August 24, 2000
The Jewish Experience in the UCLA Plato Society
"World of the Sephardim," "The Other Side of the Holocaust - The Righteous Gentiles," "Wanderings - Jews in the Diaspora." Courses offered by the University of Judaism or Skirball Cultural Center? Not at all. These and other Jewish-oriented topics are part of the study-discussion groups of the PLATO Society at UCLA Extension. The organization's name is an acronym for Perpetual Learning and Teaching Organization and has nothing to do with the Greek philosopher.
The PLATO Society, founded in 1980, is housed in attractive quarters in Westwood Village and boasts meeting rooms, a well-stocked library, and a comfortable lounge, as well as audio-visual equipment available to presenters.
Nonsectarian, nonthreaten-ing, but hardly nonintellectual, PLATO groups are usually limited to 14 participants. They meet weekly for two hours (morning or afternoon) in a collegial atmosphere without an instructor. A coordinator and usually an associate handle organizational details, announcements, attendance and minor problems as they arise. Standard courses run 14 weeks, with seven-week sessions offered to accommodate members' travel schedules or other obligations.) Participants are 50 and older - though on occasion, UCLA undergraduates show up.
PLATO, which has about 400 members, has no academic prerequisites but does attract a number of retired educators, physicians, lawyers, engineers, and businessmen and businesswomen. The PLATO Society, which is entirely self-governed, was headed this past year by Ruth Gussen, M.D., professor emeritus of pathology, UCLA School of Medicine, ably assisted by an executive council and four standing committees. More information regarding the PLATO Society may be obtained by contacting
The PLATO Society of UCLA