So here we are, it's the end of the 2007-08 school year, and yet another summer has come upon us. I've wondered for a bit now: what should I write for my final HUC blog? Below this month's blog you can see a good number of reflections I've shared on my past classes at HUC and life here in general. So, rather than rehashing any of that, I thought that answering the two following questions would be worthwhile. Here goes:
What's one good memory you have that relates to another HUC student?
One memory comes to my mind right away, and this is largely due to my current circumstance. I am presently sitting in Bruegger's Bagels (see last blog), looking out the window towards Clifton Avenue as I type. I did not intend to come here today, but, my car starter has decided to refuse to start (no worries, this will easily be fixed in the shop, but for now...). So this reminds me of two years ago, Cincinnati had a huge snow storm. I had just got out of class. Before long I discovered I had locked my keys in the car! The short of the story is that I was stranded out in the cold and snow, but to my rescue came someone I am glad to have met here, Dan S. Dan is a fifth year Rabbinic student, an active runner, and is an all around cool guy. Dan insisted on giving me a ride, and in the end a typically 12 minute trip took well over an hour in the traffic and snow. It took us probably 20 minutes just to get out of the back parking lot! But the neatest thing was this: In the midst of mad drivers, crazy traffic, and hazardous snow conditions, Dan seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience! He said that he was intrigued at watching how people deal with stressful situations like this. So along with having some good conversations, I sat back and enjoyed the chaotic situation, watching many other people who hadn't learned how to be content in what they've been stuck in. I bet that someone like Dan would be a great person to have at your side in situations where chaos hits, and I mean in bigger ways than just snow storms.
What's one of the 'funnest' things about scholarship?
Definitely, one of the best things about scholarship is that, with the proper training and tools at your disposal, you can answer questions that, without scholarship, would have remained no more than curious questions. Of course, in the end we are often left with more questions than we began with, but such is life. One question I had recently (spurred on by Dr. Kamesar's IV Maccabees class I took earlier this year) turned into a research paper named: "Make Ready Your Wheels! The Torture Wheel in IV and II Maccabees." Okay, so that might not be the most comfortable of things to read about! But if you've read about this famed tradition of the seven brothers (et al) who were tortured during the Antiochian persecution, especially as it is presented in IV Maccabees, you too might ask: Was there really such a thing as a 'torture wheel'? Could any of this have sounded credible to the story's initial hearers? I wasn't sure what I would find concerning this question, especially because the author of IV Maccabees was obviously a very creative person. But what I found was that, indeed, the author seems to have been describing a very real device that was used both before and after the Hellenistic period. Philo, Josephus, and many other sources make references that seem to clearly indicate: torture on a wheel really did happen during these times. So my apologies, I wish I could have shared a more uplifting 'discovery'! But at least, finding out that some of the realia of IV Maccabees were really – real, brings us further along than we were before. And finding out such things is, I think, fun.
Pictures: Just in case you're coming from a place like Oregon (as I did), you'll be encouraged to know that Cincinnati has a good share of green. The picture with the stone step-way was taken right across the street from campus. And in the other picture, as you can see, progress on the new library is coming steadily along.
green in Cincinnati
American Jewish Archives
Have a wonderful summer-
Posted by Nicholas at 2:22 PM
Ever visited / lived in Cincinnati?
For those of you who haven't, I thought it might be beneficial to share a few of my thoughts on the scene surrounding HUC, and how you might make use of the local area on a typical day. Also, if your looking at moving here, you might be interested in transportation issues, so I'll share some on how this has worked for me.
HUC is on Clifton Avenue, and if you walk down the hill a little you run into Bruegger's Bagels. This is a good place to get something quick to eat that is close by and inexpensive. They have WiFi access. I've studied there on a number of occasions, although on the down side, it is usually quite busy. Coffee is good. I frequently use their plastic coffee mugs (even today), I probably have four of them. My favorite sandwich is an Asiago bagel with humus, sprouts, cream cheese, and tomato and cucumbers. It's been a while, but I used to order a baker's dozen of the bagels, really good, and made right on location.
