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Spring 2013

Advanced Hebrew

The students will use contemporary songs and games to help practice both reading and speaking out loud. The focus of this course is on making Hebrew accessible and to share the joy of modern Israeli Hebrew.

Great Debates

Jewish tradition celebrates our right to think for ourselves, to argue fiercely for our point of view, and to interpret the laws of Torah. The reason we argue is because at the heart of every great debate is a values conflict worth arguing about. During this course, we will weigh these age old values conflicts – justice and mercy, the rights of the individual and the needs of the community, leadership and obedience – and apply them to modern context. Pirkei Avot 5:20 tells us that “Every argument that is for the sake of Heaven will make a lasting contribution,” so come ready to debate in the tradition of our sages, machloket l’shem shamayim: vigorous but respectful debate that advances communal well-being and the pursuit of truth and justice in the world!

How Would You Spend Your First Million?

Congratulations! You’ve just won $1,000,000.00! Or maybe you earned in the stock market. However you got it, now you’ve got to give it away. This course will teach you how to evaluate and choose where your dollars will go. We will begin by learning what is entailed in setting up an philanthropic organization and how philanthropies position themselves in the market for donors. Over the course of the semester, the students will work independently to identify and classify Jewish philanthropic organizations within a given sphere, develop a list of priorities and goals, and then budget their money according to those priorities and goals.

Israel Celebrates 65!

Discover the miracles that have created the modern world of Israel which celebrates 65 years this Spring. Learn about how this small nation has become a world leader in science, technology, medicine, the arts, military, and more. Using visual thinking, typography and fonts, students will creatively express Israel’s achievements over 65 years.

Jews in the News

This discussion-based class will involve a review of current events and issues affecting Israel, Jews around the world and here at home. We’ll talk politics, entertainment, sports, culture and religious issues, war, peace, academic experiences… really anything the befuddled instructor or the students who so optimistically enrolled in the class can think of. When necessary, we’ll explore the historical context of current situations to help understand how we got to where we are today.


You applied. You were accepted. You packed up your room. Make sure that you don’t leave your Judaism behind! Jew.U is a hands-on guide to living Jewishly on campus. We will discuss how to observe your first high holidays away from home, how to decide if you should join a fraternity or sorority, how to find the right place to eat during Passover, how to talk to non-Jewish roommates about Judaism, how to find common ground with Jewish students from different backgrounds and how to find a Jewish home for yourself on campus. College is about diversity, offering up countless options, choices that YOU will now have to make on your own, and Jew.U is your orientation. (Open to Juniors and Seniors only.)

The History of Hate

This class will survey the legal aspects of “hate crimes” including but not limited to relevant cases and the new federal legislation. We will discuss what the term “hate crime” means and how labeling a crime as a “hate crime” affects the prosecution and outcome of the case. The class will review the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act and how it has been expanded over the last 46 years include special acts based on bias against a specific group, culminating (so far) in the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

What’s a Jewish Girl to Do?

Over the course of the history of K’lal Yisrael, Jewish women have experienced a distinct, evolving relationship with Jewish tradition that is different from the relationship experienced by men. During this course, learners will have a chance to talk with their peers about whether is such thing as a ‘good Jewish girl.’ We will engage with Jewish tradition and rabbinic text while creating a safe space to address issues of harassment and bullying, sexuality, eating disorders, body image and substance abuse in a Jewish context. Students will learn what sacred text has to say about these issues while gaining tools to grapple with the question, “How do we incorporate what it means to be a Jewish woman into our identity as members of k’lal Yisrael?”

Where Do I Stand?

This class will discuss connections between Jewish Law, secular law and ethical considerations on issues prevalent in society today. Topics will include Jewish views concerning business decisions (including those academic/school issues), charitable giving, lashon hara (mean speech and bullying), family issues, marriage and sexual relations, politics, war, capital punishment, relations with non-Jews, treatment of animals, treatment of your body, and treatment of the environment.

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.

Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict

A frank review and discussion of the history – after all, we need to know where we’ve been in order to know where we’re going – paralleled with the current situation and the seemingly polar opposite perspectives of Arabs and Jews in the struggle for the Land of Israel. We will attempt to consider and understand arguments from the opposing sides in the conflict.

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