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Me'ah Select

Me’ah Select is a one semester, in-depth exploration of a specific theme, text, personality, or slice of Jewish history, taught by outstanding faculty from  Me’ah Classic.

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  • time Adults of all ages
  • location Synagogues and community spaces
  • duration One semester (10-12 weeks)
Register for Me'ah Select

Classes and Registration

 

Course Name Instructor Location Time Registration 
The Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Short Stories  Dr. Jacob Meskin Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning October 30. Register
“Jews and Tango: A Cultural History of the Jews of Latin America” Dr. Dalia Wassner Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, beginning November 7. Register
Eight Essential Jewish Thinkers-A User-Friendly Guide to Modern Jewish Thought Dr. Jacob Meskin Harvard Worship and Study, Cambridge Sundays, 3:00 – 5:30 pm, alternating weeks beginning October 27. Register
From Darkness To Light: The New History of Jewish- Christian Relations Dr. Jacob Meskin NewBridge on the Charles, Dedham Fridays, 9:30 – 11:30 am, beginning October 25. Register
The Creation of The Modern Jew: European Nationalism, Zionism, and American Jewish Life Dr. Jacob Meskin Lexington Collaborative: Temple Emunah Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning October 24. Class is full; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu to be placed on a waitlist
Old New World: The History of Zionist Ideas Rabbi Neal Gold Hebrew College, Newton Tuesdays, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, beginning November 5. Register
Cinematic Midrash: The Movies “Take” on Biblical Text Dr. Lynne Heller Hebrew College, Newton Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning October 24. Register
Modern Jewish Mystical Masters Rabbi Natan Margalit Hebrew College, Newton Thursdays, 9:45 am – 12:15 pm, beginning October 24. Register
Crucial Moments in the Israeli Experience through the Lens of Short Stories
(Class Full)
Dr. Jacob Meskin Temple Emanuel, Newton Wednesdays, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, beginning October 23. Class is full. Contact Marilyn Stern at mstern@hebrewcollege.edu to be placed on the waitlist.
The Making of the Modern Jew: European Nationalism, Zionism, and American Jewish Life Dr. Jacob Meskin With Metrowest in Sudbury, at Congregation B’nai Torah, Sudbury Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning October 24. Register
In Search of Character: Exploring Biblical Personalities Rabbi Benjamin Samuels Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley Wednesdays, 9:30 – 11:30 am, beginning October 23. Class is full; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu to be placed on a waitlist

Winter/Spring 2020 Me’ah Select Classes:

Course Name Instructor Location Time Registration 
Crucial Moments in the Israeli Experience through the Lens of Short Stories Dr. Jacob Meskin Beth El Temple Center, Belmont Tuesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, beginning January 21, 2020. Register
Judaism and Science Talk To Each Other: a Class for Believers, Skeptics, Scientists, and Thinkers of all Kinds Rabbi Richard “Rim” Meirowitz Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning February 5, 2020. Register
Magic, Miracles, and Messiahs: The Supernatural in Jewish Tradition Dr. David Bernat The Boston Synagogue, Boston Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning January 16, 2020. Register
The Sacred and the Profane: Creating Modernity and the Modern Jew Rabbi Leonard Gordon, D. Min. Lexington Collaborative: Temple Emunah Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning January 30, 2020. Register
Yesodot: Foundational Jewish Values and Core Ideas Rabbi Benjamin Samuels Lexington Collaborative: Temple Isaiah Mondays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning February 10, 2020. Register
The Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Short Stories Dr. Jacob Meskin JCC of the North Shore, Marblehead Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, beginning January 30, 2020. Register
Values in Practice: The Jewish Holidays in Jewish Law and Custom Rabbi Benjamin Samuels Hebrew College, Newton Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning February 25, 2020. Register
Unpacking Antisemitism: Religious Origins, Modern Forms, and Contemporary Dynamics Dr. Jacob Meskin Hebrew College, Newton Thursdays, 9:45 am – 12:15 pm, beginning February 6, 2020. Register
The Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Short Stories Dr. Jacob Meskin With the Newton Centre Minyan, Hebrew College, Newton Wednesdays, 7:15 – 9:15 pm, beginning February 5, 2020. Register
Thrice-told Tales: Biblical Stories in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Traditions Rabbi Micha’el Rosenberg Temple Emanuel, Newton Wednesdays, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, beginning February 5, 2020. Register
An Introduction to Islam for Jews Dr. Alan Verskin Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley Wednesdays, 9:30 – 11:30 am. Register

"The Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Short Stories" at Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Wednesday evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning October 30.
  • Full class schedule: October 30; November 6, 13, 20; December 4, 11, 18; January 8, 15, 22. Snow/sick day January 29.
  • Cost: $250 for temple members, $350 non temple members. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.
  • Registration: Class is full. Contact Marilyn Stern at mstern@hebrewcollege.edu to be placed on the waitlist.

