Catering to the most inquiring minds, courses at Amudim provide a strong basis in Tanakh, Talmud and Halakha, while addressing big existential questions and evolving approaches to issues such as the existence of God, Torah mi-Sinai, the problems of suffering and evil, Torah and secular knowledge, gender and sexuality, Judaism’s encounter with modern values and ethics, Judaism and politics, the environment, art and design, multiculturalism and technology.


Amudim and Yesodot

AMUDIM AND YESODOT

One of the cornerstones of Amudim’s educational philosophy is that students should become independent learners and that the year in Israel should introduce them to the tools that they will need to engage in a lifetime of Torah study, long after they have left the walls of Amudim’s Beit Midrash. This class is designed to venture into the realm of sophisticated Talmud Torah by directly presenting the variegated methods and approaches available to the modern lamdanit. Looking at case studies in Gemara, Tanach and Jewish philosophical and historical texts, this class will model and analyze the approaches of academia, “lumdus” (specifically Brisk), Nechama Leibowitz, “The Gush,” the phenomenon often called “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” Rashi’s innovations and more, each of which students will encounter and be taught to apply in their other classes at Amudim.

 

TanaKh

Morning Seder TanaKh

Twice a week, mornings will be devoted to learning Tanakh in depth. Tanakh classes at Amudim will focus on skill-building by introducing us to various lexicons, grammars, concordances, and other tools that open up a world of independent study. Study of Tanakh at Amudim may involve reading passages within their Near Eastern contexts and using “versions” (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls, Peshitta, Samaritan, other Targumim) together with the Masoretic text, as a useful tool for reconstructing some of the earliest interpretations and understandings of the Tanakh. In addition to skill-building, Tanakh classes will provide endless opportunities for discussion of values and ideology.  

Museum Mondays: Text in context

This particularly exciting and innovative Tanakh class will be held each Monday, off-campus, at the Bible Lands Museum, where the latest archaeological discoveries will bring Tanakh to life as we stand in front of the actual objects described in the text, giving us new perspective and fodder for analyzing it. From the Tower of Bavel to Megillat Esther, items on display will spark deep discussion about some of our most intriguing texts and concepts, for example, the origins of written language, the development of the Hebrew script, the evolving nature of idol worship in the Near East and Egypt, notions of the afterlife, the nature of warfare in ancient Israel and its environs, royal life in Persia, and much more. By looking at the Torah within its cultural context, we will come to understand the depth of the stories we know and love (and some we are less familiar with) and that we frequently take for granted.

The Book of Shemot: Birth of a Nation

The Book of Shemot takes us on a transformative journey from slavery in Egypt to an encounter with God at Har Sinai to the building of a House for God. Along the way, we witness the ups and downs, twists and turns, intrigues, rivalries and epiphanies that contribute to the emergence of Am Yisrael as an independent entity with a newfound identity. At the helm stands, of course, Moshe Rabbeinu, whose own process of maturation develops alongside his people. In this class, we will delve into the text and centuries of commentary to follow the parallel trajectories of a nation and its leader. Together, we will explore the major ideas, characters, motifs and patterns in this foundational sefer and learn valuable lessons about the Torah's notions of leadership, law, society, freedom and, ultimately, how it all ties into our relationship with God. 

Parsha in perspective

For hundreds of years, Jews around the world have read the parshat hashavua together, rendering the it an essential piece of Jewish learning. In this class, we assess the various hermeneutical approaches scholars have taken to the weekly Torah portion and seek to ascertain “good practices” when it comes to the composition of drashot and divrei Torah. We also discuss what the messages in the parsha can teach us in 2018.

The Akedah through the Ages

In this class, we will examine Jewish (and occasionally Christian and Muslim) portrayals of the biblical narrative of the Binding of Isaac from antiquity to the modern period, analyzing Talmudic, midrashic and later exegetical sources, addressing the philosophical and ethical conundrums associated with the narrative and emphasizing the interplay between gender, sonship, and sacrifice within Jewish culture and inter-religious polemics.

