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Non-Matriculated Student Programs

RRC COURSES OPEN TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY:

Each semester, RRC invites adults from the local community to take classes alongside our rabbinical students, and many have welcomed the challenge. Some students work through our trademark core of historical courses; others take single workshops and classes or dive deep into advanced Hebrew. If you are interested, please contact us at 215.576.0800, ext 310, or email Mike Kennedy at mkennedy@rrc.edu.

Fall courses offered:

BIBLICAL CORE: CIVILIZATION
Instructor:
Elsie Stern, Ph. D.
Meeting Details: M 10:30-12:20PM, W 9:30-11:20AM
Course Description: This course explores the history, literature and thought of the biblical period. Students will trace the evolution of the Bible and devote special attention to the emergence of a distinctive Israelite worldview in the context of the ancient Near East.

CONTEMPORARY ISRAELI CIVILIZATION
Instructor: Maya Haber
Meeting Details: W 9-10:50AM
Course Description: This seminar offers an exploration of contemporary Israeli society, politics and history with particular attention to the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict and to pluralism and diversity within Israeli society.

CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LANDSCAPE
Instructor: Rabbi David Teutsch
Meeting Details: W 1:45-3:35
Course Description: This seminar surveys the 21st-century community in terms of its demography, sociology, institutions, problems and prospects. Discussion will focus on methodological questions, on the nature of the American Jewish community and on the practical implications of the material studied.

DEATH AND DYING: A MULTIFAITH EXPLORATION
Instructor: Rabbi Melissa Heller
Details: M 10:30-12:20PM
Course Description: This course will provide an introduction to beliefs and practices related to dying and death in several of the world’s religions, with emphasis on Christian and Muslim traditions. We will examine theological, psychological, and ethical perspectives on the process of dying, care for the dead, and approaches to mourning- -engaging sacred texts, welcoming guest speakers and taking some field trips. Throughout the course we will also explore important contemporary issues around dying and death.

Students will be exposed to a variety of methodological and disciplinary approaches to the study of religions and death and dying. In addition to critical analysis of the material, students will be encouraged to consider and integrate their own personal beliefs, understandings and experiences of death and loss and to consider how the material relates to their own understandings of Jewish beliefs and practices related to death and dying.

This course is designed for rabbinical students and rabbis, but welcomes enrollment by students and clergy from sister seminaries, as well as interested community members

Rabbi Melissa Heller (RRC 2008) has been teaching at RRC since she graduated in both biblical and multifaith studies. With a focus on interfaith engagement through the study of sacred text, she has taught courses in conjunction with LTSP, Palmer Theological Seminary and the Middle East Center at Penn. She is currently a doctoral student at Temple University, where she teaches Death and Dying in the department of religion, and does research in post-Holocaust theology and education.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Instructor:
Cyd Weissman
Details: TU 1:45-3:35PM
Course Description:  This project-based course introduces students to the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully launch entrepreneurial projects, both within existing organizations and outside of them. Skills include articulating and honing a compelling vision and brand; creating and implementing projects that actualize these visions; developing partnerships; and cultivating supporters. The course will also introduce students to the core financial and organizational skills necessary to implement new ideas.

EXPLORING A JEWISH THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION
Instructor:
Mordechai Liebling
Meeting Details: TH 1:30-3:20PM
Course Description: In the style of a graduate school seminar we will explore creating a Jewish Theology of Liberation.  Among other questions we will ask are: 

  • Whose freedom/liberation are we concerned with?
  • What would this theology hold us accountable for/to?
  • What can we learn from other liberation theologies (e.g. Latin American, Black, Womanist, Queer, Eco-feminist,etc.)?
  • How does it fit into the continuum of Jewish theologies and in particular how does Reconstructionism relate to the questions we raise?
  • How does this theology need to address our particular time? 
  • What would it inspire us to do?

 Students will be responsible for raising additional questions, bringing in resources and making presentations about different aspects of liberation theology. This will be a collective effort.

JEWISH TRADITIONS I
Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Meeting Details: TU 9:30-11:20AM
Course Description: In this Mekhinah course, students will explore traditional Jewish beliefs and practices. Through primary texts (Bible and Mishnah) in translation, students will encounter the fundamentals of prayer, kashrut, Shabbat and festival observance. This course also investigates the phenomenon of halakhah (Jewish lived practice) and how it evolves through ever-changing times.

LIFECYCLE SHIUR
Instructor: Joel Hecker
Meeting Details: TH 12:30-3:20PM
Course Description: This course will explore some of the seminal texts of Torah, Talmud and Codes that address, describe and serve as sources for traditional life-cycle rituals, including birth, brit milah, coming of age, marriage, divorce, illness, death and mourning. Students will build a foundation for reconstructing Jewish life-cycle rituals to meet contemporary needs with integrity and understanding.

