Mosaic with Mia

The Walnut Street Synagogue is pleased to be a co-sponsor of the Mosaic with Mia program, presented by the Lappin Foundation, on Monday, August 30, 2021 at 7:30 pm.  This will be a virtual event offered at no charge.  Participants will learn how to create a beautiful Rosh Hashanah-themed card or picture.
Mosaics with Mia Flyer Fall Apples      (event flyer)


The Walnut Street Synagogue is pleased to announce our partnership with the Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program!

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In the Green Room: Behind the Scenes with Three Legends of Israeli Music (Part 1)
Featuring DAVID BROZA, live from Israel
in conversation with Danny Maseng

Sunday, August 29, 3:00 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program – this program is fully funded by a grant from the Albert and Rhoda Weissman Arts Endowment Fund, a joint program of Jewish Community Foundation Orange County and Jewish Federation)

DAvid Broza

Join us for a conversation between Danny Maseng and David Broza, one of Israel’s most preeminent and popular musicians.  The program is the first of a 3-part series of conversations with three legends of Israeli music. We will explore the background, influences and musical styles of each musician – and through each musician examine social and political challenges of the modern State of Israel.
David Broza is an internationally renowned Israeli singer-songwriter, recognized for his dynamic guitar performances and humanitarian efforts. His signature sound brings together the influence of Spanish flamenco, American folk, rock and roll, and poetry. Social justice and peace advocacy are embedded in Broza’s work; his 1977 hit song “Yihye Tov” remains an Israeli peace anthem. With over 40 albums released, many of which are multiplatinum, in English, Hebrew, and Spanish, Broza continues to tour globally both as a solo musician and with his various musical projects. Broza was born in Haifa, Israel and spent his teenage years in Spain and the UK. After returning to Israel, Broza started his musical career at age 22. His travels have contributed to his international sound and commitment to human connection, story-telling, and equality.  He is the founder of the non-profit One Million Guitars, which gives underprivileged schoolchildren around the world hand-crafted guitars and the foundation of a musical education. At the core of his social justice work is the belief that music is a platform for dialogue and tolerance. Danny Maseng. Born in Israel, Danny first came to the US to star on Broadway in ‘Only Fools Are Sad.’ A playwright, actor, singer and composer, Danny served as an evaluator of Opera-Musical Theater for the National Endowment for the Arts, as Artistic Director of the Brandeis Bardin Institute and as Cantor of Temple Israel of Hollywood in California. He is the founder and Spiritual Leader of Makom LA. One of the most popular and respected composers of contemporary liturgical and synagogue music, Danny’s compositions are sung worldwide; coast to coast in the US from Disney Hall to Carnegie Hall.  His essays and poems, are included in books by leading Jewish scholars and he’s been featured in several documentary films including the popular ‘Hava Nagila.’ Danny has had a long and celebrated career with extensive appearances on television, stage, and film.  He was the first to record Bob Dylan’s songs in Hebrew and also appeared on Israel’s first live entertainment broadcast. His books include the novel ‘Apollonia’, ‘The Passion, the Beauty, the Heartbreak: The History of Israel Through Music and Poetry’ and ‘Spiritual Cooking in the Time of the Plague.’ Danny has just completed ‘Black Milk’ an oratorio about poet Paul Celan. Deeply involved in interfaith dialogue and a much sought-after Scholar/Artist-in-Residence, Danny travels the world, inspiring, teaching, and rekindling the love of Judaism through Torah, Hasidut, Jewish Culture, and the Arts.
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Changing the Way We Read the Bible: A Conversation with the Father of Bibliodrama

Friday, August 27, 3:30 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)


Join us for a conversation between Rabbi Elie Spitz and Peter Pitzele, the father of Bibliodrama. Called Bibliolog in much of Europe, Bibliodrama is a form of role playing or improvisational theatre using Bible stories. It can take place in any group with an interest in the Bible: synagogues, churches, seminaries, study groups, etc.  In Bibliodrama the director reads through the selected text, stopping at points of interest to invite participants to step into the role of a character, or even sometimes of an object, and give it voice. Deriving from the Jewish tradition of midrash, Bibliodrama explores the unspoken in the lives of the characters, the “back story” or “subtext” in the written narrative, even the spaces between the words, to bring the Bible alive. Bibliodrama honors the written text and never contradicts the biblical account, though it deeply explores and challenges biblical meaning.  It becomes a window into the Bible and at the same time becomes a mirror in which participants can recognize parts of themselves. Peter Pitzele has taught Bibliodrama to rabbis, scholars, educators, pastors, priests, lay-people, performers, and families. It has aided community building and healing, served inter-religious dialogue, deepened the relationship of individuals to the biblical traditions, and has, for thousands of people, opened new insights into ancient sources.  With a Ph.D from Harvard University, Peter was a literature teacher for a number of years and later became trained in improvisational drama.  Through his involvement with Jewish and Christian communities and seminaries, Peter and his wife, Susan, developed Bibliodrama, a form of biblical investigation and play, now recognized as a principal methodology in the field of contemporary midrash.
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Down the Rabbit-Hole: How Misinformation is Changing the Ways We Believe and Belong

