The leader in pluralistic education.


Prerequisites for all Bible courses: 

  • Hebrew level must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA.
  • Bible 101 Introduction to Bible (excluding Parashat Hashavuah)

BIB 101 Introduction to Bible
This course will introduce the student to modern critical studies of the Bible. Selected texts of the Bible will be studied in depth while broader thematic issues will be surveyed. Various methodologies used by biblical scholars will be introduced to the students. The many meanings of the text and the centrality of the Bible in the Jewish world will be emphasized through careful study. This course is a prerequisite for all Bible study at AJR. (2 credits)

BIB 120 Parashat Hashavuah
Study of the weekly parashah through the lens of a different method (such as traditional commentaries, feminist criticism, literary criticism, etc.) each semester. (2 credits)

BIB 140 Introduction to Parshanut
An introduction to the medieval Jewish commentators found in the printed tradition of rabbinic Bibles (Mikra’ot Gedolot). Selections, mostly from the Torah, will be examined to compare and contrast opinions of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Ramban and other commentators. Students will also become familiar with other features and interpretive tools found on the pages of rabbinic Bibles. (2 credits)

BIB 300 Former Prophets
An immersion in the texts of the Former Prophets. Extensive study of text will provide opportunities to explore the major themes and structures of the early prophetic literature.    (2 credits)

BIB 320 The Five Megillot and Jonah: Biblical Books for the Holy Days
In this course, we will study the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Jonah, Ecclesiastes, and Esther using modern literary analysis as well as rabbinic commentary. We will pay special attention to how these books lend their character to the holy days of the Jewish people, and how their different moods and ideas compare and contrast. (2 credits)

BIB 320 In God’s Shadow: Ruth, Esther, and Ecclesiastes
In this course, we’ll explore three books from the Writings: Ruth, Esther, and Ecclesiastes. We’ll read the text of each book as well as secondary literature. We’ll become familiar with the intricacies of each book and its setting, whether palace or threshing floor. We’ll consider and compare major themes and characters, discuss the liturgical setting of each book, and note how God’s presence and/or absence are depicted in each of these vibrant texts. Prerequisite: Introduction to Bible. (2 credits)

BIB 336  Understanding Biblical Texts: Sharpening Your Language Skills to Unlock the Richness of the Bible
The language of the Bible offers tools to aid the reader in discovering the richness of biblical texts. This course begins with biblical grammar and syntax refreshers, and then focuses on biblical passages that can be better understood, interpreted, and appreciated in the light of biblical grammar, syntax, and other aspects of the language. Attention will also be paid to the ta’amei hamiqra as tools to aid reading comprehension. This course will count as a Bible elective or as part of the Parashat Hashavua requirement.

BIB 342 The Female Body in Biblical Literature
The female body plays a crucial role throughout biblical literature. Stories revolve around it, laws govern it, and it frequently serves as a vehicle for expressing the fundamental relationship between God and the People of Israel. In this course we will examine depictions of the female body and their significance in a variety of biblical genres and contexts including narrative, prophecy, poetry, and law. Through close readings of the text and contemporary literary and feminist biblical scholarship we will address such topics as female fertility, depictions of female beauty, sexuality and adultery, violation of the female body, and the figurative female embodiment of God. (2 credits)

BIB 345 Genesis
An in-depth analysis of the Book of Genesis in light of modern scholarship and traditional commentaries. (2 credits) BIB 360 Amos and Micah: Fighters for Social Justice   This course will analyze these two pivotal prophetic figures as leaders who fought for social justice. We will also examine how these texts are used today. (2 credits)

BIB 346 The Book of Exodus: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Blessedness
This course will explore the theme of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Blessedness through a critical reading of the book of Exodus. By the conclusion of this course, students will be able to articulate: (1) the structure, purposes, and theological outlook of Exodus; (2) the theology of liberty, happiness, and self-transcendence as reflected in Exodus; and (3) three examples where the book of Exodus is a source for understanding the human condition in our own day. The subjects we will discuss include: “election and covenant,” “liberty and ownership,” “politics and holiness,” “slavery and political violence,” “gender and resistance,” “care for others and the risk of humiliation,” “individuality and collectivity,” “God’s transcendence and exclusivity,” “religious leader as a vessel or partner of God,” “law and the image of God,” “ritual and creation,” “identity and narrative,” “self-deification as idolatry,” “holiness of space and holiness of time,” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” (2 credits)

BIB 350 The Book of Deuteronomy: Life in the Promised Land as a Mixed Blessing
This course is a close critical reading of the book of Deuteronomy, revolving around the themes of individuality, collectivity, and humanity. By the conclusion of this course, each student will be able to articulate: (1) the structure, purposes, and theological outlook of Deuteronomy; and (2) three examples where the book of Deuteronomy is a source for understanding the human condition in our own day. The subjects we will discuss include: “monotheism and violence,” “duties of the heart,” “election and history,” “fear and awe,” “free will and responsibility,” “gender and sexuality,” “holiness and language,” “identity and the Other,” “law and history,” “legislation and interpretation,” “memory and empathy,” “nationalism and universalism,” “privilege and entitlement,” “the grip of power,” “The Oral Torah and the Written Torah,” “leadership and failures,” and “divine transcendence and divine personhood.” Prerequisite: Introduction to Bible. (2 credits)

BIB 401 Amos and Jonah
Understanding the prophets in the context of their own time and from the perspectives of contemporary and medieval commentators. (2 credits)

BIB 402 Selected Readings in Jeremiah and Ezekiel
This course examines selections from the latter prophets of the Hebrew Bible. Background on the history and function of prophecy in Israel will be considered, along with elements of the life of each prophet. Emphasis will be upon a modern literary approach, focusing on structural and thematic frameworks for each passage. Our goal will be to identify the theological message of each prophet. Class discussion will focus in-depth upon selected passages, but students are expected to be familiar with the larger contexts in translation, and with secondary readings as assigned. (2 credits)

BIB 405 Isaiah
An in-depth analysis of the Book of Isaiah in light of modern scholarship and traditional commentaries. (2 credits)

BIB 406 “Some Of Our Best Friends”
An exploration of the biblical role of the righteous gentile – the sympathetic non-Israelite who lived at the edge of the Jewish people. How can their stories and the rabbinic traditions that emerged from them inform a contemporary Jewish theology of non-Jews and interfaith relations? This course will count as a Bible, professional skills, or general elective. (2 credits)

BIB 411 Trei Asar
An in-depth study of some of the Minor Prophets such as Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Why is the Aramaic term “Trei Asar” used to designate this group of prophets? Were they social activists or just xenophobic? What motivated them to preach as they did? Did they have the ability to foretell the future? How relevant is their message in this day and age? We will discuss these and other questions through an in-depth study of some of these minor prophets. (2 credits)

BIB 415
The Haftarot In this class we will study selections from the prophetic material that have been chosen to be read as haftarot. We will study the prophetic messages from both historical and contemporary points of view. In addition, special attention will be paid to the connections between the haftarot themselves and the weekly Torah portions. This course will count as a Bible elective or as a Prophets course. (2 credits)

BIB 419 Pastoral Perspectives on Former Prophets
In this course we will engage in compassionate readings of selections from the Former Prophets, we will focus on texts that allow us to bring pastoral perspectives to the text, and to bring the text into pastoral interactions. Prerequisite: Introduction to Bible. (2 credits)

BIB 421 Religion, Politics, and Leadership Failure in the Bible: Studies in the Book of Samuel
This course will be a critical reading of the book of Samuel, revolving around two axes: (1) religion and politics and (2) leadership and the human condition (or human fallibility). By the conclusion of this course, the student will be able to articulate: (1) the structure, purposes, and theological outlook of the book of Samuel; (2) biblical insight into the relationships among politics, religion, and leadership; and (3) three examples where the book of Samuel is a source for understanding the human condition in our own day. We will also explore existential issues embodied in the text that are relevant to contemporary concerns–such as “problems of power,” “leadership and accountability,” “family and loyalty,” “gender and sexuality,” “divine and human law,” “agency and responsibility,” “cultivation of mindfulness,” “transformation of self,” and “the Other.” This course fulfills the Leadership in the Bible rabbinical school requirement.  (2 credits)

BIB 422 Joshua and Judges: Who Will Lead Israel?
The books of Joshua and Judges contain two important voices that continue the story of Israel. The Deuteronomist continues the story of promise and fulfillment that is at the heart of the Deuteronomic History, while a companion voice, the storyteller, shares many important stories about strong men and women. Opening with Rahab, the woman who greets Joshua as he first enters the Promised Land, and continuing on with Samson and Delilah, Barak, Deborah, Yael and Sisera, and more, we will read Joshua and Judges closely, viewing the text through the lens of Deuteronomic thinking and with an eye towards the meanings of the narratives that appear throughout the text. (2 credits)

BIB 435 Liturgy in the Bible
Our liturgy is based on two basic sources: biblical and Talmudic references and modern poets or liturgists inspired by God, faith, and the history of our people. We will explore these origins and the motivations and the religiosity of the authors of our prayers. (2 credits)

BIB 440 Toward a Metaphysics of the Dead in Judaism and the Far East
The present age is an age of ‘life’—wherein life is conceived as the absolute value whereas death is generally perceived as defeat and loss. Because contemporary notions of happiness frequently hide the reality of death, when we face our own death or that of our loved ones, we so often find ourselves unprepared. This course will offer a comparative exploration of the reality of death, the soul, and the transcendent in Judaism and the Far East. The questions we will explore include: Is there an optimal attitude toward the reality of death and the dead? How do we face, and accept, the passing of loved ones? This course may be counted as a Bible elective or a Spirituality elective.  

BIB 455 Feminist Approaches to Biblical Texts
Reading biblical texts through a feminist lens leads to new insights and exciting interpretations. In this class, we will apply this methodology to texts in both the Former and the Latter Prophets. (2 credits)

BIB 460 The Bible through the Lens of Special Education
An analysis of specific biblical characters that can be understood as having special needs. The biblical texts will be studied leading to a new understanding of and appreciation for selected biblical characters. We will study issues such as Moses and his speech disorder, Mephiboshet and Jacob and their physical handicaps, Miriam and issues of gender in education, Esau and ADHD, and others. The educational implications of this study will also be pursued. (2 credits)

BIB 461 Divine Disability: Using Disability Studies to Read God and the Bible
Analyzing biblical characters as individuals with disabilities has contributed a great deal to our reading of the Bible and to our understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in the Jewish world. This becomes even more significant when we consider what it means to think about God as disabled. Using the tools of disability studies we will read biblical texts and think about the ramifications of this study for our understanding of God, the Bible, and of Jewish life.  This class will reflect Dr. Horn Prouser’s current area of research, and will be conducted as a seminar in which we will share and expand upon this work. (2 credits)

BIB 470 Pluralism and the Study of the Bible
AJR s classrooms are naturally filled with students and faculty who come to the table with different theologies and approaches to Judaism. In this class, we will bring this discussion from the background to the foreground. We will set up the class as a lab, choosing a variety of texts to study, ranging from patriarchal narratives, to revelation, to the biblical laws of kashrut, and homosexuality. In preparation for each class, students will need to represent a movement, which may or may not be correspond to their own views. Class time will then be spent studying together, focusing on the beauty, strengths, and difficulties inherent in studying the Bible from a pluralistic perspective. (2 credits)