MEDIEVAL CORE - CIVILIZATION
Instructor: Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: W 8:30-11:20AM
Course Description: This comprehensive survey of medieval Jewish civilization covers the period of the Geonim to the dawn of the Emancipation (seventh to 17th centuries). The institutions and literature of social, political, spiritual, halakhic and intellectual movements are studied in their historical contexts. The course makes special reference to the interactions of Jewish communities with neighboring societies; to the ever-changing forms of Jewish communal structures, beliefs and practices; and to diversity and controversy within the communities.

MEDIEVAL CORE - THOUGHT
Instructor: Joel Hecker
Meeting Details: M 10:30-12:20AM
Course Description: This course introduces students to major trends and genres of medieval Jewish thought, including philosophy, mysticism and halakhah. While it can be taken as a stand-alone course, it also functions as a companion course to Medieval Core: Civilization.

MEKHINAH MODERN HEBREW I
Instructor: Sharon Gershoni
Meeting Details: M 3:50-4:40PM, TU 2:40-3:30PM, W 1:45-2:35PM, TH 12:30-1:20PM
Course Description: This sequence develops Hebrew comprehension and communication skills through a mix of immersive learning and extended study structured around conversation, instruction and multimedia resources.

MEKHINAH RABBINIC HEBREW I
Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Meeting Details: M 10:30-12:20PM, TH 9:30-11:20PM
Course Description: We will study the language of the Mishna and the Siddur through these two primary texts. This course helps students build a foundation of vocabulary, syntax, rabbinic idiom, and halakhic “lingo.”

MEKHINAH TANAKH I
Instructor:
Tamar Kamionkowski, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: M 8:30-10:20AM, W 9:30-11:20AM
Course Description: This course introduces students to the language and literary features of the biblical texts. Students learn the vocabulary, grammar and stylistic elements of biblical Hebrew that will allow them to read and translate the narrative texts of the Bible.

NETIVOT SHALOM
Instructor: Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: TH 1:30-3:20PM
Course Description:  This course focuses on the section on prayer.  Rabbi Shalom Noach Berezovsky (1911–2000), the Slonimer Rebbe in the last decades of the 20th century, wrote this Hasidic text that also combines Mitnagdische elements, including Mussar.

RESEARCH SEMINAR
Instructor: Joel Hecker
Meeting Details: Tuesday 9:30-11:20AM
Course Description:  This course is designed for students who want to explore a particular topic deeply through scholarly and/or field research. During the beginning of the semester, students will familiarize themselves with Jewish studies research tools and methods. As the semester progresses, class time will be devoted to student presentations of their research in-progress. Over the course of the semester, students will write research papers (approximately 20 pages) on their topics.

TALMUD I/TALMUD II
I
nstructor: Rabbi Mira Wasserman, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: M 3:50-5:40PM, TU & TH 9:30-11:20AM
Course Description: This class initiates students into the study of the Babylonian Talmud, using selected passages from Masekhet Brakhot. Students will be introduced to resources, skills, and habits that can serve as the foundation for lifelong engagement with Talmud study, as both a spiritual practice and an academic pursuit. We will begin the semester with a review of key features of talmudic Aramaic. The bulk of the course will focus on developing skills for analyzing halakhic sugyot (units of dialectical legal argumentation); we will end the semester with a study of other kinds of discourse that are common in the Bavli, including narrative and biblical interpretation.

TANAKH I
Instructor: Tamar Kamionkowski, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: M 1:30-3:20PM, W 2:45-4:35PM
Course Description: Students will work with lexical resources and critical commentaries to build biblical Hebrew translation skills and to cultivate the ability to recognize nuances in the text. The course engages readings that explore biblical texts from a variety of perspectives. During the first semester, students will focus on narrative texts from Genesis and Exodus.

T’FILLAH SHIUR
Instructor: Rabbis Vivie Mayer and Margot Stein
Meeting details: TH 12:30-3:20PM
Course Description: In this shiur, students will study the structure and content of the daily and shabbat morning service, the discussion of prayer and liturgy in classic rabbinic and halakhic texts, and the meanings of the central prayers in contemporary Reconstructionist practice. They will also develop their ability to perform central morning prayers for weekdays and Shabbat with accuracy and fluency in the appropriate nusah.

THEOLOGIES OF EXILE AND RETURN: EXCERPTS FROM ISAIAH, JEREMIAH AND EZEKIEL
Instructor: Tamar Kamionkowski, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: TH 9:30-11:20AM
Course Description: These three major prophets all foresaw and witnessed the diminishing independence of their countries, military invasions and gross violence, and ultimately the displacement of large swaths of Israelite or Judahite populations. Each of these prophets demonstrate impressive political acumen and deep devotion to the God of Israel. And yet, each prophet attributes the tragedies to different causes, and foresees the next steps of a relationship between the people of Israel and God in very different ways. In this course, we will compare the three theologies of exile and return. We will allocate some class time for reflection on the ways in which these prophets have shaped the “Jewish psyche.”