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Welcome to the Complete Catalog! This page lists all the study opportunities for Alumni and includes both live and archived courses. Immediately below are the Current Courses, Webinars and Programs. Further down the page, you can find all the Archived Webinars, Podcasts and Courses which are always available for independent study. If you are already enrolled in a course, an "Enter Course" button will appear to the right of the course (once you enroll in a Continuing Alumni Education resource, it is a permanent part of your library). If you are not yet enrolled, an "Add to Cart" button will appear to the right of the course and its description.

(Click to view archived courses.)

We are currently planning our program for the coming year. Please check back in September to learn more and to register.



(to view current courses, click here)

These archive courses represents all our past programs which are always available for independent study. The courses are organized by course type.

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The Professionalization of American Religious Leadership - Part I
Bruce Ruben

This Alumni webinar focuses on the complex and often difficult status of Jewish clergy in America from the 17th century to the present. From the Colonial period through the early 19th century American congregations were run exclusively by lay leadership. When the first ordained rabbis arrived in the 1840s, the lay leadership gave away few of its historical prerogatives. How rabbis achieved professional status in America was shaped by this and, most importantly, by the new revolutionary conditions that America offered - freedom of religion, no established faith, and voluntarism. Cantors also had a complex development. Pushed out of many congregations as classical Reform asserted itself in the late 19th century, the cantorate made a comeback in the mid 20th century with the founding of the SSM and the tremendous explosion of Reform congregations after World War II. Learn more...

The Professionalization of American Religious Leadership - Part II
Bruce Ruben

This alumni webinar follows our discussion of how the Reform Rabbinate achieved professional status in America by the late 19th century, and then shows how this process is being repeated in the on-going professionalization of the American Reform Cantorate. We will examine the marginalization of the cantorate in the Classical Reform period, the renewed need for the cantor as Reform gradually re-embraced tradition, and how, after the Shoa, the need for an American-trained cantorate gave rise to the School of Sacred Music. The school and the subsequent founding of the American Conference of Cantors started the professionalization process. Now, as the 21st century cantorate has changed dramatically from how it was conceived in the 1950s, there is a need for a dramatic reconceptualizing of what we refer to as the Core Curriculum of the SSM, which we will examine as well. Learn more...

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President's Forum - What Does Reform Judaism Stand For?
David Ellenson

Our Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi David Ellenson, answers Alumni questions and offers his own reflections on on issues raised in an article written by Jack Wertheimer in Commentary Magazine in June 2008, entitled "What Does Reform Judaism Stand For?" All HUC-JIR Alumni were invited to read and comment on the article and over 200 joined us for our first President's Forum. Learn more...

Blessings from the Depths: A Study of Joseph's Survival
Norman Cohen

Midrashic scholar and former Provost of Hebrew Union College, Norman Cohen engages listeners in an examination of Joseph's survival and triumph after the trauma of being abandoned by his brothers in a pit. Delving into the midrashic texts, Professor Cohen explores Joseph's incredible ability to bless the site of his suffering and encourages us to look more broadly at what we can learn from these midrashim about suffering more broadly. Learn more...

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10 Great Texts - Session 1 - The Study of Talmudic Stories, Ta'anit 23A Honi ha-Me'aggel
Norman Cohen (Midrash)

The story of Honi ha-Me'aggel is one of the best known Talmudic miracle tales. Norman Cohen challenges us to look beyond the simplest reading to uncover meanings and lessons built into the language and structure of this piece. His reading of the text reveals not only many nuances hidden in this story but also teaches us much about midrash and the aggadic process. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 2 - Willing and Crossing: A Reading of Hullin 7
Michael Marmur (Jewish Thought)

With whimsical and intellectual flair, Michael Marmur takes us on a literal and metaphoric journey through the world of donkeys, rabbis and rivers. Exploring a passage from the Babylonian Talmudic tractate Hullin, he delves into the rabbinic past to help us better understand modern Israel, environmental responsibility and the ancient rabbinic mindset. Dr. Marmur reflects on the place of Reform Judaism in Israel today and turns to the thinking of Emmanuel Levinas to come to a liberal reading of this fascinating ancient text. This course is a must for anyone thinking about question of responsibility and finding an ancient context for modern Jewish life. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 3 - From Emperors to Stammaim: Lessons of Power from the Babylonian Talmud
Alyssa Gray (Talmud)

