Arts & Education: Sundays at JASA

Arts and Education: Sundays at JASA

Sundays at JASA is a one of a kind, college level continuing education program for adults 50+. Each semester offers a wide range of courses and lectures. Our instructors include luminaries from the worlds of politics, the arts, media, and more.

Join us for the JASA Fall 2021 Semester - from October 3 - December 19, 2021 -  with courses held on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays from 9:00am - 5:00pm. Class descriptions are listed below with times. The registration fee of $200 includes all of the classes listed below. Courses are held on Zoom. Dial-in audio-only options are available for most courses. 

For more information contact or 212.273.5304




Course Catalogue 



         9:00am – 9:40am Good Morning Meditation

         10:15am – 12:00pm The Opera Companion: Touching Upon Romantic Era Operas and More

         12:00pm – 1:00pm Get a Clue: Crossword Construction

         1:15pm – 2:15pm Get a Clue: Crossword Construction for Advanced Puzzlers

         *To register for the Advanced Class, please contact Joe George at

         2:30pm – 3:30pm Art in the City: Global Edition

         3:45pm – 4:45pm Drawing and Watercolor Workshop



         9:00am – 10:00am What Just Happened? Understanding Current Events

         10:15am – 11:15am U.S. Law and the Bill of Rights

         11:30am – 1:00pm Cinema Lecture Series

         1:15pm – 2:45pm Classic Broadway Songs of Musical Theater

         3:15pm – 4:15pm Creative Writing

         4:15pm – 5:15pm Modern Jewish History



         9:00am – 10:00am U.S. History: 1945 – Perhaps the Most Momentous Year of the 20th Century  

         10:15am – 11:30am Major Poets of Modernism

         11:30am – 1:00pm Masterpieces of Art

         1:00pm – 2:15pm New York Short Stories

         2:30pm – 3:30pm Movement and Dance

         3:45pm – 5:15pm Acting



Sundays at JASA also offers Lunchtime Lectures!



Full Course Descriptions and Details


Good Morning Meditation
9:00am – 9:40am  Instructor: Larry Hurst

This session offers an opportunity to meditate in a way that nurtures our capacity to listen deeply within. We start with a group check-in and then invite the group to bring our attention to mind and body in a guided attunement. We continue for a while in silence, allowing ourselves to greet – with empathy – whatever arises from moment to moment. We end by reflecting on the experience. 

Larry Hurst has been meditating for 30 years and enjoys exploring meditation’s gentle path to self-discovery and renewal. He is a certified trainer and workshop leader with the International Focusing Institute. His background is in the health sciences. After retiring he helped to establish a wellness network for the UK’s University of the Third Age and graduated as a life coach.


The Opera Companion: Touching Upon Romantic Era Operas and More
10:15am – 12:00pm  Instructor: Jane Marsh

Join international renowned opera singer, Jane Marsh, for an in-depth tour of opera productions for the fall of 2021. This semester’s opera course will include a number of diverse operas under the theme of "The Romantic & Verismo Eras," including Wagner’s Middle Period operas, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, as well as interesting visits to certain Early & Middle Period Puccini operas. Drawing from literary drama, novels, plays, poems and politics, the classes will be diverse and entertaining fun, all depicted through a plethora of apropos YouTube clips.

Jane Marsh was the first singer to win the Gold Medal in Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky Competition. Among Verdi, Strauss and Bel Canto, her repertoire includes the signature Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov heroines. She has appeared as performer and M.C. in international and U.S. radio and television venues and since 2007, has presented Metropolitan Opera Guild lectures and master classes on Bel Canto, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart, Strauss, and the Russian repertoire. She was awarded the New York Handel Medaille for exceptional contribution to the world of music.


Get a Clue: Crossword Construction 
12:00pm – 1:00pm  Instructors: Natan Last and Finn Vigeland

Learn the principles of crossword puzzle construction: basic history, finding a theme, making a usable grid, and creating the fill. A group puzzle will be submitted to the New York Times. Nineteen puzzles have been featured in the Times thus far! Will Shortz has hailed this class as “one of a kind.” 


Get a Clue: Crossword Construction for Advanced Puzzlers 
1:15pm – 2:15pm  Instructor: Natan last and Finn Vigeland

This class is for crossword constructors who have already taken several “Get a Clue!” In this class, we will build a more advanced type of puzzle – a particularly tricky theme a la the New York Times's Thursday puzzle, or a low word count themeless puzzle that's Saturday-level.
**Class acceptance is by invitation only. To register, please contact Joe George at

Natan Last published his first crossword puzzle in the New York Times when he was 16, then the youngest constructor to appear in the Times. Last wrote a book of crosswords, Titled Word. He has a B.A. with honors in Economics and Literary Arts from Brown University.

