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Summer 2014 On-Site Seminar

Summer 2014 On-Site Seminar

Summer 2014 On-Site Seminar 
Sunday, July 20, 2014 to Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Summer 2014 On-Site Seminar for students in the
Spertus Jewish Studies master's and doctoral programs
will offer core, concentration, and elective courses in
Jewish history and thought.

Registration deadline is June 20, 2014.

Download Your Summer Seminar 
Registration Form Here>

Morning Courses 
(Sunday 2-4 pm and Monday-Thursday 9 am-1pm)

Introduction to Jewish Studies
Dr. Peter Haas
Meets MAJS and DSJS Core Course Requirement 

Jewish Studies as an academic discipline is in some ways a relatively new endeavor. As an interdisciplinary field, it draws from a broad range of scholarly methodologies, covers a dizzying array of topics, and utilizes many genres of source materials. As such, Jewish Studies is an amalgam that tells us quite a bit about Jews and Judaism (both past and present) as well as the current state of the Academy. At the same time, Jewish Studies writ large is a much older discipline — in the guise of Biblical study, exegesis, historical writing, and debate, for example. In this course, we’ll examine the general lines of development of Jewish Studies in the Academy, with special emphasis on recent developments. We consider each of the major chronological periods through a close look at recent scholarship to understand central themes and current trends in Jewish Studies today.

Jews and Alexander, Jews in Alexandria:  
Texts and Images from Ptolemy to Philo
Dr. Leonard Greenspoon

MAJS Core Level 2 and Elective
MSJS Concentration or Elective
DSJS Text or Elective 

In this course our major goal is to trace, document, and characterize the life of Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, from the early third century BCE to the middle of the second century CE. The large, often vibrant Jewish community of this metropolis can be viewed from many ancient, primary sources, including Josephus, Philo, and the Septuagint. Valuable information can also be detected in papyri and in Roman writings. Among the issues we will encounter concerning Alexandrian Jews are the languages they spoke, their political status, and the extent of their religious diversity. We will also consider whether this period should be viewed as a veritable golden age — or as a massive failure — and the lessons and legacy of Alexandria's Jews for the Jews of the United States.

Women in Genesis Rabbah
Dr. Gary Porton

MAJS Elective/Concentration
MSJS Concentration or Elective
DSJS Text or Elective
DJS Text 

The course will focus on the passages in Genesis Rabbah which deal with the Matriarchs, at least with Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel. We will not be interested in the midrashic process; rather, we will be concerned with what the sages in Genesis Rabbah say about Matriarchs as a way to unpack their views of women and women’s issues. While there is a lot of scholarship on the rabbinic discussion of women in the legal materials (Mishnah, Tosefta, and Talmuds), there is relatively little discussion of what the rabbis said about women in the non-legal collections, a lacuna we hope to fill. Just as many modern rabbis read their own agendas and views into the Torah’s text, the rabbis of late antiquity did the same thing. By focusing on Genesis Rabbah we will encounter a variety of views concerning women and women’s issues in a text edited in Ancient Palestine probably in the fifth century of the Common Era. Taking what we discover in this document as one collection’s discussion of “women and women’s issues,” we should be able to evaluate the validity of many scholarly discussions about these issues in Judaism in Late Antiquity. While I encourage reading Genesis Rabbah in its original Hebrew/Aramaic, I have translated into English all of the materials we will cover in class. 

Afternoon Courses
(Sunday 4:30-6:30 pm and Monday-Thursday 2-6 pm)

Repentance (Teshuvah) in Classical Jewish Sources: Approaching the High Holidays
Dr. Byron Sherwin

DJS Text
DSJS Text or Elective 

The focal point of the High Holidays, Teshuvah is a daily feature of Jewish spiritual existence. A conceptual, historical, and textual examination of sin and repentance, this course will explore views of sin and repentance as they are articulated in various genres of classical (mostly medieval) Jewish sources. After an overview lecture/discussion, intensive text study will commence. The goal here is not to study all texts on the subject, but to study particular texts that represent various diverse genres of classical Jewish religious literature, and to explore a broad range of issues on the subjects of sin and repentance.

The Book of Joshua
Dr. Rachel Havrelock

MAJS Elective/Concentration
MSJS Concentration or Elective
DSJS Text or Elective 

The book of Joshua is perhaps the most controversial text in the Jewish tradition. In this course, we will study the book and contemporary theories of its content and authorship and survey the ways in which Jews have interpreted the book over history.

Eyewitness Testimonies: The Destruction of the Jews of Hungary
Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz

MAJS Concentration or Elective
MSJS Concentration or Elective
DSJS Elective

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Hungary and, with the willing assistance of its Hungarian collaborators, the annihilation of Hungary's Jewish community largely in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Every third victim who perished there was a Hungarian Jew, among them the mother and youngest sister of Elie Wiesel. This course will illuminate Hungarian Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust through the use of eyewitness survivor testimony by local Hungarian Jewish survivors who will share their stories. Students will have the unique opportunity to meet and interact with these remarkable individuals. The course will also examine questions surrounding the historical validity of eyewitness testimony as well as oral history approaches and techniques. It will contextualize the testimony of survivors though an overview of the history of the Jews of Hungary, by addressing key historiographical questions concerning the Holocaust in Hungary, and by examining the current state of the Hungarian Jewish community. 

Contemporary Jewish Experiences
Dr. Ellen LeVee

MSJS Concentration or Elective
DSJS Elective 

With a primary focus on the United States, this course will introduce students to the religious, social, political, and cultural life of Jews since the creation of the State of Israel. The course will explore the evolving nature of the North American synagogue movements, the changing landscape of Israel-Diaspora relations, and shifts in American Jewish political proclivities, philanthropic trends, and educational and communal structures. In addition gender and family concerns, environmental issues and non-denominational cultural developments will be considered. The influence of postmodern trends will form the backdrop for analysis and various methodological approaches to these topics will be considered.

Registration deadline is June 20, 2014.

Download Your Summer Seminar 
Registration Form Here>

Message from the Dean

Dear Jewish Studies Students:

This year's Summer Seminar will take place Sunday-Thursday, July 20-July 24.

The registration deadline is
June 20, 2014.

This Seminar offers an exciting and diverse range of courses to meet requirements in all master's and doctoral programs.

If you have questions or
would like to discuss course
selection, feel free to contact me
directly at

I look forward to seeing you in Chicago in July.
Dean Bell

Dr. Dean P. Bell
Dean and Chief Academic Officer
Spertus Institute

Joining us for the seminar?

Here are links to nearby hotels 
and our neighborhood hostel.

Chicago's Essex Inn >
800 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Hotel Blake >
500 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago

Best Western Grant Park >
1100 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Hostelling International Chicago >
24 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago

For New Students

Spertus offers graduate programs in Jewish Studies through a unique blend of distance learning and intensive on-campus instruction. Students — from half a dozen foreign countries and more than two dozen US states — come to Spertus for week-long academic seminars. Seminars include a range of courses in Jewish history, thought, and culture, accompanied by study of classical Jewish texts.

Applications for Jewish Studies programs are accepted all year! MORE>