Lectures & Learning

Our lectures and learning programs bring subjects alive through the enthusiasm of our instructors and their passion for the material.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts”–Harry S Truman 


JCC University 

Top professors and experts in their fields present on a diverse array of topics. JCC U offers the opportunity to rekindle previous passions, ignite new interests, meet new people and stay involved in the developments that shape today’s world. Presentations cover such topics as history, politics, psychology, art, literature, film, music, religion, science, philosophy, architecture and current issues.

October 13


Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties
Bloomberg journalist David De Jong will present his landmark work of investigative journalism, revealing how Germany’s wealthiest business dynasties amassed untold money and power by abetting the atrocities of the Third Reich. We’ll learn how companies like Daimler-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen, and BMW still dominate, not having reckoned with their dark pasts.*
De Jong will be in conversation with Professor Thorin Tritter. 


Paris on Film: A Cinematic Tour
We’ll always have Paris. Film historian Max Alvarez will show how filmmakers have captured the City of Light over the past century, from the romanticized to the realistic. Selections range from such Hollywood love letters as Funny Face and Midnight in Paris to grittier portrayals by French masters like Jean Renoir and François Truffaut.

October 27


Vietnam and the Road to Watergate Part 1
Key decisions about Vietnam were made where conversations were recorded. Mixing excerpts from the tapes with public events, Columbia Law School lecturer Jess Velona presents the first part of a two-part series exploring this window into history. We’ll learn about The Gulf of Tonkin resolution, Johnson’s tortured decision to escalate the war, his dismissal of antiwar protesters, and his belated recognition that his presidency had been destroyed by the war.  (continued, see below) 


Edward Hopper’s New York
JCC U favorite art history professor Thomas Germano presents The Whitney Museum’s new exhibit Hopper’s New York, the first to focus on Hopper’s rich and continuous relationship with New York: as subject, setting, and inspiration for many of the artist’s most iconic pictures.

November 10


Vietnam and the Road to Watergate Part 2
Columbia Law School lecturer Jess Velona presents the second part of his series. (It stands on its own, so no worries if you missed the first) Listen as Johnson discovered that his new bid for peace was being sabotaged by candidate Nixon himself. And see how Nixon responded to the Pentagon Papers leak, setting the stage for the Watergate scandal.


What’s So Funny?
Iconic New Yorker cartoonist and author David Sipress will discuss his childhood on the Upper West Side in the age of Sputnik and JFK. Combining some of his funniest cartoons with his personal narrative, he’ll share stories about his life, his family and his musings on creativity and art. *

*Co-sponsored with the James H Grossmann Memorial Jewish Book Month Endowment

10:30 am Coffee and Conversation
10:45 am-12pm Morning Presentation
12-12:45 pm Lunch (buy or bring your own)
12:45-2 pm Afternoon Presentation

1 Thursday $38/$45
3 Thursdays $100/$120

First 10 participants to register for the full JCC U series will receive David De Jong’s book Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties

Sponsored in part by Arbor Terrace Teaneck – Independent Living

Live life to its fullest at Arbor Terrace Teaneck, and enjoy services and amenities that pamper you and eliminate the worries of maintenance and chores.  We provide the highest quality of independent senior living available.


Lifelong Learning

New! Musical Theater
With John Kenrick, Entertainment Historian

Funny Girl: Fanny Brice in Fact and Fiction
As entertaining as Funny Girl is, it is far different from the true history that inspired it. How did Fanny Brice really get her start?  Did she ever defy her boss Florenz Ziegfeld? And was Nick Arnstein just a gambler gone wrong? With Funny Girl back on Broadway, it’s the perfect time to get re-acquainted with Hollywood’s first Jewish female superstar.

Stephen Sondheim: Worlds to Change
From the groundbreaking West Side Story to the beloved Into the Woods, this innovative songwriter redefined the Broadway musical. His scores graced the elegant A Little Night Music, the blood-soaked Sweeney Todd, and the urban alienation of Company. Why was Sondheim so unhappy with some of his most popular lyrics? And what does the phrase “send in the clowns” mean? Musical theater historian John Kenrick pulls back the curtain on this shy genius’s life and dazzling career with behind the scenes stories and rare performance videos. 

2 Tuesdays, 11/1 & 11/8, 11 am, $45/$55

The Early Jewish Community in Colonial New Amsterdam and New York
With Thorin Tritter, PhD.

Jews have made New York their home for more than 350 years. Dr. Thorin Tritter will discuss the early Jewish settlement in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and its evolution and growth after the area was taken over by the British in 1664. Where did the Jewish settlers come from? How much antisemitism did they face? What type of community did they establish? Dr. Tritter will draw from a collection of primary sources to answer these questions and give a depiction of early Jewish life in what became New York City.

Thursday, 11/3, 11 am, $15/$20

Creative Writing
With Aimee McCormick

In this creative writing class, we will focus on short fiction and narrative and develop skills using vignettes. We will talk about inspiration, form and style, writing habits and method, rhythm and language, and we will work on character, dialogue and plot development. Edit and revise with others in the class and have a polished work to show.

Aimee McCormick was in the MFA writing program at NYU where she taught undergraduate creative writing.

6 Wednesdays, 11/9-12/14, 11 am-1 pm, $120/$150

Book Club
Facilitated by Kathy Graff

Step out of your own world for a little, and journey with us into the lives of literary characters. Read for pleasure and then share.  Join us to chat casually about books. Books will be high-quality contemporary fiction. Everyone is encouraged to participate. Attendees should read the book in advance of the meeting.
The selection for December is The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

Thursday, 12/15, 11:30 am, $12/$15

Lifelong Learning programs are sponsored by the Millicent and Harold May Family Endowment for Lifelong Learning in memory of Edward J. Newman, M.D. and the Michael J. Levitt Family Endowment Fund for Lifelong Learning.


Special Event! Short Film as an Artistic Medium

Asbury Shorts director and School of Visual Arts lecturer Douglas LeClaire joins us to show some of his favorite short films and to explain what makes them great. You’ll gain an appreciation for this artistic genre, as well as be entertained and inspired.

Thursday, 12/1, 11 am, $16/$20

Sponsored in part by Arbor Terrace Teaneck – Independent Living

Amen, Amen, Amen
With Gary VandenBergh, Producer and Editor
Don’t miss this uplifting documentary about religious pluralism. A small Jewish community in Dubai gives the gift of a Torah to the Crown Prince of Abu Dabi, Mohammad bin Zayed.
Following the film join our discussion about the film and behind the scenes stories.
Wednesday, 10/26, 7:30 pm, $10/$13

Israel Film Festival
Jewish Federation of Northern NJ’s Annual Israel Film Festival with a film screened at the JCC.
Let It Be Morning
Eran Kolirin, 101min
Sami, with his wife and son, traveled to his remote hometown for his brother’s wedding. Sami is eager to return to his business (and mistress) in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the military places the townspeople under a lockdown. With the community suddenly cut off from the outside world, the situation begins to descend into chaos, exposing frictions and disparities within the town’s Arab population. Sami is forced to contend with his own role in this misfortune and reevaluate his seemingly comfortable place in his society.

Israel’s official entry to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film, winner of 7 Israeli Academy Awards (Ophirs), including for Best Film and Best Director, and winner of Best Film at the Haifa Film Festival.

Sunday, 11/6, 7:30 pm, $10
Cosponsored with the Israel Center
For more info and to register call 201-820-3918

Lifelong Learning programs are sponsored by the Millicent and Harold May Family Endowment for Lifelong Learning in memory of Edward J. Newman, M.D. and the Michael J. Levitt Family Endowment Fund for Lifelong Learning.