Providing Lifelong Learning for over 30 years

Lifelong Learning Collaborative (LLC, formerly BCLIR) was established in 1984 as the Brown Community of Learning in Retirement, and has been an active educational model for lifelong learning for over three decades.  In May of 2008, we became an independent non-profit organization, an umbrella for continuing lifelong learning education in the Providence area. Most of our classes meet at Temple Beth-El.

Click to view/print Fall 2019 catalog (PDF).

Full course descriptions are available below.

Mondays
Open Studio Art (AM)
Concerts & Conversations (AM)
Nobel Peace Prize Winners (AM)
Winter Waterfowl of RI Up Close! (AM)
Hot Topics (PM)

Tuesdays
Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (AM)
Countering Fundamentalism (AM)
The 1919 Boston Police Strike (AM)
Short Stories of John Cheever (PM)
Peeling the Tangerine, Calming the Restless Mind (PM)
A History of Fashion Icons (PM)
Scrabble Social Club (PM)

Wednesdays
Fun, Fascinating and Fundamental: Mathematics (AM)
Books: Then to Now (AM)
The Panama Canal (AM)
Symbolist Art in a Changing Europe (PM)
Classics of Jewish Literature (PM)
Intro to Genealogy (PM)
Fiction Writing Critique Group (PM)

Thursdays
Theatre Conversations 1 (AM)
Theatre Conversations 2 (AM)
Isolationism to International Leadership to Trumpian Isolation (AM)
A Ticket to the Opera (PM)
Snapix: Photography (PM)
Mah Jongg Drop-In (PM)

Fridays
Classic Films Inspired by Short Stories (AM)
Mohandas Gandhi (AM)


Monday mornings
Temple Beth-El
9:30 AM-12:00 PM
7 weeks
Sept 9, 16, 23, Oct 7, 28, Nov 4, 18
Fee: $35
Class size limit: 12

Open Studio Art
Coordinator: Kathy Webster

Are you an artist (or budding artist) who enjoys working in the company of other artists and wants to keep improving this fall? Please join your friends for an informal meeting of artists who will independently pursue the paper/canvas medium of their choice using acrylics, oils, watercolor, pastel or drawing. There will be no instruction, just camaraderie and informal sharing by all. NOTE: This class will be held in the Temple craft room, which is upstairs above the offices, with no elevator access.

Resources/Expenses: There will be water and trash available in the room, and ample lighting. It is suggested you bring a small tabletop easel if desired. No expenses required other than supplies you want to use.

Coordinator: Kathy Webster is a summer Plein Air painter since joining LLC. Kathy has co-coordinated many LLC courses.


Monday mornings
RI Philharmonic Music School
(667 Waterman Ave, E. Providence)
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 9-Dec 9 (No class Sept 30, Oct 14, Nov 11, Nov 25)
Fee: $60
Class size limit: 30

Concerts and Conversations
Coordinators: Bonnie Ryvicker, Linda Shamoon, Penney Stein

The RI Philharmonic has a new conductor, the Grammy-winner Bramwell Tovey, a musician with a wonderful sense of humor and an international reputation for excellence. Join us as we preview each of the pieces in the Phil’s September, October and November programs, and as we observe Tovey’s impact on the Phil’s performances. This Fall’s program selections include piano concertos by Brahms and Tchaikovsky, a violin concerto by Barber, an orchestral suite by Holst, a piece by Tovey, himself, plus Handel’s Messiah in December. As a bonus, we will sample a few musical treats from the RI Chamber Music Concerts, including beautiful string quartets by Haydn, Beethoven and Schumann. Along the way, members of the Phil and its Music School faculty will visit our class for behind-the-scenes discussions of the music and the musicians. Whatever your starting point – from first time listener to concert connoisseur – this class offers you an opportunity to deepen your knowledge, ask your questions and share your insights into classical concert music, in a non-threatening, friendly setting. For more information, visit the class website, here.

Format: We listen to music together, attend the concerts being studied, and discuss concert performances. Presentations are encouraged; active participation in the class’s conversations about music is expected. Attendance at RI Philharmonic concerts is expected and encouraged at the RI Chamber Concerts.

Resources/Expenses: YouTube video performances, the class website, talks by area conductors and musicians, and online concert program guides. Discount tickets for each venue are available for course enrollees.

Coordinators: Linda Shamoon, Penney Stein, and Bonnie Ryvicker have an intense appreciation of classical music and enjoy sharing the pleasures of concert-going with others.


