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Adult Learning Institute (ALI)

Course Schedule


Contact:, 703.537.3068;, 703.537.3060 

ALI is an initiative of the J’s Adult Services Department which launched in September 2013. We offer classes on topics such as the arts and entertainment, history, literature, Israel, Jewish history and culture, and much more. Classes are usually held on Mondays and Tuesdays, during the day. 

Click here to download the class descriptions and registration form.

Winter 2016 ALI Course Schedule

The ALI Winter 2016 semester will begin on Monday, January 11 and go through Tuesday, April 19.

The ALI Spring 2016 semester will begin on Monday, April 25 and go through Tuesday, June 14.

Inclement weather policy:

If Fairfax County Public Schools are closed, ALI classes are canceled. If schools have a delayed opening, classes are held at the regularly scheduled time.

To Register:

By Mail

Mail completed registration form with payment, payable to “JCCNV,” to Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22031.

By Phone
Call 703.323.0880, and be prepared to give a credit card number to secure your place in the course.

Register at


Great Migrations: Jacob Lawrence, Julius Rosenwald, Edith Halpert, and a Vision for Black America
Monday, January 11 (snow make-up date Jan. 25)
Instructor: LaNitra Berger, Ph.D., Director of Fellowships, Honors College, George Mason University
This course will examine how the lives of Jacob Lawrence, Julius Rosenwald, and Edith Halpert intersected to expand the historical narrative about African Americans’ historic great migration from the deep South to the North in the early twentieth century. Jacob Lawrence, one of America’s greatest painters of black life, received a scholarship from Julius Rosenwald to begin a series of paintings about the great migration. Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants and the head of Sears, Roebuck & Co., was an exceedingly generous philanthropist (the subject of Aviva Kempner’s latest documentary film, Rosenwald). In addition to supporting Jewish causes, Rosenwald financed numerous African American educational and cultural causes as well as civil rights advocacy. Edith Halpert, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, prosperous businesswoman, and pioneering art dealer, was the first to show “The Migration Series” and other works by African American artists in her New York City gallery. Julius Rosenwald’s philanthropic vision and Edith Halpert’s business savvy helped shape Jacob Lawrence’s artistic development and cultivate a broader audience with an interest in the African American experience.
Fee: $18/ $12 J member
Code: #7109

Special Author Event with Louis Marano, Author of The Tribalist
Tuesday, January 12
(snow make-up date Jan. 19)
Instructor: Louis Marano, Retired Washington Post and United Press International journalist and author
What would motivate a non-Jewish journalist assigned to the U.S. State Department in the spring of 2000 to throw in his lot and sacrifice everything for love of the State of Israel? Frank DiRaimo, protagonist of Louis Marano’s new novel, The Tribalist, is such a man. He finds that his blunt and impassioned support for Israel during the Second Intifada puts him at odds with his bosses and drives a wedge between himself and those closest to him. Marano will discuss several real-life historical figures who share a psychological profile with fictional character DiRaimo to help understand what drives non-Jews who are intensely committed Zionists.
Fee: $18/ $12 J member
Code: #7110

ALI Special Event
#NotAnAuthorTalk: Award-Winning Journalist Bob Fuss Reflects on Presidential Politics, Congress, and the News Media
Monday, January 18
(snow make-up date Feb. 1)
Instructor: Bob Fuss, Retired CBS News journalist and author
Yes, recently retired CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss is an author (his book, Kidnapped by Nuns and Other Stories of a Life on the Radio, was recently published), and yes, he will be talking. In fact, you may even have already heard him discuss his new book, but this will be different! Fuss’s focus for this ALI course will be his reflections on presidential politics; the current congressional stalemate; and his distinguished, forty-year career covering national and international news. Fuss has a unique perspective, based on his extraordinary, wide-ranging experiences in the world of journalism: He was on Ronald Reagan’s campaign plane, on Capitol Hill for President Clinton’s impeachment, and with the King of Tonga welcoming in the new millennium. The discussion will be lively, interesting, informative, and DIFFERENT!
Fee: $18/ $12 J member
Code: #7111

