Course Descriptions Summer 2023

BIB 337   The Mysterious Lives of Eliyahu HaNavi – Lessons in Spiritual Leadership
Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman
This intersession course meets only on-site in Yonkers.
We will study the life and work of the Prophet Elijah from the perspective of understanding the making of a spiritual leader. We will use both biblical and rabbinic texts, artistic images, and more in seeing how we can use the life of this prophet in understanding and working on clergy formation and spiritual leadership.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: TBD

BIB 346   The Book of Exodus: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Blessedness
Dr. Job Jindo
This course explores the theme of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Blessedness through a critical reading of the book of Exodus. Special attention is paid to literary and religious rather than historical and editorial issues. The subjects we discuss include: “election and covenant,” “monological liberty and dialogical liberty,” “power and ownership,” “politics and holiness,” “slavery and political violence,” “gender and resistance,” “objective guilt and subjective guilt,” “individuality and collectivity,” “God’s transcendence and exclusivity,” “religious leader as a vessel or partner of God,” “law and the image of God,” “ritual and creation,” “identity and narrative,” “self-deification as idolatry,” “holiness of space and holiness of time,” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”
Prerequisite: Introduction to Bible or the equivalent
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
Jewish Study Bible-FL-Tanakh 2nd Edition [The book of Exodus is annotated by Jeffrey Tigay; the 1st edition is also fine], Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler  Amazon $39.98 ISBN 0199978465
Exodus: A Teacher’s Guide 2nd Edition, Ruth Zielenziger and (Seymour Fox – Curriculum Supervisor) Marcia L. Kaunfer, Barry W. Holtz, Miles B. Cohen, Amazon $33.25 ISBN 1929419074

CAN 230   Musical Skills III
Stanley Dorn
At AJR, Music Skills III is the culminating course in an intensive three-trimester program designed to establish in Cantors the rudiments they will need to teach to and perform with their congregations. In this trimester, we will concentrate on sight singing modal and tonal melodies, writing melodies for use in the service, harmonizing these and other melodies for accompaniment by instrumental ensemble and/or choir, and conducting such an ensemble.
Prerequisite: Musical Skills II or the equivalent
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: TBD

CAN 300   Introduction to Halakhah
Rabbi Dr. Matthew Goldstone
Designed for those with no background in halakhah (Jewish law), this course offers a brief overview of the history of halakhah, the major sources of halakhah, and how to search for answers within the corpus of halakhah. We will dedicate time to foundational discussions about the nature and relevance of halakhah for all Jewish communities and, in the majority of sessions, we will dive into halakhot related to prayer on both in-depth (iyyun) and broad (bekiut) levels. This course fulfills the cantorial Introduction to Halakhah requirement.
Prerequisite: Students should be at or above the level of Hebrew 350 (2A).
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: None

CAN 390   Maqam, Liturgy, and Jewish Musical Identities
Dr. Samuel Torjman-Thomas
This course explores maqam for the purposes of better understanding maqam-based music making in the Near East. Particular foci for the course include theoretical foundations of maqam, practical application of maqam, and the use of maqam in synagogue practice from the region. This course fulfills the Sephardi/Mizrachi Maqamat requirement.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
Inside Arabic Music: Arabic Maqam Performance and Theory in the 20th Century. Johnny Farraj and Sami Abu Shuays, 2019 Oxford University Press. Amazon $39.41 ISBN 0190658363

HAL 402   Introduction to Codes II
Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
The purpose of this course is to instill greater proficiency, appreciation and familiarity in the study of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. Similar to the first trimester course, there will be a strong eye towards grammar, syntax, and the basic idiom of halakhic literature, but there will also be a greater emphasis on the sources and context of Rambam’s presentation of halakhah. The goal is to gain an appreciation of Maimonides’ approach to halakhah, his style of presentation, and to learn more about the topic under discussion within the broader framework of halakhic discourse.
Prerequisite: HAL 401 or the equivalent
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: TBD

HAL 510  Advanced Codes
Rabbi Will Friedman
This course will focus on Joseph Karo’s Shulhan Arukh, the major medieval code of Jewish law that continues to inform contemporary practice. We will study many of the most important laws related to the observance of laws of mourning and dietary practices with secondary readings that offer more diverse perspectives on a variety of related issues.
Prerequisite: two trimesters of Introduction to Codes
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: None