Gemara

Morning Seder Gemara

The Gemara occupies a central place in the Jewish canon; it is "required learning" for an educated Jew. In our Gemara class we will explore this fascinating and perplexing text using both the traditional methods of a yeshiva Gemara shiur, and additional modern tools that are available to us. Traditional methods will include studying Gemara with Rishonim, following the development of halakhic issues raised in the Gemara up to halakha le-m’aaseh, and of course learning be-chavruta, the challenging and fun method used in Batei Midrash worldwide, which allows you to form your own opinions and develop your own skills for a lifetime of learning. Modern tools that we will use include tracing the different layers in the development of the Gemara text, literary analysis of aggadot, and comparing the Gemara with other Jewish and non-Jewish texts of that time period. The Gemara's views will sometimes shock you, and will always make you think. Gemara class is not a spectator sport – be prepared to try new things, push yourself, question and debate!  

 

Gemara for Thinkers/Thinking for gemara

These companion courses train students to uncover the universal tools of logic embedded in the Gemara’s rhetoric, analyses and dialectics. Students come to understand the Gemara’s methodology, learn how to ask the correct questions, organize the various arguments, derive a sevara, and ultimately approach any area of knowledge in an intelligent manner.

 

 

Halakha

HALAKHA MORNING SEDER

Why do some people eat hot chicken on Shabbat and some do not?  What is the difference between Shabbat makeup and regular makeup? Is it true that you are not allowed to wipe a stain off your shirt on Shabbat and Yom Tov?

At Amudim, morning seder in halakha will be devoted to the intricate network of legal theories, principles, and practices that permeate Jewish life and infuse it with meaning. We will look specifically at the laws of Shabbat and Yom Tov, exploring and making sense of the highly technical details associated with these days and which render them a centerpiece of the Jewish experience. Tracing the halakha from its Talmudic origin through the rishonim, achronim and modern poskim, we will see the halakhic process in action as we strive to balance ancient texts and modern realities. Along the way, we will come to appreciate the value and beauty of living a life of commitment and intricacy. 

Rabbis respond to reality: Contemporary Poskim and their sh”ut

The century has posed a variety of new definitions of and relationships to concepts like “community,’ “authority,” “tradition,” “spirituality” and “truth.” This course highlights the ways in which new definitions and relationships have factored into and impacted the process of pesikat halakhah (halakhic ruling) in our age. Tracing the halakhic answers (known as she’elot u-teshivot or responsa literature) of central poskim of our generation, such as R. Moshe Feinstein, R. Shlomo Zlaman Auberbach, R. Yosef  Dov Halevi Soloveitchik, R. Ovadia Yosef, R. Aharon Lichtenstein and others, this class uncovers how the poskim have handled and continue to deal with ostensible tensions between halakha and modern life, including challenges to rabbinic authority, the growing sense of individuality, and participation in the global community. Looking deeply into rabbinic texts on topics concerning women, niddah, tzniut, women's Torah learning, and sexuality, students will, along the way, develop the skills necessary in navigating responsa literature.

BODY, BEAUTY, Gender and dress

What does it mean to be beautiful and who determines it? What or who determines how people dress? In this class, we will consider the historical, psychological, social, political and halakhic ramifications of beauty and dress. Placing special emphasis on the Jewish context, our discussions will cover issues such as shomer negiah, women's leadership roles and kol Isha, how they are connected to gender politics and "tzniut." Ultimately, this shiur aspires to facilitate your understanding of what the halakha aspires to and encourages you to effectively articulate your own stance on Jewish women’s dress practices and personal approach to dress. 

Hot-Button Halakha

Technology, copyright laws, organ donation, gun-control, infertility, surrogacy, “half-Shabbat,” agunot, assisted death, cochlear implants in mitzva performance, digital sifrei kodesh—the world changes every minute and scenarios unimaginable by the rabbis of the Talmud or Shulhan Arukh arise all the time.  In this class, we will examine how halacha keeps pace with modern society, addressing both practical aspects of living life as a contemporary Jew (eg. downloading music or forwarding emails without permission, texting on Shabbat, reading WikiLeaks, redeeming kidnapped IDF soldiers etc) and Judaism’s encounter with new sets of values that emerge over time. Together, we will look at the most relevant, fascinating, and controversial questions of living a Torah life in the 21st century.

