Short Courses


Click here to download the enrolment form


The Jewish Museum is committed to developing and delivering an annual series of short courses, focussed around the Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibition program, to complement and extend the exhibition themes.

For more details please contact or (03) 8534 3600

Belief and Ritual

Highlighting and explaining the foundations of Judaism’s religious and ethical beliefs

Monday evening7.30-9:30pm


Curb your Judaism: the portrayal of Jews in film and television

Ittay Flescher

5 week course February 15, 22, 29 March 7, 21

From the start of television in the 1930s, Jews played a prominent role in the industry. In addition to producing television shows and starring in them, TV became a medium to portray this quirky Middle Eastern religion to the masses.

This course will explore a range of shows, both old and new, that make comments about Jewish identity, sexuality, assimilation, conversion, food, festivals, antisemitism and the future. In addition to many opportunities to laugh at ourselves, this course will also be a safe space to discuss the meaning of what it means to be a Jew in the modern world. You will be watching excerpts from shows as varied as Seinfeld, Orange is the New Black, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wonder Years, When do We Eat, The Jazz Singer, All in the family and many more.


Monday afternoon1-3pm


My son the doctor: Jewish medical ethics

Ronnie Figdor

8 week course February 15, 22, 29 March 7, 21 April 4, 11, 18

Advances in medical treatment have resulted in ethical concerns not seen in previous generations. How does Judaism deal with these contemporary issues?

This course considers some of the more interesting medical ethical issues facing us today and looks at how Jewish laws deal with the complexities and challenges that continue to arise in each era. 'Jewish medical ethics' will cover a range of topics including the Jewish attitude to Siamese twins, cosmetic surgery, cloning, scarce medical resources, DNA identification, autopsies and cremation, sex reassignment surgery and more.

The format will include a liberal dose of class discussion, sharing of personal experiences, textual study and a light sprinkling of humour for flavour.

Cost 8 week course: $250 (non member) $225 (member)

Click here to book online!

Monday evening7.30-9pm


How to talk about food when you are not talking about food

Shelley Cohney

3 week course February 15, 22, 29

Jewish Food. Is it just about eating? To any individual or community, food is more than merely the fuel sustaining life and more than just sensory stimulation. Food is an enduring element of individual and collective memory and also a window to a community – what it values in the present and hopes for in the future. Using Jewish text and other literature, this 3 week course with food maven and Judaism expert Shelley Cohney, will be about exploring Jewish attitudes to world hunger, vegetarianism, sustainability, blessings and rituals through the lens of the food we eat.


Timeline of Jewish History

Depicting 4000 years of rich and remarkable history

Monday afternoon THIS CLASS IS FULL

Monday evening7.30-9.30pm

Thursday afternoon2-4pm


The world of our ancestors: a history of Jews in Poland

Paul Forgasz

8 week course Mon: Feb 15, 22, 29 March 7, 21 April 4, 11, 18 Thurs: Feb 18, 25 March 3, 10, 24 April 7, 14, 21

Presented in memory of Lionel & Naomi Gross

For many centuries Poland formed the heartland of the Jewish world right up until the Second World War. Indeed it was home to over forty percent of the world’s Jews. Although most of Poland’s Jews perished during the Shoah, the legacy of this once vibrant, rich and thriving civilisation continues to resonate throughout the contemporary Jewish people.

In this short course we will examine the fascinating story of the Jews of Poland as it evolved through its various phases: the community’s medieval origins; the Jewish “golden age” of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; the 150-year long period of partition when Poland ceased being Poland; and the inter-war years when Poland’s Jews experienced another golden age of sorts, living as they did on the edge of destruction. However, whereas for many the story of the Jews of Poland simply ends with the Shoah, we will consider the impact of post-war Communism on the surviving Jewish remnant in Poland, as well as the remarkable transformation of Polish Jewish life which accompanied the fall of Communism.

Importantly, in this course we will be engaged in more than simply an historical investigation of the Polish Jewish narrative. Rather, we will also consider a number of the vexed issues and questions, which have defined and continue to define debates and discussions about Poland and the Jews.

Cost 8 week course: $250 (non member) $225 (member)

The Monday afternoon class is full. There are only a few places left for Monday evening. Email to enrol in the Monday evening class only.

