A Summer of Torah Study in the JTS Beit Midrash

Nishma is a summer program where students immerse themselves in Torah learning, cultivating the skills to  access classical Jewish sources: Talmud, Midrash, halakhah, Hebrew, and parshanut (Torah and its commentaries). The program is split into two four-week sessions. Students can elect to participate in either session or both. 

Note: Nishma 2021 courses will be online.

See course listings below, including optional Hebrew courses. Questions? Feel free to contact us at nishma@jtsa.edu.

Summer 2021 Dates

Session A: June 1-July 1

Session B: July 6-August 5

Apply Now

Who It’s For 

Nishma is for anyone interested in gaining fluency in classical Jewish texts. You will gain the text skills and knowledge you need to speak authentically from the Jewish tradition.

During Nishma, you can expect to:  

  • Learn the basic texts of the Jewish tradition: Torah, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, and halakhah. 
  • Improve your Hebrew language abilities and gain independence in your study of Jewish texts. 
  • Prepare yourself for a career in Jewish education, communal service, academia, the rabbinate, or the cantorate. 
  • Explore the academic and social community at JTS, North America’s preeminent institution of Jewish higher education.

Fellowships

A limited number of fellowships including waived Nishma tuition are available for candidates preparing to apply to JTS graduate programs. Fellowships are limited, so apply early.  

Course Offerings

Session A

Dr. Jason Rogoff
TAL 5113 The Mishnah: Introduction and Survey (3 Credits)
TWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. 
Assuming no prior knowledge of Rabbinic literature, this course introduces students to its earliest text. Focusing on historical context, legal and scholastic content, and literary form, we will survey three of the six orders of the Mishnah, namely those dealing with the Jewish festivals, the Jewish family, and Jewish civil and criminal law. All texts available in English translation as well as the original Hebrew.

Luciana Lederman
TAL 6620 Talmud Text Level A: Taking Hold of Talmud I (6 credits)
MTWR 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 
With a focus on building fundamental skills for reading the Bavli (developing student understanding of structure, technical terminology, basic concepts from Rabbinic culture, and Rabbinic languages), we will explore a range of sequential passages drawn from the Talmud Bavli. The religious dimension of these texts will also be discussed.

TBA
TAL 6630 Talmud Text Level B: Mastery in the Making I (6 credits)
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. 
Aiming to develop independent competence in their reading of the Talmud Bavli, students will encounter a significant number of sequential Talmudic passages. The instructor will guide them toward mastery of their fundamental reading skills, while introducing some of the classical commentators on the Talmud, and also exposing them to some critical methods of study. Time will also be devoted to religious meaning.

Rabbi Eliezer Diamond
TAL 6640 Talmud Text Level C: Text and Context I
(6 credits) by faculty permission only
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. 
An advanced course consisting of close readings of several sequential passages drawn from the Talmud Bavli. We will read the classical commentators on these passages, along with modern and contemporary works, attempt to wrestle with lower text critical issues, and subject each passage to a detailed higher analysis using a spectrum of lenses drawn from a range of scholarly fields.

Benjamin Levy
MID 5022 Introduction to Midrash
(3 credits)
TWR 2:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m. 
A survey of the basic forms and methods of Midrash through close reading of various primary sources and secondary literature.

Dr. Marcus Mordecai Schwartz
CDE 7587 A Bibliographical-Historical Introduction to Classical Halakhic Literature (3 Credits) by permission only, requires advanced Hebrew
TWR 2:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m. 
A bibliographical and historical introduction to five major halakhic codes: Halakhot Gedolot, Mishneh Torah, Arba’ah Turim, Shulhan Arukh, and Levush Malkhut. Students will read these major codes of Jewish Law in their socio-historical context with an emphasis laid on the continuous development of halakhic language across time and place. They will also come to see how the transmission and form of these texts might have been affected by medieval copyists and the later development of printing. Finally, they will attempt to gain the research capacity to uncover the origins and development of particular halakhot layer-by-layer, equipping themselves with the capacity to discover the meanings held in these halakhot, and sort out their religious implications.

