Join members of the community for an incredible, one-of-a-kind evening to inspire you, where more than 20 Jewish topics will be presented in a personal and relevant way. Our Live & Learn evening features local clergy and educators who will engage you in Jewish learning on a variety of current issues – some humorous, some serious, all meaningful. And all are served just for you, along with a selection of wine, a musical Havdalah celebration, and scrumptious desserts!

Live & Learn

An evening of Jewish exploration, inspiration, and celebration

Saturday, February 10, 2018 • 7-10 p.m.

JCC of Central NJ
1391 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains

7:00 Shavua Tov: Welcome and enjoy our generous selection of wine and dessert
7:15 Festive Havdalah with the Shabbatones
8:00 First session: choose from 17 topics
8:50 More refreshments
9:00 Second session: choose from 16 topics
9:50 Laila Tov: Farewell!

$8 per adult (age 21+) includes admission to program, wine, dessert, and a great evening of Jewish community. Please RSVP by January 31. Price will increase to $18 on February 1.

Kosher dietary laws observed

Mindy Goldberger and Mark Lindenberg, Chairs

For more information contact Robert Lichtman at or (973) 929-2950

The high quality of our program, and low fees are thanks to the generous sponsorship of Michael and Ruth B. Margolin

All sessions are 50 minutes. (Some sessions may not be offered if minimum registration is not reached.)

8 and 9 p.m. sessions

#801, 901: New Tunes for Jewish Prayers

Hazzan Brian Kalver, Congregation B'nai Israel of Basking Ridge

Communal singing is a major component in our prayer services. Familiar prayer melodies can be evocative and resonate with something deep in our Jewish souls, but also can be stultifying and suck some of the vitality out of the prayer experience. Hazzan (Cantor) Brian Kalver will lead a brief discussion about the effect that new melodies have on communal prayer services, and then teach four or five new(er) prayer melodies just to try to shake things up a little. 

More Info:
I want to show people how a new tune can sometimes change the experience of a prayer in a great way - even for people who like the old tune.

#802, 902: Jews in Space!

Rabbi Neil Tow, Temple Beth El Mekor Chayim

Jews adapt to conditions of all kinds. How do we practice Judaism when we're in extreme conditions that dramatically alter our usual parameters and conditions?

More info:
We will explore the challenges of Jewish observance in extreme spots on earth and beyond! When and how often do we pray? What direction do we face? How does Jewish tradition think about the areas beyond earth? Does space existence impact Jewish ethics? Can Kashrut translate to space?  How can we observe our religion under extreme conditions of geography, climate, and more? Together we will examine sources to help us begin to answer these questions.

#803, 903: Laughing with the Rabbis

Rabbi Howard Tilman, Congregation Beth Israel

Think your rabbi is funny? If so, they probably learned it from the original rabbis of the Talmud. Take a look at some funny moments in this classical Jewish text, and probably a few modern moments along the way too.

More info:
We will review a few texts from the Talmud with some humor in them, and then include some clips and modern examples that show a similar style of humor carrying over generations later.

#805, 905: To Live and to Live Again

Rabbi Avrohom Blesofsky, Chabad of Union County

An Exploration of Life, Death, and What Lies Beyond

More info:
Discussion on Judaism’s unique perspective, traditions and teachings on the afterlife.

#808, 908: Curious Sexual Behavior in the Bible

Rabbi Avi Friedman, Congregation Ohr Shalom

The news is filled with stories about the sexual misbehavior of people in power. Believe it or not, so is the Bible!

More info:
An examination of Biblical passages which describe complicated sexual relationships and a comparison of those passages to modern examples.

#809, 909: Do Not Stand Idly By

Rabbi Joel N. Abraham, Temple Sholom

How do we take the lessons that we learn from Jewish ethics out into the world? How do we respectfully share with others the political issues that our Judaism leads us to advocate?

More info:
Using Jewish texts from Torah to Talmud, we will look at Judaism's relationship to society around us and the compulsion to reprove when we observe a world that does not live up to its moral potential.

#810, 910: The Necessity of Coffee for 17th Century Italian Davening

Hazzan Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo, Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim

While 16th and 17th Jews in Sefat and the Ottoman Empire created societies devoted to praying at midnight, the Italian Jews were resistant to change until they We will explore the history of coffee consumption and Jewish congregational prayer.

More info:
Over pots of freshly brewed coffee from Chazzano Coffee Roasters, we will discuss the prayer societies during that period and why they preferred to daven at midnight, and the content of those prayers.

#811, 911: Why Purim Is not the “Jewish Halloween”

Rabbi Joshua Hess, Congregation Anshe Chesed

Dressing up in costumes? Candy and goodie exchanges? Sounds like Halloween? Sounds like Purim? Sounds like we should examine this further…

More info:
What appears to be similar on the outside is dramatically different in origin and intent. Purim is coming, so let’s go deeper into why we do what we do.


#812, 912: Dutch Treat

Justin Sakofs, Director of Empowerment for Families with School Age Children, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest

You may think you are at Live & Learn, but step into this session and travel back 300 years to visit Jews in Amsterdam.  What are they doing – and why?

More info:
Bernard Picart was a 17th century artist of at least two religions (neither one Jewish) with a personal commitment to promote religious tolerance. He left us beautiful and intricate depictions of how different people world-over practiced their diverse beliefs. Thanks to him we can take a journey through time and space to visit other Jews and explore their rituals and practices, as he saw them.  And we will enjoy Dutch-inspired refreshments.