BIB 475 Abraham to Ibrahim
Why did Abraham bind/sacrifice Isaac? How do we make sense of the different categories of sacrifice in Leviticus? How did the idea of martyrdom develop in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? What is the relationship between Jesus’ crucifixion and the binding of Isaac? Why did the Mishnah devote so much space to sacrificial law after the Temple was destroyed? Which son did Ibrahim offer God according to Muslim texts and traditions? This course will answer these questions and others as we explore the evolution of the sacrifice tradition in the sacred texts of Abrahamic religions. Prerequisite: Introduction to Bible (2 credits)

BIB 511 Job
Is the Book of Job fact or fiction? How do the Rabbis treat it? Does the Book of Job answer the question of justice of the divine government of the world? Why do the good suffer and the evil prosper? How do we deal with the issue of God s goodness? Or, do we accept Archibald MacLeish s couplet: ˜If God is good, he is not God, if God is God, he is not good. We will struggle with these and other questions as we study the Book of Job this semester. (2 credits)

BIB 513 Jonah and Qohelet
An in-depth examination of the books of Jonah and Qohelet, their historical, contextual beginnings and their later place in the liturgical cycle of the Jewish year. (2 credits) BIB 520 The Book of Psalms The goal of this course is to give students an opportunity to explore in depth the rich messages of the Psalms. Emphasis is on the texts themselves, in Hebrew and in translation, with a view to understanding their imagery and poetics, their genres, and their place in the traditions of Israel. In our discussions we will also examine the wider contexts of the ancient Near East and the international wisdom tradition.  (2 credits)

BIB 520 Psalms
Psalms are an important tool for the clergy. In addition to the role they play in the liturgy, psalms also set the tone and the theological context of many life cycle events. No less important, the deep emotional expression of the psalms have moved the minds and the souls of Jews for millennia. They have been a source of comfort and strength and great spiritual aspiration. In this class, students will explore a wide variety of the psalms which find their way into the regular work of the clergy. We will learn with a focus on how to best understand and communicate the messages of the psalms to others. We will also have a deep concern for how the psalms enable our own spiritual and theological growth. This course can count as a Bible elective.

BIB 524 Advanced Parshanut
A formal study of the literature of Jewish medieval Bible commentaries. Reference will be made to contemporary research on commentators and their methodology. Prerequisite: Introduction to Parshanut. (2 credits)



CAN 101 Introduction to the Cantorate
An introduction to the profession of the cantor with attention paid to the basic outlines of Jewish liturgical music and its history, the printed and recorded sources of Jewish music, and the role of the cantor as a professional member of the synagogue staff.    (1 credit)

CAN 102  The Many Faces of Jewish Music, Then and Now
This course will explore the different music styles used through the years to express the yearnings of our people. This course fulfills the requirement of Introduction to the Cantorate. (2 credits)

CAN 108 Choral Traditions
An exploration of the vast literature of Jewish choral music, leading to performance at public events.  (1 credit)

CAN 115 Introduction to Modes
A study of the Jewish prayer modes and their application to the liturgy. Prerequisite for all Nusah classes at AJR (1 credit)

CAN 130 Musical Skills
The study of music theory, ear training, sight singing, harmony, and conducting. (No credit)

CAN 131 Musical Skills II
Continuation of the study of music theory, ear training, sight singing, harmony, and conducting. (No credit)

CAN 201 History of Jewish Music
An exploration of Jewish music from past to the present. (2 credits)

CAN 230 Musical Skills III
Continuation of the study of music theory, ear training, sight singing, harmony, and conducting leading to proficiency. (2 credits)

CAN 250 Conducting
An in-depth exploration of how to create a Congregational or community choir. We will study various techniques of vocal warm-ups, proper breathing, phrasing and proper intonation of voice for choral singing as opposed to solo singing. Learn to conduct various rhythms, utilizing hands, heads, and body motions. In addition, we will share techniques in how to teach children s and teenage choirs, and teenage choirs. All students will be required to conduct three choral pieces. (1 credit)

CAN 260 Concert Planning
The need for quality synagogue and Jewish communal events is great but the expertise it takes to produce these evenings can be daunting. This course is designed to give clergy the tools necessary to plan, fundraise for, and execute high level programming. This course will offer both cantorial and rabbinic students alike an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to produce events that will enhance community and grow appreciation for the talents of their clergy. (1 credit)

CAN 280 Drumming and Chanting
There are many pathways to opening the heart to prayer. This course will explore the art of chant and drumming as spiritual practice, and in your work as shaliah tzibbur. Students will learn techniques to facilitate drumming and chanting in community. A portion of each class will be used to strengthen those skills as together we engage in the practice. All students must bring a drum to use during class though. No prior drumming experience is required. (1 credit)

CAN 308  Cantillation
A rigorous introduction to East European cantillation for the Torah and Prophets. A study of the detailed functions of the Ta’amim and the way in which they explicate the structure of the text. The literature on Jewish cantillation will be discussed. This course is also open to Rabbinical students seeking rigorous training in cantillation. (2 credits)

CAN 312  Advanced Cantillation
A continuation of the study of cantillation focusing on Eichah. Prerequisite: CAN 308 (1 credit)

CAN 313 Advanced Cantillation
A continuation of the study of cantillation focusing on the Megillot read on the Festivals. Prerequisite: CAN 308 (1 credit)

CAN 314 Advanced Cantillation
A continuation of the study of cantillation focusing on Esther. Prerequisite: CAN 308 (1 credit)

CAN 315  Advanced Cantillation
A continuation of the study of cantillation, focusing on Torah reading for Yamim Noraim. Prerequisite: CAN 308 (1 credit)

CAN 316 Cantillation: Eikhah and Festivals Cantor Robin Joseph
A continuation of the study of cantillation focusing on Eikhah and Shalosh Regalim. Prerequisite: CAN 308 (1 credit)

CAN 350 Torah beShirah, Studying Text through Music
What would it be like to understand the music of tfilot with the same reverent approach we usually reserve for the study of the text, to discern music’s own kevah and kavannah? The musical text is more likely to be understood as a translation of words into musical language, rather than an independent commentary or Midrash. On the other hand, people often agree on the unexplainable, mystical power of music, but rarely stop to consider how it actually works. While in secular music such explorations are usually left to musicologists, rabbis and cantors can hardly afford the same attitude. Far from ˜ruining the magic, such explorations could prompt deeper understanding of both texts ˜ words and music, as well as inform our davenning in a new way and enhance our experience of wonder. Course open to rabbinical and cantorial students. (2 credits)

CAN 355 Neginah
Public prayer is challenging when it comes to creating a presence of spirituality in congregations. Neginah can create a spiritual elevation and a spark, making the worshiper feel uplifted and exhilarated. Students will learn how to create their own melody and liturgical chants. They will also learn how antiphonal refrains invite participation and command involvement and ultimately creates a sense of oneness and unity in the worship service. Students will learn how to blend the richness of Jewish Liturgy with the freshness of contemporary New Age sounds, thus creating a bridge of old and new….the result is….a blessing. This course can count toward the Music for Rabbis requirement. (2 credits)

CAN 425 and 426 Advanced Nusah: Shabbat I and II
A study of the nusah and cantorial pieces for use on the Shalosh Regalim focusing on traditional melodies, prayer modes, and Misinai tunes. Targil section required. (4 credits)

CAN 430 Advanced Nusah: Shalosh Regalim
A study of the nusah and cantorial pieces for use on the Shalosh Regalim focusing on traditional melodies, prayer modes, and Misinai tunes. Targil section required. (4 credits)

CAN 437 Advanced Nusah: L’hol and Minor Holidays
A study of the nusah of the weekday service. A complete exploration of motifs and modes for weekday Shaharit, Minhah and Ma’ariv services. This class will include special prayer additions for Hanukah, Purim, fast days, Tisha B’av and Rosh Hodesh. All students will be expected to daven and analyze all the different services. Targil section required. (4 credits)

CAN 446, 447, and 448 Advanced Nusah – Yamim Noraim I, II, and III
An in depth extensive study of the vast Misinai tunes that make up the Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur liturgy. Each student must develop an understanding of the various motifs and nushaot and how to use them in the course of davenning. Targil section required. (4 credits)

CAN 481 and 482 Contemporary Repertoire I and II: Yamim Noraim
This interactive course presents an overview of the contemporary musical literature (with some classics) of the High Holy Day liturgy for the liberal synagogue. The music is illustrated in class by the instructor and the students with piano accompaniment. The material covered is for solo cantor; cantor and/or volunteer congregational choir; cantor and/or youth choir; cantor and/or professional choir and is performed, analyzed and discussed. Recorded illustrations of renowned cantors chanting the repertoire are also utilized. Students may also present their own original musical settings. There is a required final project which is for the student to program and perform their own High Holy Day Service based on material covered in class. (2 credits)

CAN 485 and 486 Contemporary Shabbat Repertoire
This interactive course presents an overview of the contemporary musical literature (with some classics) of the Shabbat liturgy for the liberal synagogue. The music is illustrated in class by the instructor and the students with piano accompaniment. The material covered is for solo cantor; cantor and/or volunteer congregational choir; cantor and/or youth choir; cantor and/or professional choir and is performed, analyzed and discussed. Recorded illustrations of renowned cantors chanting the repertoire are also utilized. Students may also present their own original musical settings. There is a required final project which is for the student to program and perform their own Shabbat Evening and Morning Service based material covered in class. (2 credits)

CAN 525 Sephardic Music
An exploration of the Ladino repertoire using a Master Class format; students will be graded by the level of preparation of each assigned piece. (1credit)

CAN 527 Israeli Music
An exploration of Israeli music, from early halutz days to present day (1 credit)

CAN 561 Music for Life Cycle Events and Other Jewish Happenings
The course will address all occasions in the congregational calendar during which the cantor’s officiating and music plays an important part, including life cycle events, healing services, and more.  (1 credit)

CAN 562 Leadership of Special Occasion and Holiday Events Cantor Sol Zim

Learn how to effective lead Holiday celebrations including Tu B’shvat seder, Pesach seder, Yom Haatzmaut celebration, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Hashoah commemorations and more.  This course is open to both rabbinical and cantorial students. It counts as the Diverse Musical Traditions requirement for cantorial students and the Jewish Music for Rabbis requirement for rabbinical students.
(1 credit)

CAN 566 Composing
An exploration of the art of composing and arranging music for the modern day worship service. (2 credits)

CAN 576  Master Cantors of the Past
This course will explore the history and development of the profession of the cantor focusing on the lives, work, and cantorial art of the great cantorial figures of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Their distinct styles will be reviewed through recordings as well as the role they played in their communities. (2 credits)

CAN 606 Cantorial Style
What are the elements that make a piece sound Jewish? How can we incorporate Cantorial sound into our spiritual sound? Using recordings and techniques of the great Cantorial masters that have moved generations of our people, students will gain understanding and insight into authentic Cantorial sound and style and be able to replicate it within their own sound. (2 credits)

CAN 650 Cantorial Classics
Recitative Students will be given the opportunity to learn cantorial classics, developing a Hebrew and Yiddish repertoire taken from traditional and contemporary sources. The objective will be to perform materials and be coached on the best way to make specific pieces work in davenning or in concert. (2 credits)

CAN 660 Cantorial Classics II
There are many great Yiddish, Hebrew, and Cantorial Classics that have become standards and part of our Jewish Musical History. This classical repertoire has been taken from traditional and contemporary sources. Each student will be stylistically coached, so as to present a true interpretation of each individual song. Ultimately they will be able to represent themselves vocally in a very positive fashion, thus being able to perform these classic songs in concert. (2 credits)



Prerequisites for all Halakhot courses:

  • Hebrew IA and IB

HAL 101 Introduction to Halakhah
An introduction to the broad area of Jewish religious practice and an introduction to texts in the study of Jewish law. Required of all cantorial students. Rabbinical students cannot take this class for credit. (2 credits)

HAL 370 Education in Responsa Literature
A study of the Responsa literature, from medieval through modern times, dealing with educational issues such as our responsibility to provide educational opportunities, the treatment of teachers, and more.  (2 credits)

HAL 373 Critical Issues
A study of pressing modern issues based in halakhic literature, both traditional and modern. (2 credits)

HAL 374 Gender, Sexuality, and Jewish Law
This course will explore contemporary issues of gender and sexuality—including homosexuality, non-gender conformity, and non-marital intercourse—through the lens of traditional Jewish law. Primary sources will draw largely from the Shulhan Arukh as well as modern responsa literature from a variety of different perspectives and denominations.  Special attention will be devoted to issues and questions that arise in modern Jewish communal settings.  This course can fulfill the Advanced Codes or the Critical Issues Halakhah requirements. Prerequisite: 4 credits in Talmud and 2 credits in Codes. (2 credits)

HAL 401 Introduction to Codes
This course will introduce students to the literature of the Halakhic Codes. The primary text for this course will be Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah. Along with selections from the Mishneh Torah, students will study material from other Halakhic Codes. They will also learn about the biographies of important figures in the history of halakhic literature. (2 credits)

HAL 402 Introduction to Codes II
Continuation of HAL 401. (2 credits)

HAL 460 Intermediate Codes
A close study of the classic primary sources in the Codes addressing different themes each semester. The primary text for this course will be Joseph Karo’s Shulhan Arukh. Students will also address questions about the codification and methods of Halakhic Codes. Prerequisite: Introduction to Codes   (2 credits)

HAL 475 Basic Concepts of Hilkhot Shabbat
An examination of the fundamental concepts that help define the key terms of melakhah (labor), qedushah (holiness), and oneg (pleasure) as they refer to Shabbat and give it its traditional identity.   (2 credits)

HAL 476 Halakhot of  Marriage and Qiddushin
This class will offer a legal history of the Jewish wedding from the biblical period through the Modern day. Some of the issues we will tackle are the differences between biblical and rabbinic marriages, the problematic notion of acquisition at the basis of halakhic marriages, how this was dealt with throughout history, modern day alternatives, and the issues of mutuality and consent. We will then segue to sexual consent within marriage and outside of marriage from a Jewish legal perspective throughout the ages. Prerequisite: Introduction to Codes or permission of the Dean. This course can fulfill the Codes or the Critical Issues Halakhah requirements. (2 credits)

HAL 480 Responsa
In this course we will conduct a close reading of rabbinic responsa from a variety of historic periods, tracing the responsa literature from its earliest origins to its 21st century expression. Selected responsa will cover a range of topics and areas of Jewish life. Contemporary responsa studied will reflect a wide spectrum of perspectives and denominational origins. Prerequisite: 1 course point in Talmud and 1 course point in Codes (2 credits)

HAL 485 Relations Between Jews and Gentiles as Reflected in the Responsa Literature
What does the responsa literature tell us about both commercial and social relations between Jews and Gentiles? We will examine responsa which illustrate how rabbis tried to both navigate and construct the relations between Jews and Gentiles. Prerequisite: 2 credits in responsa literature or permission from the Academic Dean. (2 credits)

HAL 600 Advanced Codes
This course examines the complex process of the understanding, deciding, expounding, organizing and creation of Jewish law. The codificatory literature is one legal genre that exemplifies this process and was produced by it. A number of halakhic topics will be studied as they are treated by various authorities. Such study will introduce the student to these areas of inquiry (among others): halakhic determinations, the background and underlying issues that may be reflected in these determinations, the system of intertextual references developed to facilitate navigation through this tradition, characteristics of specific classical halakhic works, such as ˜ among others ˜ RIF, Rambam’s Yad, Tur, Shulhan Arukh, and their commentators. Prerequisite: Intro to Codes. (2 credits)



HEB 250 Hebrew I
In this course, students will study Modern Hebrew with emphasis on both grammar and vocabulary. Conversational skills will be an integral element of the learning experience. Prerequisite: Hebrew exam (4 credits)

HEB 251 Hebrew I
Continuation of HEB 250. (4 credits)

HEB 300 Hebrew Reading
This course will emphasize reading fluency and accuracy of Hebrew texts both vocalized and
un-vocalized. Students will practice reading selections from the Siddur, from the Tanakh and
from modern writings. Some of the tools include the analysis of morphology, syntax
elements, the binyanim and their meaning, and other grammatical factors. (1 credit)

HEB 320 Biblical Hebrew
Building on a basis in Modern Hebrew, this course introduces the grammar and usage of the classical language of the Hebrew Bible. We will focus on how Biblical Hebrew differs from Modern Hebrew, and the syntactical and grammatical details necessary to understand the Hebrew Bible. (2 credits)

HEB 350 Hebrew II
This course will continue the study of Modern Hebrew, emphasizing grammar, vocabulary, reading, and conversation. Prerequisite: Hebrew I (4 credits) HEB 351 Hebrew II Continuation of HEB 350. (4 credits)

HEB 355 Israeli Poetry
The poetry of a people has the power to open windows of insight into the hopes, fears and dreams of that people.. We will read and discuss selections from the writings of the post-1948 generation of Israeli poets, including Amir Gilboa, Natan Zach, Dalia Ravikovitch, Hamutal bar Yosef and Yehuda Amichai.  (2 credits)

HEB 390 Modern Israeli Songs: Their Language and Messages
In this course, we will listen to, read lyrics of, and analyze modern Israeli songs. We will use these songs as windows to understand segments of modern Israeli society. The Hebrew of these lyrics will function as templates of language for us to practice decoding of prefixes, suffixes, tenses, possessives, and other grammatical forms. We will pay attention to the creative interplay between the modern sensibilities often found in these songs and the biblical, Talmudic, or liturgical original settings of some of the language. For cantorial students, this will count toward the Diverse Musical Traditions requirement. For Rabbinical students this course will count toward the Hebrew requirement (post Hebrew II). It can also count as an elective. (2 credits)

HEB 400 Hebrew IIIA
The purpose of this course is to transition students from intermediate into advance level of Hebrew. The course will focus on vocabulary expansion and reading comprehension and will provide training in speaking and listening. Students will develop their productive language skills via class discussions and presentations and via reading and writing assignments. (4 credits)

HEB 401 Hebrew IIIB
This course is a continuation of Hebrew IIIA. The focus of this course will be on reading and listening comprehension of informative and narrative texts in Modern Hebrew. Written, oral, and aural assignments will enhance communication and comprehension skills while improving absorption and integration of vocabulary and grammar. Prerequisite: Hebrew IIIA or its equivalent. (4 credits)

HEB 410 Hebrew Poetry and Short Stories
The course is in two parts. We will read and discuss a selection of Hebrew short stories by various authors, including Orli Kastel-Bloom, Dalia Ravikovitch, Binyamin Tammuz and Etgar Karet. For the second part, we will read and discuss selected works of the post-Independence generation of Israeli poets, including Haim Guri, Natan Zach, Yehuda Amichai, David Avidan, Dalia Ravikovitch, Dan Pagis and Zelda. Selections will be read in the original Hebrew. Class discussions will be in English. Prerequisite: two semesters of Hebrew II. (2 credits)

HEB 414 and 415 Advanced Hebrew
An opportunity for advanced Hebrew students to use and improve their Hebrew skills. Biblical, Rabbinic, and Modern Israeli literature will be read and analyzed, along with opportunities for conversation and discussion. (1 credit)



HIS 305 Biblical Historiography
A survey of the history and religious practices of the ancient Near East, social and tribal structures, the development of the monarchy, the institution of prophecy and the interaction between Israelite society and surrounding cultures. (2 credits)

HIS 310 History: Period of Antiquity
This history of the Jewish People studies and explores period documents and sheds light upon dramatic developments and changes undergone by Judaism through the period of the Mishnah and Talmud. (2 credits)

HIS 315 From Scrolls to Print: Jews and Their Books in the Medieval World
Given the rapid shift today from print to digital media, we can readily understand the enormous societal and cultural implications of the particular medium we use to record and transmit information. In this course, we will study the different formats of Jewish books over the course of the medieval period – scrolls, manuscript codices and printed books – and try to understand their influence on Jewish society and culture. Our broad goals are to examine Jewish life under Islam and Christendom from the 7th through the 15th century with a particular focus on using books, both their material form and literary content, as a window into the communities that produced them. Primary-source analysis will focus both on literary texts and visual images, including manuscript pages and illustrations, all of which shed light on their producers’ cultural and social milieu. This class fulfills the Medieval History requirement. (2 credits)

HIS 315 Medieval History
This study of historic and literary sources analyzes various Jewish communities from the sixth to the seventeenth century C.E. and introduces documentation on the elite wealthy, the political doyen, the scholarly, and the impoverished. It examines assimilation and separatism as the Jew emerged as ˜one apart as a consequence of the growth of Christianity and the emergence of Islam. (2 credits)

HIS 317 Modern History
An analysis of the impact of modernity on the Jewish communities of Europe, Israel and America from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. Political, intellectual, religious and social movements and trends will be discussed based upon primary and secondary readings. Students will be challenged to appropriate the material covered to create a usable past for the contemporary American Jewish community.  (2 credits)

HIS 318 Contemporary History
An examination of the development of the American Jewish community from the 18th through the 20th centuries. Emphasis will be placed on its relationship to Zionism and Israel as well as on the varieties of Jewish religious and cultural expression in America. (2 credits)

HIS 350 American Jewish History and Culture
What has it meant to be Jewish in America in the modern era? It’s a provocative question, and one that has many different answers depending on the time period and whom you ask. (Two Jews, three opinions, right?) This course will explore some of these answers and the debates surrounding them by examining the history and culture of the Jewish community over the past 150 years, starting with the first immigration in the 1800s, and working our way to the present day. Among the topics covered will be the different waves of Jewish immigration, the evolving role of women within American Judaism, relations with other immigrant and minority communities, and Zionism. Looking at these and other subjects will help us to understand how the community has arrived at the place it is today. This course fulfills the American Jewish History requirement. (2 credits)

HIS 400 Ideas and Debates of Jewish History
This course will examine the new ideas and the great debates that affected Jewish belief, culture, and society throughout the ages, from the Ancient period up through Modern Times. This is a two trimester class. The first trimester will focus on the earliest periods of the Jews as a people and conclude with Late Antiquity, exploring internal arguments within Judean society, with and among Diaspora Jews, and the interactions with pagan and early Christian society. (2 credits)

HIS 401 Great Ideas and Debates of Jewish History
The second part of this two-trimester course will examine the new ideas and the great debates that affected Jewish belief, culture and society from the Early Middle Ages up through Early Modern Times. This trimester will focus on the new ideas, perspectives, innovations, and debates of the Babylonian Jewish community under Islamic rule, followed by the growth of the Spanish Jewish community and the exciting developments created in that context. The development of the Ashkenazi Jewish community, as well as its unique understanding of Torah, will be explored, along with the influences and cultural exchange between Judaism and the Medieval Christian World, leading into the period of European Enlightenment and the Early Modern World.  This course may be taken without having taken the first trimester course. (2 credits)

