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Verein = Society

Contact: Ralph Graff or Richard Gavatin for more info
In the early 1800's, a group of young intellectual Berlin Jews founded “Der Verein fur Wissenshaft der Judentum” (Society for the Scientific study of Judaism). The positions taken would prophecise changes in Judaism leading to Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox Judaism.
In recognition, we have chosen the word VEREIN for the name of our Discussion Group.

To be Continued here 


VEREIN Programs - Upcoming Series

Biblical Criticism- Part 1. Watch it - or watch it again!
Here is where you find the recorded session

Join us in our Series Biblical Criticism - A series in 4 Parts   
Part 1 - April 7 - Speaker Dr. Ralph Graff - The Restoration period,  Watch it here 
Part 2 - April 28 - Speaker Mr. Larry Friedman - Chronicles and Kings  SIGN UP HERE!
Part 3 - June 2 - Speaker Richard Gavatin - Who Wrote the Torah - The Documentary Hypothesis Sign Up for June 2 here
Part 4 - June 9 - Speaker Richard Gavatin - Who Wrote the Torah - Alternatives to The Documentary Hypothesis   Sign Up for June 9
All our previous programs here

March 2024 Verein Article

 The St Louis Yiddish Theater was one of 14 existing in the U.S. in 1927. We will conclude our series on the Yiddish Theater describing the efforts in St. Louis, based on a series of newspaper articles published from 1903 till 1950. We will also enjoy a description of our current Jewish Theater. Sunday, March 3 at 4pm in person or on zoom.

News from VEREIN February 2024

A look back at our programs in 2024

On January 7 Will Soll presented: THE STORY OF KLEZMER. A audience of more than 30 people attended this fascinating musical presentation.  It was not recorded.
For four Sundays Ralph Graff treated us to the history of the Yiddish theatre.  
First we heard about the New York Yiddish Theatre, link to the recording here, 
then we had two Sundays of the amazing DVD on the Thomashefsky Project with Michael Tilton Thomas.
The DVD showings were not recorded, however, you can learn more about this fantastic and joyful DVD by clicking on this link   
There the DVD is available, 
Lastly we heard about the Yiddish Theatre in Chicago link to the recording here  

BUT we are not done yet!

Coming soon, March 3, at 4 PM - also on Zoom only is the final installment of the Series: The History of the Yiddish Theatre in St. Louis!!
Sign up here
If you have additional information about the history of the Yiddiush theatre here in St. Louis, please contact Ralph.  He can incorporate that info into his presentation.

January 2024 Verein Article

January and February  VEREIN Presents 

January 7 at 4pm
Will Soll presents: THE STORY OF KLEZMER. Will Soll will take us on a 75-minute tour of the music we know as klezmer, using stories, recordings, and his own performance. 
In person ONLY at Kol Rinah.
January 14th
In the late 19th and early 20th Century, The Yiddish Theater was the cultural passion of the immigrant Jewish community, producing celebrated stars and a wealth of dramatic material. Its appeal was not limited to any one socioeconomic group. It was attended by rich and poor, educated and illiterate, observant and free-thinking. New York turned into the undisputed world capital of the Yiddish Theatre. On Jan. 14, we will present the history of the New York Yiddish Theater, focusing on Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, Jacob Adler, David Kessler and Maurice Schwartz. 
Both in-person and on Zoom
January 21st & 28th
What do we know of the early New York Yiddish Theaters productions? Joseph Rumshinsky, one of the composers of that period wrote, “The situation of the composer in the Yiddish theater in general is a sad one. The world can never get to know the musical creations, because the score seldom gets to print. Many of the scores vanished, but not all. We have a pool of knowledge from the memoirs of Boris Thomashefsky and the research of his grandson Michael Tilson Thomas.
It remained for Michael to arrange the material, according to his memory of how his grandmother Bessie Thomashefsky, uncle Harry Thomashefsky, and Father Ted Thomas performed the numbers in the living room of his North Hollywood family home in the 1950s. 
We will watch The Thomashefsky DVD. 
ONLY on Zoom
Feb 11th 
We will present a program on the Chicago Yiddish Theater. Chicago closely followed New York with its Yiddish Theater groups. 
We will describe Ellis Glickman’s career, considered the Father of the Chicago Yiddish Theater, from 1894 to 1931 and follow with Sarah Patt’s description of the Chicago Yiddish theater from 1915 to 1940 with reference to Goldie Meyerson a Milwaukee school teacher.
Both in-person and on Zoom    
Ralph and Richard