Most of us learn the history of Jews and Judaism in the modern period from scholarly texts and original documents. This invaluable view of the big picture leaves out the lived dimension of the events.

How did Jewish individuals in widely separated and quite different communities experience the challenges and changes of modernity? How did these experiences, and the feelings they evoked, shape new Jewish hopes and projects?

This course uses Jewish short stories, beginning in the late 19th century, from England, Russia, Eastern Europe, Israel, and America.

The stories give us unique insights into generational struggles, changing gender roles, and the search for “authentic Judaism” outside the precincts of religion. The most recent stories highlight the fear that traditional forms of Jewish memory and identity may be disappearing entirely, and ask whether these can be replaced with a commitment to social justice or with “Israeliness.”

Writers include Mizrachim and Ashkenazim, a European Christian, Christian Arab and Muslim Arab citizens of the state of Israel, Eastern European and Russian Jews, British Jews, American Jews, and Jewish Israelis. A partial list of authors includes: Grace Aguilar, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, Chaim Grade, George Eliot, Nathan Englander, Michal Govrin, Dara Horn, Franz Kafka, Sayeed Kashua, Amy Levy, Savyon Liebrecht, Bernard Malamud, Arthur Miller, Amos Oz, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Philip Roth, Mendele Mocher Seforim, Yaakov Shabtai, Moshe Shamir, Anton Shammas, Ayelet Tsabari, Israel Zangwill, and Stefan Zweig.

>> REGISTER

"Jews and Tango: A Cultural History of the Jews of Latin America," at Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Dalia Wassner
  • Meets: Thursday evenings, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, beginning November 7, at the 384 Harvard Street, Brookline, campus
  • Full class schedule: November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19; January 9, 16, 23, 30. Snow/sick day February 6.
  • Cost: $325. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

Drawing on the works of public intellectuals, writers, artists, playwrights, and filmmakers, we will explore the diversity of Jewish experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, paying particular attention to questions of belonging and otherness as Sephardi, Mizrahi, and Ashkenazi Jews made their lives and identities anew in the region. Lending a multi-faceted lens to Diaspora Jewry, the course offers new dimensions to understanding Jewish History and American Jewry.

"Eight Essential Jewish Thinkers-A User-Friendly Guide to Modern Jewish Thought," at Harvard Worship and Study, Cambridge, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Sunday afternoons, 3:00 – 5:30 pm, alternating weeks, beginning October 27.
  • Full class schedule: October 27; November 10, 24; December 8; January 5, 19; February 2, 23; March 8, 22. Snow/sick day: March 29.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

Modernity introduced decisive changes into the lives of Jews.  This course offers a hands-on and clear introduction to eight of the most important Jewish thinkers who have reflected on the meaning of being Jewish in the modern period.  These thinkers approach the question of modern Jewish existence from a wide variety of different perspectives ranging from an emphasis on Jewishness as a secular political identity, through attempts to combine modernity either with orthodox Judaism, or with a mystical and deeply religious understanding of Zionism.

Some of the issues we will be considering include:

  • the origins of antisemitism
  • the place of Jews in modern, western societies
  • how a modern Jew ought to read the Hebrew Bible
  • Jewish life and tradition the nature of human fulfillment
  • the relevance of talmudic thinking to modern life
  • the central role of human relationships in thought and life
  • the ultimate meaning and importance of Zionism
  • the dangers of totalitarianism
  • the psychological implications of Judaism

Historical background on each thinker will be presented each week, along with manageable excerpts from his or her writings. The goal each week will be to try to get a working grasp of the basic ideas and directions of each thinker. Bibliographies will also be provided so that students can continue to deepen their acquaintance. The eight thinkers are: Benedict Spinoza, Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Emmanuel Levinas, and Aviva Zornberg.

