Fall 2014 Courses

2015-16 Class Descriptions

 

8th Grade Core: Introduction to the Bible with Rabbi Molly Karp

Did you know Moses could time travel? Or that some rabbis could talk to mice? Did your Hebrew teachers tell you that early Jewish law specifically banned the afikoman after the Passover seder? All of this can be found in Rabbinic literature—such as the Mishnah and the Talmud.

In this core course, we will be investigating these texts—what they are and why they matter. We’ll learn about the rabbis, who they were and the world in which they lived; decisions they made that impact our lives today, over a thousand years later(!); and how they told stories and transmitted values and laws through the ages. We’ll read classic texts and debate and discuss them rabbi-style!

No prior knowledge or Hebrew required.

 

9th Grade Core: How Not to Be a Jerk with Rabbi Molly Karp

What is a good person?  Is there a different definition between a good Jew and a good non-Jew?  How has this vision of good-ness changed over time?  How does Hassidism change this conversation?  How do Jewish ethical concepts play into this concept of goodness?  Students will examine a variety of ethical texts from the Bible, the medieval period, and modern times, and will look at how the views expressed have changed and stayed the same, seeking to create a Jewish ethics.

 

10th Grade Core: Israel: From the Bible to Today with Jeremy Tabick

How can we best understand Israel today?  What do we know of Israel from the biblical text? How has Israel changed over the course of the Bible and through modern times?  What are the goals of a Jewish state?  How do the various Zionist philosophers state those goals?  Do they generally agree or disagree?  Does modern Israel meet those goals?  Students will examine Israel from the perspective of the Bible and will then look to the modern state through the lenses of Zionist thought and of modern social issues in Israel to see how her past helps us to understand Israel’s present and future.

 

11th Grade Core: An Introduction to the World of Rabbis with Ms. Elli Cohn

Did you know Moses could time travel? Or that some rabbis could talk to mice? Did your Hebrew teachers tell you that early Jewish law specifically banned the afikoman after the Passover seder? All of this can be found in Rabbinic literature—such as the Mishnah and the Talmud.

In this core course, we will be investigating these texts—what they are and why they matter. We’ll learn about the rabbis, who they were and the world in which they lived; decisions they made that impact our lives today, over a thousand years later(!); and how they told stories and transmitted values and laws through the ages. We’ll read classic texts and debate and discuss them rabbi-style!

No prior knowledge or Hebrew required.

 

+ 12th Grade Core: Aspects in Rabbinic Theology with Rabbi Noah Bickart

Using the language of Rabbinic texts on the topic, we will confront some of the most basic problems in Judaism and in Religion and Philosophy more generally: Is there a “Personal” God? Can such a God make legal demands on us? If there is no God, can the laws and customs of traditional Judaism still make sense?

 

Elective: American Judaism with Mr. Avi Garelick

What does it mean to be a Jewish person in America today? In this class we will learn about the rich and varied history of Jews in America. We will study the lives of merchants, workers, artists, factory owners, socialists and more. Topics include the effects of freedom of religion on Jewish communities; housing policies and Jewish prosperity; antisemitism; Jews and whiteness. How do the unique conditions of American history change how we live as part of the Jewish people? 

 

Elective: The End of The World with Mr. Avi Garelick

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Since the dawn of time, people have been worried about, or hoping for,the end of the world. There is no Jewish doctrine about when and how such a fate may befall us, but there is a wealth of different ideas available in our literature. Is it idyllic and utopian? Is it a dangerous day of doom and judgment? Will there still be law? Bring along your prophetic imaginations for this class!

 

Elective: Monsters in The Bible with Mr. Jeremy Tabick

Today, we live in a world of science: there are no dragons that swim deep in the ocean, nor giants that dwell in the mountains. But the Bible lives in an enchanted world, with monsters on every side—sea monsters, giants, angels, ghosts, and more. What do these monsters mean? Why are they in the Bible? And what do those creatures tell us about human nature, both then and now?

 

Elective: Who? What? Where the Heck is the Bat Kol? with Ms. Elli Cohn

It is recorded throughout the Talmud that God sometimes communicates with the rabbis through a device called the Bat Kol, literally “daughter of a voice.” It is unclear exactly what the characteristics of the Bat Kol are: Is it God’s voice directly, or merely an echo? Is it to be considered authoritative, or a purely figurative mechanism? What is the quality of its voice—strong and bold or soft and sweet? Is the Bat Kol referenced in other faith traditions, or is unique to rabbinic Judaism? Over the course of the semester we will attempt to answer some of these questions, and perhaps think of new questions of our own. This class will be text based, meaning we will engage in a close reading of several texts from the Talmud (mainly Babylonian) that reference or utilize the Bat Kol to further explore this topic

 

Spoken Hebrew (Beginner – Advanced) with Hebrew Staff

We will be offering three different levels of Hebrew language classes from beginner to advanced. Students will work to improve their reading, grammar, writing, and speaking skills. Various materials will be used, including Modern Hebrew passages, computer based work, and creative projects to get students to practice their Hebrew speaking skills. Students are expected to do one hour of Hebrew homework per week to ensure progress.

 

Hebrew 101: with Rabbi Molly Karp

An introduction to the letters and sounds of Hebrew and the basic introduction of the language.

 

Diaspora Hebrew: with Mr. Jeremy Tabick

A Hebrew class for those who aren’t interested in spoken Hebrew. Taught in English, the goal of this course is to get students to read and learn more about the language.

 

Spoken Hebrew (Beginner – Advanced) with Hebrew Staff

We will be offering three different levels of Hebrew language classes from beginner to advanced. Students will work to improve their reading, grammar, writing, and speaking skills. Various materials will be used, including Modern Hebrew passages, computer based work, and creative projects to get students to practice their Hebrew speaking skills. Students are expected to do one hour of Hebrew homework per week to ensure progress.