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Sunday Morning University

Sunday, January 20, 2019 14 Shevat 5779

9:45 AM - 2:00 PMCongregation B'nai Israel of St. Petersburg

Come for a day of learning and fellowship with CBI professors. 

Sunday Morning University is held in partnership with Temple Beth-El.  

Please scroll to the bottom of the page for a schedule, registration, a complete course descriptions, and professor biographies.

Please note - online registration will be closed as of Thursday, January 17 at 10 am. 
Day of event registration will be accepted onsite with limited availability. 



Registration: 9:45 am - 10:00 am

Come early and join our morning minyan beginning at 9:00 am.

Session 1: 10:00 am - 10:50 am

  • Philip Roth: On Being Jewish In America, Professor Elizabeth Unruh
  • Why Sea Level Goes Up and Down and Where It Might Be Heading, Professor Robert Weisberg
  • The 50th Anniversary of the Chicago 7 Trial, Professor Ellen Podgor 

Session 2: 11:00 am - 11:50 am

  • Fiddlers and Flying Brides: Marc Chagall and Music, Professor Joan Epstein
  • The Big Bang: A Cosmological Revolution, Professor Larry Green
  • Saving the Whales: Current Ecology and Conservation Efforts, Professor Jeffry I. Fasick

Session 3: 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm

  • The Rumor Factory: Facebook, Twitter and the Fake News Epidemic, Professor Mark Walters
  • The Evolving Earth, Professor Stephen Cantor
  • Genetic Testing: Welcome to the Future of Medicine, Professor David LeVine

Course Descriptions:


Session 1: 

  • Philip Roth: On Being Jewish In America, Professor Elizabeth Unruh
    Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Philip Roth is quoted as saying, “The epithet American Jewish writer has no meaning for me. If I’m not an American, I’m nothing.” And yet, almost against his will, he was drawn again and again to writing about themes of Jewish identity, anti-Semitism and the Jewish experience in America. With his death in May 2018, it seems fitting that we examine Roth’s understandings of Jewish identity and how those understandings do or do not align with our own in this brief discussion of his autobiographical fiction.
  • Why Sea Level Goes Up and Down and Where It Might Be Heading, Professor Robert Weisberg

    Sea level responds to tides, winds and atmospheric pressure, and to ocean density (by heating/cooling) and volume (by ice melting/formation) changes.  All of these occur on daily to millenial time scales.  Each will be explained in ways that will allow you to understand what you may observe yourself and what you may read about or listen to in news reporting. 

  • The 50th Anniversary of the Chicago 7 Trial, Professor Ellen Podgor 
    The Vietnam War was raging, and American troops were dying. Society was polarized, the youth movement took hold and anti-war sentiments were at its highest. This was the setting for the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, where the city exploded with violent confrontations between demonstrators and police during the five-day event. Among those arrested were eight men -- members of the Yippie Movement, Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panthers and the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam -- who faced charges of criminal conspiracy and incitement to riot. This class will tell the story of what really happened during the trial of the Chicago 7 (really 8) -- from the jailing of defense attorneys to the singing testimony of a famous folk singer.

Session 2: 

  • Fiddlers and Flying Brides: Marc Chagall and Music, Professor Joan Epstein 

    Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was inspired by the modern art trends of his long lifetime, but also by his wife Bella and by Jewish folk culture, especially Jewish music.  Not only was music an an influence on his creative work, many musicians have, in turn, been inspired by Chagall's paintings, murals, and stained glass windows. This interactive presentation explores these fascinating connections through images, sound recordings and historic video footage.

  • The Big Bang: A Cosmological Revolution, Professor Larry Green
    The Big Bang – its discovery revolutionized our understanding of the universe and our place in it. How and when was it discovered?  How long ago was the Bang and how has the universe that it gave birth to evolve from the beginning of time to the present day? We will also examine results of satellite measurements of the remnant fireball from the Bang, the Microwave Background Radiation. These measurements have provided us with detailed information about the structure, and composition of the universe. We will also look briefly at the recent measurements of gravitational waves, a development which provides us with a powerful new tool to examine the universe back to the very beginning of time.
  • Saving the Whales: Current Ecology and Conservation Efforts, Professor Jeffry Fasick
    The North Atlantic right whale is an endangered species status due primarily to boat strikes and entanglements.  The whales' sensory systems can be used to assist the whales to identify ropes in the water column and avoid them thus preventing an entanglement event. How?  Come and learn with us. 

Session 3: 

  • The Rumor Factory: Facebook, Twitter and the Fake News Epidemic, Professor Mark Walters

    The Rumor Factory: Facebook, Twitter and the Fake News Epidemic.               In this workshop, we'll learn how to spot and combat fake news. We'll also look at modern fake news in light of ancient Jewish perspectives on rumor and "tale-bearing."

