Spring 2015 Rabbinical School Courses

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Genres and Themes of Biblical Literature II CG-BIBLE 502B
Level: Mekorot | T, 11 am-1pm | 3 graduate credits  Adelman
3 graduate credits Syllabus

The second part of a two-semester sequence, this course entails an introduction to the full complement of Biblical poetry, in its literary and historical context, and to modes of poetic interpretation and analysis. The course will cover selections from the Torah, Psalms, Proverbs, and the Book of Job, as well as selections from the Prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. We will discuss poetry imbedded within narrative, genres of Prophetic writings, apocalyptic revelations, and wisdom literature. Prerequisite: Hebrew V

Torah Core 1: Bereshit 2  RB BIBLE 101
Level: Year 1 | W, F; 11:30-1 pm
4 graduate credits

The Jacob Saga and Joseph and His Brothers:  Colorful coats, dreams and near fratricide, famine, exile, and reconciliation mark the dramatic narrative of Joseph and His Brothers in the last third of Bereshit. This course will engage in a careful reading of the biblical text, drawing on midrash as well as modern literary responses, from Israeli poetry to Thomas Mann's great novel. In addition to honing our text skills, we will consider various themes such as the problem of continuity/discontinuity (toledot), dreams and their interpretation, models of recognition and teshuvah, and family secrets and shame. 

The Psalms in Bible and Spiritual Life  RB BIBLE 150
Level: Year 1 | M, 11:30-1 pm; Feb. 2- March 23  Polen
1 graduate credits  Syllabus

There are three foci for this course: the Psalms in Scripture, in Liturgy, and as guides to inner work. The first focus will place the Psalms in biblical perspective, examining their relationship to Torah, Prophets, and other sacred Writings. We will also examine the central role of Psalms in liturgy and communal prayer life. Finally, we will have the opportunity to work with Psalms in own lives as vehicles of spiritual growth.

Hamesh Megillot RB BIBLE 250
Level: Years 2 & 3 | Th, 11:30 am-1 pm
2 graduate credits Syllabus

In this course students will engage a deep reading of three of the Five Megillot: Esther, Song of Songs, and the Book of Ruth. We will consider the historical context and genre of their composition, as well as their significance with respect to the liturgical year (Purim, Passover, and Shavuot). Special attention will be given to the dramatic presentation and character development, along with accompanying classical parshanut, midrash, literary commentary, and modern creative responses to these texts.

Shemot II: The Book of Exodus in Hasidic Imagination   RB BIBLE 413
Level: Year 2 | T, Th; 11:30 am-1 pm
4 graduate credits Syllabus

The course will examine three major themes of Sefer Shemot—the exodus from Egypt, the Sinai Revelation, and the Mishkan—as they are seen in key writings of the Hasidic movement. Because the Hasidic teachings are late works based on multiple levels of earlier tradition, sources from the Talmud, the Zohar, and the medieval commentators will also be consulted. The course will serve three functions: 1) an understanding of the ways in which later mystical thinkers engage in the ongoing spiritualization of the tradition; 2) providing models for contemporary personal and spiritual readings of the Torah narrative; 3) developing textual skills for reading Hasidic and other late Rabbinic Hebrew texts.

The Prophets in Bible, Theology and Jewish Life RB BIBLE 416
Level: Year 3 | T, Th; 11:30 am-1 pm
4 graduate credits

This course will introduce the major literary prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve. We will examine the place of the prophets in biblical history, their theological and political roles, and their enduring literary and moral stature. Major themes include the centrality of ethics and concern for the poor; attitudes toward Temple, ritual, and Torah; covenant, restoration, and the future of Israel. Attention to the beauty and power of the Hebrew text will be a central focus.

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Basic Nusach CG CANTR 517
F, 9-11:15 am
3 credits Syllabus

This class is an introduction to the modes and motifs for synagogue prayer during weekday and Sabbath worship. Emphasis will be on basic proficiency in traditional prayer leading, rudimentary musical skills and an introduction to the liturgical structure of weekday and Shabbat services. Students in the Cantorial Ordination programs cannot take this course for credit.

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Clergy as an Educator RB EDUC 921 
Level: Year 2 | F, 10:15 am-12:15 pm
3 graduate credits

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to key educational areas that rabbis or cantors may likely encounter in their work, including teaching, interactive sermons, adult education, informal education, havurot, family education, and dealing with a Religious School. This semester will have a practical emphasis. One of the goals of this course is to provide the student with educational concepts, tools, techniques and resources which he/she can use in the student’s future work in the rabbinate or cantorate.  