Monday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
7 weeks
Sept 9-Nov 18 (No class Sept 30, Oct 14, Oct 21, Nov 11)
Fee: $35
Class size limit: 20

The Nobel Peace Prize Winners: Their Lives, Their Times, and Their Issues
Coordinators: Atle Gjelsvik, Carol Gjelsvik

What do Mother Teresa and Henry Kissinger have in common? They both won the Nobel Peace Prize! Each selection of the Nobel Committee encapsulates an important piece of world history. There are many Peace Prize winners including over 20 organizations, and there is much information about them and the issues with which they struggled. Together we will learn about and discuss the person or the organization, as well as the surrounding history.

Format: Each participant will be expected to present the story of a Nobel Peace Prize winner of their choice. In the years between 1901-2018, the Peace Prize was awarded 99 times to 133 Laureates, both individuals and organizations, so there are lots of winners to choose from! Class members are encouraged to read something about the subjects prior to each class so that discussion will be rich and fruitful.

Resources/Expenses: No textbooks are required and no expenses are anticipated.

Coordinators: Atle and Carol Gjelsvik have coordinated several LLC classes over the years including studies of Norway, Cuba, and Haiti. They both really enjoy the collaborative learning model and are glad for the opportunity to help make it successful. Atle was awarded three Great Teacher awards at Columbia University where he taught Engineering and a very popular undergraduate course on the History of Engineering.


Monday mornings
Temple Beth-El* and off-site
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
5 weeks
Nov 4*, 18, 25, Dec 2, Dec 9*
Fee: $30
Class size limit: 12

*NOTE: Nov 4 and Dec 9 classes to be held at Temple Beth-El; Nov 18, Nov 25, Dec 2 classes to be held in the field. No class on Nov 11 due to the holiday.

Winter Waterfowl of RI Up Close!
Coordinators: Bill Carpenter, Emily Westcott

Rhode Island’s southern shores and local ponds are a birding paradise in early winter. Join seasoned birders Bill Carpenter and Emily Westcott for a five-week course (two classroom sessions and three field birding sessions) to learn more about Loons, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Mergansers, Grebes and Harlequins, to name just a few.

Format: Field trips and discussions. Presentations are not required. Participants will provide their own transportation (they will be encouraged to carpool to sites in South County, Jamestown and Middletown) and should be able to walk up to a mile and a half. Binoculars are essential for a good experience.

Resources/Expenses: No expenses are expected.

Coordinators: Bill Carpenter and Emily Westcott are birding enthusiasts who enjoy sharing the joys of this outdoor activity.


Monday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
7 weeks
Sept 9-Nov 18 (No class Sept 30, Oct 14, 21, Nov 11)
Fee: $35
Class size limit: 20

Hot Topics
Coordinators: George Champlin, Ed Mehlman

Do you enjoy talking with others about news of the day, hearing what they think is important, and why? If so, you’ll enjoy Hot Topics. We expect probing and exciting sessions that look at current items in the news. Members of the class take turns selecting a hot topic of the week – one that will stir discussion – and presenting key material to the class. The person presenting the topic gets things rolling with a few questions to stimulate discussion. Don’t be surprised if at times the discussions become intense and controversial. Class members should plan to read the Providence Journal and either The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal – or both – along with other news sources they might want to look into. Any medium will do, paper or electronic, if the topics are timely, and hot.

Format: Each week two members of the group will choose one article on current hot topics. After briefly presenting these to the group, they will pose the questions and lead the discussion. The coordinators will act as moderators of the session and help ensure that all viewpoints are heard.

Resources/Expenses: Participants will need access to Internet and will share articles drawn from newspapers, journals, magazines, and/or news releases with the group by email. No expenses are anticipated.

Coordinators: George Champlin and Ed Mehlman have coordinated this very popular course in prior semesters.


Tuesday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct 1)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
Coordinator: Chuck Nickles

Today, students carry more computing and communications power in their back pockets than was ever thought possible by their grandparents. We see images on the internet hundreds of light years away. We control our home environment with a touch of a button. So many wondrous innovations surround us. So how did we get here? We’ll explore some of the basic innovations that make up part of our modern technology: Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time and Light. By the end of this course, participants should have a basic understanding of the science applied in the innovations discussed, the interaction of people and these innovations as they work their way into daily life, and how these innovations have changed human behavior throughout society and our world view.

Format: Class members will make a presentation on a particular innovation they choose and, with the assistance of the coordinator, lead a lively discussion about a specific discovery, the historical background, or about how the innovation affected other developments and human behavior.

