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The Glory of Sepharad: The Surprising Story of the First Modern Jews -2 Courses: Fall 2023 & Spring 2024


The Glory of Sepharad: The Surprising Story of the First Modern Jews   Fall 2023 & Spring 2024

This new two-part, year-long course taught by two veteran Me’ah instructors offers an unique opportunity to study, in depth, one of the most fascinating societies in all of Jewish history, that of medieval Sephardic Jewry, whose famous leaders and striking accomplishments remain relevant today, more than half a millennium later.

For Me’ah Classic grads this is an opportunity to engage in a deeper study of specific areas of the survey course on Medieval Jewry you took as part of your two-year Me’ah program.

You may choose to register and participate in either the Fall or Spring course or take both courses offered during the year.

Perhaps most intriguing to us today: the Jewish men and women of medieval Spain were, in some centrally important ways, the first “modern” Jews! They were a tiny religious minority, striving to flourish in what may have been the closest thing to a “pluralistic society” that the world had ever seen at that point. Constantly forced to negotiate the existence of their religion, and their culture, in the face of two vast, overwhelmingly powerful religious empires, our medieval Jewish ancestors responded with remarkable innovations. Their lasting achievements in the arts, in religion, and in Jewish thought continue to inspire us today, as we negotiate our own very different — and yet somehow still similar — challenges concerning Jewish identity, assimilation, religious pluralism, and the search for meaningful forms of spirituality.

Fall 2023: The Glory Of Sepharad: The Surprising Story of The First Modern Jews

Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin (Read Bio)
FALL Dates: 10 Thursday evenings, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/30, 12/7, 12/14, 12/21 & 1/4
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Cost: $450 (Fall Semester), financial aid available
Location: Zoom
Hosted by: Hebrew College
Registration:  Look for the registration button below.


The FALL COURSE, taught by Prof. Jacob Meskin, will include the following topics:
– the complexities of Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Christian relations
– unprecedented Jewish approaches to understanding the Bible
– daring secular and erotic poetry in Hebrew (studied in translation)
– a fresh approach to ethics and personal life
– the development of Jewish mysticism
– provocative new views about science, faith, comparative religion, and the problem of historical change and development.

Spring 2024: The Glory Of Sepharad: The Surprising Story of The First Modern Jews

The SPRING COURSE (note: registration for this Spring course will be sent out in early 2024), taught by Rabbi Leonard Gordon, will focus on how Jewish thinkers in medieval Spain responded specifically to philosophical and intellectual challenges to Judaism and the Jewish way of life. After a basic review, we will explore both the far-reaching rational re-interpretation of Judaism crafted by the great Moses Maimonides, and the very different position of Yehudah Halevi, for whom Judaism rests rather on faith, on belief in the special status of the Jews, and above all on the power of the emotions.

Each course may be taken independently, but together they should give students a deep understanding of Jewish life in medieval Spain, and how it remains relevant for us today.

These courses will also prepare students for the inaugural Me’ah Jewish Discovery Tour of Spain in May 2024.

Detailed trip information: https://www.keshetisrael.co.il/meah  Join us!

On the HC website: https://hebrewcollege.edu/events/hebrew-college-meah-jewish-discovery-tour-to-spain/

For more information about these courses or the Spain trip, contact Terri Swartz Russell, tsrussell@hebrewcollege.edu