HEB 400   Hebrew IIIA
Michal Nachmany
The purpose of this course is to transition students from intermediate into the advanced level of Hebrew. The course will focus on vocabulary expansion and reading comprehension and will provide training in speaking and listening. Students will develop their productive language skills via class discussions, presentations and listening practice, and via reading and writing assignments.
Prerequisite: Hebrew IIB or the equivalent
4 credits
Required Textbooks:
Hebrew Matters: Hebrew for Intermediate Level, Tzuki Shay and Gali Huminer; $30 Magnes Press, ISBN: 978-965-350-246-8 [Contact the instructor for the possibility of purchasing the textbook at a discount rate through sifrutake.com/]

HIS 350   American Jewish History
Rabbi Dr. David Fine
What has it meant to be Jewish in America in the modern era? It is a provocative question, and one that has many different answers depending on the time period, region and perspective. This course will explore some of these answers and the debates surrounding them by examining the history and culture of the Jewish community in North America, starting with the first Jewish immigrants in the seventeenth century, and working our way to the present day. Among the topics covered will be the different waves of Jewish immigration, the evolving role of women within American Judaism, relations with other immigrant and minority communities, and the complex relationship of the various denominations and the Zionist movement. Looking at these and other subjects will help us to understand how the community has arrived at the place it is today.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: None

LIT 305   Shabbat Liturgy
Rabbi Rob Scheinberg
Through analysis of the siddur and selected rabbinic and medieval primary sources, students will become familiar with the major components of the liturgy for Shabbat (both statutory liturgy and the best-known piyyutim), their themes, structure, theology, various theories regarding their historical development, and how they are expressed in a wide variety of siddurim across the Jewish spectrum. Students will have the opportunity to reflect deeply on the meaning and function of many passages from the Shabbat liturgy and how these ideas can be transmitted to a community.
Prerequisite: Introduction to Liturgy or permission of instructor
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
Koren-Sacks Siddur, or another complete traditional Siddur with English translation.  Jonathan Sacks, Amazon $24.95 ISBN 9653013327

MEC 150   Mechina III
Michal Nachmany
This course covers the second half of Hebrew from Scratch 1 (עברית מן ההתחלה א‘). It takes the students from learning the mechanics of reading and writing unvoweled Hebrew to active mastery of 1200 words, knowledge of the past tense in all of the גזרות of Pa’al as well as the past tense of regular verbs in Pi’el, Hif’il and Hitpa’el reading comprehension of dialogues relating to everyday life, as well as descriptive, narrative and informative texts on Jewish and Israeli cultural topics.
Prerequisite: Mechina II or the equivalent
No Credit
Required Textbooks:
Hebrew From Scratch Textbook Part I (English and Hebrew Edition) 2019 Edition. Sara Israeli, Hilla Kobliner, Shlomit Chayat.  Amazon $64.42 ISBN 9653501127
Mi-Po Le-Sham Part 1: A Companion Text for “Hebrew from Scratch Part 1”. Ester Simons, Magnes Press $21 ISBN: 978-965-350-151-5

PHI 312   Modern Philosophy
Rabbi Dr. Len Levin
Issues of modern Jewish thought will be studied through familiarization with principal works of the major modern Jewish philosophers—including Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Buber, Rosenzweig, Kaplan, Heschel, and Soloveitchik—as well as representative thinkers of the 5 major modern and contemporary movements. The focus will be on how all of these thinkers and movements adapted Jewish tradition—each in their own way—to the intellectual, cultural and political challenges of modernity.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
I and Thou, Martin Buber and Walter Kaufmann, Amazon $14.19 ISBN 0684717255
God In Search of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Amazon $16.99 ISBN 0374513317

