The Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati to Offer Lunchtime and Evening Classes

Friday, February 1, 2008

For More Information Contact the Department of Outreach Education at (513) 487-3053 

Leading scholars to explore the Kabbalah, King David, Faith and Social Justice, Moses and the Burning Bush, Intro to Biblical Hebrew, and the Easter Narratives through Jewish, Christian, and Islamic perspectives 

Adults of different faiths and backgrounds are invited to attend Spring 2008 courses of The Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), which offers a wide variety of non-credit courses in religious studies for the adult learner. Learn in a relaxed setting with men and women who share the desire to explore areas of religion in a spirit of free inquiry. Applications are being accepted now for the spring semester, which begins the week of February 25th. Instructors are some of the most gifted scholars in the Greater Cincinnati community. New this semester - two lunchtime study opportunities as well as a joint class taught by HUC-JIR professor Dr. Jason Kalman and Canon Joanna C. Leiserson from Christ Church Cathedral. 

The courses vary in length depending on the course material. The following is a listing of courses and information about the instructors: 

From Ezekiel to Madonna: A Taste of Jewish Mysticism 

Why is Kabbalah so popular? Why are Hollywood celebrities reading the Zohar? In this course we will introduce the major themes of Jewish mysticism as they have appeared in history and in literature from biblical times to LA's Kabbalah Center. From the visions of the prophets to the ecstatic dances of the Hasidim, passing through Abulafia's letter meditation and the Ari's myth of God's withdrawal, we will explore the most distinctive ideas and present the most significant trends in the history of Jewish mystical literature. 

Vadim Putzu is a doctoral candidate at HUC-JIR who specializes in Jewish mysticism and philosophy. A native of Torino, Italy, he studied philosophy at the local university, cultural sciences at the Fondazione Collegio San Carlo of Modena (Italy), compared history of religions at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), and taught Italian at the University of Cincinnati. 

Dates: Mondays - March 3,10, 17, 31; April 7, 14
Time: 5:30-7:00 pm
Location: Mayerson Auditorium 

Revelation, Angels, and Reason: Interpretations of the Burning Bush Story Through the Ages The story of Moses at the Burning Bush has occupied the interest of Jewish and Christian interpreters from ancient times until the present. Religious thinkers have used this story as a basis for gaining insight into the nature of God, revelation, and human leadership because it recounts God's first act of revelation to Moses. In this class, we will study a variety of Jewish, Christian, and secular interpretations of the Burning Bush story, including Second Temple literature, rabbinic midrash, medieval philosophy and mysticism, modern philosophy, contemporary children's books, and modern cinema. In these various interpretations from different times and places, we can hear the collective voice of our traditions speaking across the ages. 

Brian Stoller is a 5th year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR and currently serves as student rabbi of United Hebrew Congregation in Joplin, Missouri. Deeply committed to Jewish Education, Brian has taught adult education classes at local synagogues and served on the faculty of the Cincinnati Reform Jewish High School. Before entering rabbinical school, Brian worked in Washington, DC as press secretary to a United States senator. 

Dates: Tuesdays - March 11, 18, 25; April 8, 15, 29
Time: 12:00 noon-1:30 pm NEW! Lunchtime class!!
Location: 2nd Floor Conference Room, Mayerson Hall 

The Easter Narratives of Jesus' Burial and Empty Tomb 

This course will explore the following questions: Was the empty tomb story deduced before Jesus' burial stories? Did Matthew, Luke, and John all misunderstand that Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus' opponent (not Jesus' supporter)? How was the presence of the women at the tomb a theologicalmessage? Why is it so significant that it took Matthew 227 words to lay to rest rumors that Jesus' body was stolen while John needed a mere 26? Why was Paul never asked to reconcile the tomb's physical emptiness with his insistence that the resurrected body was only "spiritual"? 

Dr. Michael J. Cook is Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures, and holds the Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professorship in Judaeo-Christian Studies, HUC-JIR, Cincinnati. Dr. Cook's specialty is the New Testament and he has extensive expertise in the field of Jewish-Christian relations. He received both his rabbinic ordination (New York) and Ph.D. (Cincinnati) from HUC-JIR. 