HIS 450 Judaism and (Non) Violence: Theology and the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
What is the role of the Jewish religion in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict? Is the Occupation a result of Jewish theology? Is nonviolent action also a Jewish value? And does (the Jewish) God forbid violence, or encourage it? This course will delve into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using the tools of Jewish theology. Each of the course’s themes will first be examined from the perspective of Jewish theology. Later, we will investigate if and how Jewish theologies and values influence the actual conflict: do they increase tensions, or can we use them to resolve, transform or end the conflict? A central focus of the course will be on American Jewish theology concerning the conflict, on the image of Israel in the U.S.A., and how these are both relevant to violence and peace-making in Israel/Palestine. We will examine subjects like: sovereignty and security, rights and obligations, “just war” and peace, nonviolence and occupation. We will learn of different perspectives of Jewish law banning both Jewish sovereignty and Zionist ideology. We will re-examine the term “Judaism” – today “Judaisms” is possibly more correct – and study the implications of this new term for Israel as a “Jewish State.” We will focus on the Israeli settlements from a religious-political perspective, on the role of religion in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), and on the role of interfaith dialogue in transforming or ending the conflict. This course will require that students practice the Greek virtue of epoché – suspending their judgments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and trying to see it from new angles. The materials of the course will include mostly primary sources like Jewish theological texts, documentaries, memoirs, articles of political criticism and short film clips. No prior knowledge of Israel or Judaism is required, but students will need the courage to devote themselves to learning about the conflict from new perspectives. (2 credits)

HIS 500 Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life
This course will survey the evolution of the American Jewish communal agenda over the past century, and explore a range of contemporary Jewish concerns. Topics to be covered include anti-semitism, interreligious relationships, the separation of church and state, civil rights and affirmative action, and social and economic justice. (2 credits)

HIS 510 American Jewry and Israel: What Unites Us? What Divides Us?
This course analyzes the past and present of the relationship of Israel and the American Jewish community. Amongst the issues to be explored: the peace process; ˜Who is a Jew? ; religious pluralism, religion and state, the Orthodox hegemony in Israel, and the future of religious ˜centricism in Israel; constitutional and electoral reform; Evangelical support for Israel and other interfaith issues; the future of ˜Zionism. The course provides an analysis and critique of American Jewish Israel-advocacy organizations and Zionist groups (e.g. AIPAC and the Presidents Conference), and Israeli agencies that address Diaspora affairs (the Jewish Agency, the WZO, and so on). (2 credits)


Integrated Study

INT 300 Sefer, Sofer, and Sifrut: An Integrated Study into the Centrality of Torah in Jewish Life
This course will trace the centrality of Torah through biblical, midrashic, halakhic, medieval, and modern literatures, focusing on textual, experiential and spiritual dimensions of Torah. (2 credits)

INT 350 Sh’mittah The Sabbatical Year: Halakhah, Jewish Thought and Socio/Political Realities
The concept of a Sabbatical Year, as expressed in the Torah, is an idealistic vision of religious and social significance. It is also one of the few concepts and sets of laws that the Torah, herself, admits to be difficult to accept and put into practice. We will explore the Biblical texts and their messages. From extra-Biblical and Rabbinic texts we will seek to elicit both the theory of sh’mittah as understood at the end of the Second Commonwealth period, as well as evidence of its observance in Palestinian society. After living in the Land of Israel was no longer a common Jewish reality, subsequent developments in understanding the concept took place within the kabbalistic tradition. But, with the Zionist revolution at the end of the 19th century, sh’mittah became a reality again. We will conclude with studying contemporary approaches to this renewed challenge. (2 credits)

Hebrew prerequisite: Hebrew 1A and 1B

INT 331 Sacred Arts/Circus Arts
How do we read text differently with our bodies? In this class we will pursue this idea as readers, teachers, artists, and fun loving individuals.  We will approach the topic through the lens of circus studies, education, and inclusion.  We will engage in the academic study of the new field of Circus Studies, a multifarious field with many discrete methodologies that all join in the pursuit of elevating the study of circus to scholarly levels.  We will understand the value of the arts in education, and the importance of opening up our sacred literature to those who often feel disenfranchised by the traditional form of Jewish text study.  We will study text through the vehicle of circus arts, such as human pyramids, partner acrobatics, juggling, rolla bolla, tightwire, and more. As we progress through the trimester, we will grow as educators and as artists, while also enhancing our ability to bring even more people into the study of text.  This class will be co-taught by instructors in text study and in circus arts, with several visiting instructors joining us throughout the trimester.  Open to all ages, abilities, and fitness levels. This class will fulfill the Sacred Arts requirement, or can be counted as a Bible elective or a spirituality elective. (2 credits)

INT 360 Holocaust
This class will examine the central themes and core issues that characterize Holocaust theology. We will examine a variety of perspectives and their responses to the Holocaust. We will also analyze the extent to which the Holocaust has impacted on General Jewish religious thought. In addition we will study diverse way to ritualize, remember and educate about the Holocaust. (2 credits)

INT 365 Sukkot: An Interdisciplinary Study
This course will examine Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah from a variety of approaches leading to a holistic understanding of this holiday cycle. We will survey Sukkot in the Bible, the Talmud and Midrash, the Codes, the Liturgy, and modern interpretations. How to teach Sukkot and how to program Sukkot will be featured. Among other issues, we will discuss the laws and meanings of lulav and etrog, the Sukkot, hol hamo ed, hoshana rabba, ushpizin, Qohelet, tefillat geshem, hoshanot, hatan/kallat Torah, hatan/kallat Bereshit, hakafot. (This course can count as a general elective, a professional skills elective, or a biblical or Rabbinics textual elective after discussion with the Dean. This course can count as a professional skills critical issues class.) (2 credits)

INT 375 Taking Our Place at the Table: Jewish Approaches to Feeding Body and Soul
This course will be an exploration of some of the profound and complicated issues surrounding our most basic need for food. We will take an interdisciplinary and text-centered approach to the halakhic and sociological concerns on topics such as ethical kashrut, eating disorders in the Jewish community, food in the midrashic imagination, and the role of clergy in addressing these and other contemporary matters. We will also make time to share our own love of food in this course – come prepared! This class can count as a rabbinics, professional skills, or general elective. (2 credits)

INT 380 The Image of The Other in Jewish Tradition
Studies in “The Other” comprise an emerging area in Religious Studies. The Other refers to members outside of the in-group. In Jewish tradition, The Other includes non-Jews, women, children (sometimes), converts (sometimes), and the am ha’arets (the unlettered), among others. While this course will pay attention to many categories of The Other in Jewish tradition, it will focus on the way non-Jews are portrayed. We will survey the image of The Other in the Bible, Rabbinic Literature, Liturgy, Codes, and mystical literature. The role of historical circumstances, when identifiable, will be featured. Nevertheless, an assumption of this course is that historical circumstances cannot account for all of the ways that The Other is imaged in Jewish tradition. The Other in Jewish society, like in most cultures, embraces a set of attitudes that only modulates with history; these attitudes do not appear and disappear. It is important to know how our tradition portrays the Other for honest and effective participation in current Interfaith Dialogue and attention will be paid to Jewish postures in Interfaith Dialogue. This course will count as 1 credit in Critical Issues in Halakhah and 1 credit in Ethics.

Hebrew prerequisite: Hebrew 1A and 1B (2 credits)

INT 390 Faith, Technology and Halakhah
As our new technologies reshape the way in which we understand human interaction, so too do they impact the way in which we understand our faith. This course will focus on both the theological and the practical halakhic conflicts created by our increasingly ever present entanglement with the technologies of the 21st century. The material in this class will provide a forum for a discussion about the ways in which Jewish wisdom can be transmitted in this generation, while keeping an eye on the challenges to be faced by the next. This course will count as .5 credit in Critical Issues in Halakhah and .5 credit in Ethics. (2 credits)

INT 400 Gender and Sexuality in Jewish Life and Culture
Does God have a body? If so, is it feminine or masculine? How do our sexual lives influence our understanding of God? What does the Zionist movement think about the Image of the Jewish Male Body? How does Israeli cinema influence the image of the Israeli soldier? What do different Jewish Sects think about Queer life, and do they perceive modesty in Jewish life? These are a few of the questions we will focus on in this course. By using gender theories and religious, historical and cultural studies we will try to deepen our understanding of Jewish texts, culture, law and art. Students will enrich their understanding of both gender theories and sexual theories: Mackinnon, Foucault, Deida and Butler. They will learn about perceptions of the body and sexuality in Western societies in comparison to those in Eastern societies, gaining a deeper understanding of the key differences. Finally, they will gain the basic tools necessary to explore different Jewish texts and literature from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, and Mystical (Hasidic) texts to Modern Israel Poetry, literature and Cinema. No prior knowledge on the subject is required. All basic concepts will be covered in this course, and students of all levels are welcome. This course will fulfill the Critical Issues (PRO) course requirement. (2 credits)


LIT 101 Introduction to Liturgy
Foundations in the formal graduate level study of Jewish liturgy. Portions of the weekday service will be used as the examples for developing an understanding of the basic liturgical units including: p’suqei dezimrah, qeriat Shema uvirkhoteha, tefillah, and kaddish. There will be an overview of the issues involved in understanding the worship traditions of the varied streams that make up the contemporary Jewish community. The problems of prayer and the understanding of prayer as the vehicle for establishing and maintaining a relationship with God will be examined. There will be preliminary discussion of the problems associated with developing compelling and vibrant congregational experience. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA.

LIT 271 Tefillah and Seminar

A time for the AJR community to gather for prayer, study and shared reflection. Each week, two students will be responsible for preparing tefillah; A seminar to discuss the experience will follow. (1 credit)

LIT 305  Shabbat Liturgy
The development of Shabbat liturgical celebrations from Biblical through contemporary periods. A study of the development of: the Shabbat Amidah and special piyyutim; the kabbalat Shabbat service, and the influence of the mystical tradition; home rituals, kiddush and havdalah along with their function in communal and family life. A survey of practices of various contemporary communities representing all streams of Jewish practice. A discussion of congregational dynamics and effective strategies for developing effective and compelling Shabbat liturgy. Prerequisite: Introduction to Liturgy (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

LIT 307 Festival Liturgy
A study of the liturgy throughout the cycle of the Jewish year, from biblical origins to the present era. Features: variations in the basic liturgy, especially the Amidah for Shelosh Regalim; the development of Hallel customs; the form, function and texts of principal piyyutim; variations in practice among various rites and contemporary communities; the role of the Musaf service along with the theological implications of this part of the liturgy. A discussion of the liturgies that have evolved in response to the history of the Jewish community in the twentieth century Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha’atzmaut. Discussion of creative and innovative rituals that can be introduced into the fixed liturgy. Prerequisite: Introduction to Liturgy (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

LIT 355 Bekhol Levavkhem - Full-Hearted Creative Liturgy Class
Praying with a full heart, with all of our passion can be challenging. We are confronted by language that can, at best, seem irrelevant, and at worst affronting. This class will focus on how we can make davenning more engaging, more enlivening and more relevant. We will explore pathways into the traditional liturgy as well as the use of prayer-phinalia, or prayer techniques culled from an assortment of sources (Sufi, Buddhist, Psychotherapy, etc.). (2 credits)

LIT 405 The Haggadah
An in-depth study of the literary structure and historical development of the Pesah Haggadah. Several editions and commentaries will be studied. Attention will also be paid to the spiritual meaning of the Haggadah for contemporary Jews. (2 credits)

LIT 416 Gender Language in Liturgy
This course will explore the inclusion of women, or lack of such, in Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox siddurim. We will focus primarily on the amidah and birkat haMazon. We will also investigate liturgical language addressing and describing God in terms of gender connotations, focusing on the variety of terms describing God in the High Holy Day liturgy. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

LIT 620 Liturgy of Yamim Noraim
This interdisciplinary professional seminar for both rabbinic and cantorial students features: halakhic, liturgical, historical, professional and spiritual material necessary to prepare for this season; the evolution of the season from biblical through modern periods; a survey of various contemporary mahzorim; discussions of strategies for the rabbi and cantor to prepare themselves to lead various congregations through the experience of Yamim Noraim. Prerequisite: Introduction to Liturgy (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA


MEC 120 Mechinah Hebrew
This class covers the basics of both modern and liturgical Hebrew, preparing the students to enter the required Hebrew classes of both the Rabbinical and the Cantorial programs. No credit is given for this class. (No credit)

MEC 121 Mechinah Jewish Studies
This is a preparatory course for the Rabbinic and Cantorial programs. The course includes a survey of Jewish history; introduction to the Siddur (prayerbook) for weekdays, Sabbaths and festivals, with guided reading and analysis of selected Hebrew passages; introduction to classical Jewish literature, including Mishnah and Midrash; and orientation to Jewish liturgical observances and religious and cultural institutions. (2 credits for cantorial students, rabbinical students do not receive credit for this class.)



