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Adult Learning Institute (ALI)

Course Schedule


Contact:, 703.537.3068;, 703.537.3060 

It’s hard to believe, but ALI is now starting its third year! We‘ve been growing and expanding, developing a loyal following, attracting new participants, and offering a wide array of interesting and enjoyable courses. Please take a moment to review the schedule below and sign up for one (or more!) of these fabulous opportunities to continue your lifelong learning with us.

Launched in September 2013, ALI is an initiative of the JCCNV Adult Services Department. 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 during the day on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Click here to download the class descriptions and registration form.

Fall 2015 ALI Course Schedule

We are proud to announce our Fall 2015 line-up of classes! The semester will run from Monday, October 12 through Tuesday, December 15.

You may register at any time by mail, phone, online, or by submitting registration forms and payment to the J’s front desk beginning September 1.
For your convenience, in-lobby registration will also be held Tuesday–Friday, September 8–11.

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

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.

McCarthyism and the Red Scare
Tuesdays, October 13–27 (3 weeks)
Instructor: David Heymsfeld, J.D., retired public policy consultant and professional staff (Chief Counsel, Staff Director) of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee
After World War II, the “Red Scare” led to drastic measures against suspected Communists, including firing thousands of federal employees deemed insufficiently loyal, banning liberal books from libraries, blacklisting actors and screen writers, and firing teachers and professors whose patriotism became suspect. The consensus today is that many of these measures went far beyond what was needed. Many of those whose careers were destroyed were guilty, at worst, of poor political judgment during the 1930s and World War II when the Soviet Union was not an enemy. The unsupported accusations of Senator McCarthy were the most extreme of the excesses. This course will include consideration of major events of the Red Scare including the Hiss case, the Rosenberg case, the Oppenheimer case, and the Army-McCarthy hearings. In addition, the course will explore the roles of major political figures, including Eisenhower, Nixon, McCarthy, and J. Edgar Hoover, and the impact of groups and institutions, including the courts, Congress, the media, unions, religious leaders, and anti-Communist liberals.
Fee: $36/ $24 member
Code: #6686

The Pope and the Rabbi in Conversation
Tuesdays, October 13–November 3
(4 weeks)
Instructor: John Rybicki, Biblical scholar and historian
Before he became Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (former Archbishop of Argentina) and Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka promoted interreligious dialogue on faith and reason. They had many conversations on a variety of theological and worldly issues, including God, fundamentalism, atheism, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization. These conversations were compiled into a book, entitled On Heaven and Earth. This class will explore the views of the Pope and Rabbi Skorka on several of these very timely issues.
Fee: $48/ $32 member
Code: #6687

The 2015 Virginia Elections: Why They Matter
Mondays, October 19–26 (2 weeks)
Instructors: Toni-Michelle Travis, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University; Darcy Hirsh, Jewish Community Relations Council Director of Virginia Government and Community Relations
Local elections matter — this will be a banner election year in the Commonwealth of Virginia! On November 3, the entire Virginia General Assembly (state legislature) will be up for re-election. Virginia is a critical swing state and a bellwether for the 2016 presidential election, so the rest of the nation will be watching the Virginia races closely. Also, the Virginia General Assembly passes laws on a variety of critical issues which have a large impact on us here in Northern Virginia. This course will cover the basics of Virginia government, including the General Assembly’s legislative authority and Virginia’s state constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and separation of church and state. In addition, the curriculum will include discussion of several important issues which may be before the General Assembly in the next term, such as separation of church and state, funding for the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board (which helps Israeli companies grow their businesses in Virginia), immigration, voting rights, and Medicaid expansion. Come learn about the issues so you can be a well-informed voter.
Fee: $24/ $16 member
Code: #6688

Blue Like Me (4 classes)
ALI Cultural Arts Series on the Jews of India
ALI is proud to debut its first-ever joint series with the J’s Cultural Arts Department — Blue Like Me, a multi-disciplinary exploration of the Jews of India features the Indian-American artist Siona Benjamin.

