Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Events

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

The Hevesi Speaker Series


Sponsored by Cord Meyer



For registration and information: 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.

Click here for Fall 2019 Classes


Fall 2019 EVENTS


Suggested Donation: $6 member / $10 non-member

Prof. Mikhal Dekel
TEHRAN CHILDREN: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey
Monday, October 7, 1:30 p.m.

Professor Mikhail Dekel
Photo Credit: Nina Subin

Tehran Children is the true story of Polish Jewish child refugees who escaped the Nazis and found refuge in Iran. Over one million Polish Jews fled to the Soviet Union, endured extreme suffering in Soviet forced labor camps, and eventually found refuge in Muslim lands. Those who survived made up two thirds of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors. Fleeing the Soviet camps, tens of thousands of Jewish refugees died en route to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. One thousand Jewish refugee children were later evacuated to Iran, where they were embraced by the Persian-Jewish community. Eventually, these children embarked yet again on a daring journey to Palestine, the endpoint of their 13,000 mile journey. The story of these refugee children includes hospitality and cruelty, the best and the worst of humanity. 

Mikhal Dekel is a Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center.


Prof. Joy Ladin
THE SOUL OF THE STRANGER: A Transgender Journey and Perspective
Sunday, October 27, 3:00 p.m.
At the Forest Hills Jewish Center, 106-06 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, NY 11375

Professor Joy Ladin
Photo Credit: Lisa Ross

Prof. Jay Ladin made headlines when, after years of teaching at Yeshiva University, she returned to the Orthodox Jewish campus as a womanJoy Ladin. In an earlier memoir, Joy Ladin discussed her transition as she changed genders and, over time, created a new self. She recounted her struggle to reconcile the pain she experienced living as the “wrong” gender with the pain of her children in losing the father they love. Ladin’s poignant memoir takes us from the death of living as the man she knew she wasn’t, to the shattering of family and career that accompanied her transition, to the new self, relationships, and love she finds when she opens the door of life. Ladin will talk about her personal journey, as told in her previous memoir, and about her new book, in which she looks at how her experiences have shaped her understanding of God and of basic Jewish texts and traditions. 

The first openly transgender professor at Yeshiva University, Joy Ladin was featured in a TED talk and on NPR. Ladin is the author of 11 books, including National Jewish Book Award finalist Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders, and Lambda Literary and Triangle Award finalist The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective.


Yousef Bashir
Monday, October 28, 1:30 p.m.

Yousef Bashir is a Palestinian who now works on Capitol Hill as a policy guy for Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), in Washington, DC.
Photo Credit: Bill O’Leary Getty Images

In his new memoir, a young Palestinian-American recalls his adolescence in Gaza during the Second Intifada, and how he made a strong commitment to peace in the face of devastating experiences. When Bashir was fifteen, an Israeli soldier shot him in the spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. But while it was an Israeli who shot him, many Israelis saved him—countless doctors who saved his life and worked tirelessly to help him walk again. Forced to reckon with this and with the abiding words of his father—the principled, empathetic man who raised him—Bashir became an outspoken activist for peace. Eventually, Bashir made his way to the United States where he earned a BA in International Affairs from Northeastern University and an MA in Co-existence and Conflict from Brandeis University. 

Now living in Washington, DC, Yousef Bashir has worked on Capitol Hill and served as a member of the Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation to the U.S.


Inbal Arieli
CHUTZPAH: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Monday, November 4, 1:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Micha Loubaton

Despite its small size, Israel has become a remarkable center for innovation. The long list of innovations that have come out of Israel includes everything from cherry tomatoes and drip irrigation to the USB flash drive and the Waze traffic app. Although many attribute Israel’s outstanding achievements to its technologically advanced military, tech insider Arieli argues that it’s the way Israelis raise their children to be independent that builds the resiliency and creativity needed for innovation. Drawing on her experience as an entrepreneur and a mother of three rambunctious boys, Arieli looks at Israeli child rearing and shows how Israelis are taught to be comfortable with experimentation, “messiness,” failure and learning, mental and physical risk-taking, and a positive—some would say blind—belief that things will be all right. Whether you are a seven-year-old child, insisting on speaking out loud at family dinners and expressing your opinion, or an experienced businessman, Israelis are instilled with chutzpah—determined, courageous, and optimistic that anything can be achieved.  

