Adult Education: Maimonides Cafe

Keneseth Israel 2018 Adult Education

Thursday, November 1 11:30 a.m.,


The format for this program is changing. Instead of a conversation about a word, it will be an informal discussion about important issues. The facilitator or the participants will introduce subjects and the facilitator will keep the group focused.  Some articles and editorials that may add to the discussion will be provided by the facilitator or the participants may bring an article they want to share. The participants will introduce themselves and briefly describe their interests.

Topics to be discussed could include: What happened this week? What should we do about the wage and wealth gap? Global warming. New technology. Book recommendation.


SOCIAL STUDIES CHAT ROOM   Andrew Marantz Article in The New Yorker April 9, 2018 “In 1727, when Benjamin Franklin was 21, he and a few friends formed a conversation club called the Junto.  The rules required that ‘every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics or Natural Philosophy, to be discussed by the company.’  Franklin’s solution to the increasing civility problem was structured, secular chitchat, ‘conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory.”

               The following quotes are from Socrates Café – A Fresh Taste of Philosophy Christopher Philips, 1959.   “There had been an upsurge of interest in the irrational the likes of which has not been seen since a similar fascination contributed to the demise of the short-lived ‘golden age of reason’ of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.  Millions of people still embrace such irrational phenomena as astrology.  Even military commanders and politicians – even first ladies of the US – quite often resort to this method to predict whether a crucial battle or competition or significant event will have a favorable outcome. “

               “People have turned and bolted from the idea of personal responsibility, “better the rigid determinism of astrological Fate than the terrifying burden of daily responsibility.  The fear of and flight from freedom – which goes hand in glove with a fear of honest questioning – that is taking place today does not simply parallel what happened in ancient times.  Rather it seems to be the same fear and the same flight.  Today we’re not so much experiencing a return of the irrational as we are an upsurge in irrational foundations of quicksand, and proclivities for destruction and self-idealization – that are part of the human fabric.”

              “The view that all men are created equal did not originate with the Declaration.  The English materialist and empiricist Thomas Hobbes developed in his famous work, Leviathan, published in1651, a philosophy of ‘natural equality’ in which all men by nature are equal in physical and mental capacities.  Not that they possess the exact same degree of mental and physical ability in every regard, but, according to Hobbes, the deficiencies of each in one area are compensated for in others.  Baruch Spinoza wrote in 1670 that a democracy is ‘of all forms of government the most natural and the most consonant with individual liberty because ‘all men remain equals as they were in the state of nature.’  In 1690, the English philosopher John Locke, set forth his political theory that all men are ‘by nature, all free, equal and independent.’ Rousseau also implied in his writing that ‘man is born free.’  The writers of the constitution of Massachusetts took Rousseau’s passage and made clear what he implied: ‘All men are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights.”


$60 for KI members, $100 for members of other synagogues, $150 for unaffiliated

$10 per class for non adult-ed members 

E-mail [email protected] to sign up for the adult education e-mail list.