Finn Vigeland is a transportation planner and crossword constructor based in Washington, DC. His puzzles have appeared in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Buzzfeed, and a variety of indie outlets. In 2020, he co-organized the world's first online-only crossword tournament, Crossword Tournament From Your Couch. He previously taught the JASA crossword construction class from 2015-17.


Art in the City: Global Edition
2:30pm – 3:30pm  Instructor: Pamela Koehler

In this course we will explore the nature of visual expression and the ways in which artists transform ideas into works that communicate across time and culture. Through lively discussion and careful observation, we will engage with works of art from museums and collections around the world, and explore new ways to connect to them virtually.


Drawing and Watercolor Workshop
3:45pm – 4:45pm  Instructor: Pamela Koehler

Discover your creativity and explore the expressive use of line, form, and color in this weekly hands-on workshop. Drawing and painting in watercolor are both wonderful ways to relax, and to notice and appreciate the world around us, whether at home or while travelling. We will introduce the techniques needed, including color mixing, composition and sketching.

Students are free to work in either drawing or watercolor throughout the semester, and we will recommend inexpensive options for materials in the first class. Beginning and experienced students are welcome!

Pamela Koehler is an adjunct professor of art and art history at Adelphi University. As a teaching artist she has presented lectures, talks, and workshops at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Morgan Library, the Whitney, and the Dahesh Museum.




What Just Happened? Understanding Current Events
9:00am – 10:00am  Instructor: Gregg Birnbaum

Join veteran journalist and professor Gregg Birnbaum for a course examining the most important news developments of the week, at home and abroad. Politics, health care, criminal justice/policing, the economy, societal and global changes, foreign affairs and more will be on the table in this discussion-driven course enriched by class members sharing their views. The course will draw from major media outlets for its topics and source material. Our goal is to come away each week more informed, with a better understanding of major news events and having benefited from both the instructor’s insights and the differing perspectives of class members. 

Gregg Birnbaum is a former assistant managing editor for politics at, where he supervised coverage of national politics and the 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the White House, Congress, and Supreme Court. Birnbaum previously served as a senior editor at CNN, managing editor for politics with the New York Daily News, deputy managing editor at Politico, and political editor of the New York Post. He has taught journalism at Baruch College as an adjunct assistant professor since 2014.


U.S. Law and the Bill of Rights
10:15am – 11:15am  Instructor: Leora Harpaz

This course will explore the protections in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Each week, we will explore the history and scope of one of these amendments as well as important Supreme Court cases that interpret each right. We will start with the First Amendment’s protection for freedom of speech, consider the more controversial protection of gun ownership in the Second Amendment, and end with the Tenth Amendment’s role in balancing state and federal power.

Leora Harpaz is an emeritus professor of constitutional law at Western New England University School of Law as well as founder of the annual Supreme Court Conference where she has been a speaker for over 20 years. Since receiving emeritus status, she has been an instructor in several senior learner programs and taught undergraduate law courses in the political
science department at Hunter College. She received her B.A. from Stony Brook University, and has law degrees from both Boston University and New York University.


Cinema Lecture Series
11:30am – 1:00pm  Instructor: Max Alvarez

Join JASA film history instructor Max Alvarez for 10 riveting 90-minute multimedia sessions of film clips and rare archival materials. Max’s fall program kicks off with Jewish Images on Film. From there the journey follows with a 60th Anniversary look at landmark film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Frankenstein,” director Louis Malle and the remarkable cinematic collaborations between director Zhang Yimou and his muse Gong Li. The semester concludes with thrilling tributes to Costume Design and Jazz and Blues on film.

Max Alvarez is a film historian who has been presenting multimedia cinema history courses for Sundays at JASA since the fall of 2013. He is the author of The Cinéphile’s Guide to the Great Age of Cinema (2020), The Crime Films of Anthony Mann (University Press of Mississippi 2013), and a major contributor to Thornton Wilder/New Perspectives (Northwestern University Press 2013).


Classic Broadway Songs of Musical Theater
1:15pm – 2:45pm  Instructor: Mark York

A weekly sing-along of classic Broadway tunes while discussing musical theater history, trivia, and various subjects involved in creating a Broadway musical. Fun, fun, fun!

