That time of year
Riding With the King

Fall semester (more or less) underway

No two institutions follow exactly the same academic calendar. As a result, the edges of my semesters tend to be a bit ragged. Right now I'm still finishing up one of my summer classes, while one of my fall classes has already begun. The other three classes I'm taking this fall won't begin until after the High Holidays, for which I am grateful, because the Days of Awe are a busy season in this line of work.

(Of course, the corollary to this is that most of my fall classes won't end at the end of the calendar year; they'll run straight through January, by which point my spring classes will already have begun. I expect to be a stress case around Christmastime. But right now that seems a fair price to pay for being able to mostly focus on HHD prep between now and Rosh Hashanah...)

Anyway! This fall I'm taking four classes (or will be, once they all get going) and I'm psyched about all of them. Two are ALEPH teleclasses, and two are in-person classes. Two will involve a lot of reading in Hebrew (and Aramaic), and two are all-English. They span the fields of halakha, history, comparative religions / sacred texts, and contemporary Hebrew literature. Read on if you'd like to learn more.

Fall courses 2008:

  • Introduction to Codes
    ALEPH teleclass; taught by Rabbi Sami Barth

    Close readings in the literature of the halakha - texts selected to assist students in developing familiarity with this literature and to attempt a close halakhic analysis of issues important to contemporary Jewish life. There will be some discussion of issues raised by contemporary scholars/philosophers of halakha, including Elliot Dorff, Eugene Borowitz, Joel Roth, Gordon Tucker and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

  • Biblical History and Civilization Part II
    ALEPH teleclass; taught by Rabbi Leila Gal Berner

    This is the second part of an intensive yearlong survey of the major movements, themes and developments in the evolution of Israelite/Jewish civilization from the birth of Israelite religion and people to the end of the biblical period.

  • An Introduction to the Qur'an and Islam
    Williams class; taught by Professor Bill Darrow

    One of the two most consequential texts in human history, the Qur'an is more conscious of itself as text and the work of interpretation that is part of the life of a text. Because it is God's most important sign (and also because it is relatively short) millions have memorized it and the art of Qur'anic recitation is one of the supreme Islamic performing arts. Nevertheless it is primarily as a text that the Qur'an exists in itself and in the minds of Muslims. The text of the Qur'an will thus be the focus of this course, reading it extensively, intensively and repeatedly throughout the semester. We will attend to the structure and variety of styles and topics in the text and to the Qur'an's understanding of itself in relation to other forms of literary expression. We will place the form and content in the context of seventh century c.e. Arab society and attend to the life of the Prophet (PBUH) that provides one crucial framework to the text. Through the lens of tafsir, Qur'anic commentary, we will also use the text to give an initial survey of some of the main theological, philosophical, mystical and legal developments in the Islamic tradition. Finally we will explore some of the aspects of the place of the text in the life of Muslims, including the development of calligraphy and recitation.

  • Modern Hebrew Poetry
    Tutorial; taught by Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser

    We'll spend the semester reading Hebrew poetry in the original, and unpacking each poem's symbolism, references, and implications. We'll work from the bilingual anthologies Found in Translation: Modern Hebrew Poets and Modern Hebrew Poetry, as well as Hebrew-language editions of the collected works of Yehuda Amichai and Leah Goldberg.

I've learned from and with all four of these teachers before, and I'm looking forward to the chance to be in each of their classrooms again (whether physical or virtual.)

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