Seminar for Jewish Educators

University of Minnesota

Jewish Studies 5900: Wexner Seminar for Twin Cities Jewish Educators

Topics in Jewish Studies: A Bridge to Scholarship

Syllabus, Spring, 1989

Professors Zahavy, Bachrach, Sellew, Berman, Cooperman, Krislov, Prell, Feinstein

Cindy Reich, Consultant

Through lectures, reading and discussion, this course presents an approach to the scholarly analysis of Judaism from Biblical times to the present day. The course employs the basic notion of a religious system and traces the major shifts and transformations within Judaism from one historical system to another.


J. Neusner, Death and Birth of Judaism, Basic Books

Additional textbooks will be added.


Additional readings will be assigned for each class meeting.

Course requirements and Grading: All students must complete reading assignments of each lecture. Additional materials will be added through the quarter. Students will write a variety of papers, exams and assignments. Students will be responsible for supplementary readings as assigned. All students must attend the scheduled lectures and may elect to attend one of the recitation sections to be announced. Grading: ABCDF or S/N. S=C or better; No incompletes.

Course topics by week [Monday morning 9-11 and Tuesday eve. 6:20-8:50]

March 27-8: Zahavy

The concept of religious system; the Judaism of the Dual Torah

The religion of ancient Israel contrasted with the classical rabbinic system

April 3-4: Bachrach, Sellew

The challenge of Christianity to Judaism from the first to fourth centuries.

April 10-11: Bachrach, Feinstein

Panel discussion: Enlightenment, emancipation, the emergence of modernity.

April 17-18: Krislov

Zionism as a modern Judaic system

April 24-25: Berman

Yiddishism and socialism as systemic alternatives for Jews.

May 1-2: Cooperman, Feinstein

Panel discussion: The holocaust and its impact on the formation of American Judaism.

May 8-9: Cooperman

The sociology of Jewish communities

May 15-16: Prell, Zahavy

American Judaic systems: religious divisions and denominations.

May 22-23: Prell

Reversion and other alternative responses to modern Judaic system formation.

May 29-30: Reich, Zahavy

Synthesis and analysis of the systemic approach; practical pedagogic applications and extensions.

An institutional grant from the Wexner Foundation supported the planning and development of this course.