Resources/Expenses: The text, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson, is available at Amazon used for $2.99 and up. A list of additional resources will be provided.

Coordinator: Chuck Nickles is a retired UMass Dartmouth physics lecturer. He worked in industry on automated precision measurement systems, worked for an electric utility as a rate analyst and energy conservation specialist and now coaches a middle school robotics team.


Tuesday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct 1)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

NOTE: This class is a repeat of the popular course offered in the Fall of 2018. It is 10 weeks instead of 8, but will cover roughly the same material.

Understanding and Countering Fundamentalism
Coordinators: Dave Hansen, H. Philip West, Jr.

Almost every day front page stories stun readers. Extremists murder innocent people – whether in Paris, New York, Jerusalem, Kabul, Riyadh, or Pittsburgh. How did we get here? Before the nineteenth century, most Jews, Christians, and Muslims accepted their scriptures as literally true. Then scholars began to apply scientific analysis to ancient texts – all while astronomers, archaeologists, paleontologists, and geneticists produced evidence that contradicted what millions had long believed. These discoveries provoked backlash in the three monotheistic faiths against science and modernity. Groups in these three related traditions began to proclaim the inspired, eternal, and literal truth of their sacred texts. Under the banner of ancient scriptures, fundamentalists in all three traditions oppress women and long for cosmic war. How can ordinary citizens or secular governments counter them?

Format: Members of the class will be asked to research and make presentations on topics in three areas: formation of ancient scriptures, expansion of modern science, and fundamentalist interpretations in modern conflicts over land, law, customs, or education. Outside authorities may speak to the class. Group discussion and debate will be encouraged.

Resources/Expenses: The syllabus will include an extensive list of references. No expenses are anticipated.

Coordinators: H. Philip West, Jr. is a scholar and activist. His paper on the Synoptic Problem has been widely cited. After 18 years as Director of Common Cause, he wrote an acclaimed first-person history, Secrets and Scandals: Reforming Rhode Island, 1986-2006. Dave Hansen has coordinated a number of LLC classes including the two previous Secrets and Scandals courses.


Tuesday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct 1)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

The 1919 Boston Police Strike: The Irish vs. The Yankees in the Wake of WWI
Coordinator: Catherine Hurst

Exactly 100 years ago, 1,142 mostly Irish Boston policemen went on strike for better wages and working conditions. All were fired, and Governor Calvin Coolidge’s “toughness” with the strikers earned him a place on the national ticket in 1920. In this course we’ll explore the conditions that led to the strike (global, national, and local), what Boston was like in 1919, who the key players were, and the outcomes. Many of the issues that resonate today were pivotal then: immigration, public unions, terrorist bombings, political corruption, and the role of Russian interference in US politics and processes.

Format: Each student will be expected to research and report on one aspect of the strike. The coordinator will provide a list of potential topics. In addition, the coordinator will spend 5-10 minutes each week sharing a striker’s story.

Resources/Expenses: There are several excellent books about the strike. While no readings are required, you are strongly encouraged to read the Dennis Lehane novel, The Given Day, over the summer. It is a fast and engrossing read, very carefully researched, and will give you an excellent feeling for what Boston was like in 1919 and how the strike manifested itself. The coordinator will recommend other readings in the syllabus.

Coordinator: Catherine Hurst is a retired marketing executive and college professor, with an intense interest in local history. She is a walking tour guide with the RI Historical Society, and a researcher, writer, guide, and actor with the North Burial Ground Project. She is also working for the 1919 Boston Police Strike Project, researching individual strikers.


Tuesday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct1)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

The Short Stories of John Cheever
Coordinator: James Heath

John Cheever (1912-1982) is one of the most celebrated novelists and short story writers of the last century, winner of the National Book Award for his first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle (1957), and both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award for The Stories of John Cheever (1978). Among the stories we will read, we discover a man who makes his way home from a party by swimming the length of neighborhood pools, a child who shockingly dies in a ski lift accident, a woman carrying a pistol who orders a former lover off of a commuter train and a man saved from his bridge-crossing phobia by a girl hitchhiker with a harp. Shortly before his death from cancer, Cheever received a lifetime award for his writing, about which author John Updike said that Cheever wrote “as if with the quill from the wing of an angel.”

Format: The class will be conducted as directed discussion through which we will explore the way Cheever gave expression to important themes and how he developed as a writer. Participants will be expected to read one or two stories each week, to develop questions for and lead one discussion, individually or in pairs, and to participate actively in the discussion each week.