Mark York (Producer/Director/Composer/Lyricist/Librettist) is Executive Producer and Co-Founder of Mark York Productions and The Ziegfeld Society. As Jim Dale’s personal pianist, Mark has appeared on stage with Mr. Dale in his One Man Show, “Just Jim Dale,” playing to rave reviews at Roundabout Theatre NYC (Off-Broadway 2014) and on London’s West End at the Vaudeville Theatre (2015). He is currently Music Coordinator for Jerry Herman (composer of some of Broadway’s biggest hits including “Hello, Dolly!,” “Mame,” “Mack & Mabel,” “La Cage Aux Folles”). He is the Arranger, Pianist and Musical Director for “I’ve Got A Little Twist,” the new hit revue featuring the stars of New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players which won the 2010 Bistro Award for Special Show. 


Creative Writing
3:15pm – 4:15pm  Instructor: Leo Schaff

This course calls on writers of all stripes, persuasions, and experiences. Memoirs, poetry, short stories, song lyrics, and letters-to-the-editor are all welcome. Find inspiration through art, music, current events, or simply hearing each other’s work. Writers are helped through writing prompts to help guide topics if needed. When it comes to writing, everything is on the table.

Leo Schaff is an actor, singer, and songwriter. A longtime Bardolator, he also teaches at the 92nd Street Y and was NY1 New Yorker of the Week for his popular Shakespeare classes for seniors throughout the city. He co-wrote “Give Us Hope,” a song performed by the San Francisco Children’s Choir at President Obama’s first Inauguration.


Modern Jewish History
4:15pm – 5:15pm  Instructor: Amy Weiss

This course will survey Jewish history around the globe from the late 1700s/early 1800s to the present. Some topics will include the Jewish Enlightenment, political unrest and anti-Jewish pogroms, the rise of the Zionist movement, the creation of American Jewish movements, the Holocaust, the establishment of Israel, Jewish life in South America, Asia, and Africa, and contemporary Jewish demographics and current events.

Amy Weiss holds the Maurice Greenberg Chair of Judaic Studies and is an Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and History at the University of Hartford. In fall 2020, she held the Thomas and Elissa Ellant Katz Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Her research and publications focus on the intersections of American religion, Israeli culture, and Jewish-Protestant relations. She is currently writing a book manuscript on the evolving relationships American Jews have forged with Protestants, among both liberal and evangelical denominations. Most recently, her articles have appeared in the journals American Jewish History, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Israel Studies. Her work has also appeared in the edited volumes Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict in the College Classroom and Minhagim:Custom and Practice in Jewish Life, as well as in the forthcoming Armed Jews in the Americas. Weiss received her PhD from the departments of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at New York University. She also holds an MPhil from NYU, an MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a BA from Rutgers University.




U.S. History: 1945 – Perhaps the Most Momentous Year of the 20th Century
9:00am – 10:00am  Instructor: Doug Brin

This course will take a close look at many crucial historical moments in the year 1945. Topics discussed will include how the allies brought the greatest conflict in world history to a close; America making the fateful decision to drop two atomic bombs; FDR’s death, ending a record and eventful dozen plus year presidency; as well as Hitler’s suicide, and how it closes out the exponentially-evil Nazi regime.

Doug Brin facilitates weekly discussion groups at the 92nd Street Y and several independent senior residences, and lectures at the JCC. He is a former feature writer for the New York Daily News, and both a history and ethics teacher at the prestigious Dalton and Ethical Culture Schools. As a visual artist, his work has been exhibited in major neighborhood galleries in Manhattan.


Major Poets of Modernism
10:15am – 11:30am  Instructor: Mark Tursi

While ‘Modernism’ might be notoriously difficult to define, Rimbaud’s first assertion tells us a lot about the literature and poetry of the century that followed his own: it is a literature characterized by innovation and a clear break from past traditions and previous forms. It also revolutionized the way we think of language and human experience, and the poetry of the 20th century, in particular, has been viewed largely as an attempt to contend with an increasingly unstable, uncertain, and fragmentary world, and an effort to plumb the depths of the human mind. In this course, we will explore a diverse array of major 20th century poets from around the globe including greats like Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, Fernando Pessoa, Pablo Neruda, Marie Rainer Rilke, Federico Garcia Lorca, Anna Akhmatova, Aimé Césaire, and many others. We will learn how to read poems that are supposedly ‘difficult’ and enjoy doing it! We will also try some different types of reading strategies and techniques of literary analysis including historical, biographical, cultural, race & gender criticism and others in order to enhance our discussions and provide valuable and interesting contexts, perspectives, and critical frameworks. 

Mark Tursi is the author of four poetry books including the forthcoming title, The Uncanny Valley. He is currently working on several writing projects including a novel, an anthology of American Surrealist poets, a cross-genre work that blends philosophy, fiction, literary criticism, and poetry in response to and ‘in conversation’ with Dante’s Inferno, as well as a scholarly work titled Experience & Emptiness that explores the confluence of Postmodern philosophy with Surrealism, Zen Buddhism, and notions of the sublime. He teaches various courses in the humanities at Marymount Manhattan College and New Jersey City University.


