Gratz Scholars Program

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.

Online Registration
Mail-In Registration

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.

Spring 2018 Continuing Education


Medieval Jewish History
January 25 - March 15
Thursdays, 10:00 am -12:00 pm
Dr. Joseph M. Davis

The history of Jews in the Middle Ages is full of surprises, even for those who know it well. Expert scholar Joseph M. Davis will guide the class. The thousand-year saga of medieval Jewry will unfold from crucial and revealing documents of the period. Discover the unknown Judaisms of this tragic time. 

Historical Origins and Developmental Patterns of African American Jewry
January 24 – March 28
Wednesdays, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Dr. Earl Bowen Jr.

This course captures significant historical and religious developmental patterns of African American Jewry in the United States and delineates spiritual and psychological connections to Jewish practices over the course of the past century. In addition, the course will explore myths, misperceptions, and the authenticity of African American Jewry through the lens of teshuvah and through the systematic unveiling of Black Hebrewisms in American life and culture. This course will advance knowledge, deepen understanding, convene conversations and augment comprehensive narratives in relation to the etiology and development of African American Jewry and the diverse nature of Jewish life.

The Church and the Holocaust (8 weeks)
January 24 – March 14
Wednesdays, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Dr. Ruth Sandberg

Christians and Jews are still struggling today with the role of the Church in the Holocaust. We will explore some of the key questions of this struggle, including: To what extent did the Church foster the anti-Semitism that led up to the Holocaust? What are the roots of anti-Jewish teachings in early Christianity? What role did Pope Pius XII play in the Holocaust? How did Martin Luther's anti-Jewish teachings influence Protestant Churches during the Holocaust? How did some members of the Church resist Nazi ideology? Lastly, how have post-Holocaust Christian efforts helped to eradicate anti-Jewish teachings from Christian theology?

Lifecycles, Holidays & Traditions
February 6 – April 17 (excl. 4/3)
Tuesdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Dr. Saul P. Wachs

Why do we do what we do? Explore central concepts and beliefs of Judaism through a look at the Jewish calendar, holidays, lifecycles, Kashrut and other common traditions. This is an appropriate course for a beginner or an adult who wants a meaningful understanding based on text.

American Jewish Experience in Film
January 4 – January 25       
Thursdays, 1:00 pm - 3:00 p.m.
Dr. Reena Sigman Friedman

Dr. Friedman will discuss trends in American Jewish History using four classic films: "Hester Street," "The Jazz Singer" (original 1927 version), "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Avalon." These films explore themes such as Jewish identity, family tensions, intergenerational conflict, socioeconomic and residential mobility, antisemitism and accommodation to the American environment. 

Memoirs That Matter
February 15 – March 22
Thursdays, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Anndee Hochman

Participants in this class will learn to capture indelible moments of their lives in short memoir pieces. Through readings, discussion and writing prompts, they will learn to recognize and practice the use of specific detail and vigorous language, the development of character, dialogue and setting. They will experiment with voice and structure; they will strive to tell the truth. Participants will re-read and revise while learning to give constructive feedback on each other’s work. Anndee welcomes both beginning and seasoned writers; only requirements are an open mind and a ready pen (or laptop)

February 6 – April 17 (excl. 4/3)
Tuesdays, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Dr. Asaf Romirowsky

Anti-Jewish sentiment goes by many names, including anti-Judaism, Jew-hatred, Judeophobia, and, of course, Antisemitism – a term that was coined in 1879 to give scientific legitimacy to the “longest hatred.” This course will explore the ancient origins of Jew-hatred, examining its development and transformation in the course of the past two millennia, paying particular attention to the shifting theological, ideological, cultural, political and scientific trends that impacted the perception of Jews and Judaism in the modern period.

A Tumultuous Time: Victorian America and the Civil War
Mondays, 10 am – 12:00 pm
March 26 – May 7 (Excl. April 2)
Herbert Kaufman

Class 1:  The Causes of the War: An examination of American history documented through the political and social history of the United States.
Class 2: The Americans of the 1860’s:  Through original correspondence and photographs a look at the United States of the Victorian era; who were the soldiers; the changing role of women; and the cultural aspects of life in that era.
Class 3: The Jewish Civil War; Examines the history of Jewish America of the 1860’s and the participation of the Jewish community in the war effort.
Class 4: Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln: Looks at the life of our 16th President and his first lady and Lincoln’s relationship to the Jewish community.
Class 5: The Era of Reconstruction: How did America change after the end of the war?  Examines the cultural and governmental changes in American society.
Class 6: Hollywood and the Civil War: Presents many of the notable, interesting and more remarkable films that capture different perspectives about the Civil War.  It examines the writers, novels, and the films, many of which have become iconic depictions of this historic era.

For more information or to register for classes, please contact Hope Matles at 215-635-7300 x172 or at