Jewish Studies Course Schedule & Registration

Jewish Studies 2023-2024 Academic Year

Dear Jewish Studies Students:

I’m excited to share with you the schedule of courses for our entire 2023-2024 academic year.

As you’ll see, these courses cover a wide variety of topics and satisfy requirements across all categories of all three of our Jewish Studies graduate programs. What’s more, they’re offered by top-flight scholars, both new to Spertus and returning. I hope these courses inspire you to engage your passion for learning and make progress in your graduate program.

Fall, Winter, and Spring courses are offered online in real time and the Summer Seminar takes place in person at Spertus Institute. In all these courses, you will learn together with faculty and your fellow students.

There are also several asynchronous courses offered on an ongoing basis for you to complete independently. This page provides all the details.

I encourage you to make an advising appointment with me at the button below so that we can review your transcript and determine which courses are the best fit for you.

Here’s to another year of great learning!


David Gottlieb signature
David N. Gottlieb, PhD
Director of Jewish Studies (former)
Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies
Spertus Institute for Learning and Leadership

Fall 2023 | Weekly Online Courses | October-November 2023

Rabbinic Leadership in Times of Crisis

Taught by Rabbi Dr. Vernon Kurtz 
Course 2237 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Elective, DSJS Elective, and DHL Core Elective

8 Sessions | Meets Mondays from 12 to 2 PM CT via Zoom
October 9, 16, 23, and 30 | November 6, 13, 20, and 27, 2023

In times of crisis in the life of the Jewish people, great scholars attempted, in their own ways, to lead. By examining the crises of the Mishnaic period (First and Second Century CE) we will delve into the lives, activities, and teachings of Hillel, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, and Rabbi Akiba. We will study Hillel’s rise to rabbinic leadership, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai’s exodus from Jerusalem and move to Yavneh, and Rabbi Akiba’s involvement in the Bar Kochba revolt and his subsequent martyrdom. Using primary sources (in English) and secondary studies, we will examine the historical, sociological, and legal texts surrounding their lives and attempt to extract modern lessons for communal leadership from their examples.

History of Jewish Biblical Interpretation

Taught by Rabbi Dr. Devorah Schoenfeld
Course 4216 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS 2nd-level core, DSJS Text, and DHL Text

8 Sessions | Meets Wednesdays from 7 to 9 pm CT via Zoom
October 11, 18, and 25 | November 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2023

How has the bible been interpreted by Jews over the thousands of years that Jews have been reading it? Students in this course will come away equipped to draw on various methods of biblical interpretation for their divrei torah or for classes they teach. Topics include how the bible interprets itself, Midrash as biblical interpretation, the New Testament in its Jewish context, medieval bible commentaries, historical-critical methods and their reception in Jewish thought, and contemporary Jewish thinking about the bible as a spiritual, political, and literary resource.

Course registration for Fall 2023 courses is closed.

Winter 2024 | Online Seminar Format | January 14-18, 2024

Uses of the Bible in Modern Jewish Life

Taught by Dr. Rachel Havrelock 
Course 4218 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Core (Modern Jewish Experiences), DSJS Text, and DHL Text

Seminar Morning Course
9 AM-1 PM CT each day | Meets via Zoom

Democracy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries brought new political and artistic interpretations of the bible. In America, the bible’s role in American Christianity is often at the forefront. In this course, we’ll explore what the bible has meant to American Jews. Are there distinctly Jewish-American interpretations? How does the Hebrew Bible figure in American arts and letters?

In Israel, biblical texts have received more scholarly attention, and in Israeli settings, prime ministers and poets alike have cited Scripture with moral authority. Are interpretations shared by Israeli and North American Jews?

Together, we will parse texts about biblical figures such as Isaac, Dinah, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, and David. Individual student work will focus on a particular character and his or her depiction in a chosen form of modern Jewish interpretation.