Resources/Expenses: Required text: John Cheever: Collected Stories and Other Writings (Library of America, No. 188) Hardcover – March 5, 2009, available from Amazon ($32.68). Suggested text: Cheever: A Life, Blake Bailey, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2009 Paperback, available used on Amazon ($13.15). No additional expenses.

Coordinator: James Heath has coordinated several semesters of Creative Photography as well as the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway and the Short Stories of Raymond Carver.


Tuesday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-2:30 PM (Note 1 1/2 hr length)
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct 1)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 16

NOTE: This class is a repeat of the popular course offered in the Winter 2019 semester.

Peeling the Tangerine, Calming the Restless Mind
Coordinator: Susan Glogovac

Do you find yourself engaged in NST (Non-Stop Thinking) more than you’d like? Does your mind dwell too often on things that happened in the past or jump ahead to what might happen in the future? Do you long to calm your restless mind and stay more grounded in the present moment? In this class, we will explore together a variety of mindfulness practices, such as mindful eating and sitting and walking meditation, in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. These help us stop so that we can be more present to life as it unfolds in and around us. They offer us a pathway for healing and transformation. Our home practice will be to explore them further and keep a journal of our experiences. In class discussions, we will reflect together on ways to calm our restless minds.

Format: The coordinator will introduce mindfulness practices and relevant readings, followed by direct experience and discussion.

Resources/Expenses: There are no resources or additional expenses. Various resources will be recommended for those wishing to learn more.

Coordinator: Susan Glogovac has been practicing meditation for more than 25 years and has facilitated meditation groups for the past 15 years. In 2009, she was ordained into Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. She enjoys sharing mindfulness practices with those who want to be more present to life in and around them.


Tuesday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct 1)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 21

A History of Fashion Icons: From Marie Antoinette to Lady Gaga
Coordinator: Kip Brott

Throughout history, individuals of exceptional vision and taste have dazzled us with their groundbreaking fashion choices. These legendary “fashion icons” have sparked admiration, emulation, and sometimes even outrage! Join us as we learn more about their remarkable lives and explore how personal style, fashion, culture, and history are dynamically interrelated. We will begin our studies in 18th century France with Marie Antoinette, the last Queen before the French Revolution, and end with Lady Gaga, modern-day pop sensation extraordinaire. Along the way we will examine some of the leading fashion arbiters of the past 250 years – including Empress Josephine, Queen Victoria, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Christian Dior, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Twiggy, Cher, David Bowie, Princess Diana, Madonna, and more!

Format: Class members will be required to give presentations on fashion icons selected from a list prepared by the coordinator. The coordinator welcomes the opportunity to meet with participants before their presentations to discuss their topics and strategize on how to present them.

Resources/Expenses: The coordinator will assign online reading material and videos that are to be reviewed in advance of each class session. Participants should be comfortable with accessing websites and using YouTube. No additional expenses are anticipated.

Coordinator: Kip Brott, who earned his BA and MA degrees in art history from UCLA, is a lifelong fashion enthusiast. While preparing this course, Kip was particularly inspired by the words of celebrated journalist Diana Vreeland, who once said, “Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all the events. You can see and feel everything in clothes.”


Tuesday late afternoons
Temple Beth-El
3:15-5:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 10-Nov 19 (No class Oct 1)
There is no fee for this course, but you must be a member of LLC.
Registration is not required.
Just drop in and play.

Scrabble Social Club
Coordinators: Cathy Hurst, Sheila Zompa

Do drop in any Tuesday by 3:15 for a friendly game or two of Scrabble. We need the time from 3:15-3:30 to set up the boards and players so that we can start playing right at 3:30. All levels welcome – no fee, no registration. Hopefully, you’ll become a regular. We generally have three to five games in play and there is room for more. Cathy will be on hand for documentation and rule clarification. Sheila will create our groups of threes and twos each week and we shall see if Pete will continue to hold onto his distinction as our Scrabble Icon. Then join us afterwards, if you wish, for supper at a local restaurant. We may touch on many interesting topics or just relax and unwind in a convivial group. Game boards provided.


Wednesday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Fun, Fascinating and Fundamental: Mathematics
Coordinators: Lee Ashcraft, Louise Moss

Remember the question in Junior High School? “Mr. Carson, when are we ever going to use this?” Well, it may be a tad late, but this class is the opportunity for you to explore the beauty, the delight, and yes, the usefulness of mathematics in all aspects of our everyday experiences: art, music, literature, nature, and of course, math as the language of physics, biology, computer science and the list continues. “For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics.” (Roger Bacon) This class is for everyone – those who love math and especially anyone who has ever sighed, “I was never any good at math.” Topics to explore include artistic perspective, mapping the world, animal mathematicians, making music, and many more – but not to solve equations and do the math. Rather, we will try to understand how something we often take for granted has a fascination and beauty that is made possible by math.