"From Darkness To Light: The New History of Jewish-Christian Relations," at Newbridge on the Charles, Dedham, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Fridays mornings, 9:30 – 11:30 am, alternating weeks, beginning October 25.
  • Full class schedule: October 25; November 8, 22; December 6, 20; January 10, 24; February 7, 28; March 13, 27: April 17. Snow/sick day: May 1.
  • Cost: $300. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

Thoughtful Jews and Christians stand at a rare moment in the early twenty-first century. Recent developments point to a future that might be very different from what was often a sad and tragic past. For example, the famous declaration “Nostra Aetate”, issued by the Catholic Church in 1965, offered a new and sympathetic perspective on Jewish Christian relations. In addition, fascinating advances in scholarship by both Jewish and Christian researchers have invited all of us to re-imagine, in radical ways, the original emergence of what we now call “Christianity” from the matrix of Judaism in the first century CE.

These and other developments promise new hope for those who seek to repair the complex and often tragic history of Jewish Christian relations, and who look forward to Jews and Christians living side by side, in their respective faiths, as friends and allies.

In this course, we will study the often painful history of Jewish Christian relations, drawing on the latest scholarship and innovative paradigms. Our focus will be on what happened, on why it happened and, above all, on how understanding the deep reasons behind past events can liberate us to envision a better future. Through this kind of study contemporary Jews and Christians can fully grasp that the future need not be like the past.

Among other topics, we will take up the following issues: the Jewishness of Jesus, the essential role of Paul and the relationship between his teachings and Judaism, the central nature of Rabbinic Judaism, Church doctrine and theological ideas about Jews in the middle ages, the Crusades, popular prejudices against Jews in Europe, the Reformation and the Jews, Christian Hebraism, British Protestant attitudes toward Jews, Vatican II and the Jews, and the relationships between Evangelical Christianity and Jews. All readings, including those from the Tankah and the New Testament, will made available free of charge to registered students. As with previous Me’ah Select courses, the instructor intends to strike a balance between providing information frontally, and facilitating spirited conversation among the usually well-informed and engaged students at Newbridge!

"The Creation of The Modern Jew: European Nationalism, Zionism, and American Jewish Life," offered by the Lexington Collaborative, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: at Temple Emunah, Thursdays mornings, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning October 24.
  • Full class schedule: October 24, 31; November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19; January 9, 16. Snow/sick day: Jan. 23.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.
  • Registration for this class is through chaverweb. Please note that when registering via chaverweb, Temple Emunah members may use their login; all others may create a guest account. Then go to “events sign-up” and look for “Me’ah Select.”

The advent of the Enlightenment in Europe led to legal Emancipation that freed Jews from their centuries-long separate existence. As nationalism led to the establishment of culturally distinct nation-states, Jews found themselves “officially” invited to become citizens. But this new legal status did not by itself alter the religious and cultural otherness of the Jews. The Jews’ new status was challenging and often entailed adverse and even tragic consequences.

How did Jews — and some non-Jews — respond to this situation?

In this course we will begin with the background of nineteenth and twentieth century nationalism, and will then focus on to the two most important responses to this challenging situation: Zionism and the creation of American Jewish life. Both endeavored to make it possible for Jews to fit into a society and to call it “home.” Modern Jewish life is a direct consequence of these two responses.

I. The Background of Nationalism
We will first consider the all-important phenomenon of European nationalism. After introducing the history of nationalism in general, and in Europe in the nineteenth century specifically, we take up three non-Jewish writers — one Scottish, one English, and one Irish — who created a Jewish hero or heroine in order to work out issues connected to the nationalism of their own time and place. Through excerpts from their novels, we will encounter Walter Scott’s enchanting and inspiring Jewish heroine Rebecca (Ivanhoe), George Eliot’s proto-Zionist English Jew Deronda (Daniel Deronda), and James Joyce’s famously Jewish hero and anti-hero, Leopold Bloom (Ulysses). Interestingly, for each one of these writers, it is a Jewish protagonist who will open up new perspectives on the sort of Scottish, or English, or Irish nationalism each author champions.

II. Zionism
In the second part of the course, we will examine the best-known Jewish response to European nationalism: Zionism, which is often held to be at least partly a translation of European nationalism into Jewish terms. We will read selections from nineteenth Jewish essayists and thinkers who preceded Herzl, such as Moses Hess, Leon Pinsker, and Rabbi Judah Alkali. We will then move on to selections from Herzl’s novel Old New Land, essays by Ahad Ha-Am, and some of the kabbalistic-nationalistic writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. We will end our explorations with extracts from contemporary Israeli texts and memoirs that describe civic identity, day-to-day life, and nationalism in Israel from varied and divergent points of view.

