Adult ed classes bountiful feast for the mind

After retirement some people say they don’t know how they used to fit work into their busy lives — and understandably so, considering the wide range of adult education classes available in Tucson.

The Brandeis National Committee, Tucson Chapter, a non-alumni philanthropic support group of Brandeis University, is offering 34 classes this fall. Book clubs abound: from mystery to contemporary fiction to a group for men and another for couples — reading takes center stage.

In “Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing,” participants will probe some of the tensions between the sexes, how men and women see each other and communicate in mature love relationships. The class will be facilitated by Edward Katz, Ph.D., who taught English literature for more than 30 years.

Most of the Brandeis classes, or “study groups,” are held at the homes of participants, who must become members of the Brandeis National Committee in addition to paying a small fee for each of the monthly sessions. Classes will be held from October to May.

Some Brandeis classes are field trips, including visits to artists’ studios or a matinee theater and lunch. There are secular classes on “Southwestern Native American Culture through Jewelry” and “The Four Bs: Biographies and Musical Aspects of Bach, Beethoven, Berlioz and Brahms,” and classes relating to Judaism such as “The Jewish Family in American Film” and “Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism.”

The Brandeis National Committee local chapter will also offer a new intergenerational study group for young parents and grandparents, “encouraging the wisdom of both age groups to solve common problems” experienced by junior high and high school students, says Roz Kroft, one of the facilitators. For more information on membership, contact Arlene Zuckerman at 577-1457 or zuck4@juno.com. To view classes, visit www.tucsonbnc.org and click on September newsletter/study guide.

Tucson synagogues will offer myriad adult education classes. Rabbi Israel Becker and Esther Becker of Congregation Chofetz Chayim will offer old favorites such as “Book & Beyond,” which this year will focus on “Everyone’s Got a Story,” 41 short stories from contemporary Jewish authors.

This fall’s Chofetz Chayim “Enlightenment” class will feature a “more controversial” array of topics, notes the rabbi, such as the fall of an evil person, reincarnation, astrology, implications of DNA research and software piracy. For more information, or to receive a brochure with the complete course line-up, call 747-7780.

Congregation Chaverim is continuing its monthly Jewish History Project on the third Tuesday of the month, from 5 to 6 p.m. An exploration of Jewish genealogy will culminate in a research trip to Salt Lake City in March. For more information, call 320-1015 or visit www.chaverim.net.

Congregation M’kor Hayim is offering a Shabbat morning study of Pirke Avot: Chapters of the Fathers on the second and fourth Saturdays at 11 a.m., from Oct. 29 until Dec. 24, at Tucson Hebrew Academy. “This collection of the earliest rabbinic sages examines practical, ethical and spiritual advice that continues to have contemporary relevance to our lives,” says Rabbi Helen Cohn. For more information, call 319-7073.

“The History of Israel from Ancient Times to the Present,” a new monthly class at Congregation Or Chadash, will start on Sunday, Nov. 14 and meet from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. Speakers will be announced. For more information, call 512-8500.

As always, Temple Emanu-El has an extensive selection of adult education classes. “Reaching Out to God — A Taste of Psalms,” taught by Rabbi Richard Safran, on Tuesdays from Oct. 11 to Nov. 22, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be among the new offerings this year. Or join Rabbi Sanford Seltzer to discover how an overtly erotic poem describing the love and sexual attraction of a man and a woman, sung in the taverns of ancient Palestine, became the Song of Songs, an integral part of both the Torah and the Christian Bible. This class will also take place on Tuesdays, Oct. 18 to Nov. 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 327-4501.

The Coalition for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, in partnership with the Tucson Jewish Community Center, will offer “Judaism and the Justices,” taught by local attorney and Arizona Jewish Post columnist Amy Hirshberg Lederman on Mondays from noon-1:30 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m., Oct. 31 through Dec. 19 at the JCC. For more information or to register, contact Suzanne Amador at 577-9393 or samador@jfsa.org.

The University of Arizona Humanities Seminars Program will explore subjects that include the fall of the Roman Republic, the religion of Islam, the Gothic phenomenon in fiction and film, travels in human consciousness as reflected in literature, and the history and art of dancing. All seminars will be led by UA faculty members. For more information, contact Kerstin Miller at 626-7845 or visit hsp.arizona.edu.

The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies is planning its “B’nai Mitzvah year” Sekhel Ve Lev, (“Mind and Heart”) lecture series for January through March. The series first started in the basement of the UA Hillel Foundation, says Sol Littman, author, journalist and community volunteer. “We’ve had lectures on linguistics, the origins of Hebrew, the Holocaust, and Israeli politics, and every year the enrollment soars,” he adds. “People keep saying this is the best class yet.”

The first sessions on Jan. 17, 24, and 31 will include “The Arab Spring: An analysis” in co-sponsorship with the UA department of Near Eastern Studies and the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts, and a discussion of “Apocalypse 2012,” led by Ed Wright, director of the center.

Session 2 will run on Feb. 7, 14 and 21, with Littman presenting “The Reluctant Pursuit: The Tepid Search for Nazi War Criminals.” Rabbi Sanford Seltzer will discuss “Jerusalem as a Sacred Place: The Religious Significance of Jerusalem for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Session 3 will take place on Feb. 28, March 6 and 13. For more information and specific times, contact Jeanne Davenport at 626-5759.