This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the roles of reading and interpretation in forming the Jewish tradition.
This course attempts to understand the breadth and variety of the modern Jewish experience through the interpretation of primary and secondary sources.
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the idea of sacrifice in ancient Israel. We will examine sacrifice as a religious practice through literature, history, archaeology, and theology. Students will also study material artifacts related to sacrifice, and learn about the histories of excavating, acquiring, and curating those artifacts for public display. The focus of this course will be on ancient Israelite religion, but we will discuss related Mesopotamian, ancient Greek, Christian, and Jewish materials. At the end of the course, we will critically analyze multiple representations of sacrifice and temples in the modern world.
Seminar sociologically explores elements of the American Jewish experience: identity, ethnicity, Jewish diversity, denominationalism, adaptation, acculturation vs. contra-acculturation, including intermarriage. We investigate Jewish population and attitudes, ritual and rites of passage, popular culture, Jewish education, antisemitism and philosemitism, messianism, and the role of Israel. Students will analyze one of these topics in depth in the real life of Jews. A field trip to Brooklyn is included.
Trauma has become a part of our everyday lives with the pandemic, mass shootings, police brutality, etc. What is the role of researchers, reporters, filmmakers, and museum workers in mitigating the effects of trauma on individuals and communities? Throughout this course, students will learn how to conduct trauma informed interviews, interpret, and present their findings in a safe and respectful way that can facilitate healing rather than increase the pain. By the end of the course, students will be expected to develop their own interview-based research project.
Defining the boundaries of a community inherently involves identifying those who belong and those who do not. In antiquity, Jews grappled and debated the contours of their community. Some envisioned pathways through which people who were not Jewish could become Jewish. Others were focused on separating themselves not only from non-Jews but from other Jews as well, marking them as Outsiders and denying their legitimacy. In this course we will analyze diverse frameworks employed in ancient Jewish texts to conceptualize "Otherness," to cultivate community, to establish group boundaries, and to define Jewish identity.