Early Childhood





Lectures and Film • Adults


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Film Series: An Eclectic Selection of Films

Advance registration not required but appreciated.
All participants must sign in at the Welcome Desk.
Members & Non-members: $5 per film per person (unless otherwise specified) / Library
Includes light snacks.

Paul Robeson: Here I Stand

Monday, February 4; 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
(For additional information, see description under “Renard Series”)

Suite Francaise

Thursday, February 21; 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
This film will be followed by instructor-led commentary and discussion; fees are $10 per person

Walt Whitman

Friday, March 15; 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM


Friday, April 12; 12:30 PM -2:00 PM

God Grew Tired of Us

Friday, May 10; 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Friday, June 14; 12:30 PM -2:30 PM




Irène Némirovsky:  Her Life and Literary Craft with Sandra Smith– CLOSED

4 Thursdays, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM 
Start Date: February 7
Members $50; Non-members $65 / Library

Irène Némirovsky, born in Kiev in 1903, gained fame in Paris when she was 16 and her novel “David Golder” made her famous overnight. She published yearly until the anti-Semitic laws under the Occupation ended her brilliant career. Forbidden from publishing, the family retreated to the Burgundy village of Issy-l’Evêque from where she would begin writing the story of the war as it was unfolding: Suite Française. She was arrested by French police on July 13, 1942 and deported to Auschwitz, where she died a month later.  This course will look at Némirovsky’s life and discuss Suite Française in detail, including a showing of the movie of the novel.

Sandra Smith taught French Literature at Cambridge University for many years before moving back to New York. She is also the prize-winning literary translator of Irène Némirovsky (12 novels including Suite Française), Camus (The Stranger), and Guy de Maupassant, among others. Her translation of the biography of Jacques Schiffrin is being published next year by Columbia University Press.


The American Civil War: “A New Birth of Freedom” with Richard Borkow– CLOSED

5 Thursdays, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Start Date: March 7
Members $60; Non-members $72 / Library

The Battle of Gettysburg in early July 1863 occurred near the midpoint of the Civil War, which, by that time (and contrary to President Lincoln’s initial intentions), had become a revolutionary struggle.  The ultimate victory of Union forces two years later would confirm the revolutionary changes brought about by the war.  This course will explore the causes, key military actions, and principal consequences of the war.

Richard Borkow is the village historian of Dobbs Ferry and a trustee of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society.  He is the author of the 2011 book, George Washington’s Westchester Gamble, published by The History Press, and of Westchester County New York’s Role in the Revolutionary War, which appeared as a feature article in Westchester Magazine in July, 2013.  He has been an attending physician at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla since 1981.


Jewish Image in American Film:  Part One with Arthur Aldrich– CLOSED

5 Fridays, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Start Date:  May 3
No class May 24
Members $60; Non-members $72 / Room to be announced

How are Jews portrayed in an industry dominated by Jews, mostly immigrants from Eastern Europe? This course uses original films dating back to Thomas Edison to document how the Jewish image was portrayed to American audiences and how that image changed as Jews acculturated and joined mainstream American society. It covers the period from the 1890s through the silent era, the Jazz Singer and Gentleman’s Agreement.

Arthur Aldrich is a media historian and founder, editor, and publisher of “Our Town” newspaper. In the 1950s, he worked in radio and was stage manager of an off-Broadway theater and technical director of the Folksbiene Theater on the Lower East Side. He was an adjunct professor at Rockland Community College and taught more than 60 Elderhostel and adult ed courses. He teaches at the Learning Collaborative.


Renard Series

The Renard Series is made possible in part by a grant from the Henry H. Renard Foundation, sponsors and program participants.

Musical concerts and first-person accounts are combined with traditional lectures by scholars and experts in their fields. Presenters offer stimulating, informative, engaging, and unique insights in music, literature, art, history, sports, film, archeology, and pop culture, and more. The series is open to all and geared toward people 50 years of age and older seeking a cultural and intellectual experience.

Join us once or participate each week!  Advance registration not required.
Mondays, 10:00 – 11:30 AM; Doors open at 9:30 AM
Program will not run on: January 21, February 18
Fee: $5 per person, per presentation / Library


Musical Responses to Oppression: Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Gershwin by violinist Shem Guibbory and pianist Oxana Mikhailoff

Monday, January 7, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

In this program we play three astonishingly different works:Prokofiev’s Sonata in D Major Op.94a written during the middle of WWII when he was protectively sequestered by Soviet authorities, deep in the Ural Mountains; Preludes Op. 34 by Shostakovich, written when his life seemed to be hanging by a thread under Stalin’s displeasure; and Jascha Heifetz’s arrangements from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Sponsored by The Wexler Family
Co-sponsored by the Shames JCC School of Music


Great Speeches of the Early 1960s – From Kennedy to King with Jess Velona

Monday, January 14, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

The early 1960s come alive in Jess Velona’s fast-paced review of that era’s great speeches, which inspired a nation to believe it could be better. Relive the Catholic JFK confronting a roomful of hostile Protestant ministers, the young president’s timeless inaugural, his bold call for civil rights, and Martin Luther King’s dream.  Along the way, Velona takes us behind the scenes to reveal who really wrote those speeches, the lines that were left out and why, and how last-minute events almost prevented some of those speeches from being delivered at all.  He also explores how Kennedy and King deftly targeted different audiences within the same speech, and unveils the rhetorical tools they used to make their words unforgettable even a half-century later.

Sponsored by The Knolls, a Bethel Community


The Jewish Roots of Flamenco

Monday, January 28, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Flamenco is an art form that arose in Spain, influenced by various populations passing through or living in the southern region of Andalusia.  Beginning in the third century BC, Gypsies, Sephardic Jews, Christians, and Moors all contributed to Andalusian culture.  This presentation will discuss flamenco and its Jewish connection.

Anna de la Paz, a Spanish dance artist, is a performer, producer and educator, specializing in the classical and folkloric dances from Spain.  After moving to New York City in 1999 she worked with American Bolero Dance Company, Danzas Española, Migración and Memorias, and was on the creative team that produced Making Music Dance, a cross-fusion of flamenco, tap and world music.  She was co-director of “Walk to the Beat”, an annual improvisational music and dance festival in Nyack, NY.  Anna currently teaches her own classes at the Helen Hayes Studios in Nyack and gives lectures, teaches and performs as an artist-in-residence at colleges and schools in Rockland County.


Film – “Paul Robeson: Here I Stand”

Monday, February 4, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

A world-renowned singer and actor, athlete, orator, activist, socialist, and patriot, Paul Robeson was most likely the most famous black man in the world in the mid-20th century.  He was also a charismatic champion of the rights of the poor working man, the disenfranchised, and people of color.  The film includes clips of highlighted performances, interviews, and speeches of Robeson himself.


Jacques Schiffrin – A Jewish Publisher in Exile in New York

Monday, February 11, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Jacques Schiffrin was the founder of the French Pléiade editions at Gallimard.  He was fired during the Nazi Occupation because he was Jewish.  With the help of André Gide and others, he made his way to New York (after a very Casablanca-ish journey!) and founded the Pantheon Press publishing house.

Sandra Smith (NYU, the Sorbonne and Cambridge) taught French Literature at Cambridge Univ. for many years before moving back to New York.  She has lectured at Barnard, Columbia, Harvard and Sarah Lawrence.  She is also the prize-winning literary translator of Iréne Némirovsky (12 novels including Suite Française), Camus (The Stranger), and Guy de Maupassant, among others.  Her translation of the biography of Jacques Schiffrin is being published next year by Columbia University Press.


The Beatles: 50 Years Later

Monday, February 25, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Explore the phenomenon that was The Beatles-their growth, originality, musical innovations and lyric depth.  Through discussion and example, Barry will talk about the Beatles musical style and technique.

Barry Wiesenfeld is a freelance musician, a published author and is on the music faculty of SUNY and Ramapo College.  He has accompanied Grammy-winning artists, performed on three continents and has played on numerous recordings, radio and TV.

Sponsored by The Knolls, a Bethel Community


Music and Song with Orit Dahari:  Popular Musicals

Monday, March 4, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Orit will be singing songs from popular musicals including Carousel, Oklahoma!, and The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, West Side Story by Bernstein, and more!

Orit Dahari has performed with the Amato Opera Company, NYC, and has trained with prominent Metropolitan Opera singers.  She enjoys sharing the joy of music with audiences around the world.  Pianist TBD.


Art and Artists on Film

Monday, March 11, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Cinema is an art form that captures the world in motion.  The art of painting arrests that movement, presenting the world at a moment in time.  This presentation explores how movies interact with masterworks of painting and the artists who create them.  Using film clips from recent films, we will focus on selected painters representing a range of artistic styles, eras, and national traditions, including Vincent Van Gogh, J.M.W. Turner, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and  Johannes.

Bill Costanzo is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of English and Film and has taught at Westchester Community College for more than forty years.  He has published six books on writing and film, including “Great Films and How to Teach Them” (NCTE, 2004), “The Writer’s Eye: Composition in the Multimedia Age” (McGraw-Hill, 2007), and “Reading the Movies” (now available on Kindle), and his latest book, “World Cinema Through Global Genres”.

New Archaeological Discoveries in Israel: Part Two

Monday, March 18, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Each year, on an almost daily basis, archaeological discoveries help us better understand Israel’s biblical and secular past.  This includes sites reaching back millennia as well as those dating back only a few centuries or less in time.  This presentation will discuss sites that I think are the most important and interesting for understanding Israel’s culture and history.

Eugene Boesch, of Mahopac, has undertaken archaeological investigations in the Hudson Valley area for 30 years.  His work has primarily focused on Native American cultures and adaptation in the Eastern Woodlands of North America and on early Euro-American settlement in the Hudson Valley region.  He has also worked in Israel, California, and the Illinois River Valley.  Dr. Boesch teaches at Adelphi University and Westchester Community College, and is a member of the Westchester County Historic Preservation Advisory Committee and the Putnam County Historic Preservation.


Jews in the American Labor Movement

Monday, March 25, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Although never making up more that 3-4% of the population, Jews in the US have played a major role in the labor movement, in particular its progressive wing, fighting for workplace democracy, social justice and civil rights.  From the Lower East Side to Washington, DC and Hollywood, as organizers, lawyers, historians, filmmakers, musicians, Jews have contributed to the struggle to create a “besere un a shenere velt” (a better and more beautiful world).  This presentation will bring to life the leading institutions and personalities in this movement.

Bennett Muraskin is an author of Humanist Readings in Jewish Folklore, Let Justice Well Up Like Water:  Progressive Jews from Hillel to Helen Suzman, The Association of Jewish Libraries Guide to Yiddish Short Stories and Jews in the American labor Movement:  Past, Present and Future.  His articles have appeared in Jewish Currents, Humanistic Judaism, Israel Horizons, Outlook and New Politics.

Thanks to the Social Action Department of the Workmen’s Circle for today’s program.


Geology of Israel and Sinai

Monday, April 1, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
*And stay with us after this program for our second act, “Meet Tzahal Shalom of the Rivertowns.” See details in the Adult Education & Engagement section of this program guide or check out website.

Israel was once under water, covered by a relatively shallow ocean.  The creatures that swam in that ocean as well as those that lived on and under the sea-floor were often preserved as fossils.  These fossils can tell us about ancient environments and movements of the tectonic plates.  Israel lies along a major plate boundary that separates it from Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

We will explore the reason that Israel is moving south relative to Jordan, which is moving north.  We also discuss whether Israel has a water problem and if so, how it can be solved.

Dr. Howard R. Feldman, Ph.D is a Research Associate in the Division of Paleontology (Invertebrates) at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and a professor in the Biology Department of Touro College in New York City.  He has been studying the geology and environmental issues of Israel and the Sinai Peninsula for many years, concentrating on the rocks and fossils of the Negev.  His first book deals with the paleontology of the Israel and adjacent countries, and his second book discusses the paleontology and geology of the Hudson Valley.


From Wigwams to Corporate Headquarters:  400 Years of Westchester County History

Monday, April 8, 10:00AM-11:30 AM

This program chronicles the fascinating history of Westchester County from Native American occupation to the present time.  Major events such as the Revolutionary War and topics such as industry and commerce, notable county residence, recreation and sports, transportation, and the suburbanization of the county are discussed.

Patrick Raftery is the Associate Director and Librarian at the Westchester County Historical Society in Elmsford NY.  He has worked at WCHS since 2006, and has written two books and several journal articles for the Society including The Cemeteries of Westchester County.


Making a Killing in Westchester County

Monday, April 15, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

A series of public domain case vignettes, encountered during his tenure as the Mental Health Director at the Westchester County Department of Corrections in Valhalla, NY, will be presented by Dr. Alan Schramm.  The theory and reality of nature versus nurture and the developmental, biological and situational influences on criminal behavior that ended badly for both the victims and perpetrators will be covered along with analyses of possible lessons-learned.

Dr. Alan Schramm is a forensic psychologist and adjunct associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC.


Propaganda and the Criminalization of Truth in Guatemala

Monday, April 22, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

The criminalization of memory is the criminalization of truth. This lecture will discuss the ongoing harassment of human rights advocates and those supporting truth and memory projects in Guatemala.  It will focus on the connections between elite wealth, local and national government, the justice system and the army to demonstrate the range of methods used to silence truth, memory and dissent.

Victoria Sanford is professor and chair of Anthropology and founding director of the Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies at Lehman College.  She is the author of six books including Buried Secrets:  Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala and the forthcoming Bittersweet Justice:  Femincide, Impunity and Courts of Last Resort.  She recently won the University of California Press Public Anthropology competition for her latest book project-The Surge: Central American Border Crossings in the United States, 1980-2015.