Great Jewish Thinkers

Taught by Dr. Claire Sufrin
Course 3361 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Elective, DSJS Core (Jewish Thinking), and DHL Core (Jewish Thought)

Seminar Afternoon Course
2 PM-6 PM CT each day | Meets via Zoom

The twentieth century was a fruitful period for Jewish thought, from the German-Jewish thinkers Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, and Martin Buber in the 1910s, 1920s, and1930s to Jewish-American thinkers Richard Rubenstein, Eliezer Berkovits, and Judith Plaskow in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

In this course, we will examine these and other thinkers as they wrestled with major issues of the day, including the rise of European nationalism, the Holocaust, the founding of the State of Israel, feminism, and more. We will investigate the sources that influenced them and the ways they influenced Judaism.

The preferred registration deadline for these courses is November 22. Those who register by November 22 will pay current tuition prices.

The final registration deadline is December 5, 2023. It will not be possible to register for these courses after December 5.


Spring 2024 | Weekly Online Courses | February-April 2024

The Emergence of Halakhah

Taught by Rabbi Dr. Victor Mirelman
Course 3179 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Elective, DSJS Text, and DHL Core

8 Sessions | Meets Mondays from 6 to 8 PM CT via Zoom
February 19 and 26 | March 4, 11, 18, and 25 | April 1 and 8

From its beginnings, Israelite religion was defined by rigorous articulation and observance of commandments. The triumph of Rabbinic Judaism over other sects, with the rabbinic sages giving priority to exegesis over prophecy, led to the promulgation of an rich and extensive body of law. To this day, those laws form the basis of observant Jewish life.

In this course, we will study laws that exemplify key concepts in Halakhah, as well as legal issues in Aggadah, the other side of the “Halakhic coin.” We will explore the contrast between Halakhic and prophetic outlooks, consider the Jewish encounter with the Enlightenment, and analyze differences in the Ashkenazi and Sephardi approaches. Students will develop the ability to identify different forms of law and different texts in which they are articulated, and how the halakhic project is understood in contemporary terms.

The Rabbinic Framing of the Female: Images of Women in Genesis Rabbah

Taught by Dr. Gary Porton
Course 3178 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Core (Bible and the Ancient Near East), DSJS Text, and DHL Text

8 Sessions | Meets Tuesdays from 6 to 8 PM CT via Zoom
February 20 and 27 | March 5, 12, 19, and 26 | April 2 and 9

In this course, we will examine the passages that discuss women in Genesis Rabbah, a fifth-century Palestinian midrashic collection. As the Book of Genesis has the most stories about women in the Torah, the rabbinic interpretations of its narratives provide us with opportunities to investigate the literary and cultural phenomenon of Rabbinic Midrash. We will also gain a greater understanding of rabbinic conceptualizations of the roles of women in family, marriage, and broader society, at a crucially formative period in Jewish history.

Course registration for Spring 2024 courses is closed.


Summer Seminar | In Person at Spertus Institute | June 23-27, 2024

Intro to Jewish Studies | Nature & Methodology of Jewish Studies

Taught by Dr. Dean P. Bell
Course 3500 (MAJS) and 5348 (DSJS) | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Core and DSJS Core

The interdisciplinary field of Jewish Studies is a relatively new academic discipline. It draws from a broad range of scholarly methodologies, covers a dizzying array of topics, and utilizes an array of source materials. As such, Jewish Studies is an amalgam that tells us about Jews and Judaism (past and present) as well as the current state of the Academy. At the same time, Jewish Studies is a much older discipline — in the guise of Biblical study, exegesis, historical writing, and debate.

In this course, we will examine the general lines of development of Jewish Studies in the Academy, with emphasis on recent developments. We will look at recent scholarship to understand central themes and current trends in Jewish Studies today.

Jewish Politics

Taught by Dr. Sam Brody
Course 4349 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Elective, DSJS Elective, and DHL Core (Key Issues in Contemporary Jewry)

This class explores Jewish politics in the modern period, the period of mass politics, when Jews were offered admission to general society on an equal basis for the first time in two millennia. Jews responded in three main ways: with enthusiastic acceptance (liberalism), with rejection (nationalism, ultra-Orthodoxy), and by holding out for a better offer (socialism).

Together, we will examine thinkers representative of each of these trends, seeking to understand them in their own terms as well as through historical and theoretical scholarship. Thinkers studied may include Moses Mendelssohn, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Theodor Herzl, Hermann Cohen, Emma Goldman, Martin Buber, Albert Memmi, Hannah Arendt, Louis Brandeis, and more.