How We Got Here

Halakha is a dymanic process which unfolds over time. In this course, we will examine the halachic process by tracing the history of halakhot such as stam yeinam, pruzbul and Kisui Rosh, from their origins in biblical and ancient sources to iterations of the halakha in texts of ahronim and rabbis today. Looking at these case studies, we will come to understand how halacha evolves and discern the roots of the halachot which permeate our own lives.  

Halakha is TAKING OVER My Life!

My pantry is filled with pasta. Halakha says I must get rid of it before Pesach. I could live without pasta for a week, but getting rid of all that pasta is such a shame! I can sell it, you say? But it is still in my house. What gives? This course addresses some of the inevitable tensions that arise between human needs and divine commands and how halakha responds to a changing world. How do we resolve the very real needs of human beings to sustain their families and run society when doing so would seem to run contrary to halakha? How much room do we make within our community for those who do not maintain a halakhic lifestyle? Which factors are taken into consideration by poskim when they render a halakhic decision?

Halakhic Woman

R. Soloveitchik’s “Halakhic Man” describes halakha as the lens through which the Jew ideally views everything in life. In this class, we will look at the particulars of living a halakhic life as a woman, examining the halakhic dimensions of mitzvot aseh shehazman grama, Talmud Torah, dress, Kol Isha, Yichud, women’s role in the community and more.

HIStory of halakha

Halacha is the means by which the Jew actualizes God’s commandments. Halacha is a very dynamic process, unfolding over time, which strikes a careful and delicate balance between the Timeless and the Timely, Personal and the National. In this course, we will examine just how the halakhic process works by tracing the history of Halakhot of different weight such as Conversion, Stam Yeinam, Pruzbul, Kisui Rosh (for men and women), from their origins in biblical and ancient sources to iterations of the halakha in texts of ahronim and contemporary rabbis. We will come to understand how halakha works. Along the way, we will encounter the historical lives and major works of the great Rabbinic Figures of the past, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic.

 college prep

An open and frank discussion of halachic, social and ideological issues facing Jewish students on the college campus. Topics include living with non-Jews, kashrut and Shabbat on campus, collegiate social life, inter-denominational relations and Judaic studies at university.

 

Jewish History

In and Out of the Ghetto

What does it mean to be a Jew? Do Jews comprise a distinct entity, separate from other peoples and discernibly quantifiable?  If not, what does “Jewish” mean? This course endeavors to understand Jewish identity and peoplehood by studying several themes that characterize the Jewish experience throughout history, primarily in medieval and modern times. Looking at the themes of Jewish migration, ethnic identity, belief, membership, persecution, adjustment, leadership, denominationalism, gender, and homeland—all of which significantly impacted and continue to impact Jewish identity, we will come to understand Jews’ complex negotiations between continuity and change and discern the origins of some of the most complex and heated debates over the nature of Jewish identity that persist to this day. 

 

Medieval Jewish History

In this class, we will examine how the major themes of the contemporary Jewish experience can be traced back to the ideas, institutions, practices, and controversies of the Middle Ages—a time of remarkable Jewish creativity amidst severe persecution. By assessing a wide-range of medieval texts, we will learn that, at a time when Jews traveled and settled the globe, the medieval Jewish experience became so varied that we may even speak of Jewries in the plural. We will also learn about the origins of the Diaspora and aspects of it that continue to this day, such as the encounter between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors, the emergence of the distinct identities of Ashkanazim and Sephardim, and the efforts to formulate a sophisticated idea of Judaism that would answer the difficult questions of the age.

 

Modern Jewish History

Who is a Jew? As this course will show, during the tumultuous period of modern Jewish history, this became a very difficult question to answer. As European nations modernized, the ghetto walls began to crumble and the boundaries between the Jewish and non-Jewish world were blurred, Jews were forced to engage with questions that would revolutionize every aspect of Jewish life and identity. The emergence of the Zionist movement, the overwhelming tragedy of the Shoah, and the subsequent birth of the State of Israel forced Jews to live and contend with a changing and often hostile world and define themselves within it.  Covering the seventeenth to twentieth centuries, this course will examine the ideologies that emerged from Jews’ wrestling with modernity and the major events that render the modern period a time which witnessed some of the highest and lowest points in the history of the Jewish people.

