Graduate-Level Courses Open to the Public | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Graduate-Level Courses Open to the Public

Each semester, we invite adults to take classes alongside our rabbinical students, and many have welcomed the challenge. If you are interested in a course, please email the instructor directly, as noted below.

Here are offerings for the Fall semester, which begins at the end of August and ends in mid-December, 2018.

BIBLICAL CORE: CIVILIZATION 
Instructor: Elsie Stern, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Mondays, 2:30 p.m. - 4:20 p.m. and Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. Eastern time
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.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Elsie Stern directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

CONTEMPORARY JEWISH THOUGHT 1
Instructor: Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Eastern time
Class Maximum: 8 Students
Course Description: This course is a survey of the leading Jewish thinkers in the post-Holocaust period, as well as a discussion of the challenges of contemporary developments (e.g., Israel, feminism, liberation theology) to Jewish thought.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Nancy Fuchs Kreimer directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

IMMERSIVE TALMUD
Instructor: Rabbi Mira Wasserman, Ph.D. 
Meeting Details: Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Eastern time, with three hours of outside preparation
Course Description: This immersive class in Talmud will focus on Tractate Hagiga and its discussions of diverse topics including: festival sacrifice, pilgrimage, the constitution of religious community, esoteric knowledge, dissident rabbis, divine revelation, the reliability of tradition, rabbinic disputes and laws of impurity. The class will offer a deep dive into Talmud study, building skills in analyzing talmudic argumentation and in learning in hevrutah, and allowing us to deepen our own critical and religious understanding.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Mira Wasserman directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

INTRODUCTION TO MYSTICISM
Instructor: Joel Hecker, Ph. D.
Meeting Details: Tuesdays, 1:40 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., Eastern time
Course Description: This course will cover highlights of the historical scope of Jewish mysticism, considering the meaning of mystical experience and practice from its dawn in the chariot vision of Ezekiel through to its modern expressions in the modern writings of Rav Kook and Hillel Zeitlin. We will pay particular attention to Kabbalah, which developed in Germany and Spain, and reached its zenith with Sefer ha-Zohar, the central and canonical text of Jewish mysticism. These will be followed by study of Isaac Luria’s grand and complex kabbalistic mystical system and touch on the Hasidic movement that followed. Throughout the course, we will be engaged in close readings of texts (in translation) and will be considering the following questions: What is mystical experience in a Jewish context (and with comparison to other pre-modern forms of mysticism)? Who were the figures behind these texts? For what purposes and audiences were they written? How might they speak to religious seekers today? 
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Joel Hecker directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

JEWISH BIOMEDICAL ETHICS
Instructor: Rabbi David Teutsch, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. Eastern time
Course Description: This introduction to Jewish approaches to health, medicine and medical research will provide an overview of the major issues in biomedical ethics and help students to formulate Jewishly-based positions regarding these issues.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email David Teutsch directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

JEWISH CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
Instructor: Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Wednesdays, 3:40 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Eastern time
Course Description: Students will be introduced to the practices of meditation, contemplative prayer, sacred chant, contemplative reading of sacred texts, and mussar hitlamdut. Class sessions will include experiential practice, and homework will include experiential practice and journaling at home. 
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Jacob Staub directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

JEWISH TRADITIONS 1
Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Meeting Details: Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. Eastern time
Course Description: In this 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.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Rabbi Vivie Mayer directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email. 

LIFE-CYCLE SHIUR
Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Meeting Details: Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Eastern time 
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.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Vivie Mayer directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

MEKHINAH MODERN HEBREW 1
Instructor: Sharon Gershoni, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Tuesdays, 1:40 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and Thursdays, 3:25 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Eastern time
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. 
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Sharon Gershoni directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

MEKHINAH RABBINIC HEBREW 1
Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Meeting Details: Mondays, 12:15 p.m. - 2:05 p.m. and Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m. Eastern time
Course Description: We will study the language of the Mishnah and the siddur through these two primary texts. This course helps students build a foundation of vocabulary, syntax, rabbinic idiom and halakhic “lingo.”
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Vivie Mayer directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

MEKHINAH TANAKH 1
Instructor: S. Tamar Kamionkowski, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Mondays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. and Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. Eastern time
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. 
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Tamar Kamionkowski directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

RESEARCH SEMINAR
Instructor: Joel Hecker, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Eastern time
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.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Joel Hecker directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

TALMUD 1/TALMUD 2
Instructor: Rabbi Sarra Lev, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. and Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m. Eastern time, with required beit midrash
Course Description: Talmud 1 will be an introduction to how the Talmud works. It will survey a series of sugyot from different locations in the corpus, and explore both what the rabbis talk about, and how they talk about it. This is a skills-building course, and is designed to teach you how to “do” Talmud, and what it meant to the rabbis to “do Talmud.”
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Sarra Lev directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

TANAKH 1
Instructor: S. Tamar Kamionkowski, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Mondays, 12:15 p.m. - 2:05 p.m. Eastern time, with required beit midrash
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. 
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Tamar Kamionkowski directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.

THE SEFAS EMES ON THE PARASHAH
Instructor: Joel Hecker, Ph.D.
Meeting Details: Mondays, 2:30 p.m. - 4:20 p.m. Eastern time
Course Description: This course will study the Sefas Emes, the classic Hasidic work by R. Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger. The text has become particularly popular in modern times because of the Gerrer’s emphasis on the nequdah penimit, the inner point of each individual (Jew) that retains its connection to and knowledge of God under all circumstances.Throughout the course, we will be considering the distinctive ways in which the Sefas Emes develops Hasidic themes and think about the way in which a Hasidic homily functions as biblical interpretation. We will be reading in the Hebrew from Arthur Green’s volume in class, though it is expected that the English translation will be used as an aid in preparation. No previous study of Hasidic literature is expected.
To inquire about taking this course as a non matriculated student, please email Joel Hecker directly. Be sure to include the course title in your email.