YIVO, our bus returns to RS.