Thursday, August 26, 3:30 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Down the Rabbit Hole

The impact of fake news extends beyond politics and current affairs. It undermines our trust in people and institutions in ways that affect how we believe and belong. In this lecture, Eli Gottlieb combines insights from recent research into the effects of misinformation with an account of his own journey down a rabbit-hole to get to the bottom of a tweet claiming that Big Ben was stolen from Palestine. He then applies these insights to exploring what religious communities and traditions could do to repair trust. Eli Gottlieb is a cultural psychologist, strategic consultant and a senior visiting scholar at The George Washington University. He directed the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem for over a decade, before which he led various programs in Jewish education and leadership development in Israel and overseas. Born in London, Eli immigrated to Israel after completing degrees in Philosophy and Psychology at Cambridge. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has been a visiting professor at several universities in the United States, including Stanford and Harvard.
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Art, Cinema & Theater: Three More Jewish London Adventures
Part 1 – Your Loyal Subjects: National Portrait Gallery
Part 2 – Lights, Chutzpah, Action
Part 3 – Jewish Theatreland

Tuesday, August 10, 3:30 pm EDT (Part 1)
Tuesday, August 17, 3:30 pm EDT (Part 2)
Tuesday, August 24, 3:30 pm EDT (Part 3)
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Three More London Adventures

Part 1 – This fascinating tour profiles National Portrait Gallery portraits and artists through which you discover members of the Jewish community who became representative British subjects in the fields of politics, finance, industry and culture. Their stories following the earliest Jewish portrait of David Ricardo leads to chemical pioneers, the Mond family and then Epstein, Gertler, Disraeli, Freud and Rothschild  are also the story of the development of the Jewish community in the UK.

Part 2 – Discover the contribution made to the British film industry by Jewish producers, directors, designers, distributors and actors. From the early pioneers to 1930s emigres and beyond, their stories take you from Gaumont to Gainsborough studios, Ealing studios to Essoldo cinemas, producers Korda to Klinger and actors Skikne to Steiner. So sit back and enjoy these magic cinematic memories.

Part 3 – Take your seats and enjoy a fun and frothy virtual trip to London’s West End for theatrical and cinematic memories. Rachel explores connections with Jewish actors, impresarios, writers, producers and the early cinema industry. The cast includes Lionel Bart, Lord Delfont, Oscar Deutsch, Harold Pinter, Vivian van Damm, a Fiddler and a Funny Girl. Credits are also due to Lyons for the refreshments, Moss Bros for the costumes and Freed for the dance shoes.

Before embarking on her career as guide and lecturer, Rachel Kolsky, a qualified librarian, worked as an information professional in the financial services industry for over 25 years being recognized at industry level with the Information Professional of the Year award in 2006. Rachel has published five books, Jewish London (2012), Whitechapel in 50 Buildings (2016), Secret Whitechapel (2017), Women’s London (2018) and Whitechapel Doors (2019) and she is thrilled to have been a guest lecturer on cruises since 2009.


How the Jews Adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It
Part 1 – Synagogue Art in the Ancient World
Part 2 – Pirke Avot is Stoic Philosophy?
Part 3 – Mighty Aphrodite

Sunday, August 8, 8:00 pm EDT  (Part 1)
Sunday, August 15, 8:00 pm EDT (Part 2)
Sunday, August 22, 8:00 pm EDT (Part 3)
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Aphrodite and the Rabbis

