Image: Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem (Dead Sea Scrolls). Photo by Ricardo Tulio Gandelman via Wikimedia, some rights reserved.

Jews are often called the People of the Book. Truth be told, that Book is very large indeed, more of a library than a book. There’s Torah itself, made of five books. Then the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible, 24 books, although some of them are divided into Parts I and II. Then there is the Midrash, the Mishnah, and the Talmud… on and on. Maybe we are actually the People of the Library!

There is also something called halakhah, the Way, which is sometimes translated as Jewish Law. It is distilled from the books and codified in medieval texts such as the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides and the Shulchan Aruch. As with every body of law, it is a living, growing thing, constantly adapting to accommodate the march of history. That’s why I prefer to translate it Jewish Way, rather than Jewish Law – also, that is what the word halakhah actually means, rooted in the verb “to walk.”

Many (but not all) of the components of our library came into being in the Land of Israel, the history of which is bound up with our understanding of the books. That is the reason that I teach the two together, from Biblical Israel to Modern Israel.

Because of the nature of the class, students must be able to name a local rabbi with whom they can confer. Note that the point of view of this class will be that of its teacher – me – a Reform rabbi. I am qualified to address these matters from a progressive point of view. For an orthodox point of view, you should take a class from an orthodox rabbi.

There are two parallel classes that will begin in January. One is an online class, with registration in the Lehrhaus Judaica website. This class runs for 8 weeks, beginning Sunday, Jan 15, 3:30 – 5pm Pacific Time. Click this link for information on the online class.

If you live in the East Bay portion of the San Francisco Bay area, I also offer an in-person class on Wednesday evenings at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA. That class will begin on Wednesday, January 18, 7:30 – 9pm Pacific Time. Click this link for information and registration in the Berkeley class. Tuition is $90 US for 8 weeks.

This class is the winter segment of the Introduction to the Jewish Experience class; it also functions as a stand-alone class. No prerequisites.

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