November 2023 Verein Article

On January 7th, at 4pm at Kol Rinah, Verein will have Will Soll presenting "THE STORY OF KLEZMER". What is klezmer? Will Soll will take us on a 75 minute tour of the musics we know as klezmer, using stories, recordings, and his own performance.  Online RSVP available soon.
Verein is looking for someone who can read Yiddish when written with Hebrew letters. If you are that person, we have a job for you! It’s a one-time job and we don’t think it will take you a lot of time. Call Ralph at 314.725.7778 and get the details!
Ralph and Richard

Michael Tilson Thomas and His Music by Phyllis Hyken 
View October 22 Presentation

 July 2023 Verein Article

Next programs by VEREIN:
Sunday, July 23rd at 4pm, we will learn about Dr. Arthur Green's book "Judaism's 10 Best Ideas". Dr. Arthur Green was trained at the Masorti Conservative Rabbinical Seminary, JTS in New York City. In 1984 he became dean, and then president, of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. He was a founding dean of the non-denominational rabbinical program at Hebrew College in Boston, where he still teaches. Dr. Green, a Neo-Hasidic theologian,  has written at least 20 books and is considered one of the foremost experts on Jewish mysticism. In this book’s ten short chapters, Dr. Green selects the ten most crucial Jewish ideas, their background, their meaning and their impact on the world today.
On August 5th, we will have a Shabbat Lunch and Learn with Hazzan Portner & Marvin Marcus on the tradition of Hazzanut: Hazzanut— the cantorial rendering of Jewish liturgy— has roots going back many centuries, originating in the humble figure of the shaliah tsibbur— the congregant who would lead the public prayer service— the cantorial role went on to become gradually professionalized. In the not-too-distant past, the hazzan emerged as a figure whose vocal prowess was admired and much sought after, and whose contribution to the prayer service might rival that of the rabbi. The so-called golden age of hazzanut in the first half of the twentieth century is associated with ‘celebrity’ hazzanim such as Yossele Rosenblatt, Moshe Koussevitzky, Richard Tucker, and Jan Peerce.
Ralph and Richard

May 2023 Verein Article

Can St. Louis leverage Science and Innovation to be a Leader in the 21st Century?
Jews in Science is Back with #23!
Founding President & CEO of BioSTL, Kol Rinah member Donn Rubin will talk about the work that BioStl has done, among which their corporation with Israel in advanced Medicine and Technology stands out.
On June 11 at 4pm, in-person, Donn Rubin will introduce BioSTL to his fellow Kol Rinah members.
In its early years (2001-02), the group launched Cortex, St. Louis’ urban innovation district, and jumpstarted local venture capital. BioSTL’s startup and investment arm, the BioGenerator, has become one of the most active bioscience seed investors in the U.S. BioSTL has won national and international accolades for innovative best practices from the Brookings Institution, Harvard Business School, and the Organization of American States.
Donn conceived of GlobalSTL (BioSTL’s international initiative) to connect St. Louis with dynamic innovation hubs worldwide, starting with Israel in 2014, with the aim of enriching St. Louis’ innovation economy with high-growth companies, technology, and talent from overseas that bring competitive advantage to St. Louis.
In 2022, Donn and BioSTL hosted the first trilateral (Israel-United Arab Emirates-St. Louis) innovation symposium in the U.S., marking the historic Abraham Accords.
Ralph and Richard

Verein Presents
Jews in Science series: 
Now in its third year!
Did you miss one? All previous programs available here!