Go down the hill a bit more and you hit Ludlow. Plenty of shops. On the corner is the locally famed Skyline Chili. Subway right by. But right behind those buildings (with no sign to tell of its existence?) is one of the best pizza places: Dewey's Pizza. The Green Lantern pizza is excellent. Their calzones are the best. This is serious gourmet pizza worthy of a date destination (at least for Deborah and I!). Another place on Ludlow I frequent is a place called Mediterranean Foods. You can buy feta cheese in bulk, real imported French and Bulgarian ones. There are now three Indian restaurants on Ludlow, all good. IGA store is right on the corner.
If you head up the hill (on Clifton again), you'll almost immediately have the University of Cincinnati on your left. UC is it's own little city. There are a number of places to eat there as well. Right in the center is the UC book store. Living this close to UC is really great. Both the Langsam and the Classics libraries are awesome resources to have within 5 minutes walking distance. So probably about ten minutes walk up the hill from HUC and you hit a T in the road, and nearby are a few coffee shops, all of which I have visited, some quite frequently. First is a little known coffee shop called Starbucks (ha ha). Another one just opened nearby (name...?), but the one I've went to the most is the College Hill Presbyterian coffee shop on the same road. I've made most use of these when there were long breaks between class periods – as you can see, if you can study in such settings there are a number of places to choose from within comfortable walking distance.
On a different note, as far as transportation goes in Cinci, you can check out www.sorta.com or click www.sorta.com/maps/broadbandmap.pdf for a complete map of bus routes (a big pdf file). Everyone's situation is different, and for that matter, a guaranteed factor is that class schedules change twice a year. I've used this bus system from time to time; at least you should know it is available if you ever need it. In the apartment we lived in when we first came here, I occasionally even rode my bike a couple miles to school. It's not necessarily easy to do that in town, it just depends on where your at.
Well, that is hardly a big picture of life in Cincinnati, but perhaps some of this will be of assistance.
Posted by Nicholas at 9:45 AM
Welcome to my blog entry this month – I will start off with a quick picture of the load of snow that dumped on us in Cincinnati this last week. The picture you can see below is of my street outside our place (kind of looks like a no-man's land, huh?). For as much snow as that looks like, it kept pouring all that night, and on through the next day. It was really quite beautiful all said and done.
I thought it would be good to direct this blog at all of you who may be applying for the program here. Actually, it is you folks that I usually have foremost in my mind when writing. When I was applying for / enrolling in the program here at HUC, I was quite apprehensive of how I would do once I got here, and specifically, if I would be able to meet the linguistic requirements. If you want to read more into "quite apprehensive," feel free to, because I honestly wasn't sure if I could do it all. But the thing that drove me on was that I knew this was a field of studies that I had a passion for and wanted to pursue. Needless to say, I was more than a little bit nervous about how that first oral competency test would go (taken during orientation week)!
Of course, people who enter this program are as varied as in any other walk of life, so some of you may feel supremely confident in all of this (which is great); but for you others, it may say enough that for both times I was a 'kesher' (you probably know what that is by now), the incoming student I was assigned to expressed the same kind of uncertainties, and yet they, like myself, have gone on to do quite well in these linguistic studies. In fact, the year that I entered the program, my kesher was a guy named Adam, and I must say that Adam was one of the brightest students / scholars I have come across in the field of Comparative Semitics. And yet, I specifically remember Adam telling me that most of the linguistic foundations he stands on were laid here at HUC.
All in all, I did indeed have a lot of work to do, especially in that first year, to get up to speed in my linguistic skills (specifically in Hebrew and Greek). But I was given that first year to devote to that purpose, and in the end I know I have done well. It really is rewarding, and not to mention an honor and a priviledge, to have been given the opportunity to gain mastery in these ancient languages.
Well, if you are a prospective student, or someone who has already been accepted into the program (or if you are not sure how it will all turn out yet), I wish the best to you whichever way, and I hope these few reflections could be of some help.
