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about "bagel U"

"Bagel University” (commonly known as “Bagel U”) is a learning experience where members teach members at the Shul, in their homes, or on Zoom on a broad range of topics within Jewish heritage, religion, culture, and the arts.  “Bagel U” classes are a way of helping our members gain a deeper understanding of topics of personal interest that are related to Judaism. Members are encouraged to offer their suggestions of classes they 'd like to attend as well as classes they'd like to lead!

Our Spring 2024 schedule is just beginning to be announced.  Click on a flyer for a larger image and registration link.                           







  If you're not a member and enjoy viewing these classes, please consider joining as a member or making a thank you donation.

 A year-by-year listing for past Bagel U events follows; please scroll down to see the YouTube recordings.


Heretics & Heresy
Why Do We Have Poverty?

The Power of Jewish Dreaming
American Jewish Women & the Nuturing of New York Opera Culture
Questions About Reconstructionism
Chaim Grade
Black Fiddlers in the Orbit of Thomas Jefferson
Rosh Hashana: Have a Roman Meal
Democracy in Israel- A Panel Discussion
Klezmer with the Mayer Brothers
The US & the Holocaust (no video available)
Spiritual Musings of a Jewish Farmer - a conversation with Judy Dornstreich
Walking  Historical Tour of New Hope, PA (no video available)
Nahman of Brezlov
Yom Hashoah - Jews of Shanghai, Surviving the Holocaust
Which Jew?
Artful Photographs of a Vanished World
Mindfullness-Rooted Torah Text
Jews at Forefront of Modern Art - Alan Katz
Last Kings of Shanghai
Written in the Stars - Jews & Astrology
Divorce - Ancient & Modern Wisdom for Today
Down With the Crown, Parts 1-4
Jews at Forefront of Modern Art - Miriam Schapiro

A Story of Jewish Immigration to Australia
Biblical Poetry: Beyond the Psalms
Was First Alphabet a Form of Hebrew?
Why Meditation?
Fermented Vegetables
Martin Buber Explained
Jews at the Forefont of Modern art - Helen Frankenthaler
Genesis & the "Big Bang" Theory
Jews in Forefront of Modern art - Louise Nevelson
Between Bitterness and Hope
Right to be Safef
Reproductive Rights: A Status Report
A Better Life for their Children
Jews in Forefront of Modern Art - Mark Rothko
Jews in Forefront of Modern Art - Ben Shahan
Making Art: A Jewish History
MidEast Peace
Pre-Zionist Migrations from Russia to Palestine

American Jews Encounter the Buddah
Cyles Within Cycles
Sourdough Bread Making
Converso & Crypto Jews of New Mexico
Tzedakah - A Jewish Value
Short Story Series - Tender at the Bone
FilmShul: From the Catskills with Love
Dura Europas
Torah in the Tarot
Rabbi in the Political Trenches
Short Story Series- Bontshe The Silent
Nazi Looted Art
Humanistic Judaism
Mendelsohn's Synagogues in America
Jews & the Art School of Paris (Pre WWII)
Reluctant Rabbi
Cairo Geniza

Jews Learning About Islam
Poetry Cafe

2024 Events

Heretics & Heresy KHN members David Stoller and Abraham Leibson will explore the underlying concepts, assumptions, and world views that produce heretics and relate those to the different ways of being Jewish in the U.S., in Israel and around the world and interview each other for how their histories relate to heresy.



Why Do We Have Poverty? KHN Member Sally Feineman led us in a discussion of poverty in America, grounded in her many years providing food to the poor in our local area and from the lessons taught in two exceptional books - “Poverty by America” by Matthew Desmond and "There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition" by Rabbi Jill Jacobs.


American Jewish Women & the Nuturing of New York Opera Culture - How did the equation shift from Jewish women relying on opera to advance their liminal subject positions to the local opera industry relying on them to stay afloat? This presentation by Dr Samantha M Cooper uncovered and traced the evolution of Jewish women’s opera activities throughout New York City.

Questions About Reconstructionism - KHN Members Abraham Leibson and David Stoller moderated as we reviewed selected questions from Kaplan’s book “Questions Jews Ask: Reconstructionist Answers,” discussed our feelings and thoughts, and read Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan’s answers and his reasoning. Please join us in this exciting group learning experience of Rabbi Kaplan’s ideas.



Chaim Grade -  The Lithuanian Yiddish writer Chaim Grade wrote poetry, novels, and memoirs from the time of World War I until his death in 1982, recreating life in Eastern Europe equal to the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Sholom Aleichem. His two most acclaimed works were The Agunah and The Yeshiva.