PHI 301 Bioethics
An exploration of major dilemmas in bio-ethics such as issues around the beginning and the end of life based upon traditional Jewish sources and contemporary thinkers of all outlooks. (1 credit)

PHI 311 Medieval Philosophy
The classics of medieval Jewish philosophy will be considered as efforts in the ongoing project to articulate a coherent Jewish world-outlook. How did they seek to integrate the value-orientation of the Bible with the best (Greek) œscience  of their age? How might their attempts at integration serve as models for us? Texts to be studied will include: Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Philo, Saadia, Halevi, and Maimonides (with intensive attention devoted to the Guide for the Perplexed). (2 credits)

PHI 312 Modern Jewish Philosophy
For the past 350 years, Jewish thinkers have been articulating Judaism in the light of the (ever-developing) modern world-oulook. Familiarity with their ideas can help us in developing those articulations of Judaism that ring true to us on all levels ”scientifically, ethically, religiously/spiritually, and with respect to Jewish authenticity. In this course we will encounter and discuss the Jewish philosophies of Spinoza, Mendelssohn, the 19th-century movements (religious and secular), Buber, Rosenzweig, Kaplan, Heschel, Soloveitchik, and a sampling of more recent thinkers. (2 credits)

PHI 345 History of Ethics
The need to understand how Jewish tradition can provide directions for people today is an ever-recurring issue. The hope is this class, exploring how Judaism has approached the problem of ethics and morality will provide some basis for generating a variety of answers. We will begin by considering some of the understanding that can be found as a basis for Jewish thought in the pre-philosophical periods represented by the Hebrew Bible and some rabbinic texts. We will then move to the development of an understanding of ethics found among early rationalists and the medieval pietists and mystics. Finally we will move into the modern period and consider the differences among the early moderns, the twentieth-century moderns, and post-moderns. (2 credits)

PHI 350 Happy with One’s Portion : Jewish Ethics of Personal Finance
The Mishnaic ethical tractate Avot suggests that true wealth is the capacity to be satisfied with what we have. This course will adopt a transdenominational approach in applying Jewish ethical principles to our personal and communal financial choices. We will study key classical texts, explore the history and current relevance of Jewish sumptuary laws, face the crisis of personal debt as it affects our communities and our nation, consider the range of contemporary perspectives on ˜voluntary simplicity in light of Jewish values, and valuate our efforts to meet the quantitative as well as qualitative challenges of tzedakah in light of the competing financial priorities of our lives. (2 credits)

PHI 351 The Ethics of Gratefulness
While generally recognized as important in the fabric of a civil society and in the realm of religious behavior, insufficient in-depth attention has been paid to gratefulness as a crucial spiritual dynamic in human self-awareness and social interaction. This course will explore the place of gratefulness in Jewish religious tradition and practice, the psychological dynamics that inhibit the unfolding of gratefulness in our lives, and ways by which to gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of gratefulness as a vehicle for ethical and spiritual Jewish growth. Included in our deliberations will be discussions of gratefulness as a way by which to cope with suffering and evil, how gratefulness contributes to the formation of spiritual identity, and as an approach to an ethical way of living that emphasizes the positive and the nurturing dimensions of life.  (2 credits)

PHI 352 Is Kashrut Kosher? Modern Ethical Debates Around Kashrut
Drawn from the pages of recent newspaper articles, this course will consider ethical questions currently facing the American Jewish community regarding the laws of kashrut. The course will cover the connections and conflicts between kashrut and tza’ar ba’alei hayyim (avoiding the suffering of animals), labor violations such as those alleged at the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant, issues of rabbinic supervision and business ethics, and the advent of modern ethical certifications such as the Heksher Tzedek.  We will consider the ways that the Shulchan Arukh and other legal codes deal with these issues, as well as modern essays on kashrut dilemmas. This course will require a paper dealing with one of the above topics or a related issue. (2 credits)

PHI 367 Heschel’s Heavenly Torah 
Intensive study of A.J. Heschel’s major work on Heavenly Torah  along with the primary rabbinic sources that he relied on for illustrating his theses. Topics will include: The schools of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Ishmael; how did they read the Torah? transcendence and immanence; common sense vs. mystical approaches; differing concepts of revelations; eternal vs. evolutionary perspectives of Torah. (2 credits)

PHI 368 Kaplan and Heschel: Face to Face
This course explores a series of “debates” between two towering figures of modern American Judaism, Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881–1983) and Abraham J. Heschel (1907–1972). We will discuss their differing views on Judaism as paradigms for understanding the human condition, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, in the modern era. By the conclusion of the course, each student will demonstrate competence in information literacy relevant to the topics covered. By then, students will also be able to articulate: (1) the general theological outlook of each thinker; (2) the divergences and commonalities between them; and (3) three examples where a comparison between the two paradigms elucidates the challenges of pluralistic religious life in our own day. The subjects we will explore include: God and the world, immanence and transcendence, mysticism and rationalism, the problem of evil, revelation and scripture, tradition and freedom, faith and science, traditionalism and spiritual renewal, Halakhah and humanism, knowledge of God and selfless love, community and the Other, peoplehood and assimilation, self-fulfillment and self-transcendence, the reality of death, Judaism and democracy, objectives of Jewish education in a free society, Israel and Diaspora, interfaith and inter-denominational dialogue, particularism and universalism. (2 credits)

PHI 370 Judaism and the Earth
In this course we will examine the ways Judaism relates to the natural world and its preservation. We will look at biblical and rabbinic texts on nature, the preservation of life, and the avoidance of waste, and explore theories of Judaism and the environment from stewardship to deep ecology. We will discover fun, effective and hands-on ways to educate Jews about these issues, and each student will be invited to develop a program for use in environmental education. (2 credits)

PHI 380 Kavannah: Mind, Body, and Spirit
A study of the Kavannah in prayer based in text study, body movement (chi gung), and chant. (2 credits)

PHI 400 Quantum Judaism: Text Study, Meditation, Bittul Ha-Yesh and Modern Physics
It has been said that Baruch Spinoza was the only Western philosopher to attain enlightenment.  What is less known is that, Einstein, when asked if he believed in God, replied, œI believe in the God of Spinoza.  Much of modern physics seems prefigured in the work of Spinoza and other thinkers. This class is a text-based meditation course. In it, we will explore works by Spinoza, the hassidic masters, Martin Buber, taoist tractates as well as some of the core ideas of post-relativity physics. We will then attempt to discover to what extent Jewish ideas, especially that of bittul ha-yesh, mesh with modern physics and the attempt to narrow “ or obliterate “ the gap between our given reality in olam ha-zeh and God. We will explore both divine transcendence and immanence. The goal will be to enrich ourselves and our knowledge as well as to have something to bring to congregants. No prior experience in philosophy required. (2 credits)

PHI 420 A Laboratory of Questioning: Forging Contemporary Personal Jewish Theologies
In each generation, people seeking fullness of life and an encounter with the divine pose their own existential questions. The twenty-first century opens with some old familiar queries dressed up in modern and postmodern garb; in addition, there are also some challenges posed that are unique to the nature and culture of our generation.  This course can be seen as an existential laboratory, in the context of which Jewish leaders can face and grapple with such questions, and also design and forge the framework for new and personal Jewish theologies.
Three salient questions will be addressed in this course:
(a) The Meaning of the Divine: What is divinity, and what does it mean, in the twenty-first century, to believe? What cognitive and spiritual means do we have to know the divine? Is there a uniquely contemporary way to encounter the holy?
(b) Religious Communities and Seekers of the Divine: What is the relationship between the community and the individual seeker? Should we belong to a religious community? Why, or why not? What is the connection between religion and societal injustice, especially violence? What does it mean to experience a variety of religious and spiritual pathways and practices?
(c) Religion, Spirituality, and Intimacy: What is the relationship between these essential aspects of human life? Does religion hinder or enhance human intimacy? How is prayer related to intimacy? What are the spiritual roles of Nature, emotion and the body? Is there a uniquely contemporary theology of intimacy that includes yearning, vulnerability, touching, sexuality and emotional integrity? Is authentic intimacy possible in today’s faith groups and religious communities?
We will encounter a variety of contemporary voices addressing these complex questions, exploring both Jewish and non-Jewish perspectives. Participants will compose personal theological texts based on their learning and insights. These texts will be shared with fellow participants, and will constitute an informed personal Jewish theology. Taken together, these texts and personal theologies will be crucial in the forging of a unique and timely Jewish way of life in the United States today. (2 credits)

PHI 460 Comparative Religion for Jewish Religious Leaders
This course will survey the theologies, practices, core texts, and current circumstances of a variety of religious traditions, including Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism, Mormonism), Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Wicca. The goal of the course is to increase students’ knowledge base around each of these traditions, note their place in our cultural milieu, and consider the possibilities for coexistence and/or dialogue. Special emphasis will be placed on traditions with which our students are likely to come into contact as rabbis. (2 credits)

PHI 475 Personal Theology
What is my personal theology? How can I articulate it, for myself and for those I plan to teach and influence? In this class, students will systematically face the issues of revelation-and-authority, God, Jewish peoplehood, evil/suffering, and eschatology (death/immortality and Messianism). Texts of contemporary thinkers on these issues will provide a springboard, but the primary objective will be discussion and written articulation of the students own considered theological positions. (2 credits)

PHI 480 Pluralism: Theory and Application
What is the significance or value of a pluralistic commitment? Is it basically a practical orientation, a relativistic stance, or does it entail acceptance of certain more fundamental affirmations? In this course we will examine some of the various conceptions of pluralism that have been argued “ for and against “ by social and religious thinkers. Readings will include traditional Judaic texts as well as contemporary writings, especially from within the Jewish community. In addition to grappling with the theory “ promising or problematic “ of pluralism, we will also give some attention to issues involved in making pluralism work. (2 credits)

PHI 510 Mysticism
Mysticism taught through varying perspectives. For example: The Zohar The Zohar is an extraordinary collection of writings embodying the most revered statement of Jewish mystical teachings. Its concerns are manifold and its levels of meaning are multiple. We shall devote ourselves to reading through the Zoharic treatment of one Biblical portion with a view toward entering into this rich multi-layered approach to the life of God-Torah-Israel. Our reading will be supplemented and enhanced by other materials drawn from primary sources and scholarly essays. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