III. Creating Jewish Life In America
Finally, we will study ways in which American Jews in the mid-twentieth century helped to formulate and disseminate an image of America that was welcoming to outsiders and accepting of diversity. On the one hand, we will explore attempts to characterize Jewish traditions and Judaism as just another American religion, which allowed to Jews participate more or less completely in American life. On the other hand, we will study how the unique message that Jewish writers, composers, and producers infused into Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals: that America is a welcoming place for all outsiders, including Jews, and that America’s greatness lies in her underlying values of pluralism and tolerance. We will watch selected clips of these movies and musicals to further enrich this learning experience.

"Old New World: The History of Zionist Ideas," at Hebrew College, Newton, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Rabbi Neal Gold
  • Meets: Tuesday mornings, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, beginning November 5, 2019
  • Full class schedule: November 5, 12, 19; December 3, 10, 17; January 7, 14, 21, 28. Snow/sick day: February 4.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>> REGISTER

Zionism sprouted from modernity, the 19th century social and intellectual trends that challenged just what, exactly, it meant to be a Jew in a new era of history. In this class we’ll explore how those ideas impacted the Jewish people in Israel and in America. We’ll look at the key ideas of Zionism, including the writings of Theodor Herzl, Ahad Ha’am, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Henrietta Szold, Louis Brandeis, and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. And we’ll learn the post-1948 and post-1967 changes expressed by the thinkers, poets, and artists who shaped these generations. To understand their ideas is essential for understanding why and how the State of Israel came to be, why it looks the way it does today, and what it all means for 21st Century Judaism.

"Cinematic Midrash: The Movies "Take" on Biblical Text," at Hebrew College, Newton, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Lynne Heller
  • Meets: Thursday evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning October 24
  • Full class schedule: October 24, 31; November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19; January 9, 16. Snow/sick days: January 23, 30.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>> REGISTER

Cinema grapples with levels of reality as well as themes from antiquity and frequently is in conversation with a biblical text. We shall do a close reading of selected foundational biblical texts. Then we will screen award-winning movies from recent Jewish Film festivals ,as well as scenes from the super hero genre (Wonder Woman  and Black Panther) to unpack and further interpret biblical themes through the lens of modernity and social commentary. Bring your Bible, your brain, and critical eye. Artisan  popcorn will be provided!

"Modern Jewish Mystical Masters," at Hebrew College, Newton, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Rabbi Natan Margalit
  • Meets: Thursday mornings, 9:45 am – 12:15 pm, beginning October 24
  • Full class schedule: October 24, 31; November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19; January 9, 23. Snow/sick day: January 30.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>> REGISTER

In this class we’ll get an opportunity to study the thought, practices and lives of some of the most profound and influential Jewish mystics of the modern era. Building on the earlier mystical traditions of heavenly ascents, Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah, numerology and early Hasidic spirituality we’ll delve deeply into some middle and later Hasidic masters such as Yehudah Arieh Leib Alter (the S’fat Emet), Mordecai Yosef Leiner, (the Ishbitzer Rebbe), Kalman Kalonymous Shapiro (the Piazetzner Rebbe) as well as 20th and 21st century figures who took Jewish mysticism into new directions such as Abraham Isaac Kook, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Zalman Schachter Shalomi, and contemporary  teachers of mystical Judaism such as Shefa Gold and Arthur Green. English translations of texts will always be available and the class is open to all.

"Crucial Moments in the Israeli Experience through the Lens of Short Stories," Temple Emanuel, Newton, Fall 2019

  • Instructor:  Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Wednesday mornings, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning October 23.
  • Full class schedule: October 23, 30; November 6, 13, 20; December 4, 11, 18; January 8, 15. Snow/sick days: January 22, 29.
  • Cost: $325; $625 if you register for both fall and spring class. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

This course aims to introduce students to certain critical moments in the history of the modern state of Israel through short stories that range from the earliest days of the pioneers to the twenty-first century. Written by men and women, Ashkenazim and Sefardim/Mizrachim, Jews and Arabs, secularists and traditionalists, these stories open up for us uniquely visceral and imaginative windows on many of the compelling events that have shaped the history of Israel.

Although our focus each week will be on the stories, excerpts from various academic and secondary sources will also be supplied, in order to provide historical background for the setting of each story. Depending on logistical considerations we may also screen one or two Israeli films, which tie in to some of the stories.

"The Making of the Modern Jew: European Nationalism, Zionism, and American Jewish Life,"Congregation B'nai Torah, Sudbury, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Thursdays evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning October 24.
  • Full class schedule: October 24, 31; November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19; January 9, 16. Snow/sick day: January 23.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>> REGISTER

The advent of the Enlightenment in Europe led to legal Emancipation that freed Jews from their centuries-long separate existence. As nationalism led to the establishment of culturally distinct nation-states, Jews found themselves “officially” invited to become citizens. But this new legal status did not by itself alter the religious and cultural otherness of the Jews. The Jews’ new status was challenging and often entailed adverse and even tragic consequences.