Black Fiddlers in the Orbit of Thomas Jefferson - Black Fiddlers in the Orbit of Thomas Jefferson is a story for us, indeed for all Americans, to learn about, discuss, and be enlightened by. Music historian, conductor, and former KHN member Lewis R. Baratz will shed light on the music and the ethical contradictions of a key founding father of the United States. The presentation will be done via Zoom, with slides and musical ensembles performed by Lewis' ensemble, La Fiocco.

Rosh Hashana: Have a Roman Meal - We rang in Rosh Hashana by joining three generations of Popkin women as they traveled back in time to eat as our ancestors in the Roman ghettos did. They provided recipes and cooking demonstrations for traditional Roman-Jewish foods throughout history eaten to celebrate Rosh Hashana. The class, in-person and on Zoom was open to all Hebrew School students, parents, and congregants.

Democracy in Israel: A Panel Discussion with three Israeli-Americans. Have we Reached the End of a Democratic and Secular Israel? Should American Jews Be Concerned? And what is the Connection to Philly? Our panelisits include Myla Kaplan, a corporate lawyer in the US, who lived in Israel for 30 years and her three children and six grandchildren there. She has devoted many hours as a volunteer translator and a member of the executive committee of USA for Israeli Democracy, a grass-roots group focused on US-based actions to support democracy in Israel. Danielle Gutman, a postdoctoral researcher at Penn, who was born in Israel and grew up there, she also initiated the #DearDantchik campaign to bring awareness to the local billionaire responsible for funding Kohelet, the group behind the creation of the policies being implemented in Israel. Sheryl Sitman, currently a resident of New Hope, Sheryl moved to Israel in 1993 where she worked in Sales and Marketing for numerous Israeli startup companies and global corporations. Two of her three children and a grandson live in Israel and she divides her time between New Hope and Tel Aviv.She is currently involved in the activities to bring attention to the involvement of Main Line (Philadelphia) money in undermining the very fabric of Israeli society.
For more info:



Klezmer With the Mayer Brothers: Musicians Zach and Aaron Mayer led our community in a musical Interactive Concert Program focusing on Klezmer, the Eastern European Jewish party music that they played in their house from as early as they can remember. The event will include a mix of performance, storytelling, teaching, singing, and dancing.



US & the Holocaust - A Discussion:  Louise Levy lead an in-person only discussion  (No Zoom) of the PBS documentary - The US and the Holocaust. NO VIDEO AVAILABLE

Spiritual Musings of a Jewish Farmer:  KHN Member Judy Dornstreich, who has farmed and danced around the world engages in conversation with KHN member and poet David Stoller. For Dornstreich, the seeds of farming were planted while as an anthropologist with her husband while living with isolated stone-age people in New Guinea. Those seeds sprouted in Africa, were nutured in India, fed in England and then rooted in Perkasie. She has been exposed to many spiritual traditions which have cultivated her dancing with plants.



Walking Tour of Historical New Hope:  KHN Member and New Hope Historical Society Member Abrey Light took members on a tour of New Hope.  NO VIDEO AVAILABLE

Nahman of Brezlov The powerful insights of this Hasidic Master still live after more than two centuries and have survived to be potent today, as fresh, meaningful, and wise teachings for us in our own time.  Abraham Leibson leads our discussion.


Yom Hashoah - Jews of Shanghai, Surviving the Holocaust: One of the most extradorinary stories of the Holocaust is how 20,000 Jews were welcomed into China. For Yom Hashoah KHN Member Debra Brosan shares the story of her family's life in China after leaving Europe and her work to preserve and archive the artifacts of their story with the staff at Valpariso University.



Which Jew?  Over the course of history, our people have been split into different denominations and sub-communities. Who are these different people? What are their differences and where is their commonality? Please join us as Rabbinic Intern Josh Nelson leads us on an exploration of who calls themselves a Jew, here and around the world.

Artful Photographs of a Vanished World : KHN Member Bennett Povlow is our presenter. Several photographers have managed to record a lost world of Jewish communities in Europe before its destruction. This talk will focus on the work of Richard Scheuer and Roman Vishniac.



Mindfulness-Rooted Torah Text : Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, believed to be the first blind female rabbi in the rabbinate, presented a mindfulness-rooted text study that focuses on themes of disability and belonging. Connected to the Torah portion of the week and Bavli Taanit 20B.

Jews at the Forefront of Modern Art- Alex Katz: David Stoller's series continues with Alex Katz  as we will explore the evolution of his art over the eight decades he’s been painting; hat accounts for his extraordinary longevity and continued relevance as an artist and why his art is so unique and special in the annals of modern art. 



