Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Classes/Volunteer Opportunities

The Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Programs Department presents events and classes on Jewish and other cultures, interfaith programs, and tutoring for immigrants.

Sponsored by Cord Meyer

For registration and information about events or trips: Email [email protected] or call (718) 268-5011 ext. 151.

The Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Programs Department presents a wide variety of cultural events, classes, interfaith programs, and a tutoring program for immigrants. We aim always to bring you programs that open up new ideas and foster a richer appreciation of Jewish and other cultures and current affairs, and offer answers to your questions about the world today. Food for the mind and for the soul.


To register, click HERE.  

For more information or to register, you can also contact us at: (718) 268-5011 ext. 151 or [email protected].

ART HISTORY: POLITICAL ART IN TROUBLED TIMESMatthew Fischer cultural arts class

Whether artists use protest art to move the public – such as Picasso’s great Guernica – or instead create personal art as a statement about the individual, all art is in some sense political. This art history class will start with the art of the Weimar Republic, with artists such as Otto Dix and George Grosz. We’ll also look at Mexican art, created in the context of the movement to reclaim indigenous culture and history, and at the art of refugees. Finally, we’ll wrap up with modern art and performance art, speaking to the issues of our own time.  

Matthew Fischer is a working artist whose work has been exhibited in solo and group shows. He has an MFA from Columbia University and is currently teaching at SUNY New Paltz, the 92Y, and the Creative Center at University Settlement.

5 Thurs., 11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
1/16, 1/30, 2/6, 3/5, 3/19
$40 member / $48 non-member (Trip to Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 5- additional $35 fee including transportation. Van leaves Central Queens at 10 am and returns by 3:30 pm. Lunch is not included. Please register at


Watch some of the greatest films of the last century and enjoy lively discussions with film critic Matthew Weiss. You’ll learn to see the kinds of things most of us miss when we watch a movie. How do great films defy our expectations of character, narrative, identification, and editing, and deepen our experience of the world?

Matthew Weiss has done everything on a film set from acting and producing to directing. He has appeared in productions along with Sarah Silverman, Janeane Garofalo, and Rosie Perez and has done improv comedy in NY. Bring your lunch. We’ll provide cookies, coffee, and food for thought!

6 Tues., 12:20-2:50 p.m.
1/7, 1/21, 2/4, 2/18, 3/3, 3/17
$60 member / $72 non-member

Attend a class on Jewish responses to the Holocaust
Pirkei Avot is the best known and most beloved text from the Talmud. Over the centuries, Pirkei Avot has been interpreted in many ways. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin regards Pirkei Avot as “Judaism’s preeminent text on how to be a good person. And this is of course what we were put on earth to be.” We will be reading the text together, engaging the plain meaning of the text, with the help of classical and contemporary commentaries, and the insights of our classmates. We hope that with the help of this ancient wisdom text, we might grow personally, spiritually, and morally.

Rabbi Irwin Goldenberg is a retired Reform Rabbi who, after serving several congregations, has taught at Central Queens for 10 years and at Gettysburg College and York College of Pennsylvania.

6 Wed., 1:00-2:15 p.m.
2/19, 2/26, 3/4, 3/11, 3/18, 3/25
$54 member / $66 non-member

Please call or email for more information.*

We’ll continue our exploration of the simple techniques of watercolor to create landscapes from imagination or from photographs. This is a no-failure class! Learn to play with color, form, and texture to create beautiful images. Newcomers always welcome. No experience needed, just a spirit of curiosity and adventure! Ready for something a little different? Use the class to help guide you to explore other techniques too.

A working artist, Susan Ross, taught art for 40 years in the public school system.


Come find out why this book group has such a devoted following! Thoughtful, lively, provocative discussions focus on the best new and classic literature and non-fiction. Moderated discussions dig into the books to get the most from them, yet we also have a lot of fun. New participants are always welcome.

Third Thursday of each month, 12:15 – 2:15 p.m.

FREE, but advance registration strongly suggested. Please contact Peggy Kurtz at (718) 268-5011 ext. 151 or [email protected].

Thursday, January 16, 12:15 p.m. Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

The Bean Trees is bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel, now widely regarded as a modern classic. It is the charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots. She succeeds but inherits a 3-year-old Native American girl named Turtle along the way, and together—from Oklahoma to Arizona—Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.

Thursday, February 20, 12:15 p.m. Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness & The Death of Ivan Illyich

Two masterful novellas by one of the great Russian authors. Family Happiness is the story of a young woman’s courtship, love, and early years of her marriage, all recounted with uncanny psychological acuity. The Death of Ivan Illyich, one of Tolstoy’s masterpieces, is the story of a man who has spent his life climbing the career ladder and is now confronting his own mortality. Look for anthologies of Tolstoy’s novellas or short stories.

Thursday, March 19, 12:15 p.m. Colm Toibin, Brooklyn 

An understated love story from one of Ireland’s finest contemporary writers. “A classical coming-of-age story, pure, unsensationalized, quietly profound… There is only the sound of a young woman slowly and deliberately stepping into herself, learning to make and stand behind her choices, finding herself.” (Oprah Magazine)

Thursday, April 23, 12:15 p.m. Patrick Modiano, Missing Person

A detective thriller/noirish story about a man who lived through the Nazi occupation of Paris, from the 2014 Nobel Prize-winning author for literature. Note that the group meets this month on the 4th Thursday due to the holiday.


Volunteer Opportunities:

ENGLISH TUTORING FOR IMMIGRANTStutoring center for afghan women cultural arts

Our extremely successful tutoring program continues! Do you have skills to offer which could help immigrants in exchange for the personal rewards of helping people get a positive start in the U.S.? One day a week, volunteers tutor women at the Women for Afghan Women Center in Fresh Meadows. We have received wonderful feedback from tutors and students, both of whom find these programs enormously rewarding.

Space is limited and advance registration is required! Contact Peggy Kurtz at (718) 268-5011 ext. 151 or [email protected].

Fri. beg. 1/24, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Van provided from Commonpoint Queens’ Central Queens, leaving at 10:45 a.m. and returning by 1:15 p.m.

Because of school and religious holidays, there are no classes on the following Fridays:

  • Friday, February 21, 2020 (Midwinter Recess)
  • Friday, March 20, 2020 (Nowruz)