How did Jews — and some non-Jews — respond to this situation?

In this course we will begin with the background of nineteenth and twentieth century nationalism, and will then focus on to the two most important responses to this challenging situation: Zionism and the creation of American Jewish life. Both endeavored to make it possible for Jews to fit into a society and to call it “home.” Modern Jewish life is a direct consequence of these two responses.

I. The Background of Nationalism
We will first consider the all-important phenomenon of European nationalism. After introducing the history of nationalism in general, and in Europe in the nineteenth century specifically, we take up three non-Jewish writers — one Scottish, one English, and one Irish — who created a Jewish hero or heroine in order to work out issues connected to the nationalism of their own time and place. Through excerpts from their novels, we will encounter Walter Scott’s enchanting and inspiring Jewish heroine Rebecca (Ivanhoe), George Eliot’s proto-Zionist English Jew Deronda (Daniel Deronda), and James Joyce’s famously Jewish hero and anti-hero, Leopold Bloom (Ulysses). Interestingly, for each one of these writers, it is a Jewish protagonist who will open up new perspectives on the sort of Scottish, or English, or Irish nationalism each author champions.

II. Zionism
In the second part of the course, we will examine the best-known Jewish response to European nationalism: Zionism, which is often held to be at least partly a translation of European nationalism into Jewish terms. We will read selections from nineteenth Jewish essayists and thinkers who preceded Herzl, such as Moses Hess, Leon Pinsker, and Rabbi Judah Alkali. We will then move on to selections from Herzl’s novel Old New Land, essays by Ahad Ha-Am, and some of the kabbalistic-nationalistic writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. We will end our explorations with extracts from contemporary Israeli texts and memoirs that describe civic identity, day-to-day life, and nationalism in Israel from varied and divergent points of view.

III. Creating Jewish Life In America
Finally, we will study ways in which American Jews in the mid-twentieth century helped to formulate and disseminate an image of America that was welcoming to outsiders and accepting of diversity. On the one hand, we will explore attempts to characterize Jewish traditions and Judaism as just another American religion, which allowed to Jews participate more or less completely in American life. On the other hand, we will study how the unique message that Jewish writers, composers, and producers infused into Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals: that America is a welcoming place for all outsiders, including Jews, and that America’s greatness lies in her underlying values of pluralism and tolerance. We will watch selected clips of these movies and musicals to further enrich this learning experience.

"In Search of Character: Exploring Biblical Personalities," Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, Fall 2019

  • Instructor: Rabbi Benjamin Samuels
  • Meets: Wednesday mornings, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m., beginning October 23.
  • Full class schedule: October 23, 30; November 6, 13, 20; December 4, 11, 18; January 8, 15; January 22, 29. Snow/sick day: February 5.
  • Cost: $300. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details

>>REGISTER

The Hebrew Bible shares precious little description about the personalities that fill its pages. Rather, the character of its personalities inheres in their words and deeds. Join us for a series of interactive text studies of major and minor biblical personalities explored through the interpretive readings of the Talmud, the Midrash, as well as of medieval and modern commentaries.

12 Topics:
–Abraham and the Discovery of God
–Love Shared, Love Lost: Rachel and Leah
–The Dynamics of Remorse: The Repentance of Joseph’s Brothers
–The Ethics of Extremism: How are Zealots, Heroes, and Thugs Different? The Case of Simon and Levi
–Moses: The Early Years, Leadership and Its Development
–Counselor and Confidante: Jethro
–Miriam: Prophetess of a Nation
–The Blasphemer: Rebel with a Cause
–The Politics of Rebellion; Korach and His Assembly
–Property, Power, and the Politics of Gender: The Daughters of Tzelaphechad
–The Problem of Pain in the Book of Job
–Paragons of Virtue or Fallible Human Beings? The Morality of our Patriarchs, Matriarchs, and Biblical Heroes

"Crucial Moments in the Israeli Experience through the Lens of Short Stories," Beth El Temple Center, Belmont, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor:  Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Tuesday evenings, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., beginning January 21.
  • Full class schedule: January 21, 28; February 4, 11, 25; March 3, 17, 24, 31; April 7, 21. Snow/sick day: April 28.
  • Cost: $280 for temple members, $300 for non-members. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

This course aims to introduce students to certain critical moments in the history of the modern state of Israel through short stories that range from the earliest days of the pioneers to the twenty-first century. Written by men and women, Ashkenazim and Sefardim/Mizrachim, Jews and Arabs, secularists and traditionalists, these stories open up for us uniquely visceral and imaginative windows on many of the compelling events that have shaped the history of Israel.

