The Introduction to Judaism Program

Introduction to Judaism Course: Syllabus

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1.  Ground Rules of the Program: Conversion and the Conversion Process. An Overview of the Essential Character of Judaism.

2. The Encounter with Modern Times: Pre-Modern Judaism. What Happened When Jews Entered the Modern World: Emancipation, Enlightenment, Assimilation, Acculturation.

3. Modern Jewish Religious Movements: Reform, Modern Orthodoxy, Conservatism.

4. Modern Jewish National Movements: Zionism, Yiddish. Socialism/Diaspora Nationalism.

5. Sacred Survival --The Basic Commitment of Most Contemporary Jews. Our Challenge to Put the Fragments Together in a Meaningful Whole.  

6. Hebrew Reading: How to Get the Hang of It. Synagogue Services: What to Expect and What to Do. Home Observances: How to Begin.

7. God: The Classic Jewish View of God: Other Views. The Problem of Evil. The Holocaust.  

8. Revelation and Torah: Traditional and Modern Views. How Conservative Judaism Differs.

9. Jewish Law (Halakhah). The Position of Women in Jewish Law as Understood by Conservative Judaism.

10. Jewish Ethics: The Relationships between People and the Environment. Judaism and the Animal World.

11. Jewish Peoplehood: The Notion of the Chosen People: Jewish Ethnicity.

12. The Sabbath: The Cornerstone of Jewish Religious Life: Its Meaning. Preparation for the Day. How and What to Celebrate: What to Avoid.

13. Kashrut: The Hallmark of the Jewish Home: The Reasons and the Rules.

14. How to Keep Kosher.

15. Synagogue and Prayer: The Symbols in the Sanctuary. The Theory and History of Jewish Worship.

16. The Siddur: Its Geography and Themes. Personal and Home Ritual Objects—Mezuzah, Tallit/Tsitsit, Tefilin.

17. The High Holy Days: Rosh HaShanah: Repentance. Judgment.

18. Yom Kippur: Atonement.

19. The Jewish Calendar: The Three Pi1grimage Festivals, Sukkot and Shemini Atseret/Simhat Torah.

20. Hanukkah: Its History, Meaning and Observance. Why it Looms So Large Today. Thanksgiving and Christmas: The First to Embrace. The Second to Avoid.

21. Tu B'Shvat and Purim -- Other Bright Spots in the Winter.

22. Pesah: Its Meaning and and the Rules.

23. Pesah: The Seder--The Greatest Home Observance of the Year. How to Enrich Your Seder.

24. The Omer Period, Shavuot and the Summertime. The New Holidays of the Spring -- Recal1ing the Holocaust: Celebrating Israel's Independence and Jerusalem's Unification. The Time of Revelation. The Three Weeks and Tishah B'Av.

25. The Life Cycle. Birth Rites, Jewish Education, Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

26. Marriage and the Family: Jewish Sexual Ethics, Divorce and Illness.

27. Death and Mourning.

28. The Messiah and the Messianic Age. The World to Come.

29. Jewish History: The Miracle of Jewish Survival. Patterns and Periods of Jewish History. Anti-Semitism.

30. The Biblical Period: from Abraham to Saul.

31. From David to the Maccabees. The Beginning of a People and Its Unique Way.

32. The Pharisaic-Talmudic Period: Hellenism. Jesus and the Beginning or Christianity.

33. A Look at Talmud and Midrash. The Geonic Age. The Karaites.

34. The Medieval Period: Sephardim through their Reestablishment in the Ottoman Empire.

35. The Medieval and Early Modern Period: Ashkenazim. France, Germany, Poland.

36. The Modern Period: The Paradox of Jewish Integration and the Growth of Anti-Semitism. Jewish Life Today: The Pluses and the Minuses. The Challenge for Each of Us.

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If you are interested in the Introduction to Judaism Program, e-mail Rabbi Lerner and he will respond to your request for information.