VEREIN Presents Session # 22 - Feb 19 at 4 PM

The continuation of our programs on Antibiotics 
We will focus on Selman Waksman -
the researcher responsible for streptomycin

Register here

Verein Presents Session 21
Now available online

Just click here

January 2023 Verein Article

“Jewish” Penicillin
Join us Sunday, January 15 at 4 on Zoom for session 21 of our Jews in Science series. There will be 3 parts to the presentation:
1. About the BSKI Edith Mazur Library
2. Mark Silvermintz will tell us about Edith Mazur, his grandmother.
3. The Invention of Penicillin, by speaker Dr. Ralph Graff
One of the bittersweet experiences of my life was closing the BSKI Edith Mazur Library. I have used many of its books as resources for my Verein presentations, the most recent, The Laureate, by Tina Levitan. As often occurs, the experience initiated memories of the Rebbetzin and of my childhood.
The Invention of Penicillin
For 80 years we have lived in the antibiotic era which offers protection from bacterial infection. The era was initiated by Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, which earned him a Nobel prize and Knighthood. Although Fleming was credited with the discovery, two Jewish scientists made it available to the public.
Did you know that the Prize was shared with a Jew, Ernest Chain, who converted Fleming’s esoteric observation to a therapeutically-usable product and 7 years later, by a Jew, Selman Waksman, for the discovery of the second antibiotic, streptomycin.
Learn about these Jewish Nobel Laureates, Ernest Chain and Selman Waksman. As usual, registration is required.
Richard Gavatin

Previous Sessions:

October 30:
Session # 20

What is life?

Another Special Session
What is life?

Three professionals will discuss Medical, Jewish and Psychological aspects of this age-old question!
In light of Supreme Court decisions recently, the question is again on many people's minds. 

Sept 11: Session # 19
Haunted by History

In our series Jews in Science, we are continuing with Political Science. 

Please View Bob's Program here
August 14 at 4 PM:

Link to Gary's excellent presentation 



View a short video, 1 minute 30 about our upcoming programs
Our July Program:
Live from Paris, France


Session # 17 in our Series Jews in Science
The Jewish Enlightenment 

Read about our special Session here.

Now online here 

Our Immediate past program
The Verein Group’s monthly series on Jews in Science has been, in the words of several of the participants, “awesome”. The speakers are fabulous, and their topics have been very educational AND entertaining.

Gus Schoenfeld
Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine 
Washington University School of Medicine June 19 at 4 PM
Video Available - here

Jewish Genealogy Presentation - here in PDF format.
RBG, View here

March 20, 2022:  session 13 - Primo Levi A picture containing wall, person, person, necktieDescription automatically generated
Gifted Italian Chemist and Talented Writer
Presentation now available in our Gallery!
February 20, 2022:  Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice
Sandy Boxerman talked about this pioneering Supreme Court Justice - Brandeis became nationally known as the “People’s Lawyer,” 

January 16, 2022:  Nathan  Newmark, Pioneer in the science of earthquakes 
Speaker Dr. Phil Gould

The recording of the session featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, presented by Larry Friedman  - can be found on our Galleries. 
Thanks also to Marc Levin for giving us this: Scientific American piece discussing her loss in terms of impact on science, environment etc
You can watch past presentations, at
July 11, 2021: Eric Kandel, Neuroscience pioneer, presented by Dr. Deborah Rubin
Continuing the Science Series organized by the Verein Discussion group, we will hear from Kol Rinah member Dr. Deborah Rubin, who will discuss Eric Kandel’s remarkable life story and research accomplishments. His memories of his Jewish childhood in Nazi occupied Vienna shaped his life and life’s work, as he sought to not only understand the basic mechanisms of how the brain makes and retains memories, but also to ensure that the Holocaust would be remembered in his place of birth many years later. 
     Link to Dr. Rubin's Presentation here.
Dr. Rubin's References:     
Kandel Nobel Lecture:
Kandel Nobel Biography:   

   His latest book, "There is life after the Nobel Prize", is very entertaining! (Click book to learn more)
   Kandel ER, In Search of Memory. The emergence of a new science of mind. WW Norton and company, 2006 (DVD/Movie – same name)  (Click book to learn more)

Biological description  of Aplysia:
Rosenstiel School of Marien and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.