Dates: Tuesdays - March 4,11,18, 25
Time: 4:30-6:00 pm
Location: Mayerson Auditorium 

Through Rose-Colored Glasses? King David in the Bible and his Reception in Jewish and Christian Tradition 

This course will examine several narratives about King David as they appear in the Bible and against the background of the History of Ancient Israel and her neighbors. These same narratives will then be examined through the lenses of Jewish and Christian interpretation for what they can tell us about how Judaism and Christianity relate to the same sacred texts. The course will be jointly taught by Rev. Canon Joanna Leiserson of Christ Church Cathedral and Dr. Jason Kalman of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. 


Dr. Jason Kalman is Assistant Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature and Interpretation at HUC-JIR, Cincinnati. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University and is a research fellow affiliated with the University of the Free State, South Africa. He specializes in the history of Jewish biblical exegesis, and his specific research interests include rabbinic anti-Christian polemic, medieval intellectual history as reflected in biblical commentary, and biblical interpretation after the Holocaust. 

The Rev. Canon Joanna C. Leiserson is Canon for Christian Formation at Christ Church Cathedral. She holds a graduate degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley as well as a Master of Divinity from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington. A member of the Episcopal Church's strategy team on education, her academic interests include social, cultural, and intellectual history and the theory and practice of religious formation. 

Dates: Tuesdays - March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 8, 15
Time: 6:15-7:45 pm
Location: Mayerson Auditorium 

Faith in a Better World 

Let justice flow like a mighty stream... (Amos 5:24). 

Words of faith echo loudly as religious communities pursue justice in today's world. In this class, we will compare the call to justice in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism through texts, sermons, and case studies of social movements. We will learn about the local congregations' pursuit of justice through partnership with Cincinnati's Interfaith Hospitality Network and the Amos Project. In our study of biblical texts, contemporary writings, and music, we will come to understand how faith and the pursuit of justice enhance each other. Focusing on the issues of homelessness, civil rights, and education, we will compare and contrast different religious approaches to creating just communities. We will discover the power of social change methodology in the context of religious communities and locate our own passions for change in context with our beliefs- turning faith to action! 

Anna Levin is a 4th year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. She graduated from the University of Virginia with majors in Religious Studies and Anthropology. Trained in community organizing, Anna has worked with interfaith relations organizations in Jerusalem, Boston, and Philadelphia. 

Dates: Thursdays - February 28; March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 10, 17
Time: 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm New Lunchtime Class!!
Location: 2nd Floor Conference Room, Mayerson Hall 

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew 

This class is designed for beginners with little or no prior knowledge of biblical Hebrew. Students will be introduced to the alphabet, basic vocabulary, and grammar, enabling them to read the biblical text in its original language. 

Required Textbook: The First Hebrew Primer: The Adult Beginner's Path to Biblical Hebrew by Ethelyn Simon, Irene Resnikoff, and Linda Motzkin. Can be purchased from the HUC-JIR bookstore. Pre-orders recommended. Make a note on your registration form if you are interested in pre-ordering the textbook. 

Benjamin Noonan is a third year Ph.D. student majoring in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at HUC-JIR. His research interests include the Pentateuch as well as the usage of comparative studies for biblical interpretation. 

8 week course - cost $80 (plus the cost of textbook)
Dates: Thursdays - February 28; March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10, 17
Time: 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Location: Classroom Building 

The registration fee per class is $60. Payment must be received before classes begin and refunds will be made during the first week of class only. Participants who bring a family member or friend who has never taken a class before will receive 50% off on their registration (if two new friends or family members sign up, participants will only pay $10 per course). Skirball Museum, Cincinnati members, OLLI, and MARCC members receive a 10% discount. A limited number of scholarships are available based on need. The tuition reflects only a fraction of the actual expenses incurred to offer these courses, therefore, financial support is greatly appreciated. For information or to register for a class, contact the Department of Outreach Education at HUC-JIR, 3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45220, at 513-487-3053 (Fax: 513-221-0316) or email: The Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies and HUC-JIR gratefully acknowledge the support of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first 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.