PHI 510 Gender in Jewish Mysticism
This course is an exploration of how femininity/masculinity has been portrayed in Jewish mystical sources, and what the theological category of gender means for kabbalists. We will consider the presence of a multigendered God in Jewish mysticism and consider what that means for human beings. Students will analyze mystical texts for how they present gender as a divine and human category, and develop their own approach to the spiritual issues of gender presented by traditional kabbalah. This course will be taught mostly in translation. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

PHI 510 Lurianic Kabbalah: The Lion King
The small city of Tzfat in northern Israel, was the site of the greatest renaissance of Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah, in Jewish history. In the aftermath of the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492), many of the most creative Jewish mystical minds gathered in Tzfat creating an epicenter of Jewish mystical thought that would transform Judaism to this day. Teachers like Shlomo Alkabetz, author of the Lecha Dodi; and Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch.. The greatest teacher of Kabbalah, acknowledged and revered by all was Yitzchak Luria (the ARI). This course will offer an in-depth introduction to this giant of Jewish Mysticism. We will study primary source material dealing with many of the basic principals of Kabbalah, including the sefirot, the various names of God, and some of the more advanced concepts such as tzimtzum or Divine Constriction, the Breaking of the Vessels, Gilgul or reincarnation, Kabbalistic Astrology and various meditative techniques. In addition to studying texts and engaging in various contemplative practices, we will seek to understand the importance of these sophisticated spiritual systems for our every day lives. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

PHI 510 – The Zohar
The Zohar is the masterpiece of medieval Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah. While it claims to be the product of the 2nd century sage, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, it was actually created by Rabbi Moshe DeLeon and his circle of mystics in 13th century Spain. The form in which it expresses itself is similar to that of ancient Rabbinic midrash but its content is shockingly dissimilar to anything in Rabbinic Literature. The Zohar concerns itself with nothing less than the inner life of God, which, in the Zohar’s view, involves the interplay between Ein Sof (the infinite, unknowable part of God), the ten Sefirot (ten slightly more knowable divine energies) and the physical world – especially the Jewish People. Its contents are expressed in a most concealed way that does not yield much meaning upon first glance. Deciphering its contents involves decoding the many allusions to biblical verses, midrashic and talmudic interpretations, and myriad poetic and mythic images and symbols. While we will read the original Aramaic of the text, we will utilize both Hebrew and English translations of all passages to ease our study. Fulfills mysticism elective requirement for rabbinical students or spirituality elective requirement for cantorial students. (2 credits).

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

PHI 515 Sefer Hayetzirah
This will be a course in which we read in its entirety one of the earliest works of Jewish mysticism, Sefer Yetzirah, and explore its meanings. We’ll consider the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of the book, learn about its connection to the later kabbalah, and also discover “practical kabbalah— how mystics might have used this work to transform their consciousness and shape their experience of time, space, and soul. This course can count toward the Mysticism requirement or the spirituality requirement. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

PHI 521 The Ecstasy and Intensity of the Hassidic Masters
We will study the ideas of such Hasidic teachers as the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Hasidic movement), Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the founder of the Lubavitch Chasidim and author of the Tanya), Rabbi Nachman of Bratslov, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Ishbitza (the author of the Mei Hashiloach), Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (the author of the Sefat Emet), and Rabbi Kalonymos Kalmish Shapira of Piacezna (the author of the Aish Kodesh). These are deeply powerful texts that will be interesting and exciting to anyone who is willing to look at Judaism in a different type of way. In the class we will look at how each of these Chasidic thinkers look at such ideas as God, soul, reality, revelation, mitzvah and prayer. In looking at these fascinating texts, we hope to help guide people in their spiritual journeys. There will be historical introductions to each of the Chasidic Masters we will analyze. There will also be a general introduction to Hassidism. (2 credits) PRO 001 through PRO 006 Core Concepts This is a multi-year sequence of seminars. They include Core Concepts Seminar I, II, III, and IV. The seminars cover some of the fundamental values, concepts and vocabulary of Jewish tradition. The student is expected first to gain a basic acquaintance with these terms and then to delve more deeply into them so as to appreciate their range of significance. The goal of the seminars is not simply to gather information, but to develop an integrated way of thinking about and expressing these value-concepts, so that the student may grow from an appreciation of the tradition to active and creative participation in the discourse of Torah. (No credit for ordination programs; 1 credit for M.A. program.)


Professional Skills

PRO 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006 Core Concepts
Seminar in Core Concepts is a sequence of six seminars. It includes Core Concepts Seminar 1 through 6, which comprise three full years of study. The seminars cover some of the fundamental values, concepts and vocabulary of Jewish tradition. The student is expected first to gain a basic acquaintance with these terms and then to delve more deeply into them so as to appreciate their range of significance. The goal of the seminars is to gather information and to develop an integrated way of thinking about and expressing these value-concepts, so that the student may grow from an appreciation of the tradition to active and creative participation in the discourse of Torah. (For M.A. students: 1 credit. For Rabbinical and Cantorial students: 0 credit).

PRO 102 Bread and Butter Nusah: The Joys of Shabbat and Hol
All rabbis should be able to get up and lead a minyan on any Shabbat or weekday without the need for preparation. This course will offer students an opportunity to learn, practice, and become proficient in the basic nushaot of Shabbat and Hol. It is designed to offer a good foundation for anyone wanting to learn how to proficiently lead a minyan or congregation. This course fulfills the Jewish Music for Rabbis requirement for rabbinical students. (1.0 credit)

PRO 140, 141, 143 Ritual Skills Workshop I, II, and III
In this workshop students will have the opportunity to learn and practice ritual skills to prepare for fulfillment of the yearly ritual skills requirement. (No credit) PRO 215 Counseling I The use of interpersonal communication skills in pastoral care is explored and developed. Paradigms for the helping relationship, the role of the Rabbi/Cantor as care-giver, and the various contexts for psycho-spiritual interventions are explored. Classes will integrate theoretical with experiential learning. (no credit)

PRO 230 Reform Judaism
A study of Reform Judaism, its history, development, philosophy, and range of ritual practice. (2 credits)

PRO 311 Homiletics
An exploration into the structure and content of the pulpit sermon. Particular attention will be paid to various nontraditional varieties of pulpit discourse as well as to available resource materials in the sermonic field. Primary methodology: the creation, presentation and critique of sermons assigned to course participants. (1 credit)

PRO 312 Parashat Hashavua/Homiletics
An exploration into the structure and content of the pulpit sermon and the written D’var Torah. Attention will be paid to traditional and nontraditional varieties of pulpit and other rabbinic discourse as well as to available resource materials in the sermonic field. Students will also focus on the structure and development of a written D’var Torah. (2 credits)

PRO 320 Education Seminar
How do children’s brains learn Hebrew? What effects do ambiance and atmosphere have on student? What s the best way to measure progress in a religious school? Which criteria are most important in designing a curriculum? What role should prayer play in a child s life? Covering theory and practice in equal parts, this seminar is designed for future clergy who care about excellent Jewish education. (2 credits)

PRO 326 Jewish Education II
This course will address the role of rabbis and cantors as communal educators. The focus will be on practical issues such as programming, curriculum development, and the many areas involved in running educational programs and schools at synagogues. (2 credits)

PRO 330 Bar/Bat Mitzvah
This class will look at Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a rite of passage. It will examine the children themselves, issues affecting their families, and synagogue policies. We will look closely at the specific educational needs of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child; and how a tutor can guide students successfully on their paths. We ll examine Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a path to Jewish identity development and study classical texts as they relate to Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We ll look at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service and the role of the Rabbi and Cantor. The class will focus on difficult issues that inevitably arise during the planning of this rite of passage. Prerequisite: Knowledge of cantillation, and experience in Bat/Bar Mitzvah tutoring and/or leading a Bar/Bat Mitzvah service. This course can fulfill the Congregational Dynamics requirement. (2 credits)

PRO 334 Building and Running a Congregational Religious School
The congregational religious school plays a central role in synagogue life and building. This course will address practical, philosophical, and spiritual matters in organizing and directing a religious school. This includes issues such as hiring and supervising teachers, developing curriculum, the role of the religious school in the synagogue, and including the family. This course will count as a professional skills elective. (2 credits)

PRO 335 Empowering Communities Through Song
Students will master the skill of teaching and inspiring congregants of all ages. Songleading techniques and musical resources will be examined. A rich and varied repertoire of songs will provide students with the ability and confidence to lead the a variety of synagogue programming including: Holiday celebrations (such as Hanukkah Songfests, Simhat Torah hakafot, Yom Hashoah Commemorative, etc.), Youth Groups functions (e.g. Ruah songs), Religious School Assemblies, Senior Luncheons, Tot  Shabbat Services for Nursery School, as well as Interfaith Services. This course satisfies the Music for Rabbis requirement. (2 credits)

PRO 336 Guitar
In this course students will learn the basics of playing guitar which has become so important in much of synagogue life. (2 credits)

PRO 339 Jewish Stories and Jewish Storytelling
Stories have been used to transmit values, to illustrate problems, to illuminate history, and to entertain. As much as we tell stories, the stories we tell, tell about us. The goal of this course is to give students depth of knowledge about the various genres of oral stories and the development of Jewish stories and storytelling, tools to analyze stories, an overview of the existing storytelling literature, both classical and modern, and the opportunity to hone their own storytelling presentations and styles. (2 credits)

PRO 341 Life Cycle I
This course is designed to prepare religious leaders to participate in the various life cycle rituals of the Jewish people. Primary focus will be on the life cycle events from birth through bar/bat mitzvah, leading up to marriage. Role play and reeenactments  will allow students to receive feedback on their developing skills. (2 credits)

PRO 342 Life Cycle II
This course is a continuation of PRO 341. Death and funerals, unveilings, and conversion constitute the focus of this semester. A pre-requisite is the ability to translate simple biblical and rabbinic texts. Practical problems and shared experiences from the field will occupy much of class discussion. (2 credits)

PRO 347 Honoring the Dead
This course will empower AJR student to provide effective spiritual leadership and support in preparation for death and burial, and to clarify their own positions on key funeral issues. The first half of the course focuses on the role of the rabbi or cantor as a pastoral advocate for bereaved families and for the hevra kadisha/sacred burial fellowship, in upholding the imperatives of honoring the dead. The second half of the course adopts a transdenominational approach to halakhah in tracing the imperatives of honoring the dead from the Bible and classical rabbinic sources through the contemporary literature of teshuvot/response, and considers the role of extra-halakhic facts in determining funeral norms and values. This course will count as 0.5 credit in Professional Skills, and 0.5 credit in Critical Issues: Halakhah. (2 credits)

PRO 350 Conversion
A study of conversion from historical, practical, halakhic, and political perspectives. We will address issues relating to preparing individuals for conversion, the process of conversion itself, and the halakhic and political implications of the conversion process. (2 credits)

PRO 365 Social Justice
This seven session course will examine the role of justice in Judaism, particularly in the globalized world in which we live. We will look at classic concepts such mipnei darkhei shalom and tikkun olam, modern philosophers on the role of justice in Judaism such as Salanter, Heschel and Levinas and perhaps most importantly explore how contemporary Jews can understand justice as a religious expression in the context of our personal theologies. (2 credits)

PRO 367 Jewish Environmentalism Today (Taught in conjunction with COEJL)
What’s happening Jewishly when it comes to the environment? Why is Judaism inherently a ‘green’ religion? From advocacy for environmental protection and energy independence, to sustainability practices and energy efficiency, to the Jewish food movement, this class will provide an overview of Jewish environmentalism today and the ongoing work in the Jewish community to be more energy aware and sustainable in its practices. This course will count as a professional skills or a general elective. (2 credits)