Monday morning10.30am - 12.30pm


Belle Époque Paris… ooh la la or oy vey?

Helen Webberley

8 week course February 15, 22, 29 March 7, 21 April 4, 11, 18

Today Paris is a most challenging place to be a Jew, but was it ever so?

Join Helen Webberley as she takes you on a rollercoaster ride through Jewish Parisian history, post emancipation. You will learn how the French Jewish community doubled by 1870 and Paris became the most important Jewish centre – a time when Belle Époque Paris was more than just a pleasure-seeking consumer society. Jews from all over France and abroad flocked to participate in art, music and literature, and to build department stores, galleries, salons, newspapers and cabarets. This course will also reveal how reactionaries in the 1890s, having failed to overthrow the Republic, persisted with their hatred and anti-semitism resulting in the infamous and tragic Dreyfus trials and the Panama Canal scandals. In the new century, Belle Époque Paris once again flourished where Jewish luminaries like Amedeo Modigliani and Marc Chagall (art), Émile Durkheim (sociology), Marc Bloch (history) and Léon Bakst (designer) were stars.

This course is an illustrated lecture series with its lessons of history, writ large.

Cost 8 week course: $250 (non member) $225 (member)

Click here to book online!


Helen Webberley Helen Webberley has been a lecturer in history and art history at Melbourne’s Centre for Adult Education for 24 years. Helen’s many areas of interest include the Arts and Crafts movement, France’s Belle Époque, the Vienna Secession, Bauhaus, Bezalel and art defined in Germany as degenerate. Her blog, Art and Architecture, mainly, covers Jewish and non-Jewish historical themes.

Shelley Cohney has a BA from the University of Melbourne and a Masters degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has lectured in England USA and Australia. Shelley has led groups in Israel and Australia and has been a kosher cooking demonstrator at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival .Shelley works as a very in demand Melbourne tour guide particularly for the exclusive cruise liners .She also conducts Jewish food tours and is recognised as a kosher Jewish culinary expert .She currently feeds a large and largely appreciative family.

Paul Forgasz Paul Forgasz’ career has spanned
both the secondary and tertiary sectors of education. For more than a decade he was the Headmaster of the secondary school campus of Mount Scopus College. Currently Paul lectures in Jewish history at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Education and he also teaches about Jewish education in the university’s Faculty of Education. Paul has maintained an active involvement for many years in Jewish adult education. For a number of years Paul was the head of faculty at the Florence Melton Adult Mini School in Melbourne. He has also developed and taught a great many of the Jewish Museum of Australia's short course programs with which he is still involved. Paul has contributed regularly to Limmud OZ since its inception. He has been the community scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Education Institute in Pittsburgh,
the Shalom Institute in Sydney, The Abraham
Institute in Adelaide and the Wellington Jewish Community Centre. Since 2010, under
the auspices of the Jewish Museum of Australia,
Paul has led a number of sell-out study tours
focusing on Jewish medieval Spain and on the Jews of Germany. In 2014, he also plans to conduct a Jewish heritage tour of Eastern Europe.

Ittay Flescher has been exploring and observing Jewish life for as long as he can remember. He is a dynamic and creative educator who currently teaches Jewish Studies, Religion and Society and Jewish Music at Mount Scopus Memorial College. In 2007, Ittay lived in Jerusalem for a year as a fellow on the Hebrew University’s Senior Educators Program. His other love is music and his guitar playing has enriched many of his teaching sessions.His short courses are distinguished by his impeccably researched choice of audio visual and written materials and his balanced approach.

Ronnie Figdor has a B.Sc. in Pathology and Pharmacology. He studied Rabbinics at Rabbinical Colleges in both Jerusalem and Baltimore. He has been involved in emergency service work for over two decades and founded the Melbourne Jewish community’s Jewish Emergency Management Plan (JEMP).He is now CEO of St Kilda Hebrew Congregation, a synagogue community of 1500 members. Ronnie has worked in adult education and taught from kindergarten to Year 10 including secondary computers, maths, science and Jewish Studies. He has written many papers on a range of subjects including education, medicine and computers.