 

Israel and the middle-east conflict

This course provides an in-depth understanding of the Zionist narrative and how it conflicts with the Palestinian narrative. Topics covered throughout the course include Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, settlements, border disputes, security concerns and the struggle for peace. By addressing these complex issues head on, students will gain the knowledge to effectively articulate an informed position regarding one of the longest running modern conflicts.

History of Zionism

In this class, we will examine what is one of the most significant phenomena in modern Jewish history and philosophy, from the emergence of Zionist ideology and literature through the establishment of the State of Israel to the crisis of current-day Israel and the questions posed by post-Zionism. In examining the religious significance of Medinat Yisrael, this course will explore some of the most important ideas in religious Zionism, seek their roots in classical Jewish sources and trace their development from the nineteenth century to the present. In this course, we will discover the different approaches of the great thinkers such as R. Kook and R. Soloveitchik and will learn how contemporary thinkers deal with changing circumstances and new challenges facing The State of Israel. 

 

How the Holocaust…

This course differs from traditional courses on the particulars of the Shoah by aiming to answer the broad question “how could the Holocaust have happened?” We will address questions such as: Why Germany and why at that particular point in history? How were Hitler and the Nazi party able to galvanize the German people and gain support? To what extent was the Jewish community able to see “the writing on the wall” and why did many Jews remain in Germany? Why did Jews not receive more aid from the international community? What makes the Holocaust unique in the history of genocide?

 

Midrash

Midrash

A midrash class at Amudim gets to the heart of what a midrash is and what it seeks to accomplish. This class trains you to identify the problem in a pasuk that generated the midrash, compare versions of a particular midrash, trace a certain midrashic tradition, ascertain how the problems in one version may be resolved in another, describe the exegetical techniques used by the midrashist and, perhaps above all, discern the core message of the midrash. 

Midrash Agnon

S.Y. Agnon, Hebrew literature’s only Nobel winner, absorbed the entirety of the Beit Midrash, its books and ethos, distilling millennia of Jewish sources and pouring them into the mold of modern literature—what Rav Kook described poetically as Agnon’s “authentic Jewish/Hebrew writing, flowing through the divine channels with no barrier.” In this course, we will read a wide variety of Agnon’s short stories (in English translation, with Hebrew texts available for those who will brave them), pulling apart the sources on which he drew, to explore the relationship between text and the master-texts he mined in his writing. Along the way we will consider the major themes he explored: The relationships between tradition and modernity, Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora, and the pull that the past exerts upon the present. Also: What is the role of literature and reading in the life of a thinking, religious Jew?

Midrash: Methods and Meanings  

Private class for Amudim students on the Bar-Ilan campus

The corpus of aggadah is often compared to its companion – the world of halakha: they were both constructed by the same authors, compete for space in rabbinic literature, and share the overall goal of urging their readers to be complete Jews.  But, as we will examine in this course, aggadah tends to strike out on its own path.  It adapts methods from the halakhic realm to produce its own style of parables, proverbs, stories, sermons, satire, hyperbole, gematria and word play.  And while the halakhic enterprise is grounded in determining the proper code of behavior for mankind, around that system revolves the sphere of aggadah which explores matters of faith, philosophy and ideas.  In this series of classes, we will sample midrashim from all the major rabbinic collections including the Gemara, the Tosefta, Midrash Rabbah, Tanchumah, and Yalkut Shimoni.  With each text, we will pose two questions:

What literary technique does the author employ in communicating his information to us – what’s the method? 

What underlying message does the metaphor of each aggadah conceal – what’s the meaning?

The answers to these questions will guide us through the elaborate ideology of Jewish belief.  

 

Jewish Philosophy

Theories of God

Does God exist? Is it epistemologically justified to believe that God exists? These two questions are addressed in this class through analyses of teleological, cosmological and ontological approaches to the existence of God. Examining Jewish and non-Jewish philosophical approaches to the topic, students are introduced to arguments based on evidence, the absence of evidence, practicality, rationality and faith. 

Sunday Salon: A philosophical forum

Many terms that are used colloquially, such as “The World to Come” or “The Soul” are difficult to comprehend, especially in a world invested in empirical study. Taking on topics such as free will, Torah mi-Sinai, faith versus reason and other fundamentals, we will study both the works of the great Jewish philosophers as well non-Jewish contributors to the field. You will leave with a firmer understanding of the philosophical issues, as well as a strong foundation in logical thinking.

