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2018-02-23 digital edition

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February 23, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Sunday Morning University: nosh and learn at free program in St. Pete on March 4

Learn about black holes, St. Petersburg’s urban art scene, Shakespeare’s Shylock character and the importance and beauty of opera at the annual Sunday Morning University, a free one-day adult learning program hosted by Temple Beth-El on Sunday, March 4, and open to the public.

The event is a collaborative effort with Congregation B’nai Israel of St. Petersburg, and the host for it switches from one year to the next.

This year there will be two sessions and four speakers, along with a light breakfast beginning at 9 a.m.

The first session, from 9:45- 10:45 a.m., offers a choice of hearing Clifford Will, a University of Florida physicist, and Marlys Meckler, an expert in urban art. Will is Beth-El Rabbi Michael Torp’s father-in-law and Meckler is a Beth-El member.

Will’s talk will be on “Black Holes, Waves of Gravity and other Warped Ideas of Dr. Einstein.” Today, international teams of scientists have embarked on a quest to verify these ideas, considered some of Einstein’s crazier concepts. Building and operating large-scale detectors on the ground, and designing space-based detectors for the future, they hope to detect and measure the waves, and to use those wave signals to reveal the hidden secrets of black holes.

Will has published over 200 scientific articles, including 21 major review articles, 29 popular or semi-popular articles, and three books and received many accolades in his professional career.

Meckler will speak on “Art in the City.” She is a retired speech pathologist and clinic director. Meckler moved from Santa Monica, CA, 14 years ago and became active in the St. Petersburg art community. She is a docent at the Dali and Chihuly museums and takes busloads of guests for tours of public art or murals, now highly regarded as “street art.” She loves to share her passion for great art with others.

Session 2 is from 11 a.m. to noon and features Lisa Starks, an English professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg who will speak of “Shylock: slurs and prejudice.” Also giving a presentation on “Arias and Operas: Beauty and Power” will be Jerry Siskin, a lifelong opera buff. Both are Beth- El congregants.

Simultaneously viewed as an embodiment of anti-Semitic stereotypes and an icon of Jewish resistance to oppression, Shylock from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice remains just as prevalent and controversial in our culture today as he was on the English Renaissance stage. Although many people know that to call someone a “Shylock” now is to make an offensive, anti-Semitic joke, they may not really have a full sense of the character’s origins or his role in The Merchant of Venice. Who was the “real” Shylock? Where did the character come from? Was he an offensive caricature or a sympathetic representation of a Jew – or something else? This session, will explore these questions by studying Shylock in Shakespeare’s play, will examine the theatrical traditions and historical contexts from which Shakespeare drew this infamous and complex character.

Siskin, newly arrived to the Tampa Bay area, grew up in Brooklyn, in a household where every radio was tuned in to the Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. The two great opera singers, Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills, were in their prime during his youth, and once Beverly Sills’ first recording was released in the late 1960s, Siskin was smitten and followed her career, purchasing all of her recordings. He was living in New York City and thus was able to attend many of Sills’ performances at the New York City Opera. His presentation will be a program of narration and musical examples which will explain the beauty and importance of opera.

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