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Open Minds is the central address for life-long Jewish learning at The Community Synagogue. Even throughout this challenging time, Open Minds continues to provide many online opportunities for us to connect with each other through a variety of opportunities for engagement, learning and community. Year-round offerings include author presentations, cooking programs, study sessions, seminars and book discussions with best-selling authors.

JBC Author Series

Jewish Book Council is the longest-running organization devoted exclusively to the support and celebration of Jewish literature.
For over seventy years, they have used literature to bring people together for meaningful discussions around Jewish life, identity, and culture. As a part of the JBC network, we are thrilled to welcome authors from far and wide to our community here in Port Washington, to share their teachings with us throughout the year. 

You can see our upcoming events below and click here to view our past events. 

Upcoming Events

Janna Lopez
Monday, November 2 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

Register Here

“Who am I?” is perhaps the most asked question in midlife. Me, My Selfie & Eye: A Midlife Conversation About Lost Identity, Grief and Seeing Who You Are is a timely book that was written to connect, console, and encourage any­one in the throes of midlife identity confusion. Janna Lopez, a Jewish author, explores through a practical updated conversation the process of midlife upheaval. She cites grief as the main culprit, especially when every­thing we believed as true about ourselves becomes uncertain.

Viewed from a revealing first-person experience, this book draws a contrast between a widely known spiritual journey, a Dark Night of the Soul, and what’s instead referred to as a more accurate portrayal, a Dark Flight of the Self. Using straight­forward concepts, reflections, and sometimes twisted humor, this book offers readers insights to see themselves and midlife identity dismantling, as a means to move forward.

Click here* to purchase Me, My Selfie & Eye: A Midlife Conversation About Lost Identity, Grief and Seeing Who You Are
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Jan­na Lopez’s life’s work revolves around expression through words and images. She believes no matter our differences, it’s each other’s stories that heal and connect us. She was a successful magazine publisher for nearly a decade. Her current passion is presenting to groups about the confusion of midlife identity. She was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and serves to create awareness.


Robert Bildner & Elisa Spungen Bildner
Thursday, November 5 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

Register Here

The Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts are famous for their unique culture, from scenic views to artistic and literary attractions. But in addition to the region’s classic landmarks, the Berkshires also boasts an impressive number of family-run farms. Together with local restaurants, these farms add another feature to Berkshires culture: heart­warming and homegrown food. Telling the story of family-run agriculture through the language of food, The Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook offers 125 recipes to recall the magic of the Berkshire region. Sweet Corn Pancakes, Carrot Soup with Sage and Mint, Confetti Vegetable and Goat Cheese Lasagna and more celebrate the lush landscape of the western New England area. Complete with farm profiles and vibrant photographs, The Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook paints a vivid portrait of the relationship between the earth and what we eat. Although focusing on one region, the stories of the area’s farmers and chefs, and the recipes, extend well beyond the Berkshires. You can learn more about their farms and the story of their book by visiting their website

Click here* to purchase The Berk­shires Farm Table Cook­book: 125 Home-Grown Recipes from the New Eng­land Hills
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Robert Bildner, a former attorney, created and sold several food distribution and manufacturing companies. Bildner and his wife Elisa established the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and he serves as a lay leader on several non­profit boards. He studied photography, and photographed this book’s farms and restaurants. He graduated from Yale University, University of Pennsylvania Law School and Jewish Theological Seminary.

Elisa Spungen Bildner is a former lawyer, CEO of a food company newspaper, editor/​reporter (Star Ledger, Newark, NJ) and journalism professor (Rutgers University and New York University). Spungen Bildner is also a professionally trained chef (School of Natural Cookery, Boulder, CO) and yoga instructor. She graduated from Yale College, Columbia University Law School, and also has an MS in Nutrition.


Darren Levine
Monday, November 9 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

Register Here

"If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if not now, then when?” Over two thousand years ago, the rabbinic leader, Hillel, boldly challenged us to be responsible, vigilant and strong in what is a seemingly unending quest towards individual wholeness. Fortunately, in Positive Judaism, Rabbi Darren Levine provides a masterful guide­book to chart the path forward. Drawing upon his own painful experiences of divorce and job loss, Levine seamlessly blends the wisdom of Judaism with current psychological literature focussing on developing and strengthening well-being.

From the out­set, Levine reminds the reader that living well and achieving wholeness does not imply the absence of suffering. Indeed, simply living brings an unpredictable confluence of pain and joy, which can both strengthen and weaken our emotional, physical and spiritual resolve.

Click here* to purchase Positive Judaism: For a Life of Well-Being and Happiness
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Darren Levine is the founding rabbi of Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue in New York City. He holds rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a Doctor of Ministry degree from HUC-JIR and the Post­graduate Center for Mental Health, both in New York City.
He is the host of the Positive Judaism podcast on Itunes, is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, serves as Team Rabbi for Maccabi USA Sports, and completed Chaplain Officer School in the United States Army. He is the father of two sons and lives in New York City with his family.

Past Author Series Events

Naomi L. Baum
from Thursday, October 8 at 12:00 PM

View the Conversation Here

In this profoundly honest and revealing memoir, psychologist Dr. Naomi L. Baum invites us to journey with her as she says Kaddish, the traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer, in the year following her mother’s death. When experiencing loss, we are often without words to describe how we are feeling. Finding a place to rest the pain, this book travels through the seasons of grief and will resonate with any­one who has lost someone dear. Dr. Baum, an international consultant on trauma and resilience, draws on both her personal and professional experience to navigate this uncharted territory, as she takes a new look at tradition and discovers both emotional and spiritual sources of comfort in unexpected places.

Click here* to purchase My Year of Kaddish: Mourning, Memory and Meaning
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Naomi L. Baum, Ph.D. is a psychologist in the field of trauma and resilience, working as a consultant both in Israel and internationally. She is the author of several books, including Life Unexpected: A Trauma Psychologist Journeys through Breast Cancer. She lives with her family in Efrat, Israel. Visit her website and connect with her on Twitter.



Abigail Gewirtz
from Thursday, October 15 at 12:00 PM

View the Conversation Here

An urgent and necessary book, When the World Feels Like a Scary Place brings solutions to a problem that is only going to get worse — how bad things happening in the world affect our children, and how we can raise engaged and confident kids in spite of them.

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz, a child psychologist and leading expert on families under stress, now offers a clear and truly practical guide to having the kind of tough conversations with your kids that really help. But it’s not just how to talk to your kids, it’s also what to say: The heart of the book is a series of conversation scripts, with actual dialogue, talking points, prompts, and insightful asides, each tailored for different ages and centered around different issues. She shows how to let the child lead. How to not make the problem worse by saying more than a child needs to know. How to check in with your­self to make sure your own anxiety doesn’t color the conversation. 

Click here* to purchase When the World Feels Like a Scary Place
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Abigail Gewirtz is a child psychologist and a leading expert on families under stress. She is a professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. She has consulted to national and international organizations including the U.S. Congress and UNICEF, on parenting. She has conducted research in the U.S., Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and has been invited to speak widely, in the U.S. and across the world, on parenting in times of stress. Visit her website

Mon, October 26 2020 8 Cheshvan 5781