Last Kings of Shanghai: In a three-part series Debra Brosan leads a discussion of the book The Last Kings of Shanghai which details two Jewish dynasties in China.



Written in the Stars - Jews & Astrology: Astrological symbols have been discovered in Israeli archeological sites, appear in ancient manuscripts and were featured in ancient synagogues still in use to this day. What is the history of this influence, which seems so at odds with the Torah’s strict prohibition against “worshiping the stars”? KHN Member Anne Pettit leads the class.

Divorce - Ancient & Modern Wisdom for Today:  A two-part conversation about being divorced and Jewish. We will explore both the ancient and modern conversations on a topic impacting so many of us. The phenomenon of divorce is not going to disappear, so let us begin writing a new chapter, without shame, of what Jewish families can look like.


Which Israel?:  Join us for a guided discussion examining what each of us means by the word Israel so that we might learn how to better ask and answer the question: Which Israel?


Down With the Crown (Part 4):  A 4-part series examining the Tanakh's conflicting views of the ancient Israeli monarchy.


Down With the Crown (Part 3):  A 4-part series examining the Tanakh's conflicting views of the ancient Israeli monarchy.

Down With the Crown (Part 2):  A 4-part series examining the Tanakh's conflicting views of the ancient Israeli monarchy.


Down With the Crown (Part 1):  A 4-part series examining the Tanakh's conflicting views of the ancient Israeli monarchy.


Jews at the Forefront of Modern Art: Miriam Schapiro: David Stoller tells us about groundbreaking, influential and under-appreciated, artist Miriam Schapiro.




A Story of Jewish Immigration to Australia    Author Dr. Margaret Taft  tells the story of Leo & Mina Fink in her book "For the Greater Good". During the Holocaust, the Finks rallied to rescue survivors. Marshaling the might of local and international agencies, they spearheaded the urgent relief and settlement of thousands of displaced Holocaust survivors. They initiated expansive welfare programs while personally helping countless individuals. Mina's devotion to a group of war orphans known as the ‘Buchenwald boys' was testament to her and Leo’s relentless efforts to improve the lives of others.


Biblical Poetry: Beyond the Psalms  Rabbinic Intern Josh Nelson leads us into a deeper look at the Psalms found throughout the Tanakh. Developing a deeper appreciation for the literary artistry and structural elements of biblical poetry can reveal clever rhetorical flourishes that can be easily overlooked. Please join this class of discovery.

Was the FIrst Alphabet an early form of Hebrew? Class led by Abraham Leibson. Learn about the interesting findings of language research, and Hebrew’s place in it as a likely mother of alphabets. The beginnings of the first alphabet’s family tree are shrouded in mystery. All modern alphabets are believed to have developed from a single parent script, which originated sometime in the second millennium BCE. Now, a controversial new theory has proposed that the original alphabet was actually an early form of Hebrew.


Why Meditation? With Susan Sklaroff-Van Hook. During our interactive session, “Why Meditation,” we will explore different types of meditation and the ways in which this ancient practice can improve our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being and can beneficially affect the world. Perhaps most importantly, we will practice together.



Fermented Veggies With Miriam Gitterman: This single in-person class  covered the steps for making fermented vegetable popular with Israelis. An in-person class for those interested in taking home the end product, also broadcast on Zoom.


Martin Buber Explained: KHN Member Abraham Leibson will use texts, slides and diagrams to make graphic the essence of the I-Thou, I-It concept. The presentation is followed by a discussion.

Jews in the Forefront of American Modern Art Part 4: Helen Frankenthaler, at 24 years of age, stunned the art world with her painting “Mountain and Sea”, and introduced a new style that was to be called color field painting.


Genesis & the "Big Bang" Theory:  KHN Member and Delaware Valley College Physics Professor Michael Tabachnick explains his startling resolution: There is a remarkable similarity between Creation as described in Genesis and the origins of the universe according to the “Big Bang Theory.”  He uses deep space photographs taken by the Hubble telescope and compares them to the biblical verse that seem to describe these very same vistas.

Jews in the Forefront of American Modern Art Part 3: Louise Nevelson, (born Leah Berliawsky) is famous for her monumental wall
pieces and outdoor sculptures (leading generations of women into provinces previously reserved for men.)

Between Biterness and Hope

Although we were not allowed to record a video of this event, Rabbi Pam Wax sent us the following poetry packet we can share. You can view it by clicking HERE

Right to Be Safe

We were not allowed to record this program for sharing.

