Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program: Classes

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Course Descriptions

Daf Yomi: Masekhet Chagigah

Ms. Eliana Kahan

How do we see and appear before God? Tractate Chagigah deals with the concept of aliyah l’regel, visiting God’s space, and gets into the messiness of what it means to all appear together before God on each of the major three holidays of the Jewish calendar. Chagigah also maps out a picture of what the divine looks like, charting the layers of heaven and asking what happens when Torah study leads to rebellion. The end of the masekhet then gets into the laws of purity that come up with everyone visiting the same spot—figuring out how we can trust each other regarding the observance of detailed halakhot. In this fast-paced class, we’ll tackle one page a day and conclude with a siyyum celebration at the end of the summer. As the name of the masekhet implies, it’ll be a party.

Nakh Yomi: Hosea and Amos

Ms. Tamar Benus

The Minor Prophets Hosea & Amos lived during a tumultuous period in Jewish History. The once unified Jewish Kingdom of Israel has divided. Hosea & Amos are the prophets to the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. Both prophets respond to the changing state of the society that has been crumbling both politically and religiously. Themes such as sin, judgement, social justice, idolatry, loyalty to the covenant are highlighted throughout these texts. Through their prophetic messages we will explore this time period through a new lens.

Talmud I & II: Masekhet Bava Metzia

R. Wendy Amsellem & R. Dan Margulies

Tanakh:  Between Eicha and Shir ha-Shirim – on Disappointment, Charms, Human Feelings, and Longing

Dr. Orit Avnery

In class we will delve deeply into the question of the relationship between the Jewish people and God, and between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, through a careful study of Eikhah and the dialogue that exists between it and Shir ha-Shirim. To complete the picture, we will compare the themes and ideas raised with Ruth and Esther, as well. Our study will vary between the text itself and the way ancient, medieval, and modern interpreters have understood the Megillot. Our study will incorporate both chavruta learning and group discussions.

Rabbinics/Halakha I: Troubling Texts of the Torah: From Sotah to Slavery

Ms. Sarah Gordon

This course will examine some of the controversial texts encountered in the study of Torah; including the institution of slavery, the Sotah ritual, the command to eradicate Amalek, Sefer Yehoshua and the ethics of war, Women and Talmud Study, and the imperative to live in the land of Israel. The class will use chavruta study to examine the Biblical and Rabbinic sources for each topic and will be centered around animated class discussions and debates. Students will learn the skills necessary to research other troubling texts on their own and have opportunities to share their conclusions with the class.

Rabbinics/Halakha II: Being a Good Person: Halakha and Ethics                                                        

R. Shlomo Zuckier

The interpersonal commandments (Mitzvot Bein Adam Lachavero), are a core part of the Torah, although at times they might be overlooked or overshadowed by more ritual Mitzvot. This class studies the interpersonal commandments, both looking at specific Mitzvot and considering some questions that relate to the category overall. We will consider topics such as the prohibition against embarrassing others and the question of telling white lies. At the same time, we will consider broader issues: What is the conceptual basis of interpersonal laws? What do we do if something seems wrong but there is no Halacha against it?

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.

In the studio component, led by different educators, each participant will also have the opportunity to design and develop her own creative project through a guided exploration of Jewish texts.

Essential Questions Workshop

Ms. Avigayil Halpern

An essential component of the Drisha summer high school experience is the research-based Essential Questions Workshop, where participants have the opportunity to select, research, and write about a topic that intrigues them. Under the close guidance of faculty members, students are able to explore a vast array of topics with resources and material for study, and guided questions for thoughtful writing and analysis. Topics have included Halakhic organ donation, the values of war versus peace in Judaism, and the psychoanalysis of biblical characters.

Shiur Klali                                                                                    
Rabbi David Silber & Ms. Shira Hecht-Koller

As a full group we will gather as together, to explore texts and core themes related to identity and community in Biblical and Rabbinic literature. 

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