You are here

Spring 2017 Onsite Jewish Studies Seminar

Spring 2017 Onsite Jewish Studies Seminar

Sunday, March 19, 2017 to Thursday, March 23, 2017

This onsite seminar is for students in Spertus Jewish Studies master's and doctoral programs. It offers core, concentration, and elective courses.

This enrollment period is now closed. 

Sunday 2:00-4:00 pm, Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-1:00 pm

The Fall Reconsidered: The Primeval Sin Narrative and Jewish Interpretations (3qh)
(3 quarter-hour credits. Meets MAJS second-level core and elective requirements. Meets Doctoral text and elective requirements.)
Taught by Dr. Igal German

This course will explore the primeval sin narratives recorded in Genesis 3-4. The students will be introduced to the Primordial History in its historical context with an emphasis on literary structure, the ancient Near Eastern background, theological concepts and moral values (e.g., creation, sin, curse, and punishment). The course will analyze the textual relationship between the Edenic fall and the fratricide narrative against the backdrop of the history of Jewish biblical interpretation. We will draw on the Masoretic Text and modern biblical scholarship in order to guide us in the task of exegesis. 

Reading Biblical Narratives: Moving from the Textbook to the Text
(3 quarter-hour credits. Meets MAJS Hebrew, second-level core and elective requirements. May fulfill Doctoral text or elective requirements. Contact Dr. Victor Mirelman at to discuss.)
Taught by Dr. Anne Knafl

This course is designed for students who have an introductory knowledge of biblical Hebrew, equivalent to Spertus Institute’s online course, Biblical Hebrew I. Through guided readings of biblical narratives from Genesis-Kings, students will expand their understanding of biblical Hebrew grammar and syntax and learn to use standard reference tools to translate these texts on their own as well as discuss and analyze scholarly theories of biblical translation and interpretation.

Afternoon Courses
Sunday 4:30-6:30 pm, Monday-Thursday, 2:00-6:00 pm

Midrash Seminar (3 qh)
(3 quarter-hour credits. Meets MAJS second-level core and elective requirements. Meets Doctoral text and elective requirements.)
Taught by Rabbi Dr. Vernon Kurtz

This course will use the concept of Midrash to look at aspects of biblical literature through the eyes of the rabbis and their works. We will explore modes of interpretation and study aspects of both Halakhic (legal) Midrash and Aggadic (non-legal) Midrash in order to amplify our understanding of the role of the rabbis in interpreting text and in setting parameters for Jewish theology, law, and interpretative imagination. The course will include background readings, text study, and the ability to create modern Midrashim which will challenge us to look at the biblical text anew as we study our sources. It is hoped that students will gain an appreciation of the Midrashic process, study its literary compositions and examine whether Midrash continues to play a role in the life of the reader of sacred texts.

Medieval Haggadot and their People: Researching a (Largely) Anonymous Genre (3qh)
(3 quarter-hour credits. Meets MAJS second-level core and elective requirements. Meets Doctoral text and elective requirements.)
Taught by Dr. Julie Harris

This course will examine the illuminated Haggadah manuscripts produced in both Sephardic and Ashkenazic cultural centers in the Middle Ages. How did the images in these manuscripts help to convey the message of Passover and enhance the Seder? Who made these deluxe manuscripts and for whom were they made? What can they tell us about relations between medieval Jews and their neighbors? Although we will focus on illuminated Haggadot, many of the topics we address will have larger implications for the study of Jewish visual culture both past and present.

Stay tuned for details about the
Summer Seminar, July 16-20, 2017

Message from the Dean

Dear Jewish Studies Students:

We are pleased to provide you with a schedule of course offerings.

This list includes ongoing online courses and a series of new courses that will be delivered via web-conferencing.

There is quite a range of exciting courses, taught by distinguished international faculty, delivered in a variety of ways to meet your needs, schedules, and interests.

If you have questions, feel free to email me at or contact Dr. Victor Mirelman (Jewish Studies Faculty Chair) at

We look forward to learning with you.
Dean Bell
Dr. Dean P. Bell
Provost and Vice President
Spertus Institute

For New Students

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.

Applications for Jewish Studies programs are accepted all year. MORE>