The Babylonian Talmud is one of the fundamental Jewish texts; a rich source of law and lore, the starting point for generations of rabbinic commentary. Alyssa Gray shares her passion for Talmud by focusing in on a sugiyah from Avodah Zarah that focuses on the Roman emperor Antonius. Providing multiple approaches to the study of Talmud, Gray provides her own approach to this text and opens up new possibilities for thinking about rabbis, Romans power and powerlessness in ancient Jewish life. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 4 - Questions Suppressed, Answers Forgotten: Two Little-Known Texts on Biblical Difficulties
David Aaron (Bible)

The Torah, as we have all been told, has 70 faces. In exploring some of the lesser known interpretations of the Torah, David Aaron brings forward two lesser known texts from the Cairo Geniza. He challenges us to consider why some understandings were given significant attention by the dominant schools of ancient rabbinic thought while others were expected to fade away. Moreover, what do these ancient tensions about how to read the Torah have to teach us a modern liberal Jews living in a postmodern world? Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 5 - Who is an Educated Jew? Divrei Shalom v’Emet (1782) by Naphtali Herz Wessely
Carole Balin (History)

Contemporary Jews have access to more Jewish learning than any previous generation. There are innumerable religious Jewish institutions as well as numerous secular institutions of higher education that provide a wide variety learning opportunities. Choosing among these riches, lies the questions, of what do Jews need to know? And who is an educated Jew? In searching for the answer to these questions travels back to the 18th century and the writings of Naphtali Herz Wessely. This historical view provides some helpful insights for our own attempts to fulfill our commitment to ongoing Jewish learning. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 6 - Abraham, One Father – Two Stories: Jewish and Islamic Interpretations of Abraham's Visit to Ishmael
Reuven Firestone (Islamic Studies)

Reuven Firestone takes us back to ancient Jewish and Muslim stories to broaden our understanding not only of the shared origins of these two religious traditions but also to extend our understanding of our own particular Jewish story. A side by side comparison of two tellings of the visit that Abraham paid to Ishmael after he and Hagar had been banished from the family compound offers new insights into a troubling biblical story. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session #7
Eliyahu Schleifer (Liturgy)

Former Director of the School of Sacred Music at the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR, Eli Schleifer, leads us into the world of Rav Nachman and his understanding of the role that music and the niggun plays in our lives as Jews. The Shirat Haasavim of Rav Nachman is linked to his broader hasidic vision as well as to his relationship with the land of Israel. Connecting written and musical text, this course examines how the writing of Rav Nachman inspired the popular Shirat Haasavim of Naomi Shemer and pushes each of us to explore our own spiritual songs. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 8 - “ ‘The God Who Weeps’: Divine Pathos as a Model for Human Empathy?”
Rick Sarason (Rabbinical Literature and Thought)

Richard Sarason turns to the classic commentary on Lamentations to teach us how the rabbis of the ancient era grappled with God’s role and response to evil. One of the earliest reactions to catastrophe came in the form of the biblical book of Lamentations written after the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem. And it was to this text that the rabbis turned to try and understand the destruction of the Second Temple when they wrote Eicha Rabbatai. In this text, Sarason helps us understand how we today might grapple with some of the most troubling theological questions. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 9 - What Did We Hear at Sinai? Commandments? Concerns?
Isa Aron (Education)

Sinai stands at the center of the drama of Jewish life. It is the moment of revelation and peoplehood; the touchstone from which we draw our inspiration and to which we return for Jewish living. Isa Aron, professor of Education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, leads us through an exploration of how we might better understand and contextualize our individual approaches to observance. Focusing on the writing of philosopher of Jewish education Michael Rosenak, this course looks at what Rosenak terms implicit and explicit approaches and practice and how our understanding of Sinai shapes our understanding of Judaism. Learn more...