Part 1 – Although 19th century anti-Semites dismissed Jews as “an artless people,” there are hundreds of examples of synagogue and funerary art from the period of the Talmud (70-600 CE). We will explore these images to see biblical interpretations in frescos and mosaics, and also see pagan motifs, even pagan gods(!), depicted in ancient synagogues. Together we will “read” the art to learn about our ancestors and their beliefs. Burton Visotzky serves as Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he joined the faculty upon his ordination in 1977. He serves as the Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS, programming on public policy, and directs JTS’s Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue. He is the author of ten books, editor of seven other volumes, and has authored over 125 articles and reviews. His book, APHRODITE AND THE RABBIS: How the Jews adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It, was published in 2016. He has been featured on radio, television, and in print. In 1995-1996, he collaborated with Bill Moyers on the ten-part PBS series, “Genesis: A Living Conversation. Rabbi Visotzky has been named to “The Forward 50” and repeatedly to the Newsweek/Daily Beast list of “The 50 Most Influential Jews in America.”  Prof. Visotzky holds an EdM from Harvard University; and has been visiting faculty at Oxford; Cambridge; and Princeton Universities; and the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow.
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A Conversation with Micha Odenheimer: The Rabbi of Nepal

Friday, August 20, 3:30 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Micha Odenheimer

Join us for a conversation between Rabbi Elie Spitz and Micha Odenheimer, the founder and director of Tevel b’tzedek. Born in 1958 in Berkeley California, Micha has been a writer, journalist, Jewish teacher and social activist in Israel since making aliyah 31 years ago. Micha was awarded a BA in Religion from Yale University Cum Laude in 1980, and was ordained as a Rabbi by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein of blessed memory in 1984. Micha was also a close student of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Micha’s life and interests include fields rarely seen in combination. He has reported from Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Nepal, India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Iraq, often during times of crisis. As a rabbi he has written dozens of essays on Judaism the Torah,  and social justice, and has reported on trends in Judaism and the Jewish world. Micha has a special interest in Jewish mysticism and Hasidism. In 1994 Micha founded the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, a watchdog and advocacy organization that aimed to change the way the Israeli government and other institutions absorbed Ethiopian Jews, particularly in the field of education, housing and employment. In 2007, Micha founded Tevel b’Tzedek, whose goal is to  connect Israel and the Jewish people to the challenge of healing poverty and environmental destruction on a global level and in Israel as well.  Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz approaches the familiar in unfamiliar ways. A spiritual leader and scholar specializing in topics of spirituality and Judaism, he teaches, writes and speaks to a wide range of audiences. He has served as the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin, California, for over three decades and served as member of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Law and Standards for twenty years. Rabbi Spitz is author of Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World; Does the Soul Survive? A Jewish Journey to Belief in Afterlife, Past Lives & Living with Purpose and Increasing Wholeness: Jewish Wisdom and Guided Meditations to Strengthen and Calm Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit (all Jewish Lights) and many articles dealing with spirituality and Jewish law. Rabbi Spitz spent the past 17 months teaching the Psalms with half-hour presentations for each Psalm (recently completing all 150 Psalms!).  To enjoy all or some of the 150 Psalm sessions, visit this LINK.
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All New, GEMS  of the Zohar

Thursday, August 5, 3:30 pm EDT (Part 1)
Thursday, August 12, 3:30 pm EDT (Part 2)
Thursday, August 19, 3:30 pm EDT (Part 3)
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Gems of the Zohar

The Zohar is the masterpiece of Kabbalah, a vast mystical commentary on the Torah, composed in 13th-century Spain. In this all new 3-part series, we will explore more of the Zohar’s striking ideas, including passages from the Zohar on the Hidden Light, the meaning of dreams, and meditating on a candle. A recording of our 3-part series with Prof. Matt from last summer as well as other programs on the Zohar can be enjoyed at this LINKDaniel C. Matt is a teacher of Jewish spirituality and one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah and the Zohar. He has been featured in Time and Newsweek and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah (translated into eight languages), Zohar: Annotated and Explained, and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality (revised edition, 2016). Several years ago, Daniel completed an 18-year project of translating and annotating the Zohar. In 2016, Stanford University Press published his ninth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, concluding the Zohar’s main commentary on the Torah. For this work, Daniel has been honored with a National Jewish Book Award and a Koret Jewish Book Award. The Koret award hailed his translation as “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.” Daniel received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and for twenty years served as professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Daniel lives in Berkeley with his wife Hana. Currently he is writing a biography of Elijah the Prophet for the Yale Jewish Lives series. He also teaches Zohar online. For information about this ongoing Zohar course, see the website of Stanford University Press.
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 900 Years of Thrills and Spills:
The Jewish Dreamers and Schemers Who Built Amusement Parks

Wednesday, August 18, 3:30 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Amusement Parks

So, who didn’t grow up loving amusement parks? And, except for Walt Disney and Walter Knott, who are the people behind them? That question is how this book came about. After all, we already know who created the movie industry and Murder Inc.—but who were the shapers of this other, unexplored facet of American culture? The Jews, that’s who. For starters, Solomon Bloom, a prodigy at 23, masterminded the Midway of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which gave birth to the American amusement park. And although it was the railroad barons who originally built the nation’s 2,000 amusement parks, it was Jewish immigrant carvers we can thank for the Golden Age of the Carousel. (They didn’t stop there. They also built the bemas for their shuls.) Jews are also responsible for the Golden Age of the Roller Coaster, forcing Americans to hop out of their Model T’s and onto great, wooden scream machines. And there’s plenty more examples—all suggesting the obvious: If not for the Jews, America would be a lot less fun. As described by The Wall Street Journal, Stephen M. Silverman “is a veteran journalist and historian of popular culture [who] writes with verve and mischief.” His 13 books include vibrant histories of the Catskill Mountains and amusement parks, as well as the internationally acclaimed biographies of legendary film directors David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia) and Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain). Silverman was the founding editor of People Magazine’s website; taught for nine years at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City; has written for numerous publications and has appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, and FOX Business. His first job, when he was an undergraduate at UC Irvine, was selling ice cream in Disneyland.
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No, You Don’t Really Have 7900 4th Cousins:  DNA Basics for Those With Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage

Wednesday, August 11, 3:30 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)


DNA has the potential to be an essential and exciting genealogical tool. But many Jewish testers find their DNA results completely overwhelming and unnavigable. Based on the popular 2017 article that has garnered over 100,000 views, this talk will help those with Jewish heritage learn to make sense of their DNA results. We’ll cover why our match lists are so large, (hello, endogamy!), why all our matches seem to match each other (endogamy, again!), and how to spot the meaningful matches and separate them from the faux ones. Using real-life examples of DNA success, you’ll learn techniques that will help you learn to work effectively with DNA to expand your tree. Jennifer Mendelsohn began her career as a journalist and ghostwriter. A former Washington, DC-based special correspondent for People, she also wrote the satirical “Keeping Tabs” column for Slate. Her work has appeared in numerous local and national publications including The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TodayThe Los Angeles TimesTimePoliticoTabletMcSweeneys and Jezebel. A native Long Islander now based in Baltimore, Mendelsohn serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland and is the administrator of Facebook’s Jewish Genetic Genealogy group.  Her work has received international media attention, including being featured on, The New YorkerThe Washington Post and Yahoo News.


The Torah of the Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, August 3, 3:30 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Torah of Lord of the Rings

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a philologist who borrowed from Biblical Hebrew for many of the character’s names in his famous trilogy. Join us to learn the Hebrew basis of Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, Tom Bombadil and even Tolkien’s own name. There is no better place than Hobbit-country itself to understand how Jewish ideas lie embedded in this epic novel. Rabbi Dr. Raphael Zarum is Dean of the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS). He has a doctorate in Theoretical Physics, a Masters’ in Education, and is a graduate of the Mandel Leadership School in Jerusalem. Raphael is a sought-after lecturer with wildly innovative and meaningful readings of Torah, Midrash, Talmud and the Jewish festivals that reference modern literature, cinema and culture.


The Last Kings of Shanghai – The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China

Sunday, August 1, 7:00 pm EDT
(online in partnership with the Orange County Community Scholar Program)

Last Kings of Shanghai

Join us for an epic, multigenerational story of two rival dynasties – the Sassoons and the Kadoories – that flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong as twentieth-century China surged into the modern era, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. These two Jewish families, both originally from Baghdad, stood astride Chinese business and politics for more than 175 years, profiting from the Opium Wars; surviving Japanese occupation; courting Chiang Kai-shek; and losing nearly everything as the Communists swept into power. In The Last Kings of Shanghai, Jonathan Kaufman tells the remarkable history of how these families participated in an economic boom that opened China to the world, but remained blind to the country’s deep inequality and to the political turmoil at their doorsteps. In a story stretching from Baghdad to Hong Kong to Shanghai to London, Kaufman enters the lives and minds of these ambitious men and women to forge a tale of opium smuggling, family rivalry, political intrigue, and survival. Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has written and reported on China for thirty years for The Boston Globe, where he covered the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square; The Wall Street Journal, where he served as China bureau chief from 2002 to 2005; and Bloomberg News. He is the author of A Hole in the Heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe and Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. He is director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.
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