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Jewish Studies January 2019 Seminar

Jewish Studies January 2019 Seminar

Spertus Institute Seminar

Jewish Studies January Seminar
January 13-17, 2019

Advance your studies, learn with skilled and accomplished faculty, and engage with your fellow students from around the world. Courses are offered that meet program requirements for students in our Jewish Studies MA and Doctoral programs.

Complete your seminar registration now

Registration deadline December 10, 2018

Courses meet Sunday 2:00-4:00 pm and Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-1:00 pm

Rabbi Dr. Victor MirelmanWhat is Judaism?
Taught by Rabbi Dr. Victor Mirelman
Course 5505 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Meets DSJS Core Course and MAJS Second-Level Core and Elective Course Requirements

In this course, you will explore the nature of Judaism from a variety of theological and historical perspectives. Topics include the definition and study of Judaism, the interaction between Jews and non-Jews starting in Rabbinic Judaism, medieval dogmatics and boundaries, modern quests to define the essence of Judaism, and contemporary theological approaches to nature of Judaism. We will seek to understand Judaism in both Jewish and non-Jewish contexts, as well as review a number of reductionist fallacies.

Dr. Keren FraimanThe Role of Israel in Jewish Life
Taught by Dr. Keren E. Fraiman
Course 4300 | 3 quarter-hour credits
Meets DSJS Elective and MAJS Elective Course Requirements

Jewish Studies students will be joined by students from Spertus Institute’s MA in Jewish Professional Studies program for this course.

This course examines aspects of Israeli history and society from before its establishment to the present. Students will gain a meaningful and relevant introduction to the complexities present within Israeli society, between Israel and its neighbors, and on the larger world stage. We will explore fundamental questions at the heart of the people and state of Israel, delving into Israel’s history and examining themes with significant contemporary relevance, including the evolving relationship between North American Jews, the North American Jewish organizational infrastructure, and the State of Israel.

Course meets Sunday 4:30-6:30 pm, Monday 3:00-7:00 pm, and Tuesday-Thursday 2:00-6:00 pm

Dr. Rachel HavrelockThe Deuteronomistic History
Taught by Dr. Rachel Havrelock
Course 4154A | 3 quarter-hour credits
Meets DHL Text Course, DJSJ Text Course, and MAJS Elective Course Requirements

Many scholars consider the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings to form a cohesive whole, telling the story of the People of Israel from their wandering in the wilderness to their exile at the hands of the Babylonians. In this course, students will explore the themes, theories of authorship, and political and religious visions of this historiographic biblical source. Bracketed by collective displacement, the story told in these books describes the establishment of an Israelite society and Judean state. It covers the laws of Moses, entrance to the Promised Land, tribal divisions, monarchy, and building of the Temple. What led the scribes who wrote it to invent prose narrative while their counterparts were writing epic poetry? What is its relationship to the political institutions that arose in the same period? Can we really call it a history? And how have these books impacted the Jewish experience, Christian nation-states, and the State of Israel? The course will focus on one volume of the Deuteronomistic History each day, analyzing salient texts and familiarizing students with relevant scholarly discussions.

Course meets Sunday 1:00-9:00 pm, Monday 9:00 am-6:00 pm, and Tuesday 9:00 am-1:00 pm

Dr. Mark Michael EpsteinJewish Arts, Culture, and Identity
Taught by Dr. Marc Michael Epstein
Course 4307A | 3 quarter-hour credits
Meets DHL Text Course, DJSJ Text Course, and MAJS Second Level Core Course and MAJS Elective Course Requirements

Jewish Studies students will be joined by students from Spertus Institute’s MA in Jewish Professional Studies program for this course.

This course explores and engages with diverse expressions of Jewish society and individual identities, helping students develop a rich and nuanced ability to work with colleagues and constituents through the consideration of a range of questions. Who are the Jews as individuals and as a collective? What is the relationship of Jewish culture to the broader society? What are the multitude of expressions of Jewish arts and culture—how do they reflect and shape Jewish society? What does the development of material culture tell us about communal values, trends, opportunities, and challenges within the community? How has globalization affected the development of Jewish society and individual identities? Through an exploration of these essential questions, this course will equip students to engage with challenges and questions that are prevalent in contemporary Jewish life.