PHI 510  Kabbalistic Souls: Zoharic Journeys in the Mirroring and Intertwining of the Human and the Divine
Dr. Nathaniel Berman
Souls in motion, each a kaleidoscope of soul-levels, soul-communities extending through generations, the divine itself as a soul-kaleidoscope….When the writers of the Zohar envisioned the soul, they did not imagine a bounded, discrete “self” in the modern Western sense. They saw each soul – and the entire realm of souls – as a precarious striving for unification among various elements, mirroring the divine striving for unification and intertwined with it. The Zoharic writers transcribed their powerful and diverse visions of souls in poetic form, often differing amongst themselves in both subtle and dramatic ways. We will explore these Zoharic visions from a variety of perspectives: the human being as an arduous process of unification, the achievement of higher soul-levels through dreams, the dissociation of souls through anger, souls as the offspring of the divine, the fate of the soul-levels after death, gilgul as the striving for soul-unification across the generations and embracing all of humanity, the divine itself as a process of unification, and gilgul as a vision of divine unfolding. Our readings will mostly consist of primary texts, largely drawn from the various strata of the Zoharic literature, including the Tikkunei Ha-Zohar and the Raya Mehemna. We will focus on close readings of these primary texts. Texts will be provided in both the original Aramaic and English translation. This course fulfills the Mysticism requirement.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
A Guide to the Zohar, (Stanford Univ. Press 2003), Arthur Green, Amazon $14.29 ISBN 0804749086

PRO 143  Ritual Skills Workshop – Yamim Nora’im
Rabbi Cantor Sam Levine
This class will focus on one major block of ritual skills: gaining facility with leading the main parts of the service for the Yamim Nora’im. We will learn simplified versions of the (Ashkenazi) modes and motifs of Ma’ariv, Birkhot HaShahar and Pesukei d’Zimrah, Shaharit, Musaf, Minhah, and Neilah. No singing background is required; the purpose of the class is to get students comfortable and fluent with basic davening skills for the High Holy Days. Insofar as we will be exploring the basic musical modes of tefillah, this may also serve as a good basis to davening other services (weekdays, Shabbat, holidays, etc.), because certain musical modes and certain liturgical texts are transferable, providing students with multiple reference points as they continue building their davening skills.
Prerequisite: facility with decoding Hebrew
No Credit
Required Textbooks: None

PRO 312   Homiletics
Rabbi Debra Orenstein
This course meets during the second half of the term on 6/14, 6/28, 7/12, 7/19, 7/26, and 8/2.
Whether at worship services, life cycle events, interfaith gatherings, congregational meetings or civic occasions, preaching and public speaking are ongoing responsibilities and challenges. For hundreds of years, Jewish leaders have used their words to influence their communities’ actions. In this course, we will discuss sources, techniques, obstacles, and the opportunities that community leaders enjoy as they pursue this time-honored practice.
1 Credit
Required Textbooks:
No specific books required, but there will be choices of books to use and students should have access to traditional commentaries, including Mikra’ot Gedolot.

PRO 560   Counseling II
Cantor Michael Kasper
This course will build on the foundations of Counseling I, exploring in greater depth the various roles and opportunities for counseling that are afforded to clergy, and the various skills needed to provide appropriate help. Ways to effectively listen, communicate, and understand issues likely to be encountered will be reviewed and practiced, with emphasis on developing a repertoire of psychologically sound interventions that relate to Jewish tradition and values, spirituality and healing.  In addition, we will review methods of needs assessment, and the role of clergy in making appropriate referrals to other professionals.

We will explore the impact of doing this work on the Rabbi/Cantor and their family.  Possibilities for a conflict of roles, especially in congregational settings will be discussed, in the context of ethics and personal boundaries. Part of the course will deal with the relationship between pastoral counselor and those who seek help; learning to set limits when helping others; and what to do when you are in over your head.  Specific issues that are likely to arise in congregational settings will be highlighted, such as death and bereavement, life transitions, abuse, family and marital problems, addictions, and traumatic events.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
Jewish Pastoral Care A Practical Handbook from Traditional & Contemporary Sources, 2nd edition, Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman Amazon $36.08 ISBN 1580234275
A Practical Guide to Rabbinic Counseling: A Jewish Lights Classic Reprint, Feldheim Publishers, Rabbi Yisrael N. Levitz and Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD, Amazon $22.99 ISBN 1681629658
How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies, Theresa A. Rando, Amazon $15.99 ISBN 0553352695

