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Day of Learning is an opportunity twice each year for congregants to teach and learn from each other. The program is designed for those 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.
Register by November 30 for off-site tours and early bird discount.
Day of Learning: Wednesday, December 12
$18/on or before November 30, $25/after November 30.
Off-site classes require registration by November 30 and will be held rain or shine.
Day of Learning Planning Group: Ben-Zion Friedman, Avi Katz, Jeffrey Saunders, Mel ‘Moshe’ Seligsohn, Jerry Silverman
Ellen Poster and Gail ‘Malka’ Meister, co-chairs
Morning Study Groups
Off site, rain or shine
Must register by November 30
Jewish Artists at the Barnes with Mel 'Moshe' Seligsohn *AT CAPACITY*
Meet in the lobby of the Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, at 10:15 AM. This custom-designed tour is led by docent Mel 'Moshe' Seligsohn. The tour will highlight works by Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Jules Pascin. The tour will end at the Barnes at 12:00 PM. Limit: 15 participants.
Walking Tour of Jewish North Broad with Jerry Silverman
Meet in the Levitt Gershman Lobby in RS at 10:00 AM. Since moving here in the late 1800s, RS saw a fascinating and diverse neighborhood develop around it, including other synagogues, a lavish hotel, Jewish funeral parlors, a movie palace, clothing manufacturers, and more. We will walk at a spirited pace through what once was, or still remains, in the 20 blocks from Green Street up to the former Mikveh Israel synagogue at Broad and York— where the tour will end at 12:00 PM—with some surprising stops along the way. Be prepared to travel via SEPTA or car service back to RS. Limit: 20 participants.
Light Lunch, 12:30-1:15 PM
Enjoy bagels and schmear, along with fruit and other noshes, or bring your own lunch and schmooze with other participants in the Day of Learning Café.
First Set of Afternoon Study Groups, 1:15-2:30 PM
Sephardic Cooking: Meals and Memories with Henry Patterson, executive chef, Ilana Refaeli, and Ronit Treatman *AT CAPACITY*
We will prepare a Sephardic dish (and sample it later in the day). As we cook together, we will learn about Spanish, North African, and other Mediterranean influences on this Jewish cuisine, and hear reminiscences of growing up with the tastes and smells of Sephardic food. The recipe will be provided. Limit: 10 participants.
Scientists in the Synagogue with David Mandell, moderator, and panelists Susan Behrend, Ben-Zion Friedman, Dan Seltzer, and Reid Willis
We will jump off from a short video by Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, founding director of an institute that studies the relationship between science and religion. Our moderator and panelists will share how their scientific lives and Jewish lives intersect, or not, and how they make sense of it all. Your questions and comments on the topic will be an important part of the session. If you would like to preview the video, you can see it online at bit.ly/mitelmanvideo.
BREAK, 2:30-2:45 PM
Second Set of Afternoon Study Groups, 2:45-4:00 p.m.
A Workshop on the Almighty and the Almighty Dollar with Rabbi Eli Freedman
This workshop’s interactive activities and discussion deal with the ethics of handling money in situations that present dilemmas in our daily lives. What does Judaism say about pricing or paying for goods and services, borrowing and lending, supporting children and/or parents financially, doing pro bono work, or giving gifts? Join in and find out.
More Surprising RS Lives with Sarah Kern, moderator, and panelists Bob Bierman, Mary Kirson, Sharon Pinkenson, and Arthur LaBan
Do you know a clinical psychologist who also worked in law enforcement? Or a Holocaust survivor who pioneered in the US as a woman in a man’s world of emerging telephone technology and is an irrepressible world traveler? How about someone who started as a wardrobe stylist and now manages all things film in Philadelphia? Or someone who turned his mitzvah project into a honey of a fundraiser for RS? Come meet them—your fellow congregants—in this exciting session.