All the best to you!
Posted by Nicholas at 10:47 AM
For any of you old time HUC associates (in whatever capacity), one thing that will strike you right away if you step foot on campus is that a lot of changes are happening here - new construction is going on (with detours and all), and a whole lot of other changes are in full swing. For any of you not-yet old timers, I thought I would highlight a couple of these new changes in this blog.
First of all our beloved Klau library is being significantly expanded. The main reason for this is that we have been in dire need for more shelf-space. It wouldn't be unusual to hear a librarian jokingly tell someone : 'Are you sure you just don't want to renew those books?!' Also, if you have spent almost any time in the library you would be quite familiar with this word: "Freidus." When you see that word in the call number, it's not because that's a category used by the Library of Congress, but rather, it refers to an overflow storage area that a large number of books have been stored at (which are thus not browsable by users and have to be paged).
All this is going to change soon with this major addition to the library, which means for any of you new-comers that you are going to have access to an enviable library. I should also say that, despite how needed many of these renovations have been, that doesn't detract from the main treasure of the Klau library, which is not constituted by its brick walls, but by its treasury of books. Before I came here, I had been trying to locate a book for quite a while that was out of print -- sure enough, it was up on the third floor in the stacks. The Klau library has an impressive array of holdings, not to mention the rare manuscripts it possesses (in the Rare Book Room). Concerning the new construction, I read that they are going to be installing a geothermal device for the heating; I find such natural energy sources fascinating, so I hope to find out more specifics on what this entails.
Another exciting renovation that's been occurring at HUC lately is not architectural but is digital. It seems that a whole array of services are 'going digital.' I hear that soon, student administrative services will be 'coming online' (if not already?). Thus, class registrations and other kinds of related matters will be accessible online. Two other new changes are related to the library, the first being that students can now access their library record online, as well as update their books there.
But the thing I am most 'jazzed' about is a new offering called the "Jewish Studies Portal." Thanks to some generous contributors, there are a number of software programs now freely accessible at home to HUC students. So although I own the program called "Judaic Classics Library," there is another version (offered on the Portal) that is about five times more expensive that not only includes the Hebrew texts, but also all of the standard Soncino English translations. Another new one they just made available is the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library (which is a top-of-the-line DSS resource).
I said digital and not architectural, but this last one is a merger of the two. A couple of years back the newest building on campus, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center (with the American Jewish Archives) opened up, and there is a very nice theater/lecture hall there. This hall is state of the art -- it has the capability of having at large lectures (the speaker is elsewhere, but can still interact with everyone). My experience in this lecture hall was a memorable class I took with Dr. Stephen Kaufmann on the Dead Sea Scrolls. With two large theatre screens, we were able as a class to read from digital images of the scrolls. It is fitting to end this blog with a note on Dr. Kaufmann, because he has been putting technology to use for quite a while in the classroom. In the Hebrew 501 class he teaches (on Hebrew syntax), he assigns a number of advanced exercises using Bible Works or Accordance. He also heads the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon here at HUC - JIR (see: http://cal1.cn.huc.edu).
Posted by Nicholas at 10:47 AM
Hanging out with Abigail
For this blog, I thought I would share on a particular scholastic subject that attracted me to HUC – that being Rabbinic literature. As a preface, I must say that when I came here, I didn't have too much background in this subject. Nevertheless, the undergraduate university that gives more than perhaps a single, general course in this field (and rarely then in original languages) is few and far between. It seems that this is changing, but we are still left with a situation in which serious study in Rabbinic literature is for the most part taking place in graduate institutions.
With that said, HUC is certainly a premier place to come to study Rabbinic literature. Even most of the professors whose chief area of study is not Rabbinic literature inevitably have a significant background in this field (I won't expound on this point, but I consider it notable). True to the subject, and if you'll humor me for a moment, I would say: qal va'homer, how much more so would those professors be thoroughly trained who do have this as their main field of study?! Okay, tongue-in-cheek, but it's nonetheless true.
