HUC-JIR Offers Six Cross-Campus Courses for Fall 2011 - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

HUC-JIR Offers Six Cross-Campus Courses for Fall 2011

Main Content
Thursday, September 8, 2011

As the new academic year begins, HUC-JIR's Department of eLearning is pleased to announce the following cross-campus courses for Fall 2011:

Rabbis as Holy Men, Charismatics and Wonderworkers: An Exploration of Legends of Rabbis in Medieval and Ancient Periods; Dr. Lewis Barth
This course deals with stories about rabbis as a basis for molding rabbinic self-image. Rabbinic stories are analyzed in terms of literary structure and characterization, with particular emphasis on the role of the rabbi and the rabbi's relationship to God, emperors, family, lay persons, and society at large. Comparison is made to the role of holy men in Christian society, and the function of the holy person in society in general. Class readings are drawn from M. Y. bin Gurion's Mimekor Yisrael.

Religious Literatures of Exclusion; Dr. Reuven Firestone
Historical processes produce and maintain notions of election and exclusion in the monotheistic scriptural religions. Using a multi-disciplinary methodology in history and phenomenology of religion, social psychology and theology we will treat Christian anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, Muslim anti-Semitism and anti-Christian anxiety, and Jewish narratives of elitism and fear of “goyim.”

Thinking About Religion: Theories, Applications, Meanings; Dr. Rick Sarason
What is religion? What does it do? How does it affect both the community and the individual? What are its declared purposes and goals? What are its observable functions? Why (and when) do people, individually and collectively, turn to religion? What are the meanings of religious myth and ritual? How do we understand other people’s religions, as well as our own? These and similar questions have been pondered extensively in Western culture, spurred in particular by the voyages of discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, the wars of religion in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century, European colonialism down to the 20th century, and today’s multiculturalism. They have been dealt with by founders of the modern social scientific disciplines of sociology, psychology, and anthropology, as well as by those “phenomenologists” (like Eliade) who have seen religion as a separate domain, not to be fused with others. Contemporary work in these areas has powerfully influenced our understandings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religious cultures. This course, mostly conducted in seminar format, will focus on all of these questions. We will read groundbreaking works by a number of the classic theorists and their contemporary successors, as well as works in the study and practice of Judaism that have made use of their insights. We will examine how (or whether) these insights might be applied to our own understanding of the religious quest, religious traditions, and (for rabbinical students) our own work as religious leaders.

Hassidism; Dr. Haim Rechnitzer
This course introduces students to Hasidism, the pietist – mystical movement that arose in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Hasidism is one of the most influential and significant movements within modern Judaism. The Hassidic teachings have inspired Jewish artists and thinkers, including Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Jewish renewal movement and Hebrew poets such as Avraham Shlonsky, Avraham Chalfi and Pinhas Sade to name a few. Modern Judaism studies cannot be completed without exposure to the vast source of Hassidic teachings which continues to challenge other Jewish responses to Modernity such as orthodoxy, Reform, or secular Zionism. In this course we will trace some of this history through a look at the lives and work of select Hasidic Rebbes and a close reading of Hasidic texts accompanied by secondary sources.

Introduction to Ugaritic; Dr. David Sperling
The Ugaritic language was spoken and written in the important city state of Ugarit in northern Syria. From the time of the city’s destruction shortly after 1200 BC until 1929, the language and literature of Ugarit remained buried. The study of this recovered language is not only important in its own right but for the light it sheds on the language, literature and religion of the Hebrew Bible. Primarily designed for graduate students at Cincinnati and offered through distance learning, the course is open to New York students by permission of the instructor.

Tzedakah: Halakhah and History; Dr. Alyssa Gray
In this course we will study Hilkhot Tzedakah in the Tur, Bet Yosef, and Shulhan Arukh. Through this study, we will endeavor to understand the principles of this area of halakhah. We will also examine the historical development, contexts and applications of some of these halakhot. The historical side of the course will be explored through secondary readings as well as readings in the Bavli, Yerushalmi, and other classical and medieval rabbinic literatures.

If you have questions about these courses or about cross-campus courses in general, please contact the Department of eLearning at

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 leaders to serve 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, museums, 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.