50 Questions people ask about judaism

Fifty questions. Hundreds of answers. Question #1: what’s the difference between a שאלה (question) and a קושיא (difficulty)?  Answer #1: A שאלה asks ‘what’; a קושיא asks ‘why’.  This class, “50 Questions People Ask About Judaism” promotes our culture’s favorite pastime: challenging everything – the whats and the whys.  Together we will ask: Does prayer actually work?  Does God care if you tear toilet paper on Shabbat?  How old is the world really, and why does it matter?  Why should we care that there’s no Temple today?  Can a woman be a rabbi?  How do we know God wrote the Torah?  Do segulot have any power over our lives?  Why must we keep mitzvot just because our ancestors agreed to?  Is Judaism just one truth along many paths to God?  In this fast paced and intense course, we will tackle these and dozens of other questions that have concerned the Jewish people from time immemorial.

What we talk about when we talk about Rambam

The Rambam is possibly the most foundational and controversial Jewish thinker in history. This class will survey some of the Rambam’s most important writings and ideas, including the halakhic codification of the Mishneh Torah, philosophical ruminations of the Moreh Nevukhim, his seminal introductions to Mishnah, Pirkei Avot and the 613 mitzvot, and his famous letters, which show how he was simultaneously a rigorous scholar and a sensitive community leader.

Prayer: Theory and practice

What is the goal of prayer? Does God change His mind based on our prayers? What are the psychological effects of prayer? Do we really need to use a fixed text in order to speak to our Creator? What are the advantages and disadvantages of praying with a group? This class will explore different philosophies of prayer, including those of the Rambam, R. J.B. Soloveitchik, R. S.R. Hirsch, R. Shagar, Levinas, the Nefesh Hahayim, Heschel, mystic and hasidic masters, and postmodern thinkers, placing special emphasis on the connection between prayer and language. We will also focus on the practices surrounding prayer and understanding Jewish prayer in particular -- the structure and history of the siddur, why Hazal instituted the recitation of the daily amida, the use of music and dance in prayer, prayer groups/tefilah b’tzibur, dress and accessories during prayer -- and discuss practical tips for cultivating focus during daily Tefillah.

 

Jew versus Jew

This class is about great philosophical battles between Jews about Judaism throughout history. Through an examination of the foundational writings of great Jewish movements, we will aim to understand the philosophies behind the debates between Pharisees and Sadducees, Karaites and Rabbinites, Maimonideans and Anti-Maimonideans, Hassidim and Mitnagedim, Reform and Orthodoxy and Zionists and Anti-Zionists.

 

Great Ideas in Jewish Philosophy

This is a text-based Jewish philosophy course covering issues such as the existence of God, revelation, free will, theodicy, faith versus reason, the problem of evil and Jewish ethics.

Philosophy is a cornerstone of any faith, and Judaism is no exception. Many terms that are used colloquially, such as “The World to Come” or “The Soul” are difficult to comprehend, especially in a world invested in empirical study. Taking on topics such as Dualism, the idea of an afterlife, Divine Providence, and other fundamentals, we will study both the works of the great Jewish philosophers as well non-Jewish contributors to the field. You will leave with a firmer understanding of the philosophical issues, as well as a strong foundation in logical thinking.

Mussar for moderns

Mussar stands at the junction of philosophy, psychology, ethics and spiritual self-improvement. With an eye towards understanding of mussar literature and its significance, as well as personal introspection and self-awareness, this class introduces students to the variety of writings and practices that lay at the roots and center of the “philosophy of the self,” known as the Mussar movement.  

Philosophy of R. Kook

Examining the writings and ideas of one of the most important Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, this course allows us to investigate R. Kook’s deep spiritual, philosophical and psychological insights, as well as his ideas of Zionism and science. 