One of the first classes that graduate students have traditionally all taken, no matter what their particular field of study, is a course in Rabbinic literature in the second semester. To some of you potential students who might be apprehensive of the difficulty of learning Rabbinic Hebrew, my experience was this: of my entering class four years ago (wow! Was that really four years!), only one of us, that I know of, had any notable experience in reading Rabbinic literature beforehand. So essentially, if you can learn biblical Hebrew, then you can learn Rabbinic Hebrew. You will become good friends with Jastrow's dictionary and Segal's Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew, and before you know it, you'll be reading authentic Aggadic texts (for that first class), and you'll also be picking up very quickly on why Rabbinic literature has a particular requirement to be read in original languages (Hebrew, and differing amounts of Aramaic).
Two of the leading scholars in Rabbinic literature during my time here have been Dr. Sarason and Dr. Goldman. I really wish I could devote a whole blog to highlight these professors and to go over some of the classes I've taken with them. I will actually be beginning another course tomorrow morning with Dr. Sarason where we will be studying Midrash Lamentations Rabbah (Eicha Rabbah). I would be remiss to not also mention the class I took with Dr. Cohen in Talmud. This was my first class in the Talmud, and although it took work, it was rewarding to enter into the lively debates of these Rabbis. I also was enriched with the class on the Medieval Commentaries with Dr Kalman.
I thought I would end this blog with a little clip from a paper I wrote on Midrash Leviticus Rabbah chapter 29, which can be called a Rosh HaShana midrash. A couple of points here would only make sense with further explanation, but I think the general point of this midrash is a pleasant one, so here goes: "[Me speaking] A baraitha was introduced by R. Shimon b. Yohai which will conclude our homily with a midrashic interpretation of Num 29:1-2. ... The Holy One's answer [to a question asked earlier]... brings us back to the chief themes of this midrash regarding what Rosh HaShana is all about: it is the anniversary of creation, it is the day of judgment, and yet it is also the day in which Israel will be given amnesty right in the midst of that judgment, and at last be made a new creation. 'My children [says the Holy One], as soon as you entered into judgment before me, then you went forth free; [thus] I am [going] to make it for you as it was when you were made in my presence, just [as] in the day that I created you as a new creature.' ... In close we are left to ask the question: Eimatai!? – When shall this glorious new creation be?! [The answer is the refrain, which is from the exegetical verse, Lev 23:24]: In the seventh month, on the first of the month, on Rosh Hashana.
Posted by Nicholas at 10:17 AM
A beautiful view of campus
At the end of this week (December 17th ff.) we will be wrapping up another semester here at HUC, making this the midway blog. I thought this would be a good time to share about some particular class experiences I have had while at HUC. Unfortunately I can only be quite selective due to our space limitations, so in choosing a professor to discuss, I reached into my hat and pulled out the following name (well, figuratively speaking anyways): Dr. Isaac Jerusalmi.
I must begin by saying that if you happen to be exploring HUC as a potential student, you will unfortunately not get the opportunity of taking any of Dr. Jerusalmi's classes because he has just retired after long serving our college. Nonetheless, Dr. Jerusalmi has certainly left a big imprint on this school, on so many students that have come through this institution, and certainly on my own scholastic experience. Altogether I took five classes with Dr. Jerusalmi: Hebrew 501, Biblical Aramaic, Targum Shir haShirim, and two Syriac courses. Four of these were therefore Aramaic courses.
the Targum to Song 1:15
It is hard to go through Dr. Jerusalmi's classes without picking up a love for the Semitic languages, and without getting an in-depth understanding of how Hebrew (as well as Aramaic and Arabic) is constructed. The pausal option in the Hebrew verb becomes: the 'heart-beat' of the Hebrew verb (opposite the lack of any such fluctuation in Aramaic). The three basic vocalic fluctuations in these languages becomes: the 'three-sisters,' of which Dr. Jerusalmi playful says: 'Meet them, savor them... but they won't dance with anybody who doesn't SYLLABIFY!" One wonderful example of these 'three sisters' can be seen in one of the most well known Hebrew words: Shalom. Compare Aramaic: Shlam, and the Arabic: Salam ('sisters' one and two). This basic fluctuation in the vowels of Shalom actually forms the basis of a good number of the other things one needs to know in Hebrew (including, especially, coming to grasp with the formations of the Hebrew verb). I am quite excited to 'get out there' and start teaching Hebrew while using many of these things I have learned (not to mention the use of colors, etc).
