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Amram Scholar Series

This dynamic program of free public lectures brings world-renowned authors, scholars, political leaders, policy experts, and theologians to WHC to share their perspectives on timely issues or their research into Jewish culture and history.

We are pleased to present prominent writers of the nation's newest works on topics of Jewish interest, often in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council.

William Taubman


As memories of the Cold War fade and worries rise about a new era of tense relations between Russia and the West, Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Taubman comes to the Amram Scholar Series to revisit the decades when the United States and the Soviet Union — the world's two superpowers — dictated geopolitical strategy, foreign policy, and economic stability. His talk at Temple on Sunday, January 28 at 10:30 am will focus on his new biography, Gorbachev: His Life and Times, for which the former Soviet leader afforded him extensive access.

Combining rigorous biographical research and a compelling narrative style, Mr. Taubman creates an intimate portrayal of Mikhail Gorbachev that is also a compelling history of the Soviet Union and Russia. The New York Times Book Review applauds it as "masterly ... (a) richly layered portrait ... which will surely stand as the definitive English-language chronicle of this most intriguing figure for many years to come."

Gorbachev details how a dirt-poor farm boy and Communist Party stalwart became the USSR's most significant reformer; how the leader of the "evil Empire" forged a peaceful partnership with the United States aimed at eliminating nuclear arms; and how Gorbachev's reformist policies of perestroika and glasnost collapsed, leaving him reviled in his homeland even as he was admired in the West.

William Taubman is the Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Amherst College. His biography, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2004. He comes to Washington Hebrew Congregation in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council.

Support WHC's youth social justice projects by purchasing this book through the WHC Mitzvah Mall.

2017-2018 Amram Scholar Series Schedule

Unless specified, all lectures are held at Temple on Sundays at 10:30 am.

Sunday, October 29
Thomas L. Friedman, author of Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

Wednesday, November 8 at 7:00 pm at St. Alban's Episcopal Church
Michal Schwartz, Dancing on a Powder Keg: The Ilse Weber Story in Words and Music
Interfaith Kristallnacht Remembrance

Sunday, November 19
Steven J. Ross, author of Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America

Sunday, December 3
Eddy Portnoy, author of Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press

Sunday, January 28
William Taubman, author of Gorbachev: His Life and Times

Sunday, March 11
Alan Zweibel, author of For This We Left Egypt? A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them

Sunday, April 15
Francine Klagsbrun, author of Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel

Sunday, May 6 at 5:00 pm
Jeremy Dauber and Michael Krasny, "Jewish Humor"

Past Lectures

Stories abound of Jewish immigrants climbing the ladder of social mobility as they successfully integrated into new and different worlds during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But historian Eddy Portnoy has discovered others, Jewish bunglers and blockheads – among them drunks, thieves, murderers, wrestlers, psychics, and beauty queens – who didn’t make it into the history books. Their follies and foibles were fodder for the pages of Yiddish daily newspapers in New York and Warsaw, the major centers of Jewish culture at that time. Now Dr. Portnoy has incorporated their tales in a newly published book, Bad Rabbi and Other Strange But True Stories from the Yiddish Press. He introduced us to these “downwardly” mobile Jews during his Amram Scholar Series lecture on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Upcoming Events

January 28, 2018 / Sunday
Amram Scholar Series Presents: William Taubman
10:30 AM—12:00 PM

As memories of the Cold War fade and worries rise about a new era of tense relations between Russia and the West, Pulitzer Prize-winning author…

March 11, 2018 / Sunday
Pre-Passover Expo and Amram Scholar Series Lecture
10:30 AM—12:00 PM
April 15, 2018 / Sunday
Amram Scholar Series Presents: Francine Klagsbrun
10:30 AM—12:00 PM
May 6, 2018 / Sunday
Amram Scholar Series Presents: Jeremy Dauber and Michael Krasny
5:00 PM—6:30 PM

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