September 2022 Verein Article

Jews in Science # 19: September 11, 2022 - Haunted by History
The Israelis are planning yet another election (again!). Bob Cohn will share his expertise in political science, history and foreign affairs.
Bob Cohn really needs no further introduction, but for anyone who lived under a rock for the last 50 years, Bob has been synonymous with the St. Louis Jewish Light and is a respected political commentator. His is also a Past President of the St. Louis Press Club and of Congregation Shaare Emeth, among many other awards for his journalism and community service.
Sunday, Sept 11 at 4pm – on Zoom
Ralph & Richard

July 2022 Verein Article

Session # 17 in our Series Jews in Science: The Jewish Enlightenment
We are proud to present a PhD Candidate/Research Fellow from the Universities of Potsdam, Germany (near Berlin) and Paris-Sorbonne, France, Christina Feist.
On July 17, at a special time,1pm (St. Louis time), Christina's long-distance Zoom presentation from Paris will focus on the origin of the Judaism we live and experience today. Prior to The Jewish Enlightenment, orthodoxy was the only known “brand” of Jewish life. Christina's doctoral research focuses on Lazarus Bendavid, one of the intellectuals of the Jewish Enlightenment movement, and the impact of his works.
Lazarus Bendavid (1762 – 1832), born and raised in Berlin, was an intellectual of the Jewish Enlightenment's second generation. He spent half of his life focusing on, studying and teaching Kantian philosophy, rendering it accessible to a broader public and taking him all the way to Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg monarchy. After seven years in Vienna and being prohibited from staying any longer, Bendavid returned to Berlin where he became dean of the first Jewish establishment for higher education (Jüdische Freischule) – a job he wasn't paid for but merely did out of ideological conviction.
Around this time Bendavid reconnected with his Judaism, focusing his writings on his vision for religious reform – namely a renewed connection to the 10 commandments, which he deemed the “real faith”, as well as individual autonomy in religious practice, thus leading him to question the validity of Halakha. This re-examination of Jewish life and religious practice not only offers a glimpse into German Jewish life of 18th century Prussia but above all initiated a scientific approach to Judaism, which ultimately lead to today's Jewish studies (Wissenschaft des Judentums).
In her presentation, Christina will first give a general introduction to the Jewish Enlightenment movement as well as its key players, followed by a more detailed account of Lazarus Bendavid's life and works to show how the Jewish Enlightenment still impacts our Jewish life today.
Do not miss this unique opportunity to learn firsthand from a world class scientist – live from Paris, France!
Ralph & Richard

May 2022 Verein Article

Three incredible new installments in the Jews in Science Series
On May 15th, you will discover the FUN in Jewish Genealogy, with two of our favorite guys, Monroe Ginsburg and Gary Kodner. They will present the fundamental techniques and proven strategies for discovering your roots. Best practices will be revealed! Do Not miss!
On June 19th, get to know local medical superstar, the former Chair of the Internal Medicine at Washington University Medical School (WUMS), Gus Schonfeld. As we have presented individuals with remarkable stories, our knowledge of their attitude toward Judaism has frequently been limited. In Gus’s case, we are benefitted by his own autobiography in which he expresses his feelings about his time spent in a series of concentration camps, starting with Auschwitz. He, his physician father and his mother survived, although half of his extended family was lost.
Our own Ralph Graff, himself a graduate of WUMS and instrumental in the creation and maintenance of this Kol Rinah series, will give us his insights into Gus.
At a special time on July 17, 1pm local time, a special ‘long-distance’ presentation by PhD Candidate/Research Fellow from the Universities of Potsdam, near Berlin and Paris-Sorbonne, Christina Feist will focus on the origin of the Judaism we experience today.
The Jewish Enlightenment was the foundation of what we now today call the Masorti, (or in the US) the Conservative Movement of Judaism. Christina’s dissertation dives into the roots of the Jewish Enlightenment, introducing us to the key “players” of this crucial group of thinkers, and will explain why this matters in today’s world. Do not miss this unique opportunity to learn firsthand from a world class scientist – live from Paris, France!
As usual, registration is required at the Kol Rinah Website, and should you miss the session, you can always catch up, as they are all recorded and available at the Kol Rinah website,
Ralph & Richard

