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Spring Seminar for Jewish Studies Students

Spring Seminar for Jewish Studies Students

Sunday, March 2, 2014 to Thursday, March 6, 2014


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

Morning Courses
(Sunday 2-4 pm for Two Great Traditions and 7-9 pm for Religion and State in Israel plus Monday-Thursday 9 am-1 pm for both)

The Two Great Traditions:
Ashkenazim and Sephardim

Rabbi Dr. Victor Mirelman

3 quarter hours of credit
MAJS second-level core, concentration/elective
DSJS elective

This course will investigate the distinct development of the two main entities within the Jewish people. It will investigate Ashkenazim and Sephardim separateness and their points of contact; their different weltanschauung; their attitudes to life and worldliness; their views on Jewish law (halacha), strictness and leniency; variations in the liturgy as a reflection on those attitudes and approaches; different views on Messianism, and sanctification of God's name (Kiddush Ha-Shem); and their specific and varied responses to modernity, including modern Zionism. Another aspect that will be examined is folk culture, including Jewish languages adopted and developed through history. Finally, we will explore interesting points of contact between the two groups, sometimes for united action, sometimes to accentuate their separateness and rivalry. Examples to be discussed include Rabbenu Asher moving from Ashkenaz to Sepharad, Joseph Caro and Moses Isserles, Amsterdam in the 17th century, rival representation in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Damascus Affair and the Alliance Israelite Universelle, and Zionism and the State of Israel.

Religion and State in Israel
Rabbi Dr. Gideon Sapir

3 quarter hours of credit
MAJS second-level core, concentration/elective
DSJS elective, text

From the establishment of the State of Israel, and until quite recently, government policy regarding religion and state has been based on the preservation of the status quo. The underlying political justification for the status quo arrangement — which in a sense can be regarded as an informal "gag rule" — was the perception that it served as a necessary condition for the emergence, maintenance, and stability of democracy in Israel. Yet in recent years, many longstanding latent disagreements over matters of religion and state have become a major source of political and cultural tension in Israeli society. This course introduces students to the major dilemmas that Israel faces today in the relationship of state and religion.

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

Rabbinic Personalities of the Mishna
Rabbi Dr. Vernon Kurtz

3 quarter hours of credit
MAJS second-level core, concentration/elective
DSJS elective, text

We will examine the Mishnaic period (0-200 CE) and its literary sources by studying some of the major personalities of that period. These will include Hillel, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, Rabbi Akiba, and Rabbi Elisha ben Abuya. Looking at primary sources (in English translation) we will attempt to describe the lives they led by studying their teachings. These sources will be supplemented with readings examining the historical, sociological, and legal texts of the period as well as modern interpretations of their lives.

Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Dr. Byron Sherwin

3 quarter hours of credit
MAJS second-level core, concentration/elective
DSJS elective, text

Offered by a protégé of Abraham Joshua Heschel, this course combines personal insights and memories with scholarly presentation and analysis. Providing a review of Heschel’s life, works and major theological teachings, a central focus of the course is the symbiosis among the motifs that characterize Heschel’s theology, scholarship, views on contemporary Jewish life, social issues, and social activism.

Biblical Law
Dr. Anne Knafl

3 quarter hours of credit
MAJS second-level core, concentration/elective
DSJS elective, text

This course explores Biblical law, comparing different law codes in the Pentateuch to each other and to ancient Near Eastern laws (e.g., Code of Hammurabi). We will discuss how Biblical laws related to actual practice in ancient Israel and how the prophets interacted with laws, both on a literary level and as critiques of the sacrificial system.

Download Your Spring Seminar
Registration Form Here>

Online Course Offerings

Spertus Institute announces the expansion of its Online Graduate Credit Course Offerings. The following courses are now available for masters and doctoral degree students — as well as non-degree students who meet pre-requisite requirements and wish to enroll in courses for credit.

  • The Bible and the Ancient Near East
  • The World of the Rabbis
  • From Renaissance to Enlightenment
  • Modern Jewish Experiences
  • Gender and Judaism
  • History of Antisemitism: Antiquity to Late Eighteenth Century
  • History of Antisemistism: Dawn of the Enlightenment to the Present
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew I
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew II
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew III

Tuition per course is $1,050. Courses can be started at any time.

Download Your Online Course
Registration Form Here>

Joining us for an onsite seminar? 
Here are links to nearby hotels 
and our neighborhood hostel.

Chicago's Essex Inn >
800 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
312.939.2800

Hotel Blake Chicago >
500 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago
312.986.1234

Best Western Grant Park >
1100 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
312.922.2900

Hostelling International Chicago >
24 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago
312.360.0300

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