The Western Sephardi Diaspora

Taught by Dr. Matthew Goldish
Course 3282.1 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS Elective, DSJS Core (Jewish Living), and DHL Core (Historical and Sociological Developments)

When Spain expelled the Jews in 1492, perhaps half of them left permanently. Some of those who were left behind — living as Catholics, called conversos — escaped Iberia and formed their own communities in Western Europe in the 17th century. This is called the Western Sephardi Diaspora. We will study the leading Western Sephardi community, Amsterdam, as well as London, Hamburg, Livorno, and some colonial satellites. Our examination will include community-building, religion, economics, leadership, and ideological ferment.

History of Orthodoxy

Taught by Dr. Joshua Shanes
Course 4129 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Fulfills MAJS 2nd Level Core, DSJS Text, and DHL Text

Orthodoxy is a product of modernity, just like non-Orthodox Judaism. Orthodoxy was born at the end of the long period of Jewish autonomy, in which members took the authority and authenticity of inherited religious beliefs for granted. It represents a range of self-conscious attempts to negotiate a Jewish identity that feels authentic and unchanged in the radically new context of the voluntary community in a post-traditional world.

Through studying this set of modern denominations, we will seek to understand the millions of Jews who live in these communities and the nature of Jewish modernity itself.

Watch for registration to open in March 2024 for the June 23-27 Summer Seminar. 


Jewish Studies Course Registration Details

Course registration is for current Spertus Institute Jewish Studies students. Please review course details before completing your registration.

Before registering for courses, students must be admitted to one of Spertus Institute’s Jewish Studies graduate programs — or be accepted as non-degree student who meets prerequisite requirements and wishes to enroll in courses for credit.

Course Payment

Spertus Institute welcomes course registration from students with accounts in good standing. This means:

  • Student’s unpaid account balance is less than $2,500 (roughly two courses).
  • The most recent payments on past due balances are within the last six months.

Students who do not meet these criteria will need to pay down their balance prior to registering for any additional courses.

Course Costs

For MA in Jewish Studies (MAJS) Students
$400 per quarter-hour credit
($1200 per 3qh course)

For DS in Jewish Studies (DSJS) and Doctor of Hebrew Letters (DHL) Students
$475 per quarter-hour credit
($1425 per 3qh course)

A non-refundable $25 fee is charged on all course registrations forms.

Refund policies vary by course format. Please review the specific policy listed on your course registration form.

Courses auditing can be arranged on a select basis with approval from the Dean. Audited course tuition is $350 per 3qh course.

Registration Links

Independent Study registrants and Doctoral students (DHL and DSJS) should check with their advisor before registering.

Independent Study Course Registration 

Course confirmation will be acknowledged by email upon approval of your course registration(s).


  • For questions relating to Jewish Studies courses, including which course to register for next, please contact your advisor.
  • For questions relating to Jewish Studies registration, please contact Scarlett Andes at
  • For questions about payment, please contact Spertus Finance Coordinator Judith Wood at

Asynchronous Jewish Studies Courses

These asynchronous online courses are offered on an ongoing basis and can be started anytime after a student is admitted. Students work independently and are expected to complete each course within eight weeks.

The Bible and The Ancient Near East

Taught by Dr. Leonard Greenspoon 
Course 3501 | 3 quarter-hour credits
MAJS Core, DSJS Text, and DHL Text

In this course, students acquire general knowledge of the Hebrew Bible — its contents, as well as its historical, cultural, and religious contexts. Students learn to identify the basic genres of biblical narrative and biblical law and to appraise what make them unique, as well as common features within the context of the Ancient Near East. The course also covers the scholarly methods and discoveries of Near Eastern archaeologists, Jewish exegesis of the Hebrew Bible, and issues related to translation of the text.

Introductory Biblical Hebrew I, II, and III

Taught by Dr. Anne Knafl
Courses 1221, 1222, 1223 | 3 courses, 3 quarter-hour credits
MAJS Electives

This three-course sequence introduces students to Biblical Hebrew grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, as well as the scholarly Hebrew Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The focus is on introductory grammar, including common verb patterns, essential grammatical features, and basic vocabulary. Students will read passages from the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) as part of their coursework. Many students find it beneficial to take these courses early in their program.

Top image: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, DC.