A Summer of Torah Study in the JTS Beit Midrash

Notes for Summer 2022: Nishma classes will be held in person at JTS, except for the the two advanced Talmud courses, which will be held online. Also, we’re excited to announce that this year Level A, or the beginning level courses, will be conducted in a hybrid format, which allows for both in-person and online students.

Covid Protocols: All in-person classes will follow JTS Covid health protocols. Full information will be sent to registrants prior to the start of the program.

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.

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

Summer 2022 Dates

Session A: June 1–June 30

Session B: July 5–August 4

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. The program also includes intermediate and advanced Talmud courses for those with more background studying Jewish texts.

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: June 1–June 30 

Dr. Rachel Rosenthal
TAL 6620 Talmud Text Level A: Taking Hold of Talmud I (6 credits)
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Hybrid Course: In Person and Online)
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. 

Dr. Marcus Mordecai Schwartz 
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 Gordon Tucker
TAL 6640 Talmud Text Level C: Text and Context I
(3 credits) by faculty permission only
TWR 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Online)
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. This course will be taught via Zoom. 

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.

Rabbi Eliezer Diamond
CDE 7813 Social Justice and Charity in Practical Halakhah (6 Credits) by permission only, requires advanced Hebrew and Aramaic
MTWR 2:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
This is an advanced Halakhah course. We will study the major institutions of Rabbinic social justice and charity as presented in Shulkhan Arukh, YD 247-259. We will also look at some of the commentators and selected references to the Talmud and earlier codes of Jewish Law and Custom.  

Session B: July 5–August 4

Luciana Lederman
TAL 6621 Talmud Text Level A: Taking Hold of Talmud II (6 credits)
MTWR 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Hybrid Course: In Person and Online)
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. Jeremy Tabick
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. 

Dr. Jason Rogoff
TAL 6641 Talmud Text Level C: The Bavli and the Geonim (3 credits) by permission only
TWR 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Online) 
Sharing the critical and synthetic objectives of TAL 6455, we will subject several fresh passages to close reading and analysis. In this case we will pay special attention to Geonic writings on the Talmud. Students will also be introduced to several works, including the Halakhot Gedolot, the Sheiltot of Rav Ahai Geon, and learn to use B.M. Lewin’s Otzar Ha-geonim. This course will be taught via Zoom. 

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.

Dr. Marcus Mordecai Schwartz
CDE 7587 How We Study Jewish Law and Custom Now (6 credits) 
MTWR 2:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Halakhah molded Jewish life, but was also molded by it. By following the details of halakhic argumentation in concrete and specific case studies, we will gain insight into the dynamics of this process. Using the work of a number of important thinkers and scholars we will see the unfolding of halakhic tradition through time and attempt to understand it. Cases will include alterations in the time of the evening service, the second day of festivals in the diaspora, the hybridization of citrons, the 16th century attempt to renew mosaic ordination, and the influence of kabbalah on Jewish practice.

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.

Questions?

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