An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism
and Kabbalah
Mondays, January 25, February 22, March 28, April 25 (4 weeks)
Instructor: Dr. Michael R. Leavitt, Retired senior government intelligence officer, Jewish scholar, teacher, and community leader
From its beginnings, Judaism has sought to understand the realities of our inner life as well as the world around us. Jewish mysticism — now known as Kabbalah — has been a primary approach for achieving that goal. This course will explore the history and meaning of Kabbalah, Judaism’s mystical tradition, in four sessions: 1) Early Jewish Mysticism; 2) The Zohar, the primary text for Kabbalah; 3) The Community at Safed, a 16th Century community of Spanish exiles who created the greatest “school” for the development of Kabbalistic thought; and 4) Hasidism through the present. No prior knowledge of Judaism, Jewish history, or mysticism is necessary.
Fee: $48/ $32 J member
Code: #7112

Mindfulness: Living Fully in the Moment
Mondays, February 22–March 14 (4 weeks)
(snow make-up date Monday, Mar. 21)
Instructor: Sherri Shunfenthal, M.S., Wellness Coach
Open your heart with mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude. Mindfulness is a focus shift that helps us awaken our senses and go deeply into the present moment. We can get rid of unnecessary worry and anxiety and pay attention to this moment without judgment or fear.

Mindfulness has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and bring more oxygen to the brain. We will learn how to bring mindfulness into our daily routines and simplify our lives through breathing techniques, meditation, facial exercises, relaxation and balance exercises, and other strategies.
Fee: $48/ $32 J members
Code: #7113

The 613 Commandments
Tuesdays, April 5–19 (3 weeks)
Instructor: Dr. Maurice M. Mizrahi, Former defense technology expert, Judaic scholar and teacher
Dr. Maurice M. Mizrahi will present a three-part series with an in-depth examination of the 613 commandments (mitzvot) set forth in the Torah. He will address critical questions about their current status and importance, including: What are they and what are the possible reasons behind them? Are they all still relevant today? Which ones are we still obligated to follow? Are some commandments more important than others? Since about a third of the commandments are required to be performed in the Temple in Jerusalem, should a Third Temple be built on the Temple Mount, the location of the First and Second Temples?
Fee: $36/ $24 J member
Code: #7114

What is Jewish Music?
Tuesdays, March 1–8 (2 weeks)
Instructor: Hazzan Elisheva Dienstfrey, Agudas Achim Congregation
What is “Jewish” music? That’s a good question. And, like all good questions, it has many answers. In this two-part course, we will study and listen to a variety of “Jewish” music — from Kol Nidre to George Gershwin. The first class will focus on Jewish music in the synagogue, while the second will focus on Jewish music in America.
Fee: $24/ $16 J member
Code: #7115

Tracing the Development of Jewish Thought
Tuesdays, March 22–April 12 (4 weeks)
Instructor: John Rybicki, Biblical scholar and historian
Jewish religious thought has developed over the millennia based on the exigencies of the people themselves — from being slaves, to God’s chosen people, to nationhood, and to exile and nationhood once again. Historical events, such as the destruction of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and the Babylonian Exile (597-538 BCE), greatly influenced religious thought and expectations within the context of the scriptures. Ideas concerning God, God’s relationship with humankind, and the coming of the Messiah developed, as is evident as one progresses chronologically through the Tanakh (the Hebrew scriptures including the Torah, Prophets, and Writings), particularly the Deuteronomic histories and the pre- and post-Exile prophets. This course will examine the incredible flexibility in Jewish thought over time and the “continuing conversation” that has exemplified the resilience of the Jewish people.
Fee: $48/ $24 J member
Code: #7116


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8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22031
Phone: 703.323.0880 • Fax: 703.323.1993

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