10 Great Texts - Session 10 - Conversion and Community
David Ellenson

As the President of Hebrew Union College, David Ellenson supports and often represents the Reform Jews as part of klal yisrael. As a scholar of Orthodox Judaism, he also understands how this expansive vision of Judaism is viewed by other religious Jewish authorities. The issue of conversion, always timely and of concern to Reform Jews, forces us to consider the limitations of Jewish togetherness. Looking at two very different Orthodox responsa, Ellenson helps us understand both the possibilities and difficulties of being a single community with a diversity of Jewish expressions and observances. Learn more...

Confronting the Other within Jewish Tradition
Norman Cohen and Adriane Leveen

Norman Cohen and Adriane Leveen analyze "the other" through a study of Genesis 16 and 21, the stories of the tension-filled relationships among Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael, and the interpretation of this material in Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer. Learn more...

Gender and Sexuality in Text
Rachel Adler, Aryeh Cohen and Wendy Zierler

What role does gender play in Jewish text? What are some of its underlying notions relating to sexuality? In this course, each scholar will investigate how the experiences of individual characters in Jewish literature provide insight into the sexualized aspects of knowledge. Learn more... Learn more...

In Concert or in Conflict? Our American Economic Ethic and Jewish Values
David Saperstein and Barry Fruendel

How do we define Jewish economic justice, and how should our definitions play out in the context of political action? This three-part course analyzes how Jewish values relate to economic policy-making. Learn more...

Israel Beneath the Surface: History, Faith, Politics
Michael Meyer and Paul Liptz

In two sessions, Michael Meyer examines "Jewish History and Israeli History: The Problem of Distinguishing Between Them" and "Religious Significance of the State of Israel: Is It the Beginning of Our Redemption?" Paul Liptz concludes with "Political Culture: Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael." Learn more...

Journey to a Decision: The Stem Cell Debate
Mark Washofsky and Elliot Dorff

In the first two sessions, Mark Washofsky surveys halakhic literature relevant to the stem cell debate. Elliot Dorff concludes this program examining relevant methodology and outcomes. Learn more...

Judaism and Islam
Reuven Firestone and Yossi Klein Halevi

In this timely mini-course, Reuven Firestone explores the history of Jewish-Muslim relations and investigates the intertextuality of these two faiths. Learn more...

Portraits of the Holy Land: Antiquity to the Present
Dr. Barry Chazan, Dr.’s Hollander, Jonathan Krasner, Stanley Nash, James Rudin, and Ezra Spicehandler

Seven weeks of interdisciplinary study during Sefirat HaOmer featuring a study of classic and contemporary texts on images of the Land of Israel. Dr. Barry Chazan will lead a study with Ben Hollander, Jonathan Krasner, Stanley Nash, James Rudin, and Ezra Spicehandler. Learn more...

Post-denominational Judaism
Tsvi Blanchard and Jack Wertheimer

Recent years have witnessed the development of new religious alternatives that start with the assumption that denominations are part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. How are we, as a movement, and as individuals, to respond to this challenge? Learn more...

Prayers for Health
Ruth Alpers, William Cutter, Evan Kent, Ruth Langer, Benjie Schiller, and Howard Silverman

Exploration of the concept and history of the MiSheBerach and other prayers for healing, the role of caregivers and their prayers, and the use of liturgy and music at the hospital bedside. Offered as a joint project of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, this three-session course includes a discussion of historical prayers for healing as well as contemporary applications by clinicians. Learn more...

Reform Liturgy: Past and Present (Scholars of the 21st Century series)
David Ellenson

David Ellenson explores liturgical texts produced by 19th century Reform Theologians - Isaac Meyer Wise, Abraham Geiger and David Einhorn. David highlights the author\'s use of translation and substitution to \"mute problematic passages\" or create liturgy more reflective of their contemporary concerns. Learn more...

Remembering Rambam
Alyssa Gray, Marc Shapiro and Kenneth Seeskin

To mark Rambam's 800th yahrzeit, we will look at his legacy and his life from three perspectives: as a posek, as a philosopher and as a man in his historical context. Learn more...

