Gesher Program

The Gesher Program is a dynamic, engaging and life-changing Jewish learning opportunity at the J! Gesher courses are designed for, but not limited to, graduates of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. Courses are offered at a variety of locations.

Questions about the courses or payment plans? Contact Rachelle Weiss Crane, Director Israel Engagement and Jewish Living. 214-239-7128 or

Maimonides and the Politics of Idolatry in the era of the Almohads

Dates: Tuesdays June 9, 16, 23, 30
Time: 10:00am-11:30am
Instructor: Reid Heller
Tuition $100J/ $125 public

Remarkable Jewish Women and the Historical Periods in Which They Lived

Dates: Wednesdays June 10, 17, 24, July 1
Time: 10:45am-12:15pm
Instructor: Gerri Patterson
Tuition $100J/ $125 public

Modern Jewish Living: Maintaining Balance (Melton Curriculum)

Discovering Ageless Answers in Timeless Jewish Texts
Dates: Tuesdays July 7, 14, 21,28
Time:10:00am to 11:30am
Instructor: Debra Polsky
Tuition $100J/ $125 public

Antisemitism Then and Now

Dates: Wednesdays July 8,15, 22,29
Time: 10:45am-12:15pm
Instructor: Dr. David Patterson
Tuition $100J/ $125 public

The Tree of Knowledge and the Garden of Eden

Dates: Wednesdays August 5,12,19,26
Time: 9:30 – 11:00am
Location: ZOOM classroom
Instructor: Rabbi Peretz Shapiro
Tuition $100J/ $125 public

In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism
9:30 – 10:30 am | Rabbi Peretz Shapiro
Using Scott Shay’s book In Good Faith as a primary text, Rabbi Shapiro and his students will explore the following big questions in Part 1 of this exciting NEW course.

  • What is Idolatry and Who Cares?
  • Is the Bible Unjust and is Progress Secular?
  • Is there Something about Evil?

There are Jews There?
9:30 – 10:30 am | Cantor Don Croll
Join Cantor Croll on a virtual journey to hidden and little known Jewish communities in out of the way places around the globe. The material in this course ALL NEW and a multi-media approach is utilized to explore Jewish life near and far.

Jewish Medical Ethics: A 21st Century Discussion
10:45 am – 12:15 pm | Laura Seymour (Melton Scholars Curriculum)
Within the field of ethics, one of the most challenging frontiers is medical ethics. While contemporary medical knowledge preserves life, modern advances have raised moral and ethical dilemmas related to the sanctity and dignity of life – issues whose scope was unimaginable a generation ago. A new ten-lesson Melton course on Jewish Medical Ethics explores what Judaism has to say on a number of challenging issues, including human and animal cloning, surrogate motherhood and multiple parents, genetic identity, and assisted suicide/aid in dying. Author Rabbi Dr. Elliot Dorff is a world-renowned expert on medical ethics and Professor of Jewish Philosophy at American Jewish University.

In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism
9:30 – 10:30 am | Rabbi Peretz Shapiro
Using Scott Shay’s book In Good Faith as a primary text, Rabbi Shapiro and his students will explore the following big questions in Part 2 of this exciting NEW course.

  • Does Science Make Belief in God Irrational?
  • Is the Bible a Hoax?
  • Why Have Faith and Pray?

Great Jewish Musical Partnerships” Their stories and songs
9:30 – 10:30 am | Mark Kreditor
Is it ironic that so many great songs we know and love as “standards” were written by Jewish songwriting teams.  For most of the 20th century Jewish artists have teamed up to create some of the most memorable music the world has known. From Rodgers and Hart, Lerner & Loewe, Comden & Green, King & Goffin, Gershwin & Gershwin and of course Rodgers and Hammerstein the Jewish influence is everywhere. Come join us each week for a musical sing a long and story about these incredible artists that truly created the American Musical Theater. Funding for this course provided in part by the Sherry Lynn Roosth Memorial Fund.

Beyond Borders: The History of the Arab – Israeli Conflict Part 1
10:45 am – 12:15 pm | Gerri Patterson (Melton Scholars Curriculum)
This course provides students with a strong, text-based historical overview from the late nineteenth century through today. Course material is designed to encourage discussion and debate, and to challenge students to appreciate the basis of the conflicting historical claims made by all sides in the conflict. The complexity of the conflict forces students to grapple with issues of religion, culture, history, politics, economics, identity and survival—all reflected through primary sources, including newspaper articles, poetry, songs, government documents, speeches, photographs and memoirs. The first 10 lessons focus on the period prior to 1880 through The Six Day War.

Thugs who Knew Torah
10:45 – 11:45 am | Beri Kaplan Schwitzer
Lansky. Bugsy. Rothstein. Notorious American criminals that happened to be Jewish. In this interactive, multi-media course, we will break traditional Jewish stereotypes and view the Jewish immigration experience and its connection to organized crime.

Fish Heads and Black Cats – Superstition and the Jewish Tradition
9:30 – 10:30 am | Rabbi Peretz Shapiro
Men have​ forever​ clung to non-rational practices to ensure their safety and success. ​But ​the Torah ​requires ​faith in G-d and avoidance of divination and the like. Where is the line between prohibited and permissible divinations or superstitions? Does a Torah-true lifestyle include its own Omens, good signs and practices which are permitted and even encouraged? What ​is the background ​of many of our more well-known Segulos?

Jews in Hollywood
9:30 – 10:30 am | Cantor Don Croll
A close look at the Jewish Hollywood Moguls and why Jews are still prominent movers and shakers in the film industry. Based on the book An Empire of Their Own.

Beyond Borders: The History of the Arab – Israeli Conflict Part 2
10:45 am – 12:15 pm | Gerri Patterson (Melton Scholars Curriculum)
Lessons 11 – 20 focus on the War of Attrition in 1969 and brings us to the current day. Students will develop tools for understanding and critiquing texts and events as the conflict continues to unfold.

The Sephardic Political Tradition: How Political Philosophy Became Integral to Judaism
10:45 – 11:45 am | Reid Heller
A look at the role of classical philosophy in the medieval period and how it became integrated into a Sephardic political tradition.

Contact Rachelle Weiss Crane at for information about other courses and locations.


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