Hanna Garti-Bar
HEB 5201: Bet 1 (3 credits)
[MTWR 2:00–4:15 p.m.]
This course continues with the second volume of Hebrew from Scratch (Ivrit min ha-hathala bet). Students will continue to expand their vocabulary and advance their reading, writing, and conversational skills through reading and discussing additional texts of a variety of periods and genres (e.g. adapted stories, poems, selections from parashat ha-shavua, midrash, and Biblical commentary). In grammar, the study of the future tense and major prepositions begun in the previous semester will be concluded, and new topics in syntax and the verb system will be introduced.

Miriam Meir
HEB 5205: Gimel 1 (3 credits)
[MTWR 2:00–4:15 p.m.]
A high intermediate-level Hebrew language course aiming to further develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Particular emphasis is placed on reading comprehension of informative and narrative texts in Hebrew of various periods; classical Hebrew grammar (phonology and the verb system); topics in syntax; vocabulary development; and dictionary usage skills.

Session B

TBA
TAL 5025: Introduction to Text Study (3 Credits)
TWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
An introduction to the major works of the classical rabbinic canon produced by the Rabbis in late antiquity. The Mishnah, Tosefta, halakhic midrashim, aggadic midrashim, and Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds will be considered in light of the historical and theological setting in which each work was produced, its literary characteristics, and its relationship to the other works of the classical rabbinic canon. All texts available in English translation as well as the original Hebrew/Aramaic.

Jeremy Tabick
TAL 6621 Talmud Text Level A: Taking Hold of Talmud II (6 credits)
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
With the same skill focused goals of TAL 6111, students will explore a new range of sequential passages drawn from Bavli Berakhot or Seder Moed or Nashim. The religious dimension of these texts will again be discussed.

Dr. Marcus Mordecai Schwartz
TAL 6631 Talmud Text Level B: Mastery in the Making II (6 credits)
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
With the identical emphasis on competence and mastery as in TAL 6453, students will encounter a substantial number of different sequential passages drawn from Bavli Avodah Zarah. Time will once more be devoted to religious meaning.

TBA
TAL 6641 Talmud Text Level C: Text and Context II (6 credits) by permission only
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Sharing the critical and synthetic objectives of TAL 6455, we will subject several fresh passages to close reading and analysis. We will read the classical commentators on these passages, along with modern and contemporary works, attempt to wrestle with lower text critical issues, and subject each passage to a detailed higher analysis using a spectrum of lenses drawn from a range of scholarly fields.

Malka Edinger
BIB 5013 Parshanut (3 credits)
TWR 2:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m.
The course is methodologically oriented, designed to help students acquire and refine skills of close reading of the biblical text by integrating a modern literary approach with the study of Rashi and other traditional Jewish commentaries. Students will learn to identify the questions that have been asked for centuries, creating an ongoing dialogue with ancient, medieval, and contemporary close readers.

Yitz Landes
ANC 5121 The Ancient Synagogue (3 credits)
TWR 2:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m.
When did Jews start praying in synagogues? What else were synagogue buildings used for in antiquity? Who paid for them? In this course we will look at the history of the synagogue in antiquity. In addition to the questions listed above, we will use material and textual sources to address the development of late ancient synagogue art and synagogue literature, particularly as it compares with contemporaneous Christian and Samaritan art and literature. We will similarly look at the roles that rabbis may have played in late ancient synagogues and at the question of whether or not there existed a “synagogal Judaism.”

Ilona Ben-Moshe
HEB 5203: Bet 2 (3 credits) 
[MTWR 2:00-4:15 p.m.]
This intermediate-level course will bring students to the end of Hebrew from Scratch II (Ivrit min ha-hatchala bet), supplementing the textbook with materials from level gimel books and other readings in Hebrew from various periods (e.g. adapted stories, poems, selections from parashat ha-shavua, midrash, and Biblical commentary). Students will learn new grammar topics, develop strategies for reading comprehension and word recognition, and practice conveying ideas and opinions in both speech and writing.

Miriam Meir
HEB 5206: Gimel 2 (3 credits)
[MTWR 2:00–4:15 p.m.]
This low advanced-level Hebrew language course aims to further develop Hebrew comprehension, conversation, reading, and writing skills. Readings include Hebrew texts of diverse genres, registers, and periods, including classical texts. Grammatical topics include a systematic integrated study of the binyanim system including all weak verbs, and a variety of advanced topics in syntax.