History of Zionism

This course examines what is one of the most significant phenomena in modern Jewish history and philosophy, from the emergence of Zionist ideology and literature through the establishment of the State of Israel to the crisis of current-day Israel and the questions posed by post-Zionism. In examining the religious significance of Medinat Yisrael, this course explores some of the most important ideas in religious Zionism, seeks their roots in classical Jewish sources and tracks their development from the nineteenth century to the present. In this course, students discover the different approaches of the great thinkers such as R. Kook and R. Soloveitchik, and will learn how contemporary thinkers deal with changing circumstances and new challenges facing The State of Israel. 

Introduction to Hasidic thought and practice

What is Hasidut and who are the Hasidim? How is the Hasidic movement simultaneously so radical and conservative? What are the theological and philosophical ideas of Hasidut that have inspired masses of Jews for the last 300 years and captivated the hearts of the millennial generation? This course examines the teachings, traditions and history of the Hasidic movement. Entering theָ worldָ ofָ theָ Ba’alָ Shemָ Tov and his followers, including the radicalism of Kotz and Ishbitz, mystical spirituality of Reb Nahman of Breslov, influential world of Habad, as well as the Tanya, Kedushat Levi, Mei HaShiloach, and the Piaseczner Rebbe, his course will uncover the complex values and beliefs of Hasidut when it comes to prayer, contemplation, the role of the Tzaddik, dveykut, asceticism, joy and God, as they are conveyed in tales and Hasidic scholasticism. Approaching hasidism through its primary texts, we look at the role of women, the Holocaust and Zionism, Torah study and music, all the while focusing on historical contexts, writing styles and theological approaches, as well as practical advice for serving HaShem.

Teachings of R. tzadok hacohen of lublin

Reb Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin was one of the most profound, original, and prolific thinkers of the late hasidic movement. His writings cover a vast array of topics and bring deep insights into every facet of Torah and Jewish life. R. Dessler called him the bridge between Hasidism and Mussar. The brilliant, analytic precision of his Lithuanian upbringing combined with the radical hasidic teachings of his teacher, R. Mordechai Lainer of Izhbitz, result in a deep, text-based Hasidut, which reveals how the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings can be uncovered in the writings of hazal themselves. His teachings are exciting, eye-opening and controversial. This class examines a number of the major themes of Reb Tzadok’s thought, as well as his hermeneutical method.

Judaism: The Masterclass

There are many aspects of Judaism and Jewish life rarely described or discussed in a typical day school setting that any literate member of the Jewish community should know about. In order for you to be able to be conversant in these areas, crystallize your own thoughts, take your thinking to the next level, and discuss Jewish ideas and values in a highly developed way, from a position of erudition and sophistication, this course provides an understanding of the most important religious figures, movements, belief systems, labels, writings and political parties impacting Jewish thought and culture today. Together, we will get to know the difference between Religious Zionism as taught by Rav TY Kook as opposed to Rav Soloveichik, what we mean when we talk about haredim, the difference between  Reform and Conservative, Conservative and Modern Orthodox, Litvaks and Hassidim, Sephardim who follow the teachings  of Rav Ovadia Yosef and those who follow Rav Mordecai Eliyahu,  The approach to women’s worship, study, and observance in the psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein in contrast to those expressed by Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin; The role of Mashiach in the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in contrast with those of Religious Zionism, and how all these groups and thinkers confront the new questions of kibbutz galiyot and the State of Israel.

Sacrifice in Jewish History and Culture

Focusing on the development of the idea of sacrifice in the Jewish cultural consciousness, this course will trace the idea from its biblical roots to the ways in which notions of sacrifice continue to inform Jewish identity. The works of Marcel Mauss, Victor Turner, René Girard, and Susan Mizruchi will set down theoretical frameworks for assessing the meaning and function of sacrifice within Jewish culture. Midrashim on Cain and Abel, the Binding of Isaac, Temple offerings, the prophetic critique of sacrifice and rabbinic texts on sacrifice and martyrdom will form the basis of analyses of biblical and ancient views of sacrifice. Medieval and modern sources will include the martyrdom narratives of medieval Ashkenaz, texts on circumcision and children’s education, the Yeven Mezulah chronicle of Nathan of Hanover, various Holocaust and post-Holocaust writings and Israeli literature. 

