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

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
From the Secular to the Religious: How Leading Jewish Thinkers Shaped Judaism and Modernism Rabbi Leonard Gordon, D. Min. Lexington Collaborative: Temple Emunah Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., beginning January 30, 2020. Register
Standing On One Foot: Essential 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
Women Warriors of Latin America Dr. Dalia Wassner With Metrowest in Sudbury, at Congregation B’nai Torah, Sudbury Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:30 pm, beginning March 12, 2020. Register
An Introduction to Islam for Jews Dr. Alan Verskin Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley Wednesdays, 9:30 – 11:30 am, beginning February 12, 2020. Register

Fall 2019 Me’ah Select Classes:

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
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; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu to be placed on a 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.

"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.

"From the Secular to the Religious: How Leading Jewish Thinkers Shaped Judaism and Modernism," 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.

"Standing On One Foot: Essential 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 types of relationships: between the individual and God; between ourselves and others; between us and our world; and between each of us and ourselves.  We will look at each of these domains—ultimacy, interpersonal ethics, peoplehood and stewardship, and personal responsibility—through the lens of core Jewish values. The course is designed for people – from beginners to advanced learners ­ –   who would like to embark on a sophisticated study of foundational Jewish values and core ideas with an eye towards how they shape the lives we want to live. Your Jewish perspective will be reframed and refreshed.

"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 as they are told and retold in early Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts to see how Jews, Christians and Muslims navigated their commonality and difference in antiquity and the early medieval period.

"Women Warriors of Latin America," Congregation B'nai Torah, Sudbury, Winter/Spring 2020

  • Instructor: Dr. Dalia Wassner
  • Meets: Thursday evenings, 7:00  – 9:30 p.m., beginning March 12.
  • Full class schedule: March 12, 19, 26; April 2, 23, 30; May 7, 14, 21; June 4. Snow/sick day June 11.
  • Cost: $350. Financial aid is available; please contact meah@hebrewcollege.edu for details

>>REGISTER

Centered on the interplay between gender and religion in Latin America, this course focuses on the women who impacted the cultural, social, and political landscapes of the Jewish communities and broader societies of which they were a part. Through an emphasis on literature from the region, students will learn of Jewish minority culture in the historical contexts of colonialism, national independence, modern revolutions, migrations, borderland politics, and diaspora-Israel relations.

"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.