Wednesday, March 21: classes are cancelled.

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Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program: Classes

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The program below is from Summer 2017. The upcoming program will be similar in scope and content.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Daf Yomi &
Nach Yomi
Daf Yomi &
Nach Yomi
Daf Yomi &
Nach Yomi
Daf Yomi &
Nach Yomi
Talmud Talmud Talmud Talmud 11:45-1:15
Visualizing Jewish Texts
Tanakh 1-5:30
Lunch & Visualizing
Jewish Texts
Tanakh Rabbinics/
Lunch &
Week Wrap-Up
Sports 4:15-5:15
Shiur Kelali
Dinner Dinner 5:30-10
Dinner and Out for the Evening
Essential Question Workshop Essential Question Workshop

Course Descriptions

Daf Yomi:  Masekhet Makkot
R. Josh Blaustein
What do flying camels, deadly dates and x-ray vision have in common? They are all found in Tractate Makkot! Tractate Makkot discusses the laws of false testimony, who is eligible to flee to a city of refuge and finally the parameters in which beit din may administer lashes to a transgressor. In this fast- paced class, we will study one page a day and conclude with a siyyum celebration at the end of the summer.

Nakh Yomi: Ezra and Nehemiah
Ms. Leah Sarna
The return to Zion post-exile is the stuff of dreams, “את שיבת ציון היינו כחולמים”. But dream fulfillment can be messy. In Nakh Yomi we will venture into the world of Ezra and Nehemiah, a world of a Judaism and Temple reconstituted and returned. Most of Tanakh focuses on the First Temple and what preceded it, but we shall focus on the very last stories of Tanakh and the growing pains of the Second Temple. In this fast- paced class, we will study one perek a day and conclude with a siyyum celebration at the end of the summer.

Talmud I, II & III:  Masekhet Baba Metzia, 2nd Perek: Lost! (and Found)
Dr. Daniel Reifman, Ms. Wendy Amsellem & Ms. Sarah Gordon
Walking down Broadway you encounter a pair of hand-knitted mittens left on a bench. Further on you see a plain black umbrella under a tree. And then, at the next corner, you see a sheep that has gone astray. What are your responsibilities regarding these objects? Must you take them home and care for them? Do you have to go door to door seeking the true owners? Can you keep them for yourself? We will study the second chapter of Masekhet Baba Mezi’a which discusses the expectations of those who have lost items and the obligations of those who find them.

Tanakh I:  Sefer Tehillim
Dr. Aaron Koller
What are the tehillim? Are they prayers for individuals, or for communities? Or are they not prayers at all? Do they speak to us – and are they supposed to? How were they meant to be used – or are they meant to be studied rather than used? Were they written at the same time, and how do they differ from other psalms written in other cultures? Through a detailed study of different mizmorim, focusing especially on some that are used regularly in the siddur, we will explore these questions, aiming at an understanding of what the book of Tehilim is, and how it can enrich our lives and practices.

Tanakh II: Adolescence in Tanakh
Ms. Shuvi Hoffman
Does the Tanakh devote special attention as a stage in biblical stories and laws, or is there simply a binary distinction of Adult vs. Child? Are there any insights that can stem from thinking of this unique intermediate stage of our development when we read Tanakh? In this class we will read texts from the Tanakh through the prism of teenagers in order to better understand real-life situations experienced by adolescents. We will focus on biblical texts and the commentators that relate directly to them, in addition to modern midrashim. At the conclusion of the course, we will write our own midrashim applying the themes discussed in class.       

Rabbinics/Halakha I: How Are Babies Born? And Other Rabbinic Answers to Vayikra’s Great Questions
Ms. Rachel Rosenthal
We often think of Midrash Aggadah as a complicating force, taking seemingly straightforward Torah texts and transforming them into abstract, mythical narratives. However, Vayikra Rabbah points to an opposite instinct, creating lively and relevant discussions from esoteric biblical passages. Questions this class will consider include: How do women hold their babies in during pregnancy? Where exactly does tzara’at, leprosy, come from? What’s so great about Moshe anyway? In exploring these questions, we will better understand how the rabbis read difficult texts– and how they might teach us to do the same.

Rabbinics/Halakha II:  Israel, God, and Metaphor
R. Shlomo Zuckier
Many metaphors are used to describe the Jewish People and its relationship to God – husband and wife; parent and child; slave and master; shepherd and sheep – just to name a few! Throughout Tanakh, the Talmud, later Rabbinic literature, and Jewish liturgy, we find different variations on these romantic, familial, agricultural, and hierarchical images. Using these rich descriptions, we will consider the following questions: How does metaphor work for the rabbis? What might it mean to compare God and Israel to lovers? What is at stake in this entire enterprise of comparing Israel and God to this-worldly relationships? We will explore these questions through a close reading of relevant sources and a consideration of general themes.          

Rabbinics/Halakha III: Tzedakah – The Theory and Practice of Supporting the Needy
R. Jesse Abelman
This class will begin by exploring the biblical and Talmudic roots of communal support for the poor in Jewish tradition.  After surveying this introductory material, we will examine the ways in which individual Jewish communities have tried to live up to the principles of these source by reading halakhic sources to learn how Jews have understood their obligation.

Visualizing Jewish Texts
Ms. Nomi Schneck
What role do the arts play in grappling with Jewish texts and ideas? How have painting, poetry, and stained glass been utilized to gain a deeper understanding of stories in Tanakh and our role as Jews? And what lies behind the halakhic and philosophical debate of image making? We will explore these issues through visiting some of the most vibrant institutions of culture in Manhattan, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, and the Museum of Modern Art. Each participant will also have the opportunity to design and develop her own creative project through a guided exploration of Jewish texts.

Shiur Klali
R. David Silber & Ms. Shira Hecht-Koller
Once a week we will gather as a full group to learn together, exploring texts and core themes related to identity and community in Biblical and Rabbinic literature.



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