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All classes require the purchase of a standard Hebrew-English dictionary.
Hebrew VI CG HEBRW 206
Level: Mekorot | M, Tu, Th; 2:30-4 pm | 4 graduate credits Roth

In the Academic Modern Hebrew VI course, students will continue to develop in each Modern Language skill area: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Intermediate to advanced level content will be covered:  G’zarot in the verb system; advanced vocabulary and idiomatic expressions within Hebrew text, which will be taught with a lens into the classical texts; next step syntax templates and vocabulary, will be implemented as well. Genres are diverse (academic scientific articles, lit reviews, editorials, poetry, songs) representing the multi historical layers of our Hebrew language. Spoken Modern Hebrew is used in all meetings.

Hebrew VIII CG HEBRW 208
Level: Year 1 | Th; 2:30-4 pm
2 graduate credits

With a primary goal of building their skills in accurately reading and analyzing unvocalized Hebrew texts written in the style of Rabbinic Hebrew, students will read short stories of S.Y. Agnon with a close focus on language. A portion of classroom discussion will be conducted in Hebrew, and students will have the opportunity to write short essays in Hebrew.

Aramaic  RB HEBRW 211
Level: Year 1 | M, 2:30-4 pm
2 graduate credits

Students will learn the basic features of Aramaic grammar, focusing on the dialect of Aramaic used in the Babylonian Talmud. A solid knowledge of Hebrew grammar will be expected, so that students can take advantage of systematic correspondences between Hebrew and Aramaic grammar. Some experience reading Talmudic texts will also be presumed. The texts that are read consist primarily of aggadic materials from the Babylonian Talmud. At the end of the course, other texts with liturgical and halakhic significance will be read as well.

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Second Temple and Early Rabbinic Judaism   CG HIST 151
Level: Year 1 | T, 2:30-4 pm | 2 graduate credits  Klawans

This course is a survey of the diversity and development of Judaism in the ancient world, covering some of the events and phenomena that shaped ancient Judaism: the impact of Hellenism, the Maccabean revolt and the Roman conquest. Some course time is devoted to the first century of the Common Era-the important period that saw both the birth of Christianity and the destruction of the ancient Jewish state, which in turn gave way to the beginnings of rabbinic civilization.

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Jewish Life and Practice II   CG INTD 016
Level: Mekorot | F, 11:30 am-1 pm
A. Lehmann
2 graduate credits

Students will be introduced to the patterns and essential terminology of the cycle of Jewish religious life and other basic Jewish practices.

Havurot CG INTD 175
Level: All | W, 2:15-3:15 pm | Non-credit only  Staff

This course is required for all rabbinical students; optional for cantorial ordination students.

Israel Seminar, Part II RB INTD 511
Level: Years 3 & 4 | Taught in Israel | 3 graduate credits  Bromberg

This course is a series of conversations, including guest speakers, around key themes in Israeli life, both historical and contemporary. Culture, political and religious issues will all be considered.

Beit Midrash Staff
Level: Mekorot | M, W, 9-11:15 am; Tu, 9-11 am; Th, 9:30-11 am  RB INTD 051
Level: Year 1 | M, Tu, W, F, 9-11:15 am; Th, 9:30-11:15 am  RB INTD 101
Level: Year 2 | M, 9-11:15 am, 2:30- 4 pm; Tu, 9-11:15 am; Th, 9:30-11:15 am; F, 9-10:15 am  RB INTD 201
Level: Year 3 | M, 9-11:15 am, 2:30-4 pm; Tu, Th, 9-11:15 am  RB INTD 301
Level: Year 4 | M, 9-11:15 am, 2:30-4 pm; Tu, 9-11:15 am; Th, 9:30-11:15 am  RB INTD 401
Level: Year 5 | Tu, W, 9-11:15 am; Th, 9:30-11:15 am  RB INTD 501

Regular Bet Midrash participation is a required part of the Rabbinical School program. Complementing formal classroom study, students will be paired in “hevrutot” for intensive study of Jewish texts. This takes place during daily Bet Midrash hours within a supervised study-hall setting, where tutors are available to help students work with the original sources and to discuss ideas and issues that emerge from the text study. 