  • The Evolving Earth, Professor Stephen Cantor
    In this lecture, we shall discuss the scientific fact that nothing about the earth is fixed, permanent, or unchanging.  High up on mountainsides, we find shells of marine animals, shells that can be there only if rock formed beneath the sea has been lifted far above sea level. A glance of the map of the world suggests that at some time in the past the continents may have been joined together in one or two supercontinents. We shall also discuss (1) the rise and fall of the dinosaurs; (2) Neanderthals; and, (3) the evolution of the human species. Additionally, we shall discuss a rabbinical interpretation that there is no biblical problem with human looking-creatures, such as the Neanderthals, predating Adam.
  • Genetic Testing: Welcome to the Future of Medicine, Professor David LeVine

    With the mapping of the human genome, genetic testing is changing the future.  Go beyond commercial labs like "" and "23 and Me", and learn how doctors can apply genetics to your care.  Genetic testing can determine which medicines are likely to benefit you and which ones are likely to cause you adverse side effects before they are ever prescribed. We will explore actual case studies where genetic testing has improved and maybe even saved patient’s lives. Come to this educational and humorous talk and become a “GENE-IUS!”



Professor Biographies

 Elizabeth Unruh, E.D.
Professor Emerita, Hofstra University
Dr. Elizabeth Unruh received her Ed.D. from Hofstra University in Reading,
Language and Cognition. Her national study of writing instruction in schools led
to a position on the faculty of Hofstra’s Literacy Department. She has presented
at both the International Reading Association and the World Congress of
Reading’s Annual meetings. Combining her work in thought and language
processing, she examines how culture impacts not only the way we think and use
language, but also on the way we see ourselves. Most often, she has used
narrative literature to enable individuals to understand themselves and their

Joan Epstein
Joan O. Epstein, a CBI member since 1979, is a long-time professor of music and humanities at Eckerd College.  A composer, musicologist, trumpeter, and conductor, she has given numerous presentations in the broader community, including two previous SMU courses and a series of talks related to upcoming Florida Orchestra concerts.

Ellen Podgor 
Former deputy prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.  She  teaches at Stetson University College of Law in the areas of white collar crime and criminal law. She received her B.S. from Syracuse University, J.D. from Indiana University at Indianapolis, LL.M. from Temple University, and M.B.A. from University of Chicago.  She has authored numerous books and articles and currently serves as the President of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools.

Robert H. Weisberg
Robert H. Weisberg is a physical oceanographer engaged in ocean circulation and ocean-atmosphere interaction studies in the tropics, on continental shelves and in estuaries. His research presently emphasizes the West Florida Continental Shelf (WFS) and the interactions that occur between the shelf and the deep ocean between the shelf and the estuaries. He earned his B.S. in Material Sciences and Engineering from Cornell University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the University of Rhode Island. He is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of South Florida and has taught at the University of Rhode Island and North Carolina State University.

Jeffry I. Fasick, Ph.D:
Jeffry Fasick received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Tampa and teaches both Molecular Genetics and Molecular Biology. Dr. Fasick's research interests lie in aquatic sensory systems. His lab currently is studying the visual sensory systems of large filter-feeding marine vertebrates including the North Atlantic right whale as well as the whale shark.

Larry Green. Ph.D:
Larry Green received his Ph.D. in Physics from Penn State University.  Professionally, he worked with Westinghouse conducting research related to Nuclear Power, both fission and fusion. In addition, Larry held appointments as Visiting Professor at Ben Gurion University and Visiting Scientist at Swiss Federal Technical University, Lausanne, Switzerland. He is retired as Fellow Scientist and Manager of Thermonuclear Fusion Programs at the Westinghouse Science and Technical Center. 

Stephen Cantor:
Stephen Cantor is a teaching lecturer in physical science at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. He is an adjunct faculty member in physics and physical science at St. Petersburg College.  His industrial experience includes that at the MITRE Corporation, where he was Task Leader and Chief Engineer of a Rubidium Standard Foreign Comparative Integrated Product Team.  He was a staff systems engineer at Sypris Electronics and worked on cryptographic devices.  He has been a member of the Technical Review Committee of the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium.  He did his undergraduate work at Tufts University and his graduate work at Johns Hopkins University.

Mark Walters, D.V.M.
A professional journalist and veterinarian, Mark Walters is a professor of digital journalism and media studies at University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He is the author of five books, including Seven Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them (Island Press, 2014). His writing has been praised by the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Nature, and numerous other scholarly and popular publications. He speaks frequently on the subject of communicating medical science to the lay public. His work has taken him to Africa, Asia, South America, Europe, Canada and to all fifty US states. He received and undergraduate degree in English literature from McGill University, a Master's from the Columbia University School of Journalism, and a D.V.M. from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.

David LeVine, M.D., C.M.D
David LeVine has been an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) since 2013. He was Clinical Associate Professor at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine from 1999 – 2005, Clinical preceptor of Geriatrics for Bayfront Medical Center Family Practice Residency, LECOM Family Practice Residency Program at St. Petersburg General Hospital, and Internal Medicine Residency Program at Northside Hospital and Heart Institute.


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Sun, June 16 2019 13 Sivan 5779