Although our focus each week will be on the stories, excerpts from various academic and secondary sources will also be supplied, in order to provide historical background for the setting of each story. Depending on logistical considerations we may also screen one or two Israeli films, which tie in to some of the stories.

"Judaism and Science Talk To Each Other: a Class for Believers, Skeptics, Scientists, and Thinkers of all Kinds," at Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor:  Rabbi Richard “Rim” Meirowitz
  • Meets: Wednesday evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m., beginning February 5.
  • Full class schedule: Feb. 5, 12, 26; March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 1, 22, 29. Snow/sick days: June 3 and June 10.
  • Cost: $250 for temple members, $350 non temple members. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details

>>REGISTER

Much discussion about science and religion in the past century has fallen into two schools of thinking. One is that science and religion are incompatible and in opposition to each other. We see that in the battle between evolution and creationism. Another school of thought is that religion and science are two distinct ways of looking at the world that don’t intersect or speak to each other. Stephen Jay Gould says that science discovers how things work. Religion talks about how things ought to be. They have different sources of authority. He calls them “non-overlapping magisterial.”

This course will attempt to have science and Judaism overlap each other, talk to each other, and inform each others’ thinking. The basic text for the course will be: “Renewing the Process of Creation: A Jewish Integration of Science and Spirit” by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson. Other books we will refer to include: “Judaism, Physics and God: Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World,” by Rabbi David Nelson, “The God that Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science and the Future of Our Planet,” by Nancy Ellen Abrams, and “The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos,” by Dr. Joel R. Primack, emeritus professor of physics and one of the principal originators of the theory of Cold Dark Matter, and his wife, Nancy Ellen Abrams, a philosopher of
science.

Each class will have its own focus, i.e. what does neuroscience tell us about the soul. One could do a lot of reading for the class, but I will try to make sure each class is generally understandable with a reasonable amount of reading.

"Magic, Miracles, and Messiahs: The Supernatural in Jewish Tradition," The Boston Synagogue, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor:  David Bernat
  • Meets: Thursday evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m., beginning January.
  • Full class schedule: January 16, 23, 30; February 6, 13, 27; March 5, 12, 19, 26. Snow/sick days: April 2, 23.
  • Cost:$300. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details

>> REGISTER

The course takes an in-depth and historical perspective on aspects of the supernatural in Jewish practice, text, and tradition.  Topics include amulets, exorcism, and omens, miracle working “super-heroes,” angels and demons, underworld, afterlife, resurrection of the dead, and Messianic movements.  We will study material from the Biblical period to the Rabbinic era, looking at authoritative writings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Talmud, alongside artifacts of “popular culture,” such as the Jewish Aramaic incantation bowls of Nippur, Babylon.

"The Sacred and the Profane: Creating Modernity and the Modern Jew," Lexington Collaborative, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor: Rabbi Leonard Gordon, D. Min.
  • Meets: At Temple EmunahThursday mornings 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning January 30.
  • Full class schedule: January 30; February 6, 13, 27; March 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 23.  Snow/sick days April 30; May 7.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.
  • Registration for this class is through chaverweb. Please note that when registering via chaverweb, Temple Emunah members may use their login; all others may create a guest account. Then go to “events sign-up” and look for “Me’ah Select.”

Beginning with Spinoza and concluding with contemporary Jewish feminists, our class will consider how secular and religious Jews shaped modern Judaism and modernism itself.  Often pairing religious and secular figures who were contemporaries we will look at the enlightenment, messianism, moral philosophy, Hassidism, life in Israel and the diaspora, the origins of the denominations and Feminism.  Figures we will read include: Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Marx, Scholem, Ahad Haam, Freud, Salanter, the Hafetz Hayyim, Buber, Rosenzweig, Roth, Bialik, Rachel, Amichai, Plaskow, Piercy, Falk and Lefkovitz.

"Yesodot: Foundational Jewish Values and Core Ideas," Lexington Collaborative, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor: Rabbi Benjamin Samuels
  • Meets: At Temple Isaiah, Mondays evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m., beginning February 10.
  • Full class schedule:  February 10, 24; March 2, 16, 23, 30; April 6, 27; May 4, 11. Snow/sick day: May 18.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.
  • Registration for this class is through chaverweb. Please note that when registering via chaverweb, Temple Emunah members may use their login; all others may create a guest account. Then go to “events sign-up” and look for “Me’ah Select.”