You may be surprised to know that the Song of Songs has one of the richest histories of biblical interpretation (in both Jewish and Christian interpretation) of all the books of the Bible (and even today the biggest Anchor Bible Commentary volume is purportedly on this book (M. Pope)). Dr. Jerusalmi was affected by this tradition early in life; he memorized as a child the entire book of the Song in Hebrew and has never quit singing it since (he is glad to embrace the title: Song of Songs Nut!). Dr. Jerusalmi has produced an important text edition of the Targum to Shir haShirim (which, as with so many other materials, he freely gave all of his students). You will see on this page a picture of the Targum to Song 1:15; this is translated in part as follows: "When the House of Israel performed the will their King, He praised them by His Memra in the congregation of the holy angels and said: "How beautiful is my daughter, my beloved one, the Community of Israel, whenever you perform my will...."
One of many 'students-with-their-families' events
Concerning Syriac, I must admit that when I first came to HUC I was only faintly aware of what "Syriac" even was (even though I was hoping to learn Aramaic to read the Targumim, etc.). I guess that put me somewhat in the same boat as the student in following anecdote (this was in one of Dr. Jerusalmi's beginning handouts for his Syriac courses): "The late Mgr. Grente, bishop of Le Mans, once reported the following conversation with one of his students: Student: I would like to learn French. Mgr. Grente: Read Cicero! Student: But, it is French that I would like to study. Mgr. Grente: Read Cicero! Student: I don't know if I did express myself correctly, but let me emphasize again that I would like to study French. Mgr. Grente: Read Cicero!" [Dr. Jerusalmi] Now, let me tell you: If you want to go beyond the basics of Aramaic to an in-depth study of the language, opt for Syriac, study Syriac and more Syriac..."
Well, it was just getting fun, but we have to call it quits for now. Thanks for visiting ~
Posted by Nicholas at 10:30 AM
Peter Bekins, Shane Cass, and Charles Haton as we were walking to the convention center (excepting Ben Noonan who was elsewhere)
It was with a 24 oz. cup of coffee and a bag of David sunflower seeds that I completed the last stretch of my attendance of SBL, this last step being an hour long car ride from the Dayton airport back to Cincinnati at 12:30 AM this morning. (In case you've never tried it, sunflower seeds are probably the best remedy, along with coffee, for late night, tired driving). SBL stands for the Society of Biblical Literature, held this fall in San Diego. In this blog I will share some reflections of my trip to SBL, this being my first time having attended the conference.
A bit about SBL: First of all, it's massive. There are few other times you'll see this many professors (or aspiring to be professors) crowded into one location -- we could call it a true "school" of (scholastically minded) fish. The core component of the conference is the hundreds of specialized sessions in which four to five persons present a paper oriented around a specific theme set beforehand by the panel of presenters. Most papers are 20 - 25 minutes long, and are followed by a time of question and answers from the audience and overall discussion.
Here are some impressions I gained from attending SBL. I was struck with how organic scholarship is. Rather than comprising some anonymous entity that merely produces reams of books, scholarship is to the contrary filled with personality and is better likened to a living organism. Okay, better yet, we would say living organisms (which are often at odds), but which are vitalistic nonetheless. Basic human interest and inquisitiveness drives us to explore. I have yet to hear a presentation in which the presenter didn't cast his topic as being filled with something that provokes interest -- mundane details are suffered precisely to obtain a desirable end.