Format: Class members will be expected to prepare a session to include an explanation/exploration of a topic and a class discussion. They may select a topic from those suggested by the coordinators or pick another appropriate topic of their own choice.

Resources/Expenses: The coordinators will provide suggested text and reference material. All will be available through the public library system or the Internet. No additional expenses are anticipated.

Coordinators: Lee Ashcraft is an experienced LLC coordinator; early on, he pestered Mr. Carson with questions and later worked as a computer systems professional. Louise Moss is an experienced LLC coordinator and mathematician who worked as a reliability analyst and a scientific software engineer.


Wednesday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

NOTE: The course is NOT a repeat of last Fall’s History of the Book class. Both the format and the proposed book subjects have changed.

Books: Then to Now
Coordinator: Walker Rumble

Did you ever wonder what the earliest cookbook was like? Or the first travel book? Book of maps? Of songs? Or for that matter the very first book of any kind? What do you know about Johann Gutenberg? Does the name William Caslon ring any bells? Do you know why books look the way they do? Well, here’s your chance to find out about all those things. And even more! Along the way, we’ll take a couple of library field trips. Each week we’ll wander among special books, leading right up to Kindle.

Format: Participants are expected to read the assigned text and engage in class discussions. The coordinator will open each meeting with a short video or slide presentation relating to technical aspects of book making through the years. Following this, two participants will report on subjects they have selected from a supplied list and each will talk about their topic for 15-20 minutes. Ideally, those remarks will accompany a PowerPoint slide presentation. Possible field trips may include Brown University’s John Hay Library and the Providence Public Library.

Resources/Expenses: Martyn Lyons, Books: A Living History is available from Amazon for $13.00 and up or at your local bookstore.

Coordinator: Walker Rumble has been a college history professor and a printer, and now writes essays on the history of printing.


Wednesday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

The Panama Canal: Creation of the Path Between the Seas
Coordinators: Marilyn Kaplan, Susan Norrie

Join us as we learn about the largest, most costly effort ever mounted anywhere on earth at that time. The creation of the Panama Canal held the world’s attention for forty years, rocking the nation of France, depriving the nations of Colombia and Nicaragua of their places on the world stage, creating the Republic of Panama, forwarding the international involvement of the United States and marking advances in engineering, government planning, labor relations, medicine and finance capitalism. We will consider why and how it happened with particular emphasis on the individuals involved especially historic figures such as Ferdinand de Lesseps and Theodore Roosevelt.

Format: Class participants should read the text prior to the beginning of the class and are expected to choose one of the following three options: (1) A short oral presentation on a suggested or approved topic or individual followed by a class discussion. (2) Participation in a debate or performance on a suggested topic or individual. (3) Researching and leading a class discussion on one of the suggested topics.

Resources/Expenses: Our basic text will be The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 by David McCullough, available on Amazon, used for $1.99 and up. Prior to each class, participants are expected to review the relevant chapters.

Coordinators: Marilyn Kaplan has Master’s Degrees in teaching and history and has coordinated several LLC courses. Susan Norrie relocated to Rhode Island from the Gulf Coast of Alabama six years ago and has been enjoying LLC courses since that time. Marilyn and Susan co-coordinated the course, Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World.


Wednesday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Symbolist Art in a Changing Europe: 1880-1900
Coordinators: Mary Ball Howkins, Mary Snowden

Join us on an artistic journey. In the last decades of the 19th century, many artists rebelled against realism and contemporary subjects, delving instead into myth, literature, spiritualism and Eastern religion, while Europe heralded new technology and conservative impulses like imperialism and nationalism. Artists responded strongly to women’s efforts to diminish patriarchy by imaging women as dangerous, diseased, or perpetually asleep. Get to know the work of painters like Gustave Moreau, Paul Gauguin, the cult-like Nabis, Odillon Redon, Edward Munch and Gustav Klimt as they held ground in a threatening, changing world. Become familiar with the art of women such as Camille Claude and Suzanne Valadon, moving in a different, modernist direction.

Format: Participants will be asked to give short presentations, lead discussions, and participate in group analysis of images in this course.

Resources/Expenses: The coordinators may suggest reading material and online resources. Access to a computer and the Internet is essential. No expenses are anticipated.