Reproductive Rights: A Status Report

Merrill Mezzacappa, Reproductive Justice Tasks Force Chair for NOW-NJ and Phoebe Pollinger , on the Board of the National Council of Jewish Women in Essex County (NJ), joined us to discuss where reproductive rights are locally and nationally and where the Jewish Community stands on it based on Jewish Law.


A Better Life for their Children

Author Andrew Feiler spoke about the collaboration between Julius Rosenwald and Booker T Washington where they launched an ambitious program in 1912 with black communities that created 4,978 public schools for African-American children in 15 Southern and border states. Due to a technical glitch the program starts 13 seconds into the video.


Jews in the Forefront of Modern Art Part 2

A three-part series with David Stoller. This program will look at the outsized influence of Jewish artists in the rise of modernism in America, which occurred across all areas of the arts and design. Part 2, Mark Rothko (born Marcus Rothkowitz), a leader in post-war “Abstract Expressionism.” (Part 3 coming in April 2022)



Jews in the Forefront of Modern Art Part 1

A three-part series with David Stoller. In this program we will look at the outsized influence of Jewish artists in the rise of modernism in America, which occurred across all areas of the arts and design. Part 1 covered Ben Shahn, a leader of the “Social Realism” School that emerged between the wars.


Making Art: A Jewish History

Abraham Leibson, a KHN member, used video to show the Bezalel history & photographs to show examples of the creative output of Israeli artists. Like Israel itself, born out of determination, the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem has recaptured the creative forces seemingly repressed.


Mid-East Peace
For so long Mid-East Peace has eluded us. This may be the time for deep scholarship and creative minds that could shape a better outcome, a special concern in the Jewish community. Join Dr. Christopher Mott, research fellow at the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy for a discussion.



Pre-Zionist Migrations from Russia to Palestine

How were these migrations possible? Who were these migrants, how did their arrival stir up new political visions and opportunities for belonging? PhD Eileen Kane, who is working on a book on the migrations, answers these questions and more. There's a slight glitch at the beginning of the recording but the rest of the video is fine.

2021 Events

American Jews Encounter the Buddah

We explored some of the ways some Jews search for spirituality, the meditative traditions within Judaism itself, and how Jewish traditions differ from the Buddhist traditions Jews turn to. You may be surprised. We shared an overview, watched some videos and had a discussion led by Abraham Leibson.


Cycles Within Cyles
Justin Goldman illuminated the wisdom and beauty of the Jewish calendar and entered into an exploration of how the cycles which make up the Jewish year offer us containers in which to build meaning in our lives as individuals and communities.


Sourdough Bread Making
Miriam Gitterman gave a wonderful class on sourdough bread making. We watched as she showed us sourdough loaves at various stages of the process. We learned how to mix, fold, proof, shape, score and bake the dough. Afterward, we enjoyed tasting the hot delicious loaf of sourdough bread. Our thanks to Miriam for her tips and tricks of bread baking. Now it is our turn to make our own loaves.


Converso and Crypto Jews of New Mexico
After a September break for the Holidays, Rabbi Min Kantrowitz joined us on Zoom to give a presentation on New Mexico’s Conversos  and Crypto-Jews . The Crypto-Jews practiced their Judaism in secret in Spain during the Inquisition and brought their traditions to America, settling in New Mexico where they blended their traditions with those of the people of the southwest. This program was sponsored by Larry Fieber and JP Cronin.


Tzedakah - A Jewish Value -  We learned about Tzedakah. Tzedakah is a Jewish value, but what do our sources teach us about how, when, and why we give?  We explored texts from the Torah, Talmud, and law codes and saw how our sages debated these issues. Presented by Rebecca Kaufman, daughter of Andrew Kaufman, a fourth year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College.

Short Story Series
We listened, with subtitles to excerpts from Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone and a translation of Marcel Proust's famous madeleine scene in Swan's Way as Emma Popkin facilitated a discussion of family, memory and identity through food and culinary experiences.

FilmShul: From the Catskills With Love

We welcomed FilmShul presenters Irv Slifkin and Laurence Lerman, who came via Zoom to tell and show the story of how the Catskills became known as the Borsht Belt influenced Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, and countless other Jewish comedians.

Dura Europas

Abraham Leibson presented the story of Dura Europas synagogue using photographs and videos prepared by scholars. It reveals the varied influences on that Jewish community, much like the American experience on today’s Jews. Dura Europas was at the crossroads of battling empires in the Mideast. Founded in 300 BCE, it was overrun by different empires a number of times, and finally destroyed and abandoned in 256 CE. A quirk of defensive military maneuvers resulted in the entombment of the synagogue, making possible this remarkable discovery.