With students from all Spertus Institute programs and cohorts
Monday, January 14 at 1:00 pm

Dr. Alex PompsonWe are excited to announce a new tradition—the Spertus Ideas Forum. At each seminar, we will welcome a major Jewish thinker for communal learning and conversation.

Dr. Alex Pomson, a phenomenal teacher, scholar, and author, will join us for the January seminar. His new work, Jewish Family: Identity and Self-Formation at Home, challenges traditional thought on Jewish identity and expression.

We have made the publication available to you for free as an ebook though our website. Please come to the Forum having read it in advance, prepared to participate.

Dr. Alex Pomson is the Managing Director of Rosov Consulting, a firm that works on strategic evaluation and innovation for Jewish foundations and organizations. He is internationally renowned for his research about Jewish families and Jewish education. Pomson studied history at the University of Cambridge and received his PhD in Religious Education from the University of London.

Complete your seminar registration now

Letter from the Dean

Dear Students:

Plans are in place for our upcoming Spertus Jewish Studies January Seminar—taking place on campus Sunday, January 13 through Thursday, January 17, 2019.

A range of essential and interesting courses, taught by skilled and engaging faculty members, are offered to fulfill core, concentration, and elective requirements in both the MA and Doctoral programs.

I strongly encourage you to participate. The seminar experience provides an important opportunity for you to interact with faculty and fellow students in an atmosphere of vibrant intellectual curiosity. You will return home having made significant progress toward your goals, while at the same time having built a network of colleagues pursuing similar paths.

New This Year

  • Co-Scheduled Seminars
    This year, we have coordinated the Jewish Studies January Seminar to coincide with the MA in Jewish Professional Studies (MAJPS) Intensive Seminar. This is a terrific opportunity to meet and learn with students from this acclaimed program. Two of the courses being offered for Jewish Studies students are cross-registered with the MAJPS program. These are noted in the course descriptions.

  • Spertus Ideas Forum
    This year we launch a new Spertus tradition, the Spertus Ideas Forum, for which we welcome a major Jewish thinker for communal learning, lunch, and conversation. Jewish Studies students attending the seminar are automatically enrolled in the Forum, free of charge, with seminar classes scheduled accordingly.

I look forward to meeting you in January and serving as a resource to you in the coming months and years. As you have any questions or want to discuss course selection, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Until then, all best wishes,

Dr. Keren Fraiman



Dr. Keren E. Fraiman
Dean and Chief Academic Officer
Spertus Institute

Hotel Discounts

Spertus has arranged discounts at two nearby hotels for students coming in from outside the Chicago area.

Call and ask for the Spertus rate. 

Hotel Blake — $$
500 S Dearborn St.
(312) 986-1234 (0.3 miles) 

Best Western Grant Park — $
1100 S Michigan Ave.
(312) 922-2900 (0.3 miles) 


At Spertus Institute, we embrace the idea that the wisdom of Jewish thought and the richness of Jewish experiences inform Jewish society and Judaism today. Our programs encourage intellectual and spiritual reflection. Students grapple with Jewish ideas in the service of their personal, professional, and communal advancement.

Course Costs for Admitted Students

  • Masters level 
    $350 per quarter-hour credit 
    ($1050 per 3qh course)

  • Doctoral level 
    $400 per quarter-hour credit 
    ($1200 per 3qh course)

A registration fee of $25 is also required.

For New Students

It's not too late!

Considering a graduate degree in Jewish Studies? A seminar is a great way to kick off your learning experience at Spertus. Admission is on a rolling basis. To be eligible to participate in the January Seminar, your application and admission materials must be received by December 1, 2018.

Spertus offers graduate programs in Jewish Studies through a unique blend of distance learning and intensive on-campus instruction. Students — from half a dozen foreign countries and more than two dozen US states — come to Spertus for week-long academic seminars. Seminars include a range of courses in Jewish history, thought, and culture, accompanied by study of classical Jewish texts. LEARN MORE>