Coordinators: Mary Snowden and Mary Ball Howkins have both coordinated multiple popular art courses at LLC. Mary Snowden is a painter and Mary Ball Howkins is an art historian.


Wednesday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Classics of Jewish Literature: Keys to Survival and Diversity from Ancient to Modern Times
Coordinators: Jane Adler, Patricia Becker, Stephen Kaplan

What is the nature of God? What was the promise of the Promised Land? What has it been like to live as a minority in a potentially hostile society? This course, intended for people of all faiths, uses 18 masterpieces in our text, The People and the Books, written in many languages and covering a variety of settings and circumstances, to examine these perennial questions as well as issues of assimilation, nationhood and belief in God.

Format: Participants will each select a chapter from the text and lead a class discussion (introduced by a 10-20 minute oral presentation, a debate or performance related to the topic, or specific discussion questions distributed in advance). We look forward to lively discussions.

Resources/Expenses: We strongly urge course participants to obtain a copy of the book and read it prior to the beginning of the course. The text, The People and the Books by Adam Kirsch, is available in paperback from Amazon, used for $3.35 and up. For additional resources, you may wish to view the list of supplementary readings at the end of each chapter of the book.

Coordinators: Stephen Kaplan is a retired academic/physician with a lifelong interest in Jewish history and thought. He previously coordinated a course pertaining to Italian Jewry. Jane Adler, a semiretired newspaper columnist, also has an interest in Jewish history. She has co-coordinated several short stories classes. Patricia Becker is a retired nursing professor. She was active in the lifelong learning organization in Madison, Wisconsin.


Wednesday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Introduction to Genealogy
Coordinator: Lee Ashcraft

Genealogy is a popular hobby for millions of people, as almost everyone wonders about their family roots and what life was like for their ancestors. If you are thinking about starting to research your family genealogy, or if you are in the beginning stages, this course could be just right for you. Topics will include how and where to begin, vital records, documentation and record keeping, census records, cemetery research, family narratives, Internet resources, computer software and DNA testing.

Format: Class sessions will be a mix of “how to” explanations and individual and group work on family genealogies. Class members will be expected to apply lessons and techniques from class to their research, and to share those experiences in class.

Resources/Expenses: Class coordinator will provide links to online resources. There are no additional fees.

Coordinator: Lee Ashcraft is an experienced LLC coordinator who worked as a computer systems professional and is currently a devoted amateur genealogist.


Wednesday late afternoons
Temple Beth-El
3:15-5:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 11-Nov 20 (No class Oct 9)
Fee: $20
Class size limit: 10

Fiction Writing Critique Group
Coordinator: Mary Ball Howkins

Gather with fiction writers who conjure tales of far away and nearby, who love telling stories and have many to tell! We’ll help you turn some of your life experiences into fiction! In an intimate and supportive group, learn how to hone your writing, explode it into something brand new, or extract it sentence by sentence from your imagination with cheers and encouragement from others. No judgments allowed – only constructive assessment to urge you on to finding and asserting your writer’s voice.

Format: Participants will submit a story or chapter online to class members by the Monday before the Wednesday class meeting date. Class members will prepare comments, suggestions, and editing corrections by that Wednesday and be ready to discuss those comments etc., in the class meeting. Printing each submission with comments and corrections added will be a useful tool for each writer when we meet. The person submitting will be expected to ask for specific feedback when submitting the story or chapter to others so that the class will have some direction while reading and commenting.

Expenses: No expenses are anticipated.

Coordinator: Mary Ball Howkins has coordinated many LLC courses and is an active writer of fiction, an international wildlife volunteer and art historian.


Thursday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 12-Nov 14 (First play Sept 11)
Fee: $70
Section 1 Class size limit: 30
Section 2 Class size limit: 23

Theatre Conversations 1 and 2
Section 1 Coordinators: Kathy Webster, Mike Webster
Section 2 Coordinators: Maggie Miles, Nick Miles

Do you like to see live theater? Do you like to talk about it afterwards? Then join our popular Theatre Conversations course! We will feature two plays at Trinity (The Prince of Providence by George Brant and A Christmas Carol based on the Charles Dickens novel), and two at the Gamm (A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath and JQA by Aaron Posner) all of which we will attend as a group. We will also independently attend A School for Lies (based on Moliere’s The Misanthrope) at the Burbage and Waiting for Godot (by Samuel Beckett) at the Wilbury.