Saturday, October 24, 8pm
Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin — Documentary Film Screening; Q&A with the Artist and Ryan Arey, the film’s editor

Sunday, October 25, 2pm–4pm
Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, 3440 S. Jefferson Street, Falls Church
Finding Home: Parallels in Mythology from Around the World — Artist Workshop

Tuesday, October 27, 7:30pm
The “Historical” Paintings in Cochin’s Paradesi Synagogue — Artist Talk with Kenneth X. Robbins and Indian Food Tasting

Saturday, November 7, 8pm
Rang de Nila (Color Me Blue) — Indian Dance Performance

Fee: $54/ $48 J members and seniors
Code: #6922

The Jews of Spain
Mondays, November 2–9, (2 weeks)
Instructor: Jeffrey Gorsky, attorney, diplomat, and author
This course covers the dramatic one-thousand-year history of Jews in Spain which is vividly recounted in this instructor’s book, Exiles in Sepharad: The Jewish Millenium in Spain. Twenty percent of Jews today are descended from Sephardic Jews, who created significant works in religion, literature, science, and philosophy. They flourished under both Muslim and Christian rule, enjoying prosperity and power unsurpassed in Europe. Their cultural contributions include important poets; the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides; and Moses de Leon, author of the Zohar, the core text of the Kabbalah. But these Jews also endured considerable hardship, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition, forced conversions, and expulsion from Spain. By the end of the fifteenth century, what had been the most populous and prosperous Jewish community in Europe ceased to exist on the Iberian Peninsula. Participants will enjoy a unique opportunity to explore the rich history of Jews in Spain through the eyes of a high-ranking professional diplomat in the area.
Fee: $24/ $16 member
Code: #6689

Comparing Jewish and Christian Existential Religious Philosophers: Martin Buber and Paul Tillich
Tuesdays, November 10–24 (3 weeks)
Instructor: John Rybicki, Biblical scholar and historian
Both Jewish and Christian religious philosophers of the same era use remarkably similar language and methodologies. In our own time, Martin Buber (1878–1965) and Paul Tillich (1886–1965) are perfect examples of thinkers who critically examined elements of their own traditions much as the ancient prophets did. This class will compare Buber’s and Tillich’s perspectives on topics such as the nature and attributes of God, how God is made known, creation, scripture, symbolism, and the relationship between God and humankind.
Fee: $36/ $24 member
Code: #6690

In Their Own Words: Jewish Immigrant Voices in American Literature
Mondays, November 30–December 14 (3 weeks)
Instructor: Linda Blair, Ph.D. in American Literature; retired Fairfax County high school English teacher; English Department Chair; and International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Coordinator
Our shared cultural experience, immigration, permeates American literary studies most often emphasizing the conflicts surrounding the acculturation process with its associated tension and ambiguity. The retelling of similar experiences by ethnically diverse writers reiterates a fundamental fact about American literature in general: the expression of American cultural identity emerges from the process of becoming American by subsuming the immigrant self in terms of the cultural other. This course will examine three works about immigration in the early twentieth century. Two of these, Jews Without Money by Michael Gold and Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, explore Jewish life in the slums of the Lower East Side. In the third, 97 Orchard, Jane Ziegelman looks at the ethnicity of food and shared recipes as the delicious blending of the old country and the new world. Participants are encouraged to read the books prior to class, but it is not necessary in order to follow along and take part in the discussion. Instruction will be based on selected excerpts from the books, copies of which will be provided and read aloud in class.
Fee: $36/ $24 member
Code: #6691

Special ALI Event!
Taste of the Tenement
Monday, December 14, 11:45am–1:45pm
Instructor: Susan Barocas, Founding Director of the Jewish Food Experience
Susan Barocas will share stories of several immigrant families from diverse backgrounds who all lived in the same tenement building — 97 Orchard Street — on the Lower East Side of New York, between 1863 and 1935. Their stories will be told through the foods they ate. In dark, cramped quarters often serving as their workplace as well as their living space, with no money, no cold food storage, and no running water, these families learned to adapt their recipes from the “old country” to their limited circumstances and to embrace their new American culture. At the same time, they made their own mark on American culinary tradition, as the different immigrant groups learned and borrowed from each other. Participants will have the opportunity to taste several dishes prepared from the families’ authentic recipes published in Jane Ziegelman’s book, 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. Following the presentation, a short video about the founding of the Tenement Museum, the present-day 97 Orchard Street, will show what tenement life was like. You are encouraged to bring a light lunch, as this is offered as a tasting rather than a full meal.
Space is limited. The deadline for registration is Wednesday, December 9.
Fee: $20/ $15 member, special event only
Discounted fee for special event if also registered for In Their Own Words: Jewish Immigrant Voices in American Literature: $18/ $12 member
Code (special event only): #6697
Code (special event, if also registered for In Their Own Words: Jewish Immigrant Voices in American Literature): #6698

Israel Topic and Meet Our New Shlicha!
Tuesdays, December 8–15 (2 weeks)
Instructor: Na’ama Gold, JCCNV–JAFI Community Shlicha
Meet our new shlicha (emissary) from Israel, Na‘ama Gold, who will teach a course on a topic to be determined upon her arrival in the US. Further details will appear in the adult services bi-monthly newsletter The Voice. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.


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8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22031
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