Terse and often mysterious, the stories of the Bible contain gaps and unanswered questions. Though often mistaken as no more than children's stories, the sages of the Rabbinic period created interpretative tales - called Midrash - in response to their questions about the Bible and to express complex theological and ethical ideas.
This course examines the story of the Maharal of Prague and his Golem—a clay man animated through Jewish mystical wisdom. The story of Jews and artificial men, however, is both older and newer, deeper and more popular. We will discuss the idea of the magical man from the Talmud until the 20th century in rabbinic literature, fiction, and film.
Books today serve as a dominant form for disseminating and consuming information. But the book—as a platform for writing and reading—is relatively new, and it may one day become obsolete. The bound and printed paper book was preceded by tablets, scrolls and manuscripts, and it may become a historical relic as electronic media takes over.
Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal, premiered at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882, was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1903, and found its way to the New York Yiddish stage in 1913. Despite Christian symbolism and possible antisemitic suggestion, the opera has inspired Jews to listen, perform, and promote a work of genius.
This seminar considers the work of two of America’s most celebrated Jewish literary figures, who represent very different strands of American Jewish writing. Philip Roth’s assimilated characters seem cut off from the wellspring of Jewish identity, and even actively rebel against the tradition.
Today, the standard Hebrew Bible contains 24 books. But these did not appear as a single text at one sudden historical moment. Canonizing the Bible (deciding which books should be included and which should not) was a centuries-long process, that involved discussions among many religious and scholarly leaders.
This course covers key moments in early Jewish history, spanning from the end of the Biblical period to the emergence of the religion that we know as Judaism today. Included is the story of Christianity’s origins. We will meet sectarians (including Samaritans, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and early followers of Jesus).
Photographer, nurturer of fellow artists and gallery-owner, Alfred Stieglitz’s own work has often been overshadowed by that of his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe. Read his biography, and learn about Stieglitz’s work as a renowned photographer, as well as his revolutionary influence on the American art scene.
Join us for all three of our book discussions of the Jewish Lives series this summer. All classes are held on Wednesdays, 10-11:30 a.m.
Alfred Stieglitz: Taking Pictures, Making Painters
Wednesdays, June 12-26
Instructor: Michael Weil, Photographer
Named Israel’s National Poet at the age of only 28, Haim Nahman Bialik’s deeply personal writing established a profound link between the secular and the traditional that would become paramount to a national Jewish identity in the 20th century.
Born in 17th century Portugal, Menasseh and his family were forcibly converted to Catholicism. Suspected of insincerity, and in fear of the Inquisition, they fled to Amsterdam where Menasseh came to serve as a key intellectual and religious figure.