Drew University: Fall Semester 2016: The Jewish Experience: An Introduction to Judaism

Jewish Studies220/Rel. Studies220: Introduction to Judaism: T/Th 10:25-11:40 AM
Learning Center, room 28.

Professor Allan Nadler.
Office: Faulkner House, room 302. Ext # 3222;
Office Hours: By appointment.

Course Description:

This course will provide an introductory overview of some of the major beliefs, observances and rituals of the Jewish religion, as well as key historical perspectives on their development.

The course is directed at those with little or no prior knowledge of Judaism; there are therefore no pre-requisites for participation. At the same time, since the approach to the subject is thematic, historical and text-critical, students with prior exposure to Jewish Studies will still benefit by attaining new perspectives on familiar subjects.

This is not strictly speaking a comparative study of Judaism (i.e. focusing on parallels with, and distinctions from, the other major Western religions); still, one of the major goals of the course is to explore the distinctiveness of Jewish beliefs and rituals and how they differ from those of other faiths, Christianity and Islam in particular. The readings listed in this syllabus are all required and students are expected to have completed them in advance of each week’s lectures. Added text-readings for class analysis, will be assigned over the course of the semester. Evaluation will be based upon class attendance and participation (25%), a mid-term take-home (25%) and a final examination (50%).

Required Texts:

Nicholas De Lange, An Introduction to Judaism
Eliezer Segal, Introducing Judaism (1st edition, 2009)
Tanakh (The Hebrew Scriptures: Jewish Publication Society, compact student edition)

Jacob Neusner, The Way of Torah (7th edition)

Week Themes Readings

Th. Sept. 1st [no class Tues.]
Preliminary definitions:
What is Judaism ?
What/who are the Jews ?

De Lange, pp. 1-33.

Segal, Part II, chapters 8-10 pp. 137-181.
T./Th. September, 6th/8th
1)The Hebrew Bible/”Old” & “New” Testaments
2) The impact of exile/the idea of Messianism
3) Judaism’s encounter with Hellenism and early Christianity
De Lange, pp. 45-54,161-164, 201-208.

Segal, Part I, chapters 1&2, pp. 1-39.
September 13th/15th
1) The Emergence of Rabbinical Judaism: Scribes, Sages & Rabbis.
2) The Formation of Mishna & Talmud
3) Basic theological concepts of Rabbinical Judaism
De Lange, pp. 56-62, 155-175,

Segal Part I, chapter 3, pp. 40-59.
T/Th September 20th /22nd
Judaism on Racial and Gender issues
De Lange, pp. 33-44.

Segal, Introduction, pp. 1-7 & Part II, Chapter 17, pp. 257-268.
T/Th September 27th/29th
1) Jewish worship: From Temple to Synagogues
2) Key passages of the Hebrew liturgy: the Shema and Amidah prayers; ritual Torah reading
De Lange, pp. 119-141.

Segal, Part II, ch. 16, pp. 245-256.
Th October 6th
[No class Tuesday: Rosh Ha-Shana: Jewish New Year]
Major events in the Jewish life-cycle: Sabbath, Festivals and family rituals De Lange, chapter 5 (pp. 84-118) & pp. 141-154.

Segal, Part II, chapters 17-19. pp. 257-306.

Reading Days, no class Tuesday, Oct.11th Also Yom Kippur Mid-term exam distributed


Th, October 13th

1) Medieval Jewish thought: Philosophy vs. Mysticism
2) Medieval Jewish communities: Ashkenazim and Sefardim De Lange, pp. 166-172.

Segal, Part I, chapters 5 &6; Part II, chapter 12; pp. 70-105 & 188-196.
T/Th. October 18th/20th
Mid-term return/discussion returned/reviewed; Open class discussion Catch up on your readings!



T/Th October 25th/ 27th

1) Forms of Jewish piety;
Hassidism, medieval and Modern/Kabbalah, old and "new age"
De Lange, pp. 67-83

Segal, Part One (review) ch. 6, pp.98-102

Entry on "Hasidism" in the YIVO Encyclopedia
T/Th November 1st/3rd


1) Traditional/Rabbinic Judaism’s Confrontation with Modernity
2) The Haskalah (Hebrew Enlightenment) and its Impact
De Lange, pp. 67-83.

Segal, Part I, chapter 7, pp. 106-133.
November 8th/10th
1) The Emergence of Reform Judaism
2) Responses to Radical Reform: Orthodox and Conservative denominations Segal, Part I, ch. 7, pp. 113-131.


November 15th/ 17th

& T. Nov. 22nd

No class Th. Thanksgiving.
1) “Secular” and political expressions of modern Jewish identity: Zionism, Yiddish Culture, Ethnic Judaism, Socialism etc......
The State of Contemporary Judaism in Israel & America Supplementary readings, TBD
December 1st, 6th & 8th
Final classes; open disussions, reviews and syllabus catch-up classes
None

Requesting Accommodations at Drew
Accommodations: Students who require accommodations are instructed to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources (formerly Office of Disability Services) , BC 119C, 973-408-3962, for a private, confidential appointment. Accommodation Request Letters are issued to students after documentation, written by a qualified professional, is reviewed and accommodations are approved by OAR. Accommodations are implemented by faculty only after the student presents the Accommodation Request Letter issued by OAR. Letters should be presented to the faculty at least one week before the accommodation is needed. No accommodation can be implemented retroactively.
Requests for accommodations for Fall 2015 should be submitted to OAR by September 15, 2015, but ideally within the first two weeks of class.