January 2022 Verein Article

The Verein Group’s long-running series, Jews in Science is presenting session 11: Nathan Mortimore Newmark on January 16th.
Winner of the National Medal of Science, Nathan M. Newmark is considered the father of modern earthquake engineering. Kol Rinah’s own Phillip Gould, Ph.D., P.E., S.E., Dist. M ASCE, Distinguished Adjunct Professor at St. Louis University, as well as Senior Professor Washington University will tell us about this ground-breaking (pun intended) scientist who developed methods for earthquake predictions and structural engineering. Thank God we don’t live in an area prone to earthquakes! Oh, wait we do! We'd better listen to the experts!
The Verein Group at Kol Rinah is proud to announce upcoming quality presentations throughout the year!  Mark your calendars for Feb 20, March 20, April 24 and more to come.
Registration available here and a zoom link will be sent out 2 days before the presentation.

November 2021 Verein Article

The Verein Group’s long-running series, Jews in Science is presenting installment #9 on November 14 at 4pm.
You’ve heard of Hedy Lamarr, the beautiful starlet in the 1930s and 40s, who appeared in numerous films starring opposite some of Hollywood’s most famous leading men.
However, you probably don’t know the other Hedy, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria-Hungary who was so much more.
Incensed over the Nazi takeover of her home country, this highly intelligent woman collaborated with composer George Antheil and invented a secret communication system to form an unbreakable code which she envisioned helping submarines to deploy missiles to allow them not to be detected by enemy ships, thus forming the basis of spread spectrum technology.
Hedy’s invention was snubbed by the Navy during WWII because she was an immigrant Jewish Hollywood actress. They waited for the patent to run out and then developed it further to create a sophisticated buoy system which was used during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hedy never received any acknowledgement or compensation for her invention. No lightbulbs going off?
How about this? That’s the basis for much of the modern wireless technology that resulted in cell phones and that today governs: Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. Interested now? There’s a lot more to this fascinating woman and her story.
Find out all about her, her life and her inventions on Sunday, November 14.
Linda Spitzer Gavatin will tell us about this uniquely complex person whose innovations have played a big role in all our lives.  

September 2021 Verein Article

The Man Who Changed The World
The Verein Group’s Series “Jews in Science” continues with Session 7 on September 19 at 4pm on Zoom.
One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics. One hundred years ago Einstein came to America as a Jewish Hero and Superstar!
Dr. Bob Olshan will bring Einstein to life – Einstein the man, the lover and husband, the father, the German Jew, the violinist, the physicist, the humanitarian, the pacifist, the philosopher and the Zionist. Einstein’s theory changed our world. He is acclaimed to be the greatest genius of our time, the most famous physicist, a Nobel Laureate and according to Time Magazine the Person of the 20th Century.
This presentation is the first of two about Albert Einstein. On October 10, Dr. Marty Israel, of Washington University will talk about the work of Albert Einstein. Do not miss either!