BREAK, 4:00-4:15 PM
Third Set of Afternoon Study Groups, 4:15-5:30 PM
Welcome to Pirkei Avot: Everyday Talmud for Everyone with Matt Rice
Start or continue your conversation with Jewish tradition in this look at Pirkei Avot, a concise guide to Jewish ethics. Wherever you are on your Jewish journey, you can engage with this most approachable of the books of Talmud. We'll introduce basic facts about its development and customs for studying it. Then we’ll study a few choice sections together. To quote Hillel, "If not now, when?" If you’d like to read ahead, see especially 1:14, 2:16, and 6:6 in bit.ly/pirkeiavottext.
RS Firsts with Tom Perloff, moderator, and panelists Rabbi Bill Kuhn; Gail Rosenberg; Jocelyn Block, Susan Klehr, and Joan Levin
In its 223 years, RS has repeatedly broken and still breaks new ground. Learn how RS selected its first female senior rabbi, how and why RS came to be the only American synagogue to house a museum of contemporary Jewish art, and how RS merged with Beth Ahavah, becoming the only mainstream American synagogue to merge fully with an LGBTQ synagogue.
Light Supper, 5:30-5:45 PM
Help yourself to Mediterranean snacks and get set to feed your soul with an hour of Jewish American music.
Evening Study Group, 5:45-6:45 PM
Musical Finale: If Our Walls Could Sing with Jon Broder and Lee Herman
If our walls could sing or talk, they would tell about the peak of American Jewish musical influence when the doors to RS's beautiful sanctuary opened in the 1920s. What made the music of the Gershwin brothers, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Irving Berlin both Jewish and popular? Learn about these musical geniuses and the stories behind some of their most famous tunes, and hear Cantor Erin Frankel and other music makers in the RS community perform some of these numbers live.
Jon Broder is a native New Yorker who stayed in Philadelphia after attending law school at Temple. Counsel for Conrail for 30 years, he was instrumental in creating New York City’s High Line and currently is Conrail's Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer. Jon has long been active in the Philadelphia Jewish community, with turns as a synagogue president, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia trustee, Jewish Learning Venture president, and lay chair of the Kehillah of Philadelphia. Jon has studied the piano for more than 50 years, including at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Rabbi 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.
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 1970s, 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.
Sarah Kern, PhD, was a professor at The College of New Jersey with a specialty in child development and urban education for 19 years, including six as chair of her department. In addition to teaching and supervising students in field placements, she and colleagues at Harvard conducted extensive research on the achievement gap in American schools. She also worked at Temple on a national research project examining urban education in the mid-Atlantic region. A retiree for three years, she now happily helps care for her two wonderful grandchildren in Washington, DC.
David Mandell directs the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania in addition to serving as Associate Director of the Center for Autism Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. His research aims to improve the quality of care individuals with autism receive in their communities. Dr. Mandell holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University and a doctorate of science from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Henry Patterson grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. He came to Philadelphia for college and has lived here for 33 years. A retired schoolteacher, he has a love of travel and cooking because the smell and taste of food evoke for him wonderful places, people, and culture.
Tom Perloff joined RS when he enrolled in first grade at the Suburban Center. He was educated at Abington High School, the University of Pennsylvania, the London School of Economics, and Syracuse University. His secular career has included healthcare administration and food service distribution. His career at RS has included his recently-completed encore position as director of development and finance, and terms as president of the congregation from 1998 to 2002 and from 2004 to 2005.
Matt Rice, a lifelong learner, has a bachelor's in history and a master's in library and information science. Matt is particularly interested in Jewish ethics, having studied mussar with Rabbi Ira Stone (formerly of Beth-Zion Beth-Israel). Matt is currently studying Hebrew.
Mel ‘Moshe’ Seligsohn has been a member of RS for ten years. Like Dr. Barnes, Moshe attended Central High School and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He shared a love of art with his late wife, Valerie, a noted local artist who helped found the art department at Philadelphia Community College. Moshe is a graduate of the Barnes education program and has been a docent there for seven years.
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 1970s. 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.