PRO 369 Expressions of American Judaism
This course will take a comprehensive look at the current state of Judaism in America, with attention paid to the history of denominational and non-denominational Jewish expressions. This course will fulfill the Contemporary Denominations and Contemporary History requirements or count as an elective. (2 credits)

PRO 371 Contemporary Denominations
Survey of the various streams of Jewish religious life in the US and the world. In each case there will be an examination of history, principal institutions and current hot issues. (2 credits)

PRO 373 Critical Issues
A study of pressing modern issues facing the Jewish community. (2 credits)

PRO 373 Marketplace Professional Skills  Sandra Kilstein and guest presenters
This class will bring in a series of speakers to discuss important areas of non-profit management and professional conduct that are relevant to the various settings of clergy practice that will also help students prepare for the job market. Topics to be discussed will include budget planning and presentation, strategic planning, community organization, PR and marketing, legal issues and much more. (2 credits)

PRO 373 Community Building What is a Kehillah Kedoshah?:
An exploration of the individual and the community, sacred encounters and the role of relationships. This course will be a journey to a better understanding of how to build sacred community. We will discuss ideas which have evolved through the generations “ on the on-going, timeless concept of Jewish community. What is it? What has it been? What might it be? And how can our leadership enable and empower people to make the ordinary into something sacred? We will explore ideas of identity and sacred encounters from many different teachers, leading to a new understanding of our own roles in the development of kehillot kedoshot. (This course can count as a professional skills elective, a general elective, or as a professional skills critical issues class.) (2 credits)

PRO 374 History of Anti-Semitism
The course will consist of an overview of antisemitism, from the ancient world to contemporary times, in the larger context of world history. Students will become familiar with both primary and secondary sources, as well as with other illustrative material (film, art, literature). The course, tailored to the needs of synagogue professionals, will cover the main phases or periods of antisemitism throughout history, and students will learn the differences between these manifestations as well the continuity between the periods. The course will cover the ancient world; early and Medieval Christianity (religious antisemitism); the modern period, including the forces of nationalism, racism, and socialism, in which anti-Judaism moved into “antisemitism”; and the contemporary world—Anti-Zionism, the radicalization of Islam, the “New Antisemitism.” We analyze in detail the special case of antisemitism in the United States. Important topics for the synagogue professional—the measurement of antisemitism, the psychology of antisemitism, and the counteraction of antisemitism—are covered. This class can count toward the Modern History requirement. (2 credits)

PRO 377 ISRAELITY: A 21st century Lens on Living Israel
This course has been designed as an effort to help each student develop a more nuanced approach in developing a personal understanding and a better grounding in his/her relationship with the State of Israel. By inviting a series of outside speakers representing many different organizations and approaches, we will try to gain perspective on a range of connections to Israel life, culture and politics, concentrating on issues less highlighted in popular media. As a class, we will try to process the broad scope of opinions, facts, and approaches. It is hoped that this process of hearing from many different viewpoints, and analyzing them together will lead each student, as an individual and as a member of the clergy, to a more concrete personal grounding in feelings and in facts. (2 credits)

PRO 380 Rabbi as Zionist Leader
This course explores the unique position of the rabbi in the community local and national in the discussion and debate surrounding Israel and Zionism. The course provides a brief review of the history of Zionism; analyzes basic and foundational texts; and identifies communal resources for the Israel ˜sphere, including Israel-advocacy organizations, ˜defense agencies, and Zionist groups. Amongst the issues explored: the peace process; debates over ˜Zionism and ˜post-Zionism (including the future of Zionism); ˜Who is a Jew? : religious pluralism, religion and state, the Orthodox hegemony in Israel, and the future of religious ˜centricism in Israel; constitutional and electoral reform; interfaith issues, including Evangelical support for Israel, and the stances of Protestant and Catholic communities; the future of ˜Zionism. The course will explore ethical and halakhic dilemmas in the context of the religious and communal responsibilities of the rabbi as communal leader. (2 credits)

PRO 400 Lo Tiqalel Heresh: The Communication Needs of Jews who are Deaf To sensitize students at AJR to the needs of those with differences, The Jewish Deaf Resource Center (JDRC), will teach a class on the communication needs of Jews who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. We will explore texts that sensitize us to people with various needs and use these texts to enrich our understanding of how you as clergy can include a wider diversity in your community. The course will include a brief overview of deaf history, deaf culture in the USA and Israel, how sign language can effectively be used in synagogue worship along with captioning and other communication devices. The instructors are JDRC’s president who is a civil rights attorney, and the executive director of JDRC who is a tri-lingual interpreter. This course fulfills the Ethics requirement, or can count as a Professional Skills or a general elective. No prerequisites for this course. (2 credits)

PRO 401 Congregational Dynamics
This course focuses upon challenging situations, problems and opportunities facing the Rabbi or Cantor in congregational life. We will analyze particular cases as well as look at leadership models, how to analyze and participate in formation of the budget, long-range planning for institutions, the conscious forming and maintaining of effective relationships with presidents, chairpeople, staff and committees, your role and understanding of group and community dynamics, and methods for institutional change.  (1 credit)

PRO 425 Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Getting Ideas Off the Ground
Not all clergy work in pulpits—and the nature of congregational work is changing, too. How can the tools of innovation and entrepreneurship help clergy respond to the changing spiritual landscape, launch new initiatives, or even start your own organization? Taught by a rabbi who was in the pulpit for seven years and then set out on his own in 2013, and with conversations with clergy who have launched exciting projects (some of which succeeded, and some of which failed), this course will give you the basic introduction of how you can have the highest likeliness of getting your ideas off the ground. This course fulfills part of the entrepreneurship requirement. (1 credit)

PRO 430 Technology for Clergy
This class will help students to become more familiar with the various tools now available in order to better serve the Jewish community. Among other issues to be covered, this course will include the internet as a vehicle for textual study and learning on the one hand, and the many uses of social networking tools to create and bring together Jewish communities in many new ways. (2 credits)

PRO 470 Chaplaincy
Welcome to the world of professional chaplaincy. This is an introduction to the role of the Rabbi/Cantor in the modern healthcare setting. This work-study mini-course delves into the inner emotions of a person experiencing spiritual distress because of unwellness along with your own inner emotions as you encounter this person. Includes 40 hours divided between group supervision and Chaplain-Intern visits in a medical institution. Medical clearance is required prior to course beginning. This may include: a note from your MD certifying your health for this work; blood titers for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella; and TB tests. Your local hospitals or nursing homes may be approved. Because sessions are limited and co-shaped by me and you, classes cannot be made up; consequently, 100% attendance and participation is required. Although this class is a ½-credit course, sessions are spread throughout the semester to allow sufficient time for clinical service. Required book: Why Me? Why Anyone? By Hirshel Jaffe, James Rudin, and Marcia Rudin. (1 credit)

PRO 480 Divorce
This course will focus on issues that arise during the often lengthy and painful process of divorce as it is experienced by the couple who are separating, as well as by various members of the immediate and extended family. Rabbis and cantors are often sought out for support, guidance, and assistance at different times during and after the divorce (for help with obtaining a get, for advice, for counseling/mediation, for wisdom and spiritual direction) and must deal with complicated and often emotional family conflicts in their congregations. Readings, class discussions, and case presentations will cover all these areas. Specific topics will include an understanding of legal issues (Jewish and secular law), social adjustments, psychological and emotional reactions (especially grief, loss and anger), changing family dynamics, the needs of children, and changes in identity that often occur. The role of clergy in helping people cope and heal and creating an atmosphere of safe neutrality will be explored in detail, including ways that the congregation and community can be encouraged to be helpful and compassionate to all family members. (2 credits)

PRO 490 Difficult Conversations
This course will enable students to identify those situations and topics that are difficult to deal with, and especially hard to have a conversation about. The “difficult conversations” will be suggested by students, and may include areas such as dealing with conflicts or different values, talking about sexuality, having to refuse a request, spending time with the parents of a dying child, confronting a very difficult/demanding congregant– any conversation that seems to always be put off. In brief readings and class discussions, students will develop greater self-awareness, understand habits of thought that lead to avoidance of these conversations, and learn skills and strategies to overcome obstacles and create greater comfort and better communication. Many classes will provide opportunities for supportive problem-solving and practice. (1 credit)

PRO 525 PR and Marketing for Clergy
The 21st Century has ushered in an exciting new era of communications; Two dimensional public relations campaigns or promotional outreach based solely on newspapers and magazines is a thing of the past. With the advent of the Internet, a brave new world has come into being. The proliferation of websites and blogs and the powerful tools of social media, chiefly Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, enables your ability to communicate important new ideas and effect social change in a newly democratic way. In this course, you will learn how to use old and new media alike to agitate, motivate and communicate for maximum effectiveness. You will also learn the ‘how-to’s’ of successful event planning – think Flashmobs for a cause. Bring your passions and your platforms and be prepared to be empowered by the Ten Commandments of 21st Century communication for clergy. (2 credits) PRO 560 Pastoral Counseling II Employing concepts developed in Part I (PRO 215), specific examples culled from the daily life of rabbis/cantors are utilized to highlight the psychological issues in life-cycle events, pastoral diagnosis and referral, pastoral care and counseling. Special topics, including confidentiality and sexual ethics will be discussed. Prerequisite: Counseling I (2 credits)

PRO 560 Counseling II
Counseling II builds on concepts developed in Counseling I (PRO 215) and will emphasize effective ways for clergy to assess and respond to difficult life transitions, complicated family situations, illness (both physical and psychological), personal and community crises, addictions, and conflicts that arise in everyday life. Students will also learn how to appropriately use community resources and make good referrals. Prerequisite: Counseling I (2 credits)

PRO 700 Fieldwork Support Seminar
This seminar group focuses upon issues that arise in the course of rabbinical and cantorial work. Participation is required of all students whose work is counting as a required internship experience. Tuition is charged but no academic credit is given for this seminar. (No credit)



RAB 100 Introduction to Mishnah
An introduction to the study of Mishnah. Selections will be chosen to illustrate the variety of literary styles and subject matter within the Mishnah. The course will also include a brief introduction to the scholarly issues regarding the development and redaction of the Mishnah. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

RAB 110 Introduction to Midrash
This course focuses on assisting students in developing the skills and confidence needed to read midrashic works in their original form. It examines the language and organic logic of midrash through a survey of selections from various aggadic and halakhic midrashim. (2 credits) RAB 150 Pirke Avot Ethics of the Fathers, an ancient, yet modern text as relevant today as it was nearly 1,800 years ago. The sage advice contained therein is as valuable a guide today as it was at the time it was written. These Mishnayot have been on the best seller list for millennia studied in depth by young and old, students and rabbis, intellectuals and the curious. Its wisdom regarding human nature and its pithy sayings memorized by countless generations are revered by Jews and learned non-Jews and still pondered between Pesach and Shavuot every year. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew must be at least at the level of Hebrew IA

RAB 111 Midrash II
In this second trimester of Midrash we will delve more deeply into a number of locations where the genre known as Midrash makes an impact: Halakhah, Talmud, and in well-known collections such as Midrash Tanhuma, Breishit Rabbah, and Pesikta D’Rav Kahana. We will explore Midrash in its original language, with an emphasis on the way the rabbinic authors treated the sacred Biblical text reverently even while turning it on its head. Prerequisite: one trimester of Midrash. (2 credits)

RAB 230 Introduction to Talmud
A study of the necessary skills in language, logic and text required to read a Talmudic text with the help of only a dictionary. Covers basic Aramaic terms as well as Talmudic œorganic logic.  Students expected to prepare texts each week without the use of an English translation. Prerequisite: 1 course point Mishnah and familiarity with basic halakhic terminology. The Havruta session is required of all students. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Completion of Hebrew IA

