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Jewish Studies Summer 2017 Onsite Seminar

Jewish Studies Summer 2017 Onsite Seminar

Sunday, July 16, 2017 to Thursday, July 20, 2017

Esteemed professors and fellow students spent five days in Chicago dedicated to Jewish learning

The Jewish Studies Summer Seminar offered dedicated time to advance studies, learn with skilled and accomplished faculty, and engage with fellow students from around the world. During the seminars, courses were offered that met a variety of program requirements for students in Spertus Jewish Studies Master's and Doctoral programs.

Morning Courses
Sunday 2-4 pm, Monday-Thursday 9 am-1 pm

Jewish Historiography
Course 5347
Meets DSJS Core Course Requirement

Taught by Dr. Victor Mirelman

How and why have Jews engaged history? What meaning does history have for Judaism and how has Jewish historiography reflected the changing position of Jews and Judaism? This course explores the full range of Jewish historiographical writing, from the Bible to contemporary and postmodern reflections on history. Particular attention will be paid to the development of formal Jewish historiography since the 16th century, especially in the 19th century. Among the important Jewish historians to be studied: Azaria de Rossi, David Gans, Nathan of Hannover, Heinrich Graetz, Simon Dubnow, and Salo Baron.

The Septuagint
Course 4138
Meets MAJS Second-Level Core and Elective and DSJS and DHL Text or Elective Course Requirements

Taught by Dr. Leonard Greenspoon

The Septuagint (also called LXX) was the first translation of the Hebrew Bible, into Greek. Beginning in the third century BCE, Jews produced this version for the benefit of other Jews who no longer understood Hebrew. It contains a wealth of information about the language, beliefs, and practices of Hellenistic Jews. Its place within Judaism was hotly debated by the rabbis. Today the Septuagint is recognized as an indispensable source for the history of Second Temple Jews and Judaism. No knowledge of Hebrew or Greek is required for students in this course.

Afternoon Courses
Sunday 4:30-6:30 pm, Monday-Thursday 2-6 pm

Bible, Politics, and History
Course 4139
Meets MAJS Second-Level Core and Elective and DSJS and DHL Text or Elective Course Requirements

Taught by Dr. Rachel Havrelock

"Is it true?" is a perennial question about biblical stories. In thinking about the question of truth, we will investigate modes of ancient and contemporary history and consider what biblical authors thought they were writing and how their work has been understood by later historians. Along the way, the class will analyze the relationship between political goals and the historical record. How was history used politically in biblical times and how have modern politicians leaned on the Bible to bolster their authority?

The Legacy of Elie Wiesel for Contemporary Jewry and the World at Large
Course 4261
Meets MAJS Second-Level Core and Elective and DSJS Elective Course Requirements

Taught by Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz

This course is offered in memory of Elie Wiesel and his life's message, as he articulated in his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize Award: "Do not forget, do not sink into a new blind indifference, but involve yourself in truth and justice, in human dignity and freedom and in atonement.'' The course will address a range of questions, including: What childhood influences helped to mold Wiesel's worldview? How did the Holocaust in Hungary impact him and his family? What motivated Wiesel to write Night and what was the influence of this landmark work? Why does Wiesel assert the essential mystery of the Holocaust? How do his fictional works reflect the challenges faced by Holocaust survivors? How accurate is it to describe him as "the Job of Auschwitz or understood him as a "theologian of the void?" How have his humanitarian endeavors made him a moral compass, "a messenger for humanity," seeking to actualize the pledge of "Never Again"? What was the crucial role he played in the "Let My People Go" campaign for Soviet Jewry? What contributions did he make to the building of the US Holocaust Museum and to the controversies surrounding it? How will he be remembered? 

Sociological Foundations of Judaism: The Moral Groundwork of Relationships
Course 4362
Meets MAJS Second-Level Core and Elective and DSJS Elective Course Requirements

Taught by Dr. Ellen Levee

This course explores the sociological foundations of Judaism in the importance of relationships. The premise of this course is that Judaism develops a configuration of human personality within the family that offers an alternative to what currently dominates the western sociological tradition. Normative in the western tradition is the Freudian Oedipal model. Regard for others, as depicted in Genesis, is the primary determinant of morality, rather than reason. Thus, instead of the son superseding the father, a reconciliation between brothers is foregrounded. This model is considered through themes introduced in Genesis. We will discuss creation, in particular human creation, the problems of human maturation, contrasting familial patterns, the Akedah, and relational morality. Women's place in this scheme is also taken up. Readings are from Genesis, Soloveitchik's The Lonely Man of Faith, the Oedipus Trilogy, Freudian theory, Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, and Gilligan's In a Different Voice.

Registration is now closed for this session.

Message from the Dean

Dear Jewish Studies Students:

Our summer seminar offers exciting courses with skilled and accomplished faculty. As noted on the course listings, these offerings meet a variety of Master's and Doctoral program requirements.

Chicago is a beautiful city to visit in the summer, making this a wonderful time to attend a seminar. Participation will give you dedicated time to advance your studies, engage with faculty and your peers, and enjoy five days specifically devoted to your pursuits.

If you have questions or
would like to discuss course
selection, feel free to contact me
directly at
I look forward to seeing you.
Dean Bell
Dr. Dean P. Bell
Provost and Vice President
Spertus Institute

For New Students

Spertus offers graduate programs in Jewish Studies through a unique blend of distance learning and intensive on-campus instruction. Students come to Spertus from half a dozen foreign countries and more than two dozen US states 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>