I Beg to Differ

Monday, April 29, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Our impressions of the main Biblical personalities have been formed largely by post-Biblical legends, stories we were told when children, and additional explanations (called midrashim) that try to justify certain questionable behavior. Using the Bible, itself, Dr. Cohen will present new interpretations on key aspects of the lives of Abraham, Samuel, David, and Solomon. Traditionalists may disagree, but we’ll let the text speak for itself.

Mary O. Cohen of Tappan, lectures on Jewish History, Bible, Science, and Civilization at the JCC of West Nyack, The Learning Collaborative, Synagogues and Culture Clubs.


Facing West:  The True Story of One Family’s Journey from India to Israel, 1945-1955

Monday, May 6, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

A vivid portrait of life in Palestine (Israel) on the brink of statehood, told mostly through original letters and accompanied by archival photos and Baghdadi-Indian Jewish songs (pizmonim) that express the yearning for Zion.  A perennial reminder of what Israel means to us through music, slides, and stories.

Rahel Musleah is an award-winning journalist, author, singer, speaker, and educator, Rahel is the seventh generation of a Calcutta family who traces her roots to seventeenth century  Baghdad.  Her multimedia visual, song, and story presentations offer a rare and intimate view of a rich culture little-known to most. She also leads tours of Jewish India informed by her distinctive “insider’s” perspective.


Cartoonists Against the Holocaust

Monday, May 13, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

During the dark days of the Holocaust, a small number of American political cartoonists used their art to cry out against injustice – and to try to inspire the public to demand the rescue of Hitler’s victims.  “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust” brings back 150 of these amazing cartoons, together with scores of compelling period photographs that place the cartoons in the context of the Nazi genocide and the world’s response as events unfolded.  Two dozen panels of individual cartoons will be on exhibit.

Steve Goldberg has served as chairperson of the Social Studies department at New Rochelle High School for the past 26 years; he is a recent president of the National Council for the Social Studies and his is currently the president of the Westchester Lower Hudson Council for the Social Studies.  He has participated in several study trips to Germany and in July, 2012, 2014 and 2016 Mr. Goldberg led Educators’ Study Trips to Germany and Poland sponsored by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center.

Julia Scallero served as a chairperson of the Social Studies department at North Salem High School for 8 years and taught in that district for 36 years.  She is a recipient of the Louis Yavner Teacher Award for Teaching about the Holocaust and Other Human Rights Violations and she is a former president of the Westchester Council for the Social Studies.  Ms. Scallero participated in an educator’s study trip to Germany and was a member of the HHREC’s committee which designed an interdisciplinary Holocaust curriculum for high school students.

Sponsored by The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center


Rodgers & Hammerstein with Arthur Aldrich

Monday, May 20, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II rank among the most prolific contributors to the American musical theater, with such productions as “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, and “South Pacific”.  Both share a Jewish heritage which infuses their works.  We will explore the humanism, acceptance and desire to improve the world that they inherited from their Jewish background.

Arthur Aldrich (who previously spoke about Sondheim at the JCC last season) is a media historian and founder, editor, and publisher of “Our Town” newspaper.  In the 1950’s, he worked in radio and was stage manager of an off-Broadway theater and technical director of the Folksbiene Theater on the Lower East Side.  He was an adjunct professor at Rockland Community College and taught more than 60 Elderhostel and adult ed course.  He teaches at the Learning Collaborative.

Your End of Life Matters: How to Talk with Family and Friends with Anne F. Ziff

Monday, June 3, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

If you’re like many of us, you’ve wondered how to begin exploring issues related to end-of-life, either yours or that of someone you know and care about.  Join author and family therapist Anne F. Ziff for a presentation that will make you think, help calm your nerves, and provide tools you can use as you begin to make a plan.  With just the right combination of insight, expertise, humor, and experience, Anne will present stories, exercises, and basic how to’s from her recent book, Your End of Life Matters: How to Talk with Family and Friends, published by Rowman & Littlefield.

In Style:  Performance and Lecture with Sergey Nazarov

Monday, June 17, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM

Violinist Sergey Nazarov will perform and talk about different time periods as they it relate to music, composers, performance practices and style.

Sergey Nazarov has performed extensively in Europe, the Ukraine, the United States, Brazil and Canada.  His active career includes performances at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, solo and chamber music engagements with Brooklyn Neighborhood Orchestra, Albert Einstein College Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Nazarov received his Bachelor and Master Degrees in violin performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Albert Markov, Ariana Bronne and members of The American String Quartet.

Linda Paver

Director of Renard Lectures & Adult Program Specialist

(914) 366-7898 x1126

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