What does it mean to be Jewish? Jewish life hopscotches across four different domains of relationship: between us and God (ultimacy); between people (interpersonal ethics); between us and our world (peoplehood and stewardship); and between each person and his/herself (personal responsibility). In this course, we will study core values and ideas in each of these domains, seek to establish for ourselves fundamental literacy in foundational Jewish values and core ideas.

"The Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Short Stories" at the JCC of the North Shore, Marblehead, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor: Dr. Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Thursday evenings, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, beginning January 30.
  • Full class schedule: January 30; February 6, 13, 27; March 5, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 23, 30. Snow/sick days May 7, 14.
  • Cost: $300. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

Most of us learn the history of Jews and Judaism in the modern period from scholarly texts and original documents. This invaluable view of the big picture leaves out the lived dimension of the events.

How did Jewish individuals in widely separated and quite different communities experience the challenges and changes of modernity? How did these experiences, and the feelings they evoked, shape new Jewish hopes and projects?

This course uses Jewish short stories, beginning in the late 19th century, from England, Russia, Eastern Europe, Israel, and America.

The stories give us unique insights into generational struggles, changing gender roles, and the search for “authentic Judaism” outside the precincts of religion. The most recent stories highlight the fear that traditional forms of Jewish memory and identity may be disappearing entirely, and ask whether these can be replaced with a commitment to social justice or with “Israeliness.”

Writers include Mizrachim and Ashkenazim, a European Christian, Christian Arab and Muslim Arab citizens of the state of Israel, Eastern European and Russian Jews, British Jews, American Jews, and Jewish Israelis. A partial list of authors includes: Grace Aguilar, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, Chaim Grade, George Eliot, Nathan Englander, Michal Govrin, Dara Horn, Franz Kafka, Sayeed Kashua, Amy Levy, Savyon Liebrecht, Bernard Malamud, Arthur Miller, Amos Oz, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Philip Roth, Mendele Mocher Seforim, Yaakov Shabtai, Moshe Shamir, Anton Shammas, Ayelet Tsabari, Israel Zangwill, and Stefan Zweig.

"Values in Practice: The Jewish Holidays in Jewish Law and Custom," Hebrew College, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor: Rabbi Benjamin Samuels
  • Meets: Tuesday mornings, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, beginning February 25.
  • Full class schedule:  February 25; March 3, 17, 24, 31; April 7, 21, 28; May 5, 12. Snow/sick day: May 19.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

Imagine a rolling ball. As it rolls the ball revolves, even as it advances forward. So too the Jewish calendar. Over the cycling course of the Jewish year, we rehearse the Jewish story, shape our identities and reimagine our personal potential, reaffirm our national destiny, and experience the full gamut of human emotion – celebration, mourning, inspired responses to calls to kindness and justice, and reliving formative experiences as if for the first time. Embedded in all our ritual practices are the core values of Jewish living and aspiration. In this course, we will study the Jewish calendar and yearly holiday cycle. We will highlight the primary mitzvot and ritual practices of the year, and study deeply their historical roots and religious power.

"Unpacking Antisemitism: Religious Origins, Modern Forms, and Contemporary Dynamics," Hebrew College, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor:  Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Thursday mornings, 9:45 – 12:15 p.m., February 6.
  • Full class schedule: February 6, 13, 27; March 5, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 23, 30. Snow/sick days May 7, 14.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

In this course we will study the complex origins of ancient and medieval “antijudaism”, focusing on Christian and Islamic sources, on how different thinkers interpreted these sources in different times and places, and on the historical events that flowed from these interpretations.  With respect to Christian tradition these origins are to be found in certain New Testament writings, and in the history of the first two or three centuries of the first millenium, which saw the gradual formation of the Church.  With respect to Islamic tradition they lie in re-tellings of the paradigmatic life-story of Muhammad, and in parts of certain surahs (chapters) in the Qu’ran.