Topics in Jewish, Christian and Muslim Relations CG INTD 644W
Jan. 5-9, 2015; M-Th, 9 am-4 pm; F, 9 am-2 pm Rose, Pearce, Ibrahim-Lizzio
3 graduate credits Syllabus
This week-long co-taught intensive seminar is a microcosm of the approach to interreligious work at Andover Newton and Hebrew College. Given the religious diversity in our communities and sometimes even in our congregations, today’s pastors, educators, activists, and public theologians need to be knowledgeable about their neighbors from other faiths. In addition, they need the practical skills and motivation to reach across religious lines to increase understanding and cooperation. Both cognitive knowledge about various faith traditions and their diverse expressions (particularly in the Boston area) as well as skills related to relationship-building, community organizing and navigating charged or challenging conversations will be emphasized. Students will have an opportunity to meet with religious leaders, educators and activists from the Boston area who are working across religious lines on issues of common concern. Having three co-teachers (one Jewish, one Christian and one Muslim) who work together co-directing CIRCLE, the course design models a commitment to interreligious relationship-building emphasized in the course content. This course is located in the emerging field of “interreligious studies.” Prerequisite: one previous interfaith course or permission of the instructor
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Modern Jewish Thought in Historical Context RB JTHT 538
Level: Years 3 & 4 | Th, 2:30-4 pm D. Lehmann
2 graduate credits Syllabus

This course will explore the writings of major Jewish thinkers living in the modern era and place them in the context of their historical setting. The class will focus on the various ways these thinkers – from Spinoza to Buber – understood the dynamic relationship between inherited tradition and modern conceptions of religious life. 

Contemporary Jewish Thought in Historical Context RB JTHT 518
Level: Year 5 | Tu, 11:30 am-1 pm
2 graduate credits Syllabus

This course has two components. First, we will explore American Jewish history focusing on themes of particular importance to rabbinical students like the emergence of denominations and the evolution of the American synagogue. The course is also a survey of the seminal Jewish thinkers who wrote in an American context such as Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Joseph Soloveitchik, Judith Plaskow and others. We will ultimately be aiming to place our own historical moment and our own theologies within broader historical/theological frameworks. 

Hasidic Texts on Leadership and Blessing RB JTHT 606
Level: Year 5 | W, 11:30-1 pm
2 graduate credits Syllabus

This course will examine hasidic teachings on leadership and transformation. We will study models of personal growth, master-disciple relationships, charismatic figures, peer-to-peer influence, and blessing. We will examine the claim that hasidic leaders aim to reconfigure their knowledge at ever-deeper levels of mastery and ever-wider horizons of comprehension, and we will discuss the relevance of hasidic teachings for our contemporary lives. Throughout the course a central focus will be careful reading and analysis of the original texts.

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Introduction to Reading Biblical Literature II  RB LITER 501
Level: Mekorot | Th, 11:30am- 1 pm
2 graduate credits Syllabus

A continuation of study begun in the fall, this course focuses on developing students’ skills in reading Hebrew texts from the Tanakh, with a primary focus on narrative material. Students will read selections in classical medieval rabbinic biblical commentary, with the goal of the familiarizing students with the writing style of these commentators and developing the students’ skills in independently reading such material with accuracy and comprehension, The focus will initially be on the commentaries of Rashi (in so-called “Rashi script”), and then Ibn Ezra and Nachmanides.

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Lifecycle Seminar for Rabbis RB PRAC 220
Level: Year 2 | Th, 2:30-4 pm
2 graduate credits Syllabus

In this course we will explore the basic sources and development of some of the major Jewish lifecycle rituals: brit milah, bar/bat mitzvah, weddings and conversions. We will also look at the various ways contemporary clergy perform these lifecycle rituals, as well as the counseling surrounding each lifecycle.

Seminar in Rabbinic Leadership RB PRAC 510
Level: Year 5 | Th, 11:30 am-1 pm
2 graduate credits Syllabus

The goal of this course is to expand and concretize students’ understanding of how rabbis can become effective and even visionary leaders. It is intended to help participants think about and develop their leadership capacities.

As you approach the transition from rabbinical student to rabbi, the question of what it means to lead as a rabbi is likely to loom large. This course provides a setting in which some of the key issues rabbis face as they attempt to lead will be explored by (a) considering theories about leading, (b) reflecting on your own experiences in different leadership capacities; and (c) experimenting with new approaches to aspects of leading. Since the way people think about and frame a situation in large measure determines what they actually do, the course will challenge you to look at your own assumptions about what it means to lead, analyze different possibilities, and expand your understanding of your own potential impact.