 

Women's Worlds

Halakhic Woman

R. Soloveitchik’s “Halakhic Man” describes halacha as the lens through which the Jew ideally views everything in life. In this class, we will look at the particulars of living a halakhic life as a woman, examining the halakhic dimensions of mitzvot aseh shehazman grama, Talmud Torah, dress, Kol Isha, Yichud, partnership and women’s minyanim and more.

 

The [Not Always] Secret Lives of Jewish Women

Surveying a wide range of halakhic, midrashic and folkloric Jewish literature, this course examines the role and inner worlds of Jewish women throughout history (in the home, on the education front, synagogue, economically) and during times of crisis.

 

Body, Beauty, Gender and Dress

What does it mean to be beautiful and who determines it? What or who determines how people dress? In this class, we will consider the historical, psychological, social, political and halakhic ramifications of beauty and dress.  We will place special emphasis on analyzing dress restrictions in halacha, facilitating your understanding of what the halacha aspires to, and encouraging you to effectively articulate your own stance on Jewish women’s dress practices and personal approach to dress. 

Imagining Women in the Talmud

Are women heroes or villains, endowed with special wisdom or of questionable intelligence? In this class, we will analyze stories of women in the Talmud, in order to understand how the rabbis defined "woman" and the meaning of femininity within the fabric of ancient Jewish society. Our objectives will be twofold: to discern the ways in which Talmud both creates and reflects social and religious realities through storytelling. Along the way, as we explore the images of womanhood and the attitude towards women in the narratives, we will familiarize ourselves with the language of Aggadah and consider our own identities as women in postmodern and traditional environments.

 

Jewish Literacy

JUDAISM 102

Tackling the formidable challenge of increasing Jewish literacy amongst Modern Orthodox, Jewishly-educated students, many of whom are yearning to crystallize their own thoughts and elevate their level of facility, enabling them to discuss Jewish ideas and values in a highly developed way, from a position of erudition and sophistication, this course will familiarize and allow us to gain fluency in such topics as Jewish denominationalism (understanding the views and beliefs of Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and other forms of Judaism), methodological approaches towards limmud ha-Torah (some examples include Tosafist pilpul, Brisker method/lumdus, Gush school, innovations of Rashi, Nechama Leibowitz and others), history and methods of the halakhic process, gender and Judaism, history of anti-semitism and the Middle East conflict.   

 

Midrasha at Bar-ilan Classes

On Wednesdays, we study in the largest Beit Midrash for women in the world, the Midrasha at Bar-Ilan, where leading scholars and rabbis blend traditional Talmud Torah with modern scholarship. 

 

workshops

Build-A-Shiur Workshop

There are few greater privileges than being able to teach Torah to other people. The Build-A-Shiur Workshop is designed to help you communicate more effectively and actually deliver shiurim yourself. Together, we will work on developing skills for preparation, presentation, and managing one's mindset throughout the shiur-building and presentation process. By the end of the Workshop, you will understand the anatomy of a shiur, how mekorot work together to illuminate a subject, and how to connect with the seekers of Torah who may want to attend a shiur.

safrut seminar

Exclusive to Amudim! In what is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, our students study the halakhot and art of safrut with a professional sofer stam, together with whom that take part in writing a Megillat Esther.

Bekiut Marathon

Cover ground to gain broad-reaching familiarity in the Sefer of your choice.

Shiur-by-a-Peer

As a follow-up to the Build-A-Shiur Workshop, this is where one student displays her prowess by giving the shiur during Thursday Night Seder. 

week-in-review

This special hour is geared toward reflection upon texts, concepts, arguments, and ideas that students have encountered over the course of their week at Amudim. This time allows students to consider and articulate which ideas spoke to them, their personal positions on matters, and how the disparate aspects of their learning fit into the larger tapestry of their intellectual and spiritual Jewish identities.

fitness

hilutz atzamot

Exclusive to Amudim! As part of Amudim’s goal to foster healthy mind, body and spirit, Hilutz Atzamot classes take students out of the Beit Midrash and into the studio to work on toning, cardio, strength, and agility training, and offer boot camps and classes in Zumba, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and other combinations of exercise of your choice. With her friendly, energetic, encouraging, and goal-oriented style of training, the instructor will push you to discover and work to your potential without going past your maximum limits of exertion and will help you to “Think Higher” in every aspect of their Amudim experience.