RAB 231 Introduction to Talmud Continuation of RAB 230.
The Havruta session is required of all students. Prerequisite: 2 credits in Talmud. (2 credits)

RAB 310 Advanced Midrash Events of Revelation Through Talmud and Midrash
In Exodus chapters 19-40, from the portion of Yitro through Pekudei, occur the consequential events of Revelation: arrival at Mount Sinai, preparation of the people, Moses s ascents and descents, Divine phenomena, the Ten Commandments, role of priests and elders, tablets of stone, detailed ordinances, Moses s writing of the Torah, offering of sacrifices, mandate of the Tabernacle, idolatry of the Golden Calf, Divine punishment and reconciliation. These events will be examined through the prism of Talmud, Midrash and Commentary, for both their aggadic significance and their Rabbinic chronology. One of the goals of this text study will be the creation of a calendar of Revelation events from Rosh Hodesh Sivan through the following Rosh Hodesh Nisan. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Completion of Hebrew IA

RAB 310 Shema in Talmud and Midrash
This text course will focus on aggadic and halachic implications of the portions that constitute the twice-daily recitation of Shema: Deuteronomy 5:4-9; 11:13-21; and Numbers 15:37-41. Students will read and translate the classic expositions found in Talmud, Midrash and Parshanut, in order to become acquainted with their ideas and themes and to continue the development of skills in comprehending rabbinic literature. Ideas and practices to be encountered include oneness of God, love of God, kavannah, good and evil inclinations, tefillin and mezuzah, providence, reward and punishment, repentance, martyrdom, exile and redemption, and tzitzit. This course will count as a Midrash course, or as a Rabbinics or general elective. Prerequisite: Intro to Mishnah. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Completion of Hebrew IA

RAB 330 Intermediate Talmud
This course will continue the study of the Talmud, its structure, and concepts. Tractate to be announced. Havruta session is required of all students. Prerequisite: 2 credits in Talmud (2 credits) RAB 331 Intermediate Talmud Continuation of RAB 330, taught in the fall. The Havruta session is required of all students. Prerequisite: 3 credits in Talmud (2 credits)

RAB 350 Three Paths into the World of Halakhic Literature
The world of halakhic literature was created over a span of centuries in diverse geographic and social contexts, but there have been a number of individuals whose work was a turning point in this genre of Jewish literature. This class will examine the lives and work of three individuals: the Rambam (Moses Maimonides), Yosef Karo, and Moses Isserles, three rabbinic scholars whose work forever changed the world of halakhic literature. We will examine from multiple perspectives not only their literary output, but also who they were as individuals and their lasting influence. This course can fulfill the Critical Issues Halakha requirement, or be counted as a Rabbinics or general elective.
(2 credits)

Prerequisites: Hebrew IA and IB

RAB 360 Women’s Tefillah
This course will focus on issues around women s participation in Jewish worship (e.g., counting in minyan, hiyuv, tefillin). The literature studied will be drawn from the traditional rabbinic corpus, as well as modern responsa. Text work will constitute the bulk of the student s responsibilities, with the expectation that each will work at his/her level. Discussion of the texts relevance and application to students concerns will be integrated into the text work. Pre-requisites include Mishnah and at least one semester of Talmud; two years of Hebrew language. (This course will count as a Rabbinics text class, or as a rabbinic critical issues class.) (2 credits)

RAB 372 The Image of G-d: A Survey of Rabbinic Theology
As a religion, Judaism is often action-oriented and externally focused, as opposed to being concerned with specific doctrines or beliefs. The uncodified nature of rabbinic faith has often led to claims that ancient Judaism had no set beliefs, but is this the case? While there is no tractate of the Talmud designated with that task, scattered within rabbinic literature are clear examples of Rabbis operating within a theological world. In this course, we will explore what major ideas informed their beliefs and world-views, how the Rabbis understood the deity and their relationship to it, and what kind of role they, and the Jewish people as a whole, played in it. There will be a range of answers found for each question. We will look at a survey of rabbinic texts found in the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash, and will try to craft an answer to the challenge: What was it that the Rabbis believed, and how do we fit within that story? This course is open to all levels. (2 credits)

RAB 430 Intermediate/Advanced Talmud Rabbi Michael Pitkowsky
This course will continue the study of the Talmud, its structure, and concepts. Tractate to be announced. Havruta session is required of all students. Prerequisite: 2 credits in Talmud (2 credits)

RAB 450 Aramaic Grammar of the Babylonian Talmud
Introduction to the grammar of the Aramaic language of the Babylonian Talmud, in both halakhic and aggadic passages, in order to expedite comprehension and vocalization. Parts of speech, their stems and inflections as applicable, and sentence structure will be examined deductively. Along with each unit thereof, students will prepare written translations and oral vocalizations of assigned examples. (2 credits)

RAB 510 Advanced Midrash
An in-depth, high level study of Midrash with close attention paid to textual issues, and major themes raised by the text. (2 credits) RAB 515 Moses in Talmud and Midrash Reading and analysis of aggadot in which the Rabbis reflect upon the interplay of Divine plan and human response of the man Moses, as child, prince, hero, shepherd, husband, father, grother, son-in-law, liberator, legislator, judge, and mortal. Students w ill share their prepared translations and interpretations from the Hebrew texts during the class and the Instructor will provide supplementary guidance in the midrashic methods employed. (2 credits)

Prerequisites: Hebrew IA and IB

RAB 530 Advanced Talmud
This course will help students to gain a critical understanding of the structure of the Talmudic text. Through a close-reading of the text along with the use of numerous commentaries, students will learn how to greater appreciate the different voices and complexity of both the text and its religious message. Havruta session is required of all students. Prerequisite: 8 credits in Talmud (2 credits)

RAB 545 Advanced Talmud Topics in the Eighth Chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin
Our study will focus on selections from this chapter, involving consideration of such basic concepts as: Interpretation and Application of Torah Law; the relation between Halakhah and Aggadah; the religious status of the non-Jew; the conflict between preservation of life and Torah observance (Yehareg ve’al ya’avor). The text will be the ˜Vilna Talmud edition, with additional commentaries and source materials. Prerequisite: 4 credits in Talmud. (2 credits)

RAB 650 Midrash Ruth
An in-depth, high level study of Midrash Ruth with close attention paid to textual issues, and major themes raised by the text. Permission of the Dean is required for all students who wish to take this class. (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Hebrew IA


SPI 120 Introduction to Jewish Meditation and Healing
Experientially explores forms of classic and contemporary Jewish meditation and prayer; focuses upon personal growth and working with the ill and dying. Readings will include selections from rabbinic and mystical literature as well as contemporary writings from the overlapping fields of psychology and spirituality. Students must commit to regular meditation practice, submit a weekly written reflection, and present an oral report on a supplemental book. (2 credits)

SPI 240/241 Jewish Contemplative Practice: A Practicum
These classes will explore a variety of ways that Jews have connected with their inner lives. We will cover kabbalistic meditative strategies as well as modern Jewish meditation, and will also spend some time on chanting, reflection on one’s moral life (musar), and other methods of contemplation. Each class will include both study and practice. Students may take either or both of these minimester courses. (1 credit) SPI 320 Leading Guided Meditation: A Practicum In this course, we will learn a variety of approaches to guided meditation in a Jewish context. We will study and practice the approaches of the Baal Shem Tov, modern kabbalists Colette Aboulker-Moscat and Aryeh Kaplan, as well as contemporary meditation leaders such as David Cooper, Tamar Frankiel, Eve Ilsen, Mark Sameth, and Mindy Ribner. We will focus on methodology and best practices as well as content. Each student will develop his or her own guided meditations and practice leading them in class. (2 credits)

SPI 335 High Holy Days: Texts and Themes
What is the spiritual and emotional work demanded of us on the High Holy Days? How can we use the many different stories and texts of the holiday to guide us in this work? What might the various spiritual uses of the Akedah, the story of Hannah, the Avodah service, be? Work on these and other questions in this mini-mester course focusing on spiritual growth and self-examination through engagement with sacred story. (2 credits)

SPI 355 Mindfulness in the Bible and the Far East
This course introduces students to a comparative study of biblical religion and Zen Buddhism, revolving around the themes of mindfulness and the human condition. We will particularly focus on a distinct quality of awareness that each of the foundational texts is designed to cultivate in its readers. Although historically unrelated, this course will show the two religious traditions share features and concerns that prove fruitful for a trans-cultural dialogue. The questions we will explore include: According to each tradition, what are some of the essential cognitive qualities that constitute an optimal mode of being human? How does each tradition understand some of the major pitfalls in achieving such quality of consciousness? What relevance, if any, does this inquiry have to our general life in modern societies? No prior knowledge of biblical studies, Judaism, Hebrew, or Buddhism is required. This course fulfills the Spirituality requirement, or can count as a Bible elective. (2 credits)

SPI 362 Life After Death in Jewish Tradition
In Genesis, there’s She’ol. In the Talmud, there’s resurrection, or the heavenly yeshiva. In kabbalistic times, reincarnation is in. And in modern times, no one agrees. In this course, we’ll learn about traditions of the afterlife that Jews have accepted in different eras, and we’ll begin to understand how and why Jews have shifted their beliefs across time. This class will prepare participants to understand Jewish traditions concerning death and the afterlife and clarify their own approaches. This course fulfills the Spirituality elective course requirement. (2 credits)

SPI 365 Jewish Dreamwork
Jewish tradition regards dreams as one way God communicates with us. Like the meaning of Torah, the meaning of dreams is complex and changing. In this course, we will cover Jewish rituals around sleep and dreaming (such as nighttime prayers and dream courts), ancient advice from the Talmud on dream interpretation, Torah texts on sacred dreaming, and kabbalistic dream stories. We’ll learn about dream interpreters throughout Jewish history, and about modern approaches to Jewish dreaming. We will also convene dream circles in which we interpret one another’s dreams. (2 credits)

SPI 370 The Architecture of Jewish Ritual: Decoding Ceremonial Action in Jewish Life
In this class, we will study traditional and contemporary Jewish lifecycle and holiday rituals such as the waving of the lulav on Sukkot, brit milah, weddings, and funerals, the American bar/bat mitzvah and simkhat bat, aging, healing, and coming out rituals, and other new ceremonies. We will ask questions such as: what are the components of ritual? How does ritual transmit meaning? What elements are common to all ritual? To what extent is the strength of a ritual dependent on its age? What is the role of new rituals? How can we design new rituals to have power and impact? (2 credits)

SPI 400 The New Shall be Holy: Understanding and Creating Contemporary Midrash
In this class, we will explore a variety of contemporary midrashim in English and Hebrew on subjects ranging from Lilith to the binding of Isaac, and examine their rabbinic roots in text and technique. As a final project, students will create modern midrash using aspects of rabbinic method as well as their own imaginations. (2 credits) “Havruta” refers to supervised group study sessions involving cooperative learning techniques monitored by the supervisor and written work approved by the supervisor. A Havruta session is offered on each of the days upon which classes meet. Each 2 hour group-study session receives 1 credit for M.A. students only. Students taking sacred text courses will be eligible to attend one Havruta session each week for each sacred text course, with a total, therefore, of no more than three Havruta sessions per week. Since Havruta is considered part and parcel of Talmud courses themselves, and the written work produced in Havruta is for the sake of the Talmud course itself, students taking Talmud cannot take Havruta for credit.