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2017-2018 Lectures


Thomas Friedman

On Sunday, October 29, 2017, Thomas L. Friedman joined us to launch the 2017-2018 Amram Scholar Series. Focusing on his latest book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Friedman discussed the stresses and challenges of succeeding in our current world of dizzying accelerations.

Steven J. Ross

The chilling, little-known story of how Jews in Los Angeles thwarted Nazi plots against America from 1933 to the end of World War II was the focus of an Amram Scholar Series lecture by eminent film historian Steven J. Ross on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Washington Hebrew Congregation. This lecture was based on his latest book, Hitler in Los AngelesMr. Ross's lecture was made possible with the support of Leo & Elizabeth Goodman Public Issues Endowment Fund.

Eddy Portnoy

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.

William Taubman

Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Taubman came 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, 2018 focused on his new biography, Gorbachev: His Life and Times, for which the former Soviet leader afforded him extensive access. The book has been named as one of five finalists for the 2017 National Book Critics Circle award for biography. Mr. Taubman came to WHC in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council.

Alan Zweibel

Five-time Emmy award-winning comedy writer Alan Zweibel joined us on Sunday, March 18, 2018, for an Amram talk about his book, For This We Left Egypt? A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them. Mr. Zweibel is an original Saturday Night Live writer, collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony award-winning play 700 Sundays, and won the Thurber Prize for this novel The Other Shulman. Currently, he is writing the book for a Broadway musical version of the movie Field of Dreams.

Jeremy Dauber & Michael Krasny

Comic archetypes took center stage at Temple on Sunday, May 6 when the Amram Scholar Series concluded its year with an analysis of the special nature of the Jewish sense of humor through the ages.

Jeremy Dauber, Professor of Yiddish language and culture at Columbia University, and Michael Krasny, literature scholar and National Public Radio host, came together to discuss their latest books, which both explore the range of Jewish comedy — a genre fueled by persecution, suffering, and self-awareness.