Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies Courses Begin March 20

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

For More Information Contact Marcia Cruse at (513) 487-3053 

Adults of different faiths and backgrounds are invited to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) to explore diverse areas of religion in a spirit of free inquiry. The Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies of HUC-JIR offers a wide variety of non-credit courses in religious studies for the adult learner. Applications are being accepted now for the upcoming spring semester, which begins the week of March 20. Classes meet once a week on the HUC-JIR campus, 3101 Clifton Avenue. The five new courses are taught by some of HUC-JIR's most gifted faculty, alumni, students, and staff. Course offerings include: 

Becoming a People: A Study of the Book of Exodus is offered as class on campus or as an Internet Class and will be taught by Christine Palmer. The Exodus from Egypt is recounted in biblical history as the deliverance event that brought forth a people. It is the single most important defining moment of biblical Israel. The Exodus is forever imprinted upon the consciousness of the Jewish people and has become a permanent symbol to be continually re-enacted at Pesach, as instructed by the Mishnah: "In every generation each person must regard himself as if he himself came forth out of Egypt" (m. Pesachim 10.5). The class will walk through the text of the book of Exodus with an eye toward exploring the historical influences and ideological forces which defined a people. 

Christine Palmer is a Ph.D. candidate at HUC-JIR in the field of Bible and Ancient Near East. She has taught Hebrew at HUC-JIR and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Cincinnati where she teaches courses on the Bible in its Cultural Environment and Myth and Symbols in Religious Art. She has published over 40 articles in the reference volumes New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (IVP, 2000) and The Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan, 2006). 

Rabbi Michael Cook Ph.D., will teach, Gospel Dynamics & the Jews. Aspects of the book Dr. Cook is preparing Modern Jews Engage the New Testament [Jewish Lights & Skylight Paths /2007], dealing with the panorama of challenges-arising from the New Testament itself-that impact modern Jews will be examined. It aspires to set into motion a radical communal change whereby Jewish seminaries, colleges, synagogues and religious schools, forgoing a traditional Jewish mandate to shun the New Testament, will seek instead to secure facility in the Gospels' dynamics: the manners by which emerging Christian traditions responded to-and became shaped by-their social, political, and religious environments. 

Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures, Dr. Michael J. Cook holds the Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professorship in Judaeo-Christian Studies, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. He studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was ordained at HUC-JIR in New York, and earned his doctorate at HUC-JIR Cincinnati. Dr. Cook's specialty is the New Testament. He is possibly the only rabbi in the U.S. with a professorial Chair in New Testament, and has extensive expertise in the field of Jewish-Christian relations. 

Chaos, Creation, and a Crafty Serpent: Genesis 1-4, A Hebrew Text Study is the title of Dr. N. Blake Hearson's course. The major emphasis will be on the Biblical Hebrew, but there will be short lectures and class discussion on some of the major themes/issues of the text. Did God really create everything in six days? Or is this just a nice story to prove a theological point? What is the deal with the serpent and the whole disobedience/ejection from the garden thing? Why is the ground cursed? Through an examination of the Hebrew text, this class will foster a discussion of some of the theological, literary, historical, and faith issues of the first four chapters of Genesis. Students will gain greater skill with the vocabulary and grammar of the Hebrew text and will be encouraged to examine their assumptions about the material. This course is designed to help those with some background in Biblical Hebrew (either through the Adult Interfaith Academy introduction courses or elsewhere) to further increase their translation skills. 

N. Blake Hearson, Ph.D. earned his doctorate and a M.Phil. in Hebraic and Cognate Languages from HUC-JIR. He earned his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts and holds a M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Wheaton College in Illinois. He has served on staff at Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati, OH and is currently a faculty member at Columbia Evangelical Seminary. 

The rich traditions of Judaism are intertwined with food on every level. Jewish Cooking LTB: Lokshen, Tayglakh, & Babkes, OH MY! with Laurel Wolfson will explore the history of various culinary traditions as they relate to Jewish practice (both past and present). This class will focus on the extensive cookbook collection at the Klau Library, Cincinnati. All students will have access to the collection, and will compile their own cookbooks as part of the class. There are four sessions plus a final "banquet" session. 

Laurel S. Wolfson is the Deputy Librarian at the Klau Library, Cincinnati at HUC-JIR. She holds a MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky and is currently working on her MS in Jewish Studies at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, IL. Laurel is the Managing Editor of both Studies in Bibliography and Booklore and Bibliographica Judaica. She is active at Northern Hills Synagogue presently serving as the Ritual Committee Chair, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Coordinator, a member of the Adult Education Committee, and the High Holiday Co-Chair. An experienced cooking instructor, she has a long-standing interest in the history and practice of Jewish cooking. 

Instructor Janice Elster's course, How to be Good: The Ethical Literature of Maimonides, will explore the questions: What is ethics? From where do we derive the ethics that guide our lives? And are the sources of our ethics Jewish? Explore these issues by studying some of the writings of the Medieval Jewish scholar, Maimonides. Learn about the life and works of Maimonides and the Jewish writing of his period. No previous knowledge or experience required. 

A fourth year rabbinical student, Janice Elster holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in Jewish Studies. She just returned to Cincinnati from a semester studying in Jerusalem. 

The cost of a class is $50 with the exception of the cooking class, which is $100-and includes all materials. Skirball Museum Cincinnati members and ILR members receive a 10% discount. A limited number of scholarships are available based on need. For information or to register for a class, contact the Department of Outreach Education at HUC-JIR. The Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies and HUC-JIR gratefully acknowledges the support of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. 


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu