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Fall 2013 Courses

Jews the Word

Do you like to tell a good story?  Then this is the class for you!  Each week we will write a short story (or for those so inclined, a chapter of a book) using various different Jewish themes as a jumping off point.  We will also be reading and enjoying together, excerpts from a variety of Jewish authors and examining how the authors Jewish background effects his/her writing and story.  Come to class with notebooks and pencils sharpened!  We will be sharing and critiquing each other's work and each student will select one work to contribute to a class publication.  (Additionally, students can choose to read one of their works aloud at the Hannukah celebration).

Shir Chadash

This will be a course for experienced musicians (vocalists need not be experienced but MUST have willingness to want to sing out loud!).  A portion of this class will be Jewish music appreciation as students are exposed to a vast world of music - Jewish rock, accapella, jazz, etc - mainly focused on contemporary versions of liturgy based themes.    The other portion of the class will be spent "jammin'" - musicians will learn, play and perform some of these songs as well as compose an original Hanukkah song to be played at the Mifgash Hannukah party!   Instrumentalists MUST bring instruments each week.  Some practicing outside of class will be expected.

King David's Palace

In this course, we will review the fascinating and entertaining Biblical books of 1st and 2nd Samuel (Shmuel Alef and Bet). These books tell the story of the rise of the Israelite kingdom, centering on King David but with a large supporting cast of other interesting characters. We'll study the texts in the original, explore some rabbinic interpretations, and even sprinkle in some looks at the archaeology and history of ancient Israel.

The Juiciest Parts of Tanach!

In this course, we will study a number of fascinating episodes from Tanach. Some will be familiar; most, hopefully, less so. We'll discuss how these texts – sometimes gory, sometimes disturbing - challenge our understanding of what our Biblical canon is, how it works, and how it impacts our faith and practice today. And most of all, we'll have fun laughing at the humor (yes, Biblical humor can be quite sophisticated!), cringing at the pain (yes, sometimes the Bible can be quite painful!), and growing together in our understanding of these challenging texts and how our tradition responds to them.

Avoda Aravit

Using the Israeli television show of the same name, Avoda Aravit will take Hebrew language in a new direction. Each week, students will be given a synopsis of the episode, watch a short segment of the episode, and discuss it in depth in either English or Hebrew. The Beginners class will be watching subtitled content; the Advanced students will watch as it appeared on television in Israel. In January 2008,  Isabel Kershner wrote in The New York Times, “In a refreshing departure, “Avoda Aravit” focuses on a young professional Arab couple, Amjad and Bushra, and their way-too-smart, eye-rolling, preschool-age daughter, who live in an Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Amjad is a journalist working for a Hebrew newspaper. His best friend, Meir, is a Jewish photographer there.” (The New York Times,  January 7, 2008 ) CNN's story on the show and its creators and actors is here.

Can Moshe Marry Jeremy

This class will discuss an overview of Jewish thoughts on homosexuality and other forms of sexuality discussed in the Torah. Consideration will be given to all denominations of Judaism. The class will involve discussions of specific texts from the Torah and modern Jewish thought on the issues. The class will also include a discussion of recent, pertinent US Supreme Court Decisions.

History of Jews in Europe

Did you ever wonder what life was like in the "Old Country" for most of our great grandparents, and their great grandparents before them?  How they got there and why they left (or why they didn't)?  This class will focus on the 2,000 year old story of the Jews of Europe and their experiences living as a minority among their Christian neighbors during many of the major events of modern history.  We will explore the history of Jewish life in Europe during key historical moments such as the Black Plague, the Crusades, the discovery of the New World, the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Napoleonic era and rise of the modern nationalism, radicalism, and a host of other "isms" too numerous to mention here.  Parent/Student Advisory:  The instructor reserves the right to use snippets from Hollywood movies and musicals of questionable value to provide a potentially inaccurate visual portrayal of historic events.

What's Nu?

This discussion based class will involve a review and analysis of current events, themes and issues impacting  us as members of both the Albany and the world Jewish community.  We’ll talk the latest events in Israel, local and national politics, entertainment, sports, cultural and religious issues, academic experiences, ...and okay, llike, you know, pop culture … really anything of relevance and interest that either the instructor or the students can think of. When necessary, we’ll consider the historical context of current situations to help understand how we got to where we are today. Bring your perspectives, views and opinions to class and be ready to share them

Judaism in American Law

The purpose of the class would be to provide students with a general understanding of issues in American Law that impact the Jewish community. It would focus, in particular, on Supreme Court cases addressing Church-State relations, but would also touch on other cases relating to American Jewry.

Tikkun Olam

Usually translated as “repairing the world,” Tikkun Olam is a concept that we use to focus our attention on doing good deeds and community service. Students will practice Tikkun Olam, weaving it into an integral part of our educational experience. By participating in weekly programs and and activities, students will not only be learning but living this Jewish principle. Part of our experience will also be the exploration of the concept of Tikkun Olam and different areas that fall under this large category and implementing our ideas into making Albany a better place.

Jews In Sports

This class will discuss famous and not so famous Jewish sports figures. From Hank Greenberg to Ryan Braun and Mark Spitz to Samuel Berger (Jewish Olympic boxer from 1904). Each class we will discuss different Jewish contributions to the wide world of sports.

Art of the Word

Join with other students with an interest in creating art. We will use a piece of Jewish text which has great meaning, discuss it, interpret it, and turn it into a visual wonder. There is a $30.00 materials fee for this course.

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