Jewish Life and Thought in Medieval Spain (Al Andalus)


Jewish Life and Thought in Medieval Spain (Al Andalus)

Program: Hebrew College Me’ah Select
Instructor: Rabbi Leonard Gordon  (Read Bio)
Dates: 10 Wednesdays, Winter/Spring 2024: 2/7, 2/14, 2/28, 3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27, 4/3, 4/10 & 4/17
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Course fee: $450, financial aid is available
Location: Zoom
Hosted by: Temple Beth Zion, Brookline

During the Middle Ages in Spain — Jews, Christians and Muslims shared a common home and interacted in the realms of medicine, government, philosophy and mysticism. For us, Al Andalus (Spain) offers a model for a pluralistic society where diverse religious communities co-existed, shared space, built institutions, and learned from one another. In this way, the Jewish men and women of medieval Spain were, in some centrally important ways, the first “modern” Jews. They were a religious minority, constantly renegotiating their religious and cultural identities in the face of two vast, overwhelmingly powerful religious empires. We will explore diverse strategies of leading figures who produced lasting achievements in the arts, in religious life, and in Jewish thought including Maimonides (Code of Jewish Law, Guide for the Perplexed), Nahmonides (Commentary to Genesis and the Barcelona disputation), Bahya (Duties of the Heart), Rabbenu Yonah (Gates of Repentance) and Yehuda Halevi (Kuzari). Their legacy continues to have impact today as we re-imagine Jewish life and identity in America. No prior background is assumed.

Suggested Background Readings:

The Jews of Spain, Jane Gerber

The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, Maria Menocal

NOTE: This course is designed for people interested in learning more about the Jewish experience in Spain and/or interested in joining our Hebrew College Jewish Discovery Tour of Spain in May 2024. This May, in conjunction with Keshet Educational Tours, ME’AH will offer a trip to explore Jewish Spain. Check out the tour details at:

 For more information, contact