However — according to many historians and sociologists, it is vital to understand the distinction between this ancient and medieval   “antijudaism”, which is hatred of Jews on religious grounds, and what we call today “antisemitism”.  In this course we will strive to understand how  religious antijudaism became transformed, with the rise of the Enlightenment, into modern “antisemitism”.  Modern antisemitism, unlike its ancient and medieval ancestor which was rooted in religion, has a dangerous variety of forms: it can be religious, or economic, or racial, or political, or all of these together, and so on.  We will draw on this understanding to try to grasp the many currents and trends that drive antisemitism today in our contemporary world.  In addition, we will look at psychological and cultural accounts of antisemitism, to determine how they help us make sense of this challenging phenomenon.  Finally, we will explore ways in which intellectual elites made use of the idea of Judaism, often in the absence of any contact with or knowledge of flesh and blood Jews, to concoct antisemitic narratives and images.  These antisemitic narratives and images, once disseminated via books and pamphlets, and now via the internet, all too often end up shaping how common people would look at real, flesh and blood Jews.

Readings will be drawn from the New Testament, the Qu’ran, early Christian and Islamic interpretive materials, modern documents, and secondary sources on the history and nature of modern and contemporary antisemitism.

"The Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Short Stories," with the Newton Centre Minyan, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor:  Jacob Meskin
  • Meets: Wednesday evenings, 7:15 – 9:15 pm, beginning February 5.
  • Full class schedule: February 5, 12, 26; March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 1, 22, 29; May 6, 13. Snow/sick days May 20, 27.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details.

>>REGISTER

Most of us learn the history of Jews and Judaism in the modern period from scholarly texts and original documents. This invaluable view of the big picture leaves out the lived dimension of the events.

How did Jewish individuals in widely separated and quite different communities experience the challenges and changes of modernity? How did these experiences, and the feelings they evoked, shape new Jewish hopes and projects?

This course uses Jewish short stories, beginning in the late 19th century, from England, Russia, Eastern Europe, Israel, and America.

The stories give us unique insights into generational struggles, changing gender roles, and the search for “authentic Judaism” outside the precincts of religion. The most recent stories highlight the fear that traditional forms of Jewish memory and identity may be disappearing entirely, and ask whether these can be replaced with a commitment to social justice or with “Israeliness.”

Writers include Mizrachim and Ashkenazim, a European Christian, Christian Arab and Muslim Arab citizens of the state of Israel, Eastern European and Russian Jews, British Jews, American Jews, and Jewish Israelis. A partial list of authors includes: Grace Aguilar, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, Chaim Grade, George Eliot, Nathan Englander, Michal Govrin, Dara Horn, Franz Kafka, Sayeed Kashua, Amy Levy, Savyon Liebrecht, Bernard Malamud, Arthur Miller, Amos Oz, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Philip Roth, Mendele Mocher Seforim, Yaakov Shabtai, Moshe Shamir, Anton Shammas, Ayelet Tsabari, Israel Zangwill, and Stefan Zweig.

"Thrice-told Tales: Biblical Stories in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Traditions," Temple Emanuel, Newton, Winter/Spring 2020

You know the story of Joseph and his brothers? Its plot, its characters, its setting? But are you sure there’s only one story of Joseph? What about Sarah, who sent out her husband’s concubine Hagar? Or how about a story from Christian scriptures, such as Mary the mother of Jesus? In this course, we will consider biblical stories from both the Hebrew Bible as well as the Gospels to see how Jews, Christians, and Muslims have told and retold these tales in antiquity and the early medieval period.

"An Introduction to Islam for Jews," at Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor: Dr. Alan Verskin
  • Meets: Wednesday mornings, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m., beginning February 12.
  • Full class schedule: Feb 12, 26; March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 1, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20. Snow/sick day May 27.
  • Cost: $300. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details

>>REGISTER

This course provides a general introduction to Islam with special attention given to its commonalities and differences with Judaism. We will explore the life of Muhammad and how Islam developed after his death, including the emergence of Sunni, Shiʿi and other Islamic sects. We will discuss important forms of Islamic religious expression including Sufism (mysticism), Islamic philosophy and Shari‘ah law. We will discuss Islamic ideas of religious toleration and how they relate to the concept of Jihad. Special attention will be paid to Islamic parallels with Judaism, e.g., the Qur’an and its relationship to the Bible, and Shari’ah and Halakhah. Finally, we will discuss contemporary relations between Muslims and Jews, including the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

We also welcome feedback and requests for class topics. Please contact us if you would like to suggest a new class or if you are interested in coordinating a class at your site. To see past Me’ah Select offerings, click here.

This class was wonderful! The content, the instructor’s enthusiastic teaching — he made a complex topic interesting and fun. Thank you.

Want to learn more about Me’ah?

If you need additional information or have questions about registration, please contact Marilyn Stern, Associate Director, Me’ah Classic & Select, at 617-559-8614 or meah@hebrewcollege.edu.