5766 Summer Session

Registration Fee: $195
First course:
Four-week: $1300 (Two-week: $650)
Each additional Course:
Four-week: $1100 (Two-week: $550)
Mechinah Program: $4900


Beginners Guitar and Hebrew Song-Leading
Rabbi Jeffrey Hoffman
The purpose of this course is for students to learn the basic chords, strumming, and other skills necessary to lead modern Hebrew singing on guitar. The course will be geared to students who have no, or almost no, experience playing the guitar. The songs of Naomi Shemer, Shlomo Carlebach, Debbie Friedman and other modern Hebrew songwriters will be featured. Since students will be learning new skills, practice at home will be crucial in achieving competence in the instrument.

Students who will be purchasing a guitar for the course should look for a guitar with good ‘action.’ ‘Action’ refers to how easy or hard it is to press down the strings onto the fretboard. A ‘good action’ means that it is easier to press the strings onto the fretboard. Almost all nylon string guitars have naturally good action. Finding good action on a guitar is relevant mainly to those who desire to purchase steel string guitars. The difference between the two kinds of guitar is mainly one of tone. Nylon string guitars are usually used for classical and Spanish (Flamenco) music while steel string guitars are preferred for folk and folk-rock music (though many folk guitarists use nylon string guitars).

Students should purchase an electronic tuner that is compatible with an acoustic (that is, non-electric) guitar. Good models should be available for $15-$25. Finally, students should purchase about half a dozen guitar picks in a variety of shapes and sizes (to help them decide which shape and size works for them). (0.5 course point)

Biblical Study and Homiletics
Dr. Walter Herzberg
The course is methodologically oriented, designed to help students acquire and refine skills of close reading of the biblical text by integrating a modern literary approach with the study of traditional Jewish commentaries. Students will learn to identify the questions that have been asked for centuries, creating an ongoing dialogue with ancient, medieval and contemporary close readers. Special attention will be paid to the use of scholarly study of the Bible in homiletic contexts. This course will count toward the requirements for a Bible elective and homiletics. (1.0 course point)

Jewish Ethics of Speech and Congregational Dynamics
Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
If gossip is considered equivalent to murder in Jewish law, why do so many of us continue to “murder” on a daily basis? How can the laws of ethical speech be applied to our use of such mass communication technologies as e-mail and the news media, as well as to our choices of topics for divrei Torah and sermons? Beyond our own individual choices, is it really possible to change the organizational culture of synagogues and Jewish communal services that seem to be powered by gossip? Taking the laws of Leviticus 19 as its starting point, this course will combine classical and modern rabbinic teachings (with special attention to the writings of the Hafetz Hayim) with contemporary human potential literature and experiential methodologies. It will give students the tools they need to deepen their own practice of the principles of ethical speech, and to provide effective leadership on these principles in their communities.

This course will count toward the requirements for congregational dynamics, and ethics. (1.0 course point)


Parashat Hashavua and Communal Affairs
Rabbi Craig Miller
The Torah readings in the summer show us the Israelites in a very difficult time of their development as a people. The community, in a state of growth, struggles with its identity, its relationship with God, its priorities, and its vision for the future. We will study the weekly parashah with special attention to its understanding of and relevance to modern Jewish communal affairs. This course will count toward the requirements for Parashat Hashavua and critical issues. (1.0 course point)

July 18-26
Turning and Letting Go: Jewish Ethics of Forgiveness
Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
“Pardon us; forgive us; grant us atonement!” may be at the core of our High Holy Day liturgy, but most Jews find forgiveness difficult to practice in our daily lives. This course will take the concept of teshuvah as its point of departure, and examine the three levels of pardon, forgiveness and “at-one-ment” / reconciliation that affect our relationships with other people and with God. We will study the biblical story of Jacob’s struggle and reunion with Esav, trace the “Thirteen Attributes” of God’s compassion through the Bible and prayerbook, and consider Maimonides’ laws of teshuvah as they relate to these challenges. We will also consider selections from the burgeoning contemporary literature on forgiveness, as we recover the practice of some traditional Jewish forgiveness rituals for contemporary application. (0.5 course point)

August 1-9
Sarah, Hagar, and How to Practice Paradigms of Peace: Abraham’s Vision, Conflict Resolution, and Interfaith Education
Sajida Jalalzai and Irrit Dweck
The figures Sarah and Hagar have played fundamental roles in shaping both Judaism and Islam. This course will examine the significance of these women, within these two religious traditions, maintaining a particular focus on whether they have served as models for resolving conflicts. Our first session will focus on the fundamental tenets of conflict resolution, while the second session will explore Sarah and Hagar through an in-depth analysis of religious texts. In the third and fourth sessions students will look at the unique pedagogical approach of Abraham’s Vision, using sessions one and two as our lens. Through this process students will confront the challenges of inter-group work (both interfaith and conflict resolution pedagogies) and earn how to prepare exercises in these important fields. (0.5 course point)


June 5-July 19
Continuation of the first semester of Mechina. This program will meet from 9:00-2:30 Mondays through Wednesdays.