Judaism 101

Judaism 101 (Introduction)OpenDay_2010_Ash_0767

Dates:  TBA:  2016

Tutor: Rabbi Rachel Montagu MA


Course Fee: TBA

Text for Study:  Eliezer Segal, Introducing Judaism 


The purpose of this course will be to explore some of the key questions, topics and methods that are characteristic of Jewish studies as an academic and scholarly rubric in the university world today.  Is there any unity across time and space to the referent of the adjective “Jewish?”  Is Jewish identity at its core “religious,” or can it be better characterized in other ways?  What are the varying weights of Jewish textuality and corporeality, and how are these related to each other?  What is the relation between Jewish modes of study and the study of Jews and Judaism?  How do scholars from disciplines as diverse as cultural studies, history, literature, and anthropology respond to questions like these?
In addition to its inherent or “stand-alone” value, this course is intended as a gateway to the Jewish studies minor.
The course includes two major parts.

The first segment of the course is an introduction to Jewish text, religion and daily life.  We begin with an overview of Biblical Israel, up to and including the Rabbinic period.  We will briefly consider the Hebrew Bible as a dynamic (rather than fixed or “revealed”) text, one which was shaped in Israelite history until it was canonized, and one which continues to be reshaped in each generation as it is interpretively appropriated.  We will emphasize the modes of discourse that constitute classical Rabbinic culture, and consider the extent to which these modes continue to characterize Jewish culture through the early modern period and beyond.  We will consider how these formative periods shaped patterns of Jewish learning, worship and daily practice that continue today, and the ways that they have been transformed and even abandoned.

The second major part of the course will attend to the state of play in various subfields of Jewish studies and Judaism today.  As part of this component, core faculty from other institutions may also be invited to present guest lectures, with the dual purpose of familiarizing students with the resources of Jewish studies, and exemplifying the discourse of various specialties within the field.  Throughout the course, we will be emphasizing how Jewish identity, history and culture are distinctive in themselves, change through time and space and exhibit the same fundamental patterns and stresses as any other human group.  

Laptops, Phones, etc.
        Laptop computers may be used only for note-taking or as otherwise directed by the instructor.
        Cell phones and other handheld communications devices should be turned off as a matter of courtesy to your fellow students.

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Page updated 29 November, 2015