The following are some of the sessions I attended: Matthew and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Celebrating 60 years of Research. James Charlesworth presided at this session, he's an interesting speaker. Shane Cass (3rd year HUC graduate student) and I met him briefly afterwards. John Kampen also was a presenter at this session. Dr. Kampen will be teaching a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls next semester at HUC which I will be attending. This session was among those that are heavily attended, but some of the smaller sessions can be just as interesting, like one session concerned with Eastern Orthodox biblical interpretation; one of the papers in this, by Dale Loepp (University of California-Berkeley) was on The Hermeneutics of Midrash and the Conception of Adam in the Seventeenth Demonstration of Aphrahat (20 min). Also interesting was Bogdan Bucur's (Marquette University) Exegesis of Isaiah 11:2 in Aphrahat the Persian Sage. Some other sessions I attended: History and Literature of Early Rabbinic Judaism; Philosophy and Wisdom in Hellenistic Judaism. I guess one should resign themselves from the outset to simply not being able to attend everything they would like to due to scheduling overlaps. For instance, a session on Early Jewish Christian Relations in which Elena Narinskaya (Durham University) presented on Ephrem, a "Jewish" Sage: A Comparison of the Exegetical Writings of St. Ephrem the Syrian and Jewish Traditions.
Every year at SBL we have the HUC Alumni Luncheon. Besides being one of the best meals I've had in a long time (I wish I could have taken a bit of that salmon home with me!), this is a great time to meet many of those who went to HUC before us and who are now teaching at universities and seminaries throughout the U.S. We had a great time and Dr. Adam Kamesar was awarded a special award of appreciation for his ten years of service in overseeing the Graduate School.
View from the decommissioned aircraft carrier -- the USS Midway
I had a great time staying with four of my colleagues in a hotel; in the top picture, from left to right is Peter Bekins, Shane Cass, and Charles Haton as we were walking to the convention center (excepting Ben Noonan who was elsewhere). I was thrilled to grab the opportunity, directly before flying out of San Diego yesterday, of touring the decommissioned aircraft carrier -- the USS Midway.
See you again next month!
Posted by Nicholas at 10:44 AM
Me in the library
"But in physics I soon learned to scent out the paths that led to the depths, and to disregard everything else, all the many things that clutter up the mind, and divert it from the essential." (Albert Einstein, cited in Physics for Poets, 4th ed., p. 101).
Okay, so there are no shortage of insights to be gleaned from Albert Einstein. Just replace 'physics' with whatever particular field of scholastic study, and most students could identify with this statement. This quote makes me think of digging into a new area of research. Sometimes it may feel as overwhelming as diving into an Olympic sized swimming pool. For the most part us graduate students have learned to swim fairly well in complicated areas of research, but often that is done by focusing on just a few promising inquiries at a time, or as our Einstein put it, by trying "to scent out the paths that [lead] to the depths."
Leaving that bit of 'food for thought' behind, a class that I am currently taking at HUC is on the 4th book of Maccabees (written c. 40 C.E.). My appreciation for this text has really grown as we've delved more into this ideal example of a Jewish-Hellenistic text. The contemporary concerns and worldview of its author (and of his Diaspora community) come through quite clearly. I think the following quote shows some of the author's driving concern: "We, O Antiochus, who have been persuaded to govern our lives by the divine law, think that there isn't a more powerful compulsion in life than ready obedience to our Law" (5:16). Dr. Adam Kamesar teaches this class as well as various other classes on Hellenistic literatures. He specializes in Philonic studies, and is one of a number of scholars working on the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series; the treatise he is commenting on is Quod deterius (The Worse Attacks the Better). A couple of years ago we studied the Quod deterius in a class he taught on Philo of Alexandria. Taking classes with Dr. Kamesar is a rewarding experience; one quickly finds out how inadequate a given English translation is for most any of these Greek texts in order to gain an adequate grasp of the author's concerns. Dr. Kamesar had been the Director of the HUC Graduate Program for ten years up until this summer when Dr. Samuel Greengus took over that role.