Format: Participants will obtain and read several of the scripts and attend a performance of each play. They also are expected to present material or lead short, lively class discussions on aspects of a play, including production aspects, themes, the playwright’s background and intent as well as the director’s interpretation. Actors or other members of the theater companies will join both sections of the class on several occasions to enrich our understanding of the plays and the production process. Some classes may be at locations other than the Temple.

Resources/Expenses: There will be costs related to the purchase of scripts and attending the Gamm ($20) and other performances ($15). We will be attending the Trinity dress rehearsals at no charge for class members.

Section 1 Coordinators: Kathy and Mike Webster have co-coordinated this class for several semesters. They are active and avid supporters of our local theater companies.

Section 2 Coordinators: Maggie and Nick Miles have co-coordinated this class for several semesters. They are active and avid supporters of our local theater companies.


Thursday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 12-Nov 14
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Isolationism to International Leadership to Trumpian Isolation: The Shifting Tides of American Foreign Policy, 1920-2019
Coordinators: Eugene Mihaly, Bruce Ruttenberg

How unique is America’s current retreat from international alliances and engagement? We shall explore the inward turn after World War I; the implications and impact on policy of victory in World War II; the long Cold War; the Vietnam tragedy; leadership without serious challenge after 1989; the 9/11 trauma and aggressive policy and action in its wake; to today’s sharp nationalistic turn under Trump. We shall also discuss the stunning vitality – and reemergence at critical moments - of time worn isolationist and nationalist rhetoric.

Format: Each participant is encouraged, but not required, to choose a relevant topic from the syllabus and prepare a class presentation and/or discussion.

Resources/Expenses: There are many sources for each of the historical periods that will be covered in this course but there is no single volume that covers all of the topics. Consequently, once presentations have been assigned, presenters (and class members) will be provided with relevant references for each period of focus.

Coordinators: Bruce Ruttenberg is a retired Senior Partner of Chace Ruttenberg and Freedman and an experienced LLC coordinator. Eugene Mihaly is a former university professor and business executive who has coordinated many LLC courses.


Thursday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 19-Dec 5 (No class Oct 10, Nov 28)
Fee: $60
Class size limit: 30

Ticket to the Opera
Coordinators: Penny Backman, Linda Shamoon, Penney Stein

Great Music! Stirring Performances! Exotic Locales! Amazing Costumes and Sets! Superstar Personalities! Welcome to the opera! Whether you are an opera buff or an opera newcomer, join us for a (virtual) front row seat at live Metropolitan Opera performances shown in area movie theaters. Explore the story, composer, music and singers before each opera performance. Watch the opera and between acts enjoy live interviews with the performance’s stars. Then in class, we will share our impressions – positive and negative. Guest speakers will add an extra dimension to our learning. The Met in HD performances this fall feature two all-time favorites: Puccini’s Turandot and Madama Butterfly, along with Massenet’s Manon and Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. By the end of the course we aim to deepen our knowledge and appreciation of these four operas, as well as of this wonderful art form and, hopefully, join the millions of dedicated opera fans worldwide.

Format: Participation in class discussion and short presentations on composers, librettists, storylines and performers are encouraged.

Resources/Expenses: Students will purchase their own tickets to performances at area movie theaters: Turandot (Oct 12, 16), Manon (Oct 26, 30) Madama Butterfly (Nov 9, 13) and Akhnaten (Nov 23, 27).

Coordinators: Penney Stein has been a member of LLC for five years and, along with Linda Shamoon and Penny Backman, co-coordinator of the Concerts and Conversations class. She is an avid fan of classical music, opera, jazz, folk and classic rock and looks forward to sharing the joy of watching the Metropolitan Opera in HD with enthusiastic classmates. Penny Backman has always been a classical music and opera enthusiast. She lived many years in Cleveland, loving the Cleveland Orchestra, and often returns to hear them again. When traveling, she locates the opera/music halls as soon as she lands. Linda Shamoon is an opera enthusiast and a fan of live performance of all kinds of music, especially symphonic music, chamber music, Broadway and jazz.


Thursday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:30* PM
10 weeks
Sept 12-Nov 14
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 18

*NOTE: This is an extended class that will end at 3:30 PM for certain sessions. There will also be an optional camera “boot camp” session on Thursday, September 5 at 2:30 PM at Temple Beth-El to help people with some camera basics prior to the first class.