#813, 913: A Purim Party?

Rabbi Ethan Linden, Director, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires

There is a well-known tradition regarding intoxication on Purim. Let’s investigate that tradition - and complicate it.

More info:
We will review the laws of drinking and Purim; and given what we know, we will engage in give and take.

#814, 914: Eco-Kashrut: Thinking About our Food Choices

Joshua Jacobs, Director of Camper Magic, Eden Village Camp

Our food system is vastly different than it was when the laws of kashrut were shaped. We'll take a proverbial walk down the supermarket aisle to learn more about from where our food comes, what all the labels and jargon mean, and what Judaism has to say about it all.

More info:
We will learn about the effects our food choices have on the environment, workers, and animals, and learn a whole slew of terms on packaging labels. We will also look at Jewish text to learn what our tradition has to say about our food choices and system.

#815, 915: 3000 Years of Jerusalem

Amit Stern, Community Shaliach, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

"Next year, let us be in the built-up Jerusalem!" But which Jerusalem do we refer to? King David's Jerusalem? The Old City? Is there any difference? Get to know 3000 years of Jerusalem history and stories through texts maps and pictures from the biblical time to these days – and especially these days.

More info:
For thousands of years, Jerusalem was a yearning. How has our relationship to Jerusalem changed? How has our definition of Jerusalem changed? We will also reflect on the current status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

#816, 916: Megillot Sing-Along

Cantor Michelle Rubel, Temple Emanu-El of Westfield

The Five Megillot — Esther, Lamentations, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs — explore the many facets of the human experience. Learn how these words have been expressed musically in our tradition, and how the themes of these texts have been adapted in popular song as well. Bring your singing voice!

More info:
I will review each of the five Megillot: including a summary of the themes of each text, examples of trope chanting, musical settings of the Hebrew text, and popular songs that connect to the themes of each text. I will bring song sheets so you can sing along.

#818, 918: Wonder Women- Women in the Military in Jewish History

Shiri Mass, Youth and Campus Shlicha, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

The roles, challenges and achievements of women in the military through history.

More info:
We will learn about Yael as a warrior and Deborah as a leader and as a platform for a discussion about gender equality in the military. I will speak about the development of the role of women in the Israel Defense Forces since 1948.

#819, 919: Mental Health First Aid for Youth: A Primer

Aaron Selkow, Executive Director, URJ Camp Harlam

MFHA for Youth — one of the most comprehensive and widespread programs for adults to help address the mental health crisis facing young people — is for educators, leaders and parents, alike. Join me for a meaningful introduction to the key take-aways for every family.

More info:
In our “Misheberach” for those who are ill, we pray for a healing of the soul. As an instructor certified by the National Council for Behavioral Health, I will lead you through the content and methods from MHFA for Youth that you can use immediately in your relationships with young people.

8 p.m. session only

#807: How to See the Good in People Who Drive You Crazy/What Is the Greatest Principle of the Torah?

Rabbi Hannah Orden, Congregation Beth Hatikvah
First session: 8 p.m.

Two ancient rabbis had a debate: What is the greatest principle of the Torah? One said: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The other said the greatest principle of the Torah is: “On the day when God made human beings, they were made in the image of God; male and female God created them.” Two thousand years later, these fundamental Jewish principles still have much to teach us about treating all people with dignity and respect and finding common ground in a divided world.

More info:
We will begin with a short text study of several Torah commandments and discuss which ones you think are most important. Then we will join the Talmudic debate between Rabbi Akiva and Ben Azzai about "the greatest principle in the Torah.” Finally, we will apply the concept that everyone is made in God's image (Tzelem Elohim) to contemporary issues in today's world.

#817: Gun Control

Rabbi Doug Sagal, Temple Emanu-El of Westfield
First session: 8 p.m.

The Jewish view of gun control.

More info:
We will examine the Jewish perspective on gun control and self defense

9 p.m. session only

#904: Mindfulness, Shmindfulness: Exploring the Jewish Path to Awareness, Happiness, and Peace

Cantor Steven Stern, Spiritual Leader, Temple Beth O'r/Beth Torah
Second session: 9 p.m.

Everyone is talking about mindfulness. What is it? How do you practice it? How can Jewish teachings on the subject impact your life?

More info:
We will explore what mindfulness is, spend a few moments practicing a few techniques, and then discuss the Jewish perspective on awareness, and how it is achieved, especially through blessings. Finally, we will focus on gratitude as a goal of mindfulness.


Rabbi Joel Abraham
Allen Barkin
Lauren Barr
Rabbi Uzi Beer
Rabbi Avrohom Blesofsky
Elizabeth Bloch
Rabbi Levi Block
Deborah Blum
Eytan Burstein



Lisa Drapkin
Yanina Haas
Hazzan Brian Kalver
Cantor Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo
Rhonda Lillianthal
Sherri Lindenberg
Erica Needle
Marietta Peskin
Rabbi Ethan Prosnit


Ron Rockman
Rabbi John Schechter
Maxine Schwartz
Arleen Soldati
Cantor Steven Stern
Rabbi Howard Tilman
Rabbi Neil Tow
Erica Yadlovker
Randi Zucker

Live and Learn is a collaborative community celebration of adult Jewish learning among Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the JCC of Central NJ, and Jewish community in Union and Northern Somerset Counties.

Building an inclusive community is a priority. Contact us and we will make every effort to meet your needs.