May 2021 Verein Article

We are well into Verein’s popular Jews In Science series and are looking forward to the fourth Installment. On May 23rd, Dr. Howard Granok, chair of the Science Department of Crossroads School, will speak about Rosalind Franklin and DNA.
Judaism and Neuroscience was essentially the topic of our first session in February. A popular neuroscience book by noted British neuroscientist Rodrigo Quain Quiroga states that, “arriving at a final answer is no more important than triggering the cascade of questions and experiencing the rush of fascination that propels the exploration of them.”
He is saying this about Scientists, but doesn’t it apply equally to the Jewish People? Who hasn’t been told that, if you ask a Rabbi a question, you will get multiple answers and many of them in the form of more questions?
“If reaching the final answer were all that mattered, science would be extremely frustrating, because the truth is that many questions remain unanswered perhaps forever”.
His highly recommended book, “The Forgetting Machine”, deals primarily with memory, something many people have misconceptions about but is getting more and more attention by modern neuroscience.
In a future edition of The Voice, I will elaborate on the connection between Judaism and Science in general, and modern Neuroscience in particular.
For past presentations, go to

March 2021 Verein Article

Jews In Science – A Year Long Series 
Why is NOW a perfect time to present a Series like this? The last few years we have been told that truth and science aren’t that important. Spontaneous opinions and “feelings” have had as much weight as facts and truth. 
With the pandemic, we learned in a catastrophically tragic way, that such an approach is deadly. 
“Jewish emphasis on reading, learning, questioning, discussing, and interpreting Torah” may have contributed to the disproportional number of Jewish Scientists. Learn more about the connections between Judaism and Science in this series.
The first program has already taken place. It was recorded and is available on the Kol Rinah website.  You can find the schedule for the other programs, including speakers, topics, and dates in the ad on the previous page.
Currently all are scheduled at 4pm. Any of the programs with a different starting time will be announced when we get closer.
For additional questions and to receive Zoom links, please either contact the office 314.747.1747 or contact Richard Gavatin at 314.283.2081 or
Richard and Ralph

Recent Programs



Jewish Educational Blogs and Websites

Sunday, October 18, 2020 • 30 Tishrei 5781  
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Zoom

There are *literally* over 4 million Jewish Educational Blogs/Websites! Selecting from more than 60 Jewish blogs/websites, Verein will present an overview of 10 blogs/websites on October 18, 2020. The Program is scheduled for 11:30 AM, the regular Sunday Learning Zoom time. The topics run from "Rationalist Judaism" to "Removing the Stumbling Block." 
For Zoom Information, please send an email to

Previous ProgramsBook Club on Zoom

On July 12, 4 PM on Zoom.  

The book selected for this session is by Dr. Arthur Green, Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas. – A Brief Guide for Seekers.  We would encourage you to participate and, of course, because it’s on Zoom, it will be a little different from our previous Club meetings.  Nonetheless, we think we can have a meaningful discussion!  Even more so, if you read the book in advance. This is obviously optional; you are welcome to attend even if you haven’t read the book.
If you HAVE read the book, and want to speak on one of the subject matters that he addresses in the ten chapters, please feel free to contact us and you can then say a few words about “your” chapter. 


A Presentation given by Dr. Marvin Marcus on May 31.  It may be repeated in the fall!  Keep an eye out!

Dr. Marcus wrote an article about Hazzanut and it was published here. Please enjoy

July 2019 Update

Ten years ago we listened to a series of lectures by our Scholar in Residence, Rabbi Neil Gillman, who opened a new world to us in appreciating Judaism. In addition to his didactic presentations, he encouraged us to take advantage of the wonderful literature that was available to us.

A year ago, in honor of his death, our “Verein Discussion Group” initiated a review of his book “Sacred Fragments”. The book concluded with suggestion that most Jews develop their own beliefs about the nature of God, the Torah, afterlife, etc. and that there is a value in sharing their beliefs. In order to test the hypothesis we approached the members of our group. Eight individuals agreed to share. That process will be completed in June.

To Be Continued here

Sun, June 16 2024 10 Sivan 5784