A former lieutenant in the elite Israeli military intelligence unit, Arieli is a leader in Israel’s high tech sector.  


Kristallnacht Program

Rabbi Ariel Burger
WITNESS: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom
Monday, November 11, 1:30 p.m.

Burger first met Wiesel at age fifteen; he became his student in his twenties and his teaching assistant in his thirties. In this profoundly thought-provoking book, Burger gives us a front-row seat to Wiesel’s remarkable exchanges in and out of the classroom, and chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men over the decades as Burger sought counsel on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith while navigating his own personal journey from boyhood to manhood, from student and assistant to rabbi and, in time, teacher. He will also address the problem of Holocaust fatigue.

Ariel Burger is a writer, an artist, and an inspiring teacher and rabbi, whose work combines spirituality, creativity, and strategies for social change.


Prof. David Dow
Monday, November 18, 1:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Katya Dow

David Dow has dedicated his life to fighting the death penalty. As founder and director of the Texas Innocence Network, which works to exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates, and the Juvenile and Capital Advocacy Project, Dow and his team have represented in court well over 100 death row inmates. Dow’s job is often devastating, but he continues this important work because he knows that overturning wrongful decisions is possible. What does justice mean to our society? Who could some death row inmates become if society punished without execution? Nearly always, even after his team loses and his client is within minutes of being executed, his client is grateful to him in their final conversation. 

Dow explores these questions within the framework of his suspenseful debut novel, Confessions of an Innocent Man, about an innocent man on death row who wins his freedom and goes on to battle the system and deliver justice. In his talk, Dow will discuss his work with inmates on death row and with clients he believes have been wrongfully convicted. David R. Dow is the Cullen Professor at the University of Houston Law Center and the Rorschach Visiting Professor of History at Rice University. 




Rebecca Schrag Hershberg
THE TANTRUM SURVIVAL GUIDE: Tune in to Your Toddler’s & Your Own Mind
Thursday, October 24, 6:30 p.m.

Most parents of toddlers and preschoolers are very familiar with tantrums—those epic meltdowns that seem to come out of nowhere. Even though tantrums are part of “normal” toddler behavior, they are maddening, stressful, and exhausting. What can parents do to help everyone step back and calm down? With candor and wit, Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, clinical psychologist and mother of two, explains why tantrums occur and what parents might unintentionally be doing to encourage them. 

Photo Credit: Brian Reisinger

She offers a customizable plan for nipping blowups in the bud while fostering healthy development and deeper parent-child connections. Imagine family life with equal measures of love and limits—and less stress.

Dr. Hershberg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in early childhood social-emotional development and mental health. 

Cost: $12 Advance registration / $18 at the door.  Please register at, email [email protected], or call (718) 268-5011 ext. 151.  

Free pizza dinner and babysitting for one child over age 2 included. Babysitting registration required in advance; $10 for second child.



Please register for trips by calling (718) 268-5011 ext. 151, emailing [email protected], or online at


FROM OLD GROWTH FOREST TO SALT MARSH: Inwood Hill Park Is One of Manhattan’s Natural Wonders
Thursday, October 31, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Photo Credit: The rakish fellow

Did you know that Manhattan contains old growth forest and critical salt marsh and tidal mud flats? On this trip we’ll observe the ecology of the broadleaf forests and the tidal basins that sustain natural life in New York City. Jonathan Shevin, our resident horticultural therapist, will be our guide.   

Please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring your own brown bag lunch and water. Van available, but space is limited. Van leaves Central Queens at 9:30 a.m., returns by 3:00 p.m.

Cost: $18 member / $23 non-member

*Rain date, Thursday, November 7


TRACING YOUR ROOTS: A Beginner’s Workshop
Thursday, November 14, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
At the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St., NY, NY 10011

Curious about your family history? In this beginner’s workshop, you will learn how to get started in your family history research and discover how the Center’s resources can assist you in your search. The workshop includes time for guided practice using the Center’s genealogy database and the opportunity to explore the Center’s exhibitions. Information available for both Jewish and non-Jewish family history. We will also stop for lunch. 

Van available, but space is limited. Van leaves Central Queens at 9:00 a.m., returns by 2:30 p.m.

Cost: $18 member / $23 non-member (Lunch not included)