Examines various trends and ideologies within Zionism, with emphasis on the movement’s religious aspects. Study of various forms of Zionism, both Christian and Jewish, in the context of the constantly shifting Christian-Jewish relationship. Introduction to the origins of political Zionism, with focus on the manner in which religious ideas influenced both Zionism and the State of Israel. One course.
How women have understood, experienced, and shaped Judaism from the Greco-Roman period to the present day. Discussion topics include: women’s traditional religious roles and status; the ways in which women themselves have understood and expressed their Jewish self-identity and religious experiences over the centuries; and the transformation of Jewish women’s roles, expectations, and opportunities in the modern world, especially in the U.S. One course.
Modern Jewish thought from Mendelssohn to the present, with particular reference to the dynamics of emancipation, anti-semitism, religious reform, Zionism, the rise of natural religion with its emphasis on the supremacy of ethics, and feminism. One course.
Survey of Jewish ethics from antiquity to modern times, with focus on both general methods and specific case studies. How different traditional Jewish sources and communities respond to ethical challenges such as the death penalty, abortion, cloning, the environment, and economic justice, especially in the U.S. responses from a variety of Jewish perspectives (Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative). One course.
The main historical stages, personalities, texts, ethical doctrines, social teachings, and metaphysical doctrines from rabbinic to modern times. Topics include the significance of context and cross-cultural influence in shaping mystical traditions of a minority population living in Christian, Muslim, and secular environments and ways in which mysticism has served to empower and marginalize women. Readings emphasize primary sources (Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic writings, medieval mystical works) in translation and consider them both as literary works and elements of religious ritual.
An introduction to the biblical book of Psalms and traditional (Jewish and Christian) and contemporary methods of reading and interpreting these poems. Literary, feminist, liturgical, and midrashic modes of reading will be particularly examined. Issues of translation as a mode of interpretation will be central. One course.
An introduction to ethics in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, addressing moral and ethical dilemmas within the varied sources of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the diversity of views and opinions within the text, and passages often regarded as problematic for modern readers. The use of the biblical text as a resource for the construction of pre-modern and modern Jewish and Christian ethics will also be explored. One course.
A critical examination of atheism and religions (Buddhism), with a focus on intellectual, religious, philosophical, and scientific debates about God, the origin of the universe, morality, evolution, neuroscience, happiness, enlightenment, the afterlife, and karma. Readings to be selected from philosophical, scientific, and religious writings. Authors will include some of the following: Charles Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins, Deepak Chopra, Sam Harris, Owen Flanagan, Stephen Batchelor, and the Dalai Lama. One course.