PRO 575  Ethical Communications for Clergy: How to Agitate, Motivate and Innovate with Words
Shira Dicker
The last decade of the 21st Century has ushered in a complicated new era in the history of America and the world. We have learned that there is reality and alternative reality, news and fake news, powerful social media platforms and widely divergent news sources. Important newspapers have folded…but a plethora of podcasts have sprung into being. Platforms such as WhatsApp and LinkedIn have become powerful portals of communication competing with FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. No subject is out of bounds! Billboards are back. In Year Three of the Pandemic we realize that the virtual venues that were once our sole source of connection to one another during lockdown are here to stay; moreover, they create unbounded opportunities for global reach. Promotion is more democratic — and problematic — than ever before. How does the 21st rabbi or cantor  navigate their way through this brave new landscape? In this course, you will learn how to use old media and new media alike to agitate, motivate and communicate for maximum effectiveness. You will learn the how-to’s of successful promotional event planning (think FlashMobs for a cause) and first-person journalism (think Op-Ed). You will know when to spend the big buck on advertising and when to save your shekels. Bring your passions and be prepared to be empowered by The Ten Commandments of 21st Century Communications for Clergy. This course will count toward the Entrepreneurship requirement.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: TBA

PRO 700   Fieldwork Support Seminar
Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman
This seminar group focuses upon issues that arise in the course of rabbinical and cantorial work. Students will explore the challenges that they face in their work and in their developing rabbinate/cantorate through the presentation of a case study. Participation is required of all students whose work is counting as a required internship experience. All fieldwork must be approved prior to the beginning of the trimester by Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman.
No Credit
Required Textbooks: None

RAB 110   Introduction to Midrash
Eliav Grossman
In this introductory class, we will examine the forms, techniques and vocabulary of rabbinic Midrash and explore the function that Midrash plays in rabbinic interpretation of Torah.  We will study fundamental Midrashic reading strategies, and become familiar with a variety of midrashic collections that date from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages. We will pay particular attention to the development of rabbinic hermeneutics and exegetical strategies as they evolved in particular historical contexts. This is a text-based class and we will spend time during each session reading Midrashim in Hebrew to improve our fluency.
Prerequisite: Students should be at the level of Hebrew 1A or above.
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: TBD

RAB 231   Introduction to Talmud 1B
Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
In this second half of the two-trimester Introduction to Talmud course, students will continue to develop their skills in decoding the dialectic of the talmudic discourse. Study of basic Aramaic terms, Talmudic organic logic, the structure of sugyot, and modern critical methodologies of Talmud study will resume. The content will be the various halakhic and theological approaches to the Amidah found in Tractate Berakhot, chapter 4. The supervised Havruta session on Thursday mornings is required of all students.
Prerequisite: Intro Talmud 1A
2 Credits
Required Textbooks:
The Talmud, The Steinsaltz Edition, Vol. 1: Tractate Berakhot, Part 1; Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Amazon $15.98 ISBN: 9653014005
A Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature, Marcus Jastrow. $38.50 Amazon; ISBN: 1932443207
Practical Talmud Dictionary English and Hebrew Edition, Rabbi Yitzhak Frank, Amazon $29.95 ISBN: 1592644511

RAB 430   Intermediate/Advanced Talmud
Rabbi Will Friedman
This course will hone students’ abilities to critically read, parse, and understand Talmudic material that is relevant for understanding contemporary Judaism. This trimester will focus on sugyot related to Shabbat practices and prohibitions, which will provide students with a historical and literary understanding of the underpinnings of contemporary Shabbat observances.
Prerequisite: Three trimesters of Talmud
2 Credits
Required Textbooks: None

SPI 384   Sacred Arts Writing
Rabbi Lisa Sacks
This course meets for the first six weeks of the term.
This course will explore the intersection of creativity and spirituality, both of which are particular lenses through which we can view the world. As can be true for the visual arts and the performing arts, writing is a way of expressing our experience. Through engagement with sacred text, essays on the craft of writing, and practical exercises, this course will both break down and expand our perceptions of ourselves and our traditions, and our connections with community and the divine. Course packet to be distributed. This course fulfills part of the Sacred Arts requirement.
1 Credit
Required Textbooks: None