SUMMER SESSIONS A AND B

Note: The following courses run through both Sessions A and B.
Tuesday, June 1–Thursday, August 5
Enrollment Deadline: Thursday, May 13

Orna Goldman 
HEB 5001 D: Alef 1 (6 credits) 
[TWR 2:15–4:40 p.m.]: 
The course covers the seven Introductory Units and Lessons 1-8 of Hebrew from Scratch, Vol. 1 (Ivrit min ha-hathala alef). It takes the student from learning the mechanics of reading and writing unpointed Hebrew to active mastery of 500 words; knowledge of the present tense and infinitive verb forms; reading and enactment of dialogs relating to everyday life; and reading comprehension of short descriptive, narrative and informative texts. Additional course materials, daily assignments and unit tests will be delivered and submitted via Canvas.

Please Note:

  • Enrollment Deadline: May 4
  • A prerequisite for enrolling is knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet, reading printed text with and without vowels, and writing in script.  A mandatory online reading test that assesses these skills should be taken by Friday, May 21, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
  • Prerequisite Course May 24-27, 2021: Students who do not pass the reading test, must enroll in the online Basic Reading course offered Monday through Thursday, 2:45-4:15 p.m., during the week of May 24, 2021. At the end of this course, participants will have to re-take the online reading test (deadline for submission May 31, 2021 by 5 p.m.). Only students who pass the reading test will be able to participate in HEB 5001 D.

Dr. Nitza Krohn and Dr. Naama Weiss
HEB 5101: Alef 2 (6 credits) 
[TWR 2:15–4:40 p.m.]
This course, a direct continuation of Heb 1001, brings students near the end of the first volume of Hebrew from Scratch A (Ivrit min ha-hatḥala alef) with the same emphasis on reading comprehension as well as the development of communication skills. Students will continue to expand their vocabulary and learn–among other basic language forms–the past tense. Additional readings will be assigned from the folktale anthology “Sipur ve-od sipur.”

Nina Brennan Nesher and Sarah Hochfeld
HEB 5103: Alef 3 (6 credits)
[TWR 2:00–4:40 p.m.]
This course is designed to seamlessly follow Heb 1101 by building on comprehension and oral-aural skills previously acquired, and continue to develop vocabulary and grammar skills (including the future tense of verbs). The two volumes of Hebrew From Scratch (Ivrit min ha-hathala) are used as textbooks, supplemented by additional readings from a diversity of sources. Special attention will be given to dictionary look-up skills.

<!–placeholders?

  • Introduction to Rabbinic Narrative
    A survey of the basic forms and methods of Midrash through close reading of various primary sources and secondary literature
  • Parshanut: Pentateuch with Rashi
    A course designed to help students acquire skills of close reading of the biblical text by integrating a modern literary approach with the study of Rashi and other traditional Jewish commentaries
  • Talmud Text Level A: Taking Hold of Talmud I
    A course focused on building fundamental skills for reading the Bavli
  • Talmud Text Level B: Mastery in the Making I
    An intermediate course aiming to develop students’ competence in their reading of the Bavli, in which students will be introduced to some of the classical commentators on the Talmud and to critical methods of study
  • Talmud Text Level C: Text and Conflict
    An advanced course consisting of close readings of several sequential passages drawn from the Bavli
–>

Faculty 

At Nishma, your teachers will be senior JTS faculty, emerging young scholars, and advanced rabbinical students.

Tuition 

A tiered tuition structure allows students flexibility in the subjects they wish to take and the credit they wish to earn. Part-time rates are also available. Students may take morning or afternoon courses for $775 per session, or $875 per session for those taking Hebrew. There are a limited number of fellowships available for those who plan to enroll in JTS degree programs.

Nishma (Lishmah) Nishma with Hebrew (Lishmah)
No academic credit No academic credit
Talmud, Rabbinic Literature, and/or Parshanut: $2,500 (both sessions); $1,250 (single session) Talmud and Hebrew: $3,500 (both sessions); $1,750 (single session)


For-Credit Option

You can earn up to six graduate academic credits in Nishma. These credits are earned through the JTS Summer School. See tuition and fees

Apply to Nishma 

All applications are considered on a rolling basis from December 15 on. 

Apply now

Questions?

For more information about Nishma, please contact us at nishma@jtsa.edu.