Thursday, July 24, 2014

Introducing Jewish Studies Through Jewish Thought and Practice

Geoffrey Claussen, “Introducing Jewish Studies through Jewish Thought and Practice,” Shofar, vol. 32, no. 4 (2014), 60-75.
In this pedagogy article, I discuss the course titled "Jewish Traditions" (REL 205) at Elon University. The article begins by describing the first day of class in the course, which features an experiential learning exercise in which students eat honey cake while they read a fourteenth-century account of Jewish boys consuming honey (and other sweet delicacies) while studying Torah for the first time. I outline the course’s learning outcomes, which include students developing awareness of the complexity and diversity of Jewish cultures, learning diverse ways in which Jews have related to non-Jewish communities, and (as the course is a part of Elon’s Women’s/Gender Studies program) recognizing the importance of gender for understanding the Jewish tradition and people. The course focuses on major aspects of Jewish thought and practice, giving particular attention to influential classical Jewish texts and modern responses to those texts. An abridged syllabus is provided.  The full text of the article is here.