Specific areas that will be explored include: developing a personal vision for Jewish life that informs your rabbinate; understanding how formal and informal authority is used; recognizing technical and adaptive challenges and the role of the leader in addressing them; defining boundaries and managing expectations (yours and theirs); managing the dangers of leading; empowering others while maintaining your own position; recognizing how religious, cultural and educational organizations change and the importance of forging coalitions, partnerships and supporters; and using the organization’s culture to move a vision forward. Some course sessions will focus on concerns that students have about leading, as well.

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Hilkhot Yom Tov Level A RB RAB 216A
Level: Years 2, 3 & 4 | Tu, 2:30-4 pm | 2 graduate credits  Kanarek

This course will focus on the laws of the Pesach seder. As we study the different simanim of the seder, we will ask questions such as: Why did the rabbis legislate these particular ritual activities? How is each of these ritual activities connected with the Pesach narrative? What do the choices we make about how or whether to perform these different rituals say about the Pesach narrative that we each want to tell? What are some of the different ways in which these rituals have changed from rabbinic times to the present?

 Hilkhot Yom Tov Level B RB RAB 216B
Level: Years 2, 3 & 4 | Tu, 2:30-4 pm | 2 graduate credits  Leader

This course intends to cover the main textual sources and issues that are the basis of the contemporary halakhic discussion about the practices of Yom HaAtzmau’t. Its goals are both to help students develop their own thinking on this topic and develop their understanding of the halakhic process and their capacity to engage in it.

The course involves analysis of halakhic material, much of which is not available in translation, and is thus appropriate for students with advanced text skills.

Introduction to Talmud CG RAB 520
Level: Mekorot | M, W; 11:30-1 pm
4 graduate credits

Students in this course will learn the skills of analyzing a variety of Talmudic texts, aggadic and halakhic. How are Talmudic sugyot (thematic units of a Talmudic tractate) constructed? What are the recurring technical terms of a Talmudic “discussion”? What are the conceptual assumptions of Talmudic discourse? What are the social and cultural contexts of the sugyot? Students will learn basic Talmudic terminology, including a glossary of Hebrew and Aramaic terms and concepts, and how to use dictionaries, concordances and other reference tools to decipher and understand a Talmudic sugya. This course also includes selections from the commentaries of Rashi and the Tosaphot with an examination of their interpretive concerns and methods. Students will be required to record selections from the Talmudic texts in order to improve skills in reading Rabbinic Hebrew. Some previous exposure to rabbinic literature is desirable. 

Jewish Living Core 1: Berakhot 2 RB RAB 101
Level: Year 1 | Tu, Th; 11:30 am-1 pm
4 graduate credits Syllabus

A continuation of the fall semester, we will complete the fourth chapter of tractate Berakhot, then continue on to a study of sugyot relating to the sacrificial service, Shema, and the Amidah, as a means of thinking about various approaches to and purposes of “prayer.” The focus continues to be both on building skills that are necessary for reading, understanding, appreciating, analyzing and participating in Talmudic discourse and on developing more sophisticated and nuanced thinking about prayer.

Jewish Living Core 2: Mo’ed Talmud A RB RAB 201A
Level: Year 2 | M, W; 11:30 am-1 pm
4 graduate credits Syllabus

This course centers on intensive study of selected sugyot from the third chapter of Sukkah. Concentrating on sugyot about Shabbat, we will see the variety of ways in which the ancient rabbis constructed this day. As we look at debates about kiddush and havdalah, we will see both how the ancient Shabbat resembles our own and how it differs. We will also examine questions about authority. Who decides these practices and how do these decisions emerge? As we consider these issues, we will solidify and expand upon textual skills built during the first semester of study and continue to see the ways in which form and content join in creating meaning.

Jewish Living Core 2: Mo’ed Talmud B RB RAB 201B
Level: Year 2 | M, W; 11:30 am-1 pm | 4 graduate credits Leader

In this course we will study selected sugyot from the eighth chapter of Masechet Yoma. We will focus on the discussions around Shabbat and Yom Kippur. This course will also introduce the academic study of Talmudic aggadah. The course will focus mainly on analysis of the Talmudic discourse and sugya, and is thus appropriate for students who have already acquired a certain mastery in translating Talmudic texts.

Jewish Living Core 2: Mo’ed Talmud C RB RAB 201C
Level: Year 2 | M, 11:30 am-1 pm; W, 9-11:15 am | 4 graduate credits Leader

This course will focus on selected sugyot from Masechet Ta’anit in The Bavli. We will focus on issues of Jewish calendar, Nature and Theology, communal responsibility and mourning. We will study classic rabbinic texts and later responses to this text—both traditional and contemporary academic. This course is appropriate for students with advanced rabbinic text skills.

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