Torah in the Tarot

Author Stav Appel shared his provocative thesis that the original Tarot cards were a tool for Jewish education during the centuries when it was forbidden to be openly Jewish in France.His findings seem to reveal hidden images that may have been used to hold onto Judaic symbols and a lost heritage.


Rabbi In the Political Trenches
Our former rabbinical intern Michael Pollack, now Rabbi Michael Pollack, who chose activism over a pulpit to engage dark forces of corruption in Pennsylvania government, returned to speak. He started an organization called March on Harrisburg, leading marches reminiscent of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. We welcomed Rabbi Michael home! How can the KHN community learn to effectively bring about justice and Tikkun?

Short Story Series
Emma Popkin led a discussion of the short story Bontshe The Silent by I. L. Peretz. The story's audio, which is cut off in the video of the event, can be viewed HERE.


Nazi Looted Art 

KHN member Abraham Leibson led a discussion about Nazi Looted Art. We have seen movies about art recovery (Woman in Gold, The Monument Men, and others) and have heard accounts of thousands of other artworks, some still being withheld by museums and private collectors.  YouTube videos helped us understand what happened inspired a discussion about that history and its meaning.


Humanistic Judaism

We learned about Humanistic Judaism from Society of Humanistic Judaism Executive Director Paul Golin.  They have removed reference to God and the supernatural from their liturgy and instead overlaid a Humanistic philosophy of life onto Jewish holiday celebrations and lifecycle events.

Mendelsohn's Synagogues in America

Photographer Craig Palmer presented his book Eric Mendelsohn's Synagogues in America.  Between 1946 and 1953, German-Jewish architect Mendelsohn conceived and brought to magnificent fruition four synagogues that became the benchmark of modern American synagogue architecture. Palmer told the story of the architect, his designs, and the relationships in the architect’s career with spectacular photographs from his book.

Jews & the Art School of Paris (Pre-WWII)

KHN member Andre Salz, who is a painter and art historian, took us on a journey into the past and taught us about Jewish artists in Paris pre-World War II. In the quarter of Montparnasse in Paris, a group of Jewish painters (Soutine, Chagall, Modigliani etc.) were changing the direction of modern art. Here is their story. Salz regales us with fascinating stories of artists, many of whom were clients of Andre’s art dealer father in Paris. This is an excellent companion to the current show at the Barnes Foundation in Philly.

The Reluctant Rabbi

We had a large Zoom turnout for Rabbi Laurie Katz Braun sharing a sneak preview of her new one-woman show "The Reluctant Rabbi" exploring life-changing questions we ask ourselves and to help us read the signposts along the way. (VIDEO NOT AVAILABLE)

Cairo Geniza
KHN member Abraham Leibson led a discussion about the Cairo Geniza. The Genzia, considered the second most important Judaic find after the Dead Sea Scrolls, was discovered at the Ben Ezra synagogue, It provided a unique window into the past, starting in the twelfth century, when Maimonides was the personal physician to the Sultan. Attendees viewed two YouTube videos, one by the book authors and the other from Cambridge University, which organized the  find that was brought to them by Rabbi Solomon Schechter in 1896.



An informative session on ShareGiving. David Stoller, in collaboration with his brother and other professionals, has created a novel approach to caregiving called Sharegiving, which he believes can make an enormous difference in the effectiveness and well-being of the caregiver to those with Alzheimer's, dementia, and other diseases. The presentation used an interview format between David and his brother Rob, unpacking the core elements of the program.



2020 and earlier..
(we weren't using Zoom extensively, so recordings not available)
There was an exciting lineup of virtual courses and speakers during the summer and fall 2020, including a virtual cooking class by KHN member Judith Daniels and a three-part series focused on parenting skills presented by KHN member and child psychologist Geoff Wyckoff.   


Poetry Cafe:  The first Kehilat HaNahar Poetry Cafe was called a flaming success. Words lit up the Shabbat evening from the creativity of our own KHN members delivering heartfelt and humorous works.

Participating readers included: Lynn Levin, David Stoller, Andre Salz, Jennifer Fritch, Rabbi Diana, Abraham Leibson and Richard Kirschner. Also, someone read Susan Rattner’s haikus for her in her absence. The works of some of the authors can be read here.

Jews Learning About Islam: Our own Andre Salz delivered a talk about his own experiences of interacting with and learning about the history and the people who practice Islam.  The emphasis was on meeting people with a shared history and engaging on a human, not ideological or political level.

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyar 5784