Students by the library
A number of times we have had Classics students from the University of Cincinnati (which is hardly a stone's throw away on Clifton Avenue) attend Dr. Kamesar's courses. This consortium between HUC and UC is an altogether win-win arrangement. On our side of the deal, we have the vast library resources of UC made available to us, which includes what I would estimate to be one of the biggest Classics libraries in the world. Just as significant is that through this plan we are able to attend most any of the UC classes. In the time I've been here I have made good use of these resources: I've attended two Greek courses and two history courses, one of which was on Hellenistic history (from Alexander the Great down to the rise of "the cloud in the west" [i.e. Rome]).
On a different point, one bit of news I would like to share is that I just passed my French reading competency exam. HUC kindly provided for a few weeks of intensive French tutorials this last summer which were helpful. I wasn't so sure how I would be able to pass these language competency exams when I first came here, being that I had not taken any French or German before. However, a lot can be learned through these 'for-reading-knowledge' language methods. If you work hard at it for a summer, these requirements are attainable.
And on that note let me say, au revoir!
Posted by Nicholas at 3:49 PM
Greetings! My name is Nicholas Petersen, and I have been given the privilege of representing the Hebrew Union College Cincinnati graduate program in the HUC blog. I am just now beginning my fourth year as a student in the Ph.D. program after having received an M.A. from HUC in May of 2006. My degree program is called Bible and History of Biblical Interpretation. Some of the areas of study included in this are (at least for myself): Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic Literature (including Midrash and Mishna), Greek biblical exegesis (from exegetes such as Philo and Origen), Septuagintal studies, Targumim (Aramaic translations of the Bible) and Syriac (a form of Aramaic). Sounds pretty interesting huh?! At least I think so. Since it is my 4th year I only have a few courses left to complete while I study for comprehensive examinations.
So I wonder what brings you to be checking out this blog... perhaps it is that you are a prospective graduate student who is trying to get a feel for the College, or perhaps you are just interested in HUC in general. Whatever the case may be, I hope you will find some relevant, and perhaps even some interesting looks into the Cincinnati HUC graduate program and student life as I share some details of my own experience, as well as perspectives from other students here at the Cincinnati campus. For this first blog, I'd like to tell you a bit about myself and say why I chose to come to HUC.
I am blessed with a wonderful family, starting with my beautiful wife Deborah who loves all kinds of art, including painting and making pottery. We just commemorated our 5th anniversary together. Our most recent news is that we had an addition to our family this summer, our two month old Abigail. She joins her two year old 'big' sister Elianna. My place of birth is in Waterloo, Iowa, a state in which many of my extended family live. From sixth grade through graduating from undergraduate college I lived in Oregon, and in fact we moved from Portland just prior to coming to Cincinnati. For my undergraduate education I attended George Fox University in Newberg, OR (just outside of Portland). During my time at George Fox one formational experience I had was taking part in a semester abroad program at Jerusalem University College with its campus on (today's) Mount Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem. During this time I learned much about the history and geography of the biblical lands as my class toured all throughout Israel, as well as in Jordan and Egypt. In one of the pictures, you can see me standing in Hezekiah's tunnel. We also made it to Tel Dan in the north, a site at which HUC has been conducting archaeological digs. With it currently being the season of the High Holy Days, I recall this having been my first real experience of this holiday season. A friend I made in Jerusalem named Micha invited me to his family's house on Rosh HaShanah where we used honey, instead of salt, on the bread. I also remember the thousands of sukkot that were set up in Jerusalem, just about everywhere.
I first became acquainted with HUC because the professor who led my class on tours throughout Israel, Dr. Paul Wright, received his doctorate here. As I was looking at graduate programs, one point that attracted me to HUC was that it seemed to have a strong focus on original languages and source materials – a text based approach. Of course every professor and class is different, but I have appreciated this overall emphasis on gaining mastery in these ancient texts that stand at the heart of why we are studying in this field.
All the best to you!
Posted by Nicholas at 10:05 AM