Lox & Learn 5784

Join us every other Thursday morning beginning January 4th for bagels, lox, and a chance to learn together! We have invited a range of fascinating scholars and experts to share their knowledge with us.

Class will be held in-person and via Zoom bi-weekly on Thursdays from 8 – 9 AM. If you plan to attend in person, please find us in the Beit Midrash. Register here!

Questions? Contact Zack Berger at zackarysholemberger@gmail.com or Melissa Gerr at gerrmelissa@gmail.com.

5784 Guest Lecturers

Ora Egbali kicks off Beth Am’s second season of Lox and Learn during our “Year of Am” with a delicious discussion about culture, legacy, food and family. 

Ora, who grew up Jewish in Iran, immigrated to the US as a teenager. The flavors and textures of her family’s Persian recipes kept her religion and culture close by while she navigated becoming American. Now, she is a master cook and specializes in Sephardic cuisine for an Ashkenazi palate. Of course there will be samples for tasting!

Watch Ora’s talk here


Robert Lieberman is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins. He is the author, most recently, of Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy (with Suzanne Mettler).

In the talk, he will explore the conditions that have led to democratic crisis in the United States in the past and consider the lessons that we can draw from history for understanding the state of American democracy today. 

Watch Professor Lieberman’s talk here.

Kimberly Katz is a professor of Middle East History and coordinator of the Human Rights & History minor at Towson University. She holds a Joint Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University (2001) and is the author of two books: Jordanian Jerusalem: Holy Places and National Spaces (University Press of Florida, 2005) and A Young Palestinian’s Diary: The Life of Sami ‘Amr (University of Texas Press, 2009). The latter also appeared in Arabic (Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, 2017). Her scholarship has been published widely. A recipient of numerous fellowships, Professor Katz recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence grant on behalf of Towson University, which will host a visiting scholar-in-residence in Spring 2025. 

This talk examines the power of wartime diaries by comparing the writings of two young Palestinian men, Ihsan Turjman during World War I and Sami ‘Amr during World War II. These wars bookend a distinct and critical period of modern Palestinian history while the diaries reflect on the lives and experiences of young Palestinian men. Their experiences, however, also reflect a universality that crosses ethnic and national boundaries as they address familiar and relatable themes: the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adulthood and accepting the responsibilities of society.

Watch Professor Katz’s talk here.

Rabbi Ilan Glazer has been drumming in Klezmer bands and Jewish music groups since he was 13. His debut album, Gam Ki Elech: Turning Our Sorrows Into Song, will be released January 21st at Beth Am. He is the house drummer for Uncle Ira’s Hebrew Washboard Ensemble, and hopes someday to find an actual washboard to play….

Jewish music has inspired our people for thousands of years. And yet, there are many different forms of Jewish music – klezmer, cantorial, hasidic, new-age, Jewgrass, and much more. What does today’s Jewish music scene look like and who are the most well-known Jewish musicians today? Together we’ll explore the wellsprings on Jewish music, discover the best Jewish music you’ve (probably) never heard, and see how Jewish music has been part of the Jewish ecosystem throughout our history and all across the world.

Jason Woody (Executive Director) and Mairi Quodomine (Member) will share information about B’More Clubhouse (www.bmoreclubhouse.org), a nonprofit organization in Baltimore City that empowers adults living with mental illness to lead meaningful and productive lives of their choice in the community. The Clubhouse model has been in existence since 1948 and there are 350 Clubhouse programs in 33 countries around the world. Come learn about this unique approach to mental health recovery that has helped hundreds of people in Baltimore!

The breath of opinions and beliefs at Beth Am regarding Jewish politics, including Zionism, is significant. In a discussion facilitated by Rabbi Burg based on thought-provoking texts, a panel of Beth Amers will share how they understand present-day political disputes in alternative ways, on and off the mainstream.

Click here for the discussion resources. 

We will examine Rabbinic and contemporary Jewish texts in an attempt to better understand Hillel’s assertion in Pirkei Avot that one may not ‘separate oneself’ from the community. What is a Jew’s responsibility to remain connected to the Jewish people? Should one stay committed to their community if they feel they are sinning? What are the boundaries of unity and division ? Are there disagreements that should remain “inside the family”?

Kohenet Dr. Harriette E. Wimms is a community convener, Jewish professional, spiritual ritualist, and social justice advocate for people of color. She is a Maryland licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in providing compassion-infused mental health care. Founder and executive director of the Jews of Color Mishpacha Project, K’Dr. Harriette is also the inaugural Jews of Color Engagement Fellow at The Associated: Baltimore Jewish Federation (the first type of position within any Jewish Federation System) and a prayer leader in both the Beit Kohenet community and at Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shul. Kohenet Dr. Harriette is a Schusterman cohort 7 fellow, a Selah cohort 17 fellow, and a contract trainer for Keshet.  She is a proud Black, queer, disabled, Jew by choice, and is most proud of being mother to her neurodiverse, gender expansive 19-year-old.

Jerome Copulsky is a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, specializing in modern Western religious thought, political theory, and church/state issues. His scholarly work has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of Religion, Political Theology, and Perspectives on Political Science, and in Political Theology for a Plural Age (2013) and Judaism, Liberalism, and Political Theology (2013). His writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Washingtonian, The Forward, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Review of Books, The Christian Century, and Religion Dispatches.

This talk considers the ideas of so-called “postliberal” thinkers, their challenge to liberal democracy, and the implications to religious pluralism and liberty in the United States.  In particular, we will focus on the vision of “national conservatism” out of the sources of the Hebrew Bible advanced by the Israeli-American political theorist Yoram Hazony. 

Bernadette Wegenstein is an Austrian-born linguist, author and critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker living in Baltimore. Her work brings together her feminist thought and interest in human-centric storytelling. Bernadette has produced and directed several award-winning documentary features and shorts. She is currently working on a new documentary called The Archives, which shines a light on the memory of the Holocaust, which is at risk of erasure. Bernadette is a professor of media studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she directs the Center for Advanced Media Studies. She is the author of several influential books in the field of feminist media studies with MIT Press.

Prof. Wegenstein will share two scenes from her current documentary in production, The Archives. The hallowed spaces and places of stored history resound with the voices of the archivists who struggle to uncover, document, and preserve facts. The scenes in question will stem from two sites representing Jewish life during the Austro-Hungarian empire in the late 19th century: Kerepesi Jewish Cemetery at Salgótarjáni Street in Budapest, Hungary, and Brno Jewish Cemetery in Czechia. She will discuss her documentary’s quest to restore the forgotten and erased history of such families as Manfréd Weiss, the Hungarian-Jewish industrialist and owner of Csepel Works, which was one of the largest defense contractors for the Monarchy, through documentary story-telling and visual restitutive approaches.