Masterpieces of Art
11:30am – 1:00pm  Instructor: James Smith

Great works of art illuminate the most important joys and sorrows of our lives.  From the values and peaks of our love lives, to the complexities of the parent-child relationship, pieces like Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sondheim’s “Company” help us see and understand our own struggles in a new light.  We will delve into examples from music, painting, theatre, literature, and opera – with a strong focus on how the way these works are made in ways that make them so effective in moving us.  Representative examples include Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn, and Bizet’s “Carmen.”  For new and continuing students: we do new art pieces each term.

James Smith was the Executive Director of an educational and cultural non-profit in Cambridge, MA for many years, and has taught in adult programs at the New School and CUNY.


New York Short Stories
1:00pm – 2:15pm  Instructor: Jennifer Gilchrist

New York is a city of millions of stories of hope, dreams, fear, anger, despair, romance, luck, creativity, humor, and resilience. What better setting for the literary short story? With an emphasis on craft and perspective, we will read and analyze short works of mystery, tragedy, comedy, satire, irony, psychology, romance, and magical & social realism by diverse New Yorkers such as Mark Twain, Gary Shteyngart, Dorothy Parker, Bernard Malamud, Edwidge Danticat, Herman Melville, Don DeLillo, Toni Cade Bambera, and Sam Lipsyte.

Jennifer Gilchrist is a veteran New Yorker who now resides in Metro Detroit. She taught literature courses at Hunter College and has published articles in Twentieth-Century Literature and Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. In addition to her instruction at JASA, she is the review editor of Supernatural Studies: A Journal of Art, Culture, and Media. With a specialty in modernist narrative, she received her Ph.D. in twentieth-century American and British literature from Fordham University in the Bronx.


Movement and Dance 
2:30pm – 3:30pm  Instructor: Margaret Eginton

Appropriate for everyone, this class is equal parts joy of moving to music and learning about how your joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments work together, so that you can age well: look great, live safe, and feel confident and at home in your body. This class uses dance, movement, and music from the classical to the Broadway repertoire to tone your muscles, increase your flexibility, and develop dependable balance. Many of these movements are the same ones used by ballet dancers and football players to develop their agility. You will learn the “Bolshoi’s” – a sequence of arm exercises that will lift your posture and tone your chest and arms, and restore your core without a single crunch, plank, or pushup. Your posture will improve. Learn how to safely get up and down from the floor. Practice fall prevention through rhythm and negotiation of weight, and learn what to do if you do start falling so that you fall well. Dance has been shown to be one of the very best ways to maintain cognitive health, because it strengthens both short and long term memory. But importantly, dance is fun!

Margaret (Meg) Eginton, MFA, RSME-T RSDE is a Somatic Movement and Dance teacher and therapist with over 35 years of experience teaching in universities and private practice. She began her career dancing the companies of Merce Cunningham, Stephen Petronio, and on Broadway with Bill Irwin, and was awarded the Bessie for performance. After retiring from dance she acted off-Broadway, in commercials, and in film (“Scent of a Woman”), directed many plays, and headed movement for actors programs at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Harvard’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training, and Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory. Meg has taught many international workshops in dance, theatre, and somatic dance and movement therapy. After 40 years away, she returned to her hometown of Iowa City, IA to open Movement for All, LLC, a business which umbrellas her chronic pain practice, a corporate wellness business, and her dance and movement studio. Meg works individually with people to solve neurocircuit chronic pain problems such as migraine, lower back pain, frozen shoulder, vertigo, fibromyalgia, and teaches classes in movement, somatics, and dance live in her studio, and on Zoom to people worldwide. She holds a B.A. in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA in theatre direction from The University of Iowa, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. 


3:45pm – 5:15pm  Instructor: Scott Klavan

Many actors got their start due to being curious about how it all works. How does one really inhabit a role? Acting may seem like a mysterious, even magical art form, but it can be learned. Using techniques he has practiced as a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio, Scott Klavan will take you from the audience to the stage. The class features improv, monologues, and basic scene study to tackle the heart of a scene or moment on stage. A variety of tools will be gained to keep attention off yourself and on to your partner, acting alone on stage, and how the actor prepares. Studying acting improves self-expression, concentration and confidence; studies have shown it is medically beneficial. 

Scott Klavan has performed on and off Broadway, in regional theatre, on TV and the Web. His senior students have been cast in Shakespeare in the Park, and his 2019 direction of the musical pilot project “Into The Woods'' cast solely with seniors, for Musical Theatre International, was personally approved by Stephen Sondheim and featured in the New York Times.