Fall 2014 Courses

First Period Courses

8th Grade Core:

The World of the Rabbis with Mr. Jeremy Tabick

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 ofthis 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 ourlives 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 goodness 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 ethicaltexts from the Bible, the medieval period, and modern times, and will look at how the views expressedhave changed and stayed the same, seeking to create a Jewish ethics.

11th Grade Core:

American Judaism with Mr. Avi Garelick

What makes Judaism in America different from the rest of the world? How has Judaism changed in America over time? Why do we have so many different denominations? How do those denominations make decisions? This course will focus on American Jewish history, paying particular focus to the specific differences between American Judaism and those of the rest of the world. In addition, this course will look at the specific denominations, looking at documents from the different organizations such as platforms and responsa to gain a broader picture of how American Jewish communal institutions function.

Elective:

TBD with Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky

 

Second Period Courses

What is Justice? with Mr. Avi Garelick
You might be used to thinking of the world of law and justice as a world unto itself, populated by people with robes and gavels. But it is a longstanding Jewish tradition to think of legal conflict as a matter of everyday life and for everyday people. What happens if your best friend steps on your iPod, or thoughtlessly ruins your reputation? What do they owe you, who decides, and how? In this class, we will explore classic rabbinic methods of managing conflict, and perhaps devise our own methods based on our own experiences.

 

10th Grade Core:

Israel: From the Bible to Today with Rabbi Molly Karp

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 inIsrael to see how her past helps us to understand Israel's present and future.

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? The Senior Seminar is a hallmark of the Prozdor program, as part of the time we invite guest speakersto address issues that students have not covered previously in their Prozdor careers. JTS faculty members as well as community leaders will visit the class to discuss their areas of expertise.

Elective:

Who Wrote the Bible? with Mr. Jeremy Tabick

Who wrote the Bible? Was it God? Moses? Aliens? Was it written by one person, or by a group of people? Was it written all at once, or over a period of time? Does it even matter who wrote it, as long as it's a good book? This course will introduce some modern and traditional ways of exploring this question, and why the answer matters (if indeed it does!). We will examine what we gain, and what we lose, by asserting that the Bible was written by God or by people. In the process, we'll explore the modern academic methods of text study- searching the Bible for possible contradictions, in order to reconstruct and reveal the historyof the text. No prior knowledge or Hebrew required.

Third/Fourth Period Intensives

Hebrew I-V (Hebrew Faculty)

We will be offering up to five different levels of Hebrew language classes from beginner to very 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 encouraged to do one hour of Hebrew homework per week to ensure progress.

Beit Midrash with Mr. Avi Garelick

"Beit Midrash" literally means a "house of exploration" is the watch word for the for this two-period intensive course. The mandate of the Beit Midrash intensive course is to provide students with the tools to develop authentic relations with Torah, such that they would be able to pursue any topic they find compelling in any major Jewish text found in a traditional yehivah. Texts are studied in the original Hebrew with translation. However, do not allow a lack a prior experience deter you from enrolling, for, "according to the effort is the reward."

Third Period Courses

Jews and Comics with Ms. Abigail Teller

Ever wonder why Superman's name is Kal-El? Do you know which member of the Fantastic Four can recite the shema? Have you picked up on Neil Gaiman's Kabbalistic motifs? In this class, we will explore Jewish roots and themes in American comics, from the creation of the first comic book to the development of the graphic novel.

Wandering Stars: Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction with Rabbi Molly Karp

Jewish science fiction and fantasy? Yes! Together we will read stories from "Wandering Stars", a Jewish Science Fiction anthology. These stories will remind us that we are still studying, still suffering, still making jokes and myth, and still trying to figure out what it means to be Jewish. In "Wandering Stars,"we meet futuristic rabbis, Hasidim, dybbuks, golems and more. Some of the stories are humorous, othersare spine-chilling. "Gather Blue Roses" falls into the second category: Imagine a highly-developed empath trapped in a Nazi concentration camp... Then there's "Trouble with Water," which is more of a fantasy, as is the I.B. Singer classic, "Yachid and Yachidah." Two of the stories also deal with the theme of gilgul (reincarnation): "The Jewbird" by Bernard Malamud, and "I'm Looking for Kadak" by Harlan Ellison. For 8th and 9th Graders.

American Jewish Theater with Jessica Kirzane
Jews have played a pivotal role in the shaping of American theater and the American theater canon is full of plays in which Jews and Jewish issues play central roles.  In this class we will read and discuss a handful of these rich works of literature and discuss together what they tell us about what it means to be a Jew in America.  We will act out and direct scenes, bring characters to life through discussions and activities, and enjoy great literature together.  In our class we will read and perform several plays which may include (I am open to other suggestions from the class!): Elmer Rice's Counselor at Law (1939), Herb Gardner's Conversations with my Father (1991), Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983) and Jennifer Maisel's The Last Seder (2012).

Fourth Period Courses

Comparative Idolatry–An Art Class with Ms. Abigail Teller

We will analyze the religious and phenomenological significance of graven images in world religions, becoming both iconographers and iconoclasts. This class will be hands on, with projects intended todevelop visual expressions for our experiences of G-d. No prior fine arts experience is required.

Jews and the Civil Rights Movement with Jessica Kirzane
This course offers in-depth exploration of Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement and the complex issues of power, responsibility, justice, activism, fear, and pride that accompanied the Jewish experience of this tumultuous time in American history.  Through role plays and examination of primary sources, we will seek to understand the fabled Black-Jewish Alliance and its decline, compare and contrast Jewish dilemmas in the American northern and southern states, examine the role of the Civil Rights movement as it influenced liberation movements within the Jewish community, and consider what civil rights and social justice issues matter for us in our own lives.