Sefirah - Passover and Christianity
Michael Cook

Michael Cook discusses specifically Christian facets of the Passover season and how one might explain various subjects to fellow Jews, religious school youngsters, and Christian neighbors. Learn more...

Sefirah - Pirkei Avot
Michael Chernick, Leonard Gordon, Leonard Kravitz, Charlotte Fonrobert, Richard Sarason, Ronald Brauner, and Dvora Weisberg

A look into seven selections from Pirkei Avot. Learn more...

Sefirah - Seeing it Their Way: Egypt to Sinai through the Eyes of the Medieval Interpreters
Marty Lockshin, Jason Kalman, & Sharon Koren

The Sefirah Study will be organized and structured around each parshan. The instructor will identify the text(s), from within the first 20 chapters of Exodus, that best exemplify the parshan’s methodology. Learn more...

Sefirah - Talmud Torah as Spiritual Encounter
Linda Thal, Elsie Stern, Norman Cohen and Eitan Fishbane

As inheritors of the Western philosophic tradition, we tend to draw rigid distinctions between \"scholarly\" and \"spiritual\" endeavors, assuming that they are mutually exclusive domains. This course seeks to renegotiate these boundaries. Learn more...

Sefirah - Text in a Modern Age
Michael Chernick, David Aaron, Marc Bregman, and Dvora Weisberg

Michael Chernick, David Aaron, Marc Bregman, and Dvora Weisberg tackle the central questions surrounding how we as Liberal Jews approach our sacred texts. Learn more...

Sefirah - Uncovering and Upsetting the Paradigms of Prayer: Liturgical Innovation from Antiquity to the Present
Rick Sarason, Laura Lieber, Ruth Langer

Prayer is where some of the most interesting and difficult struggles about tradition and change have occurred – where patterns of liturgical innovation create a roadmap of how Jewish prayer has survived and thrived throughout history. This year’s Sefirah Study is a seven week journey through the millennia to investigate the ways in which liturgy has changed, where paradigms have shifted, and how we can learn from those shifts and innovations in our own contemporary struggles in Tefilah. Learn more...

The End of Life
Bill Cutter, Laurie Zoloth, Richard Address and Dayle Friedman

This course addresses the cultural foundations of our current ethical dilemmas and some practical strategies for addressing the changing realities surrounding death and dying. Learn more...

The Religious Meaning of History (Scholars of the 21st Century series)
Jacob Neusner

Jacob Neusner shares an essay on the meaning and uses of history in rabbinic Judaism. Neusner challenges us to think about how we relate to our history, how we study history, and how the past influences the way we speak about the present and future. Learn more...

They Did Not Teach Me that in Rabbinic School: Innovation and Revision in Biblical Studies
Ehud Ben Zvi & David H. Aaron

In this mini-course we will endeavor to learn and understand the implications of recent developments in biblical studies (Prophets and Pentateuch in particular) and how these developments might be integrated into our teaching as rabbis and educators. Learn more...

Toward a Deeper Understanding of Islam and Muslim-Jewish Relations
Reuven Firestone, Zayn Kassam, David Elcott

This mini-course is a must in our contemporary milieu of religious misunderstandings. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the fundamentals of belief in Islam, the role of Muslim women in shaping society and politics, and the considerations and goals for Jewish Muslim dialogue. Learn more...

Triumph or Catastrophe: American Jewry in World War II (Scholars of the 21st Century series)
Deborah Dash Moore

Deborah Dash Moore discusses her current research examining the transformations in Jewish identity wrought by World War II. She delves into the impact of military service on American Jews, the military\\\'s creation of the Judeo-Christian Tradition and the experience of Liberating Europe. Learn more...

Warfare and Violence: The Boundaries of Zionism
Uri Regev, Adam Rubin and Michael Marmur

Our Scholars grapple with difficult issues, including: the formation and sustenance of our homeland, changes in the Zionist ideal reflected in present economic, political, and social climate, and the meaning of Liberal Zionism today. Learn more...

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