Snapix: Photography
Coordinators: Tom Amsterburg, Sally Barker, Donna Parker

Take your best photographs ever! Join us in our interactive photography course that will focus on basic camera settings, correct exposure, composition, common photography mistakes, pre-visualization, and ‘working the scene’. Other topics include depth of field, using semi-manual shooting modes, and basic photo editing. The course is open to photography enthusiasts of all levels but is aimed at individuals who primarily shoot in “automatic” mode and would like to better understand the technical capabilities of their cameras and gain more creative control. The only requirement is that you have a digital camera (see below) and a willingness to learn and try new things.

Format: Participants will have weekly homework assignments consisting of readings, YouTube videos, and photo shooting assignments. Classroom format will consist of discussing the participants’ submitted photos, presentations and in-class demonstrations, and periodic group photo shoots.

Photo Shoots: There will be four group photo shoots covering landscape photography, sunset/night photography, still lifes, and people/portraits. Sessions will be held during normal class hours at agreed locations, except for the sunset/night photography shoot, which will be held at a date and time to be determined.

Resources/Expenses: Students should have a DSLR (or mirrorless) camera or an advanced “point and shoot” having the capability to shoot using semi-manual settings (e.g., aperture and shutter priority}. While not a requirement, an inexpensive camera tripod is highly recommended (options to be discussed in class). It is possible that one photo shoot will require a small entrance fee.

Coordinators: Tom Amsterburg is an avid amateur photographer and a member of the Stonybrook Camera Club and the Greater Boston Night Photographers. He is currently interested in landscape, nature, and night photography. Sally Barker taught in Textiles and Freshman Foundation at RISD for decades, but has always used photography as part of her “sketchbook” practice. Fleeting traces of light have been a long-standing focus, and birds are a more recent subject. Donna Parker has been a photographer for many years and is a member of the Art League of Rhode Island and the Stonybrook Camera Club. She enjoys all types of photography, particularly flowers and landscapes, as well as black and white photography.


Thursday afternoons
Temple Beth-El
1:00-3:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 12-Nov 14
There is no fee for this course, but you must be a member of LLC.
Registration is not required.
Just drop in and play.

Mah Jongg Drop-In
Coordinators: Sheela Percelay, Sandra Wyn

This is intended for people who know how to play and want some new people to play with! There is no fee, and registration is not required, but please contact Sheela Percelay (401-726-5863) or Sandra Wyn (401-272-8136) for details.


Friday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 13-Nov 15
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 25

Adaptations: Classic Films Inspired by Short Stories
Coordinators: Deborah Barchi, Mel Shelly, Steve Zrike

You know these films: The Last Time I Saw Paris, Minority Report and A Face in the Crowd; did you know that they were originally short stories from authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Phillip K. Dick and Budd Schulberg? Other great films directed by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Howard Hawks were also inspired by little known short stories.

Format: All class members will watch ten films and read ten source stories at home. Each member will choose one film or one story to present/discuss in class.

Expenses/Resources: Text: Adaptations, From Short Story to Big Screen: Great Stories That Have Inspired Great Films, edited by Stephanie Harrison (available on Amazon new/used); Films: stream on Amazon, Netflix, etc. (modest rental) or obtain from local libraries.

Coordinators: Steve Zrike and Mel Shelly have led numerous film courses for LLC. Debbie Barchi is a librarian with a background in short story and film.


Friday mornings
Temple Beth-El
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
10 weeks
Sept 13-Nov 15
Fee: $50
Class size limit: 20

Mohandas Gandhi: Spiritual and Political Leader; Triumph and Tragedy
Coordinators: Tom Backman, Jim Estey

This course will be an historical and critical study of Gandhi’s life, ideas, political activities and his impact on India and on the world. Gandhi is famous for his dedication to truth, his radical social ideas, his courageous political leadership, his spirituality, his embrace of non-violence and his commitment to freedom and independence. How successful was he in promoting his ideas and practices? What is it that we can learn from him about living the good life, treatment of others and creating harmonious and peaceful societies?

Format: Each week class participants will be expected to give a brief presentation on a topic from the book and provide a set of provocative discussion questions related to the topic.

Expenses/Resources: The main text will be the biography, Gandhi, A Life, by Indian writer Yogesh Chadha (1997) with weekly assignments from the book. Additional resources such as maps, periodicals, references and films may be provided. The text is available in paperback, used from Amazon for $1.40 and up.

Coordinators: Jim Estey is a newly retired professor of World History at Bryant University. He was educated at Cornell and Brown University and has traveled widely. Tom Backman is a retired social worker and an avid amateur photographer. He has co-led several LLC photography classes. Tom is interested in Gandhi and is eager to help facilitate a deeper understanding of his life, ideas, and his impact on the world.