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Jewish Thought

Jewish Prayer

Meaningful Tefilla

Instructor: Ms. Rivi Frankel

Credits: 2 credit hours

Have you ever struggled with davening?  Why were these specific tefillot included in our daily prayers?  Do I really need to say the same thing every day?  How can I pray if I’m angry with G-d?  These are just some of the questions many people struggle with in regards to Tefillah.

In this class we will explore both the meaning of our daily Tefillot as well as address our meta- questions surrounding davening.  The aim of the course is to build a stronger connection with our creator.

Jewish Thought

Mystics and Rationalists: Between Rambam and Ramban

Instructor: Rav David Debow

Credits: 2 credit hours – Bet Midrash class

These two giants of Torah represent some of the key tensions in the spectrum of Jewish thought. By examining some of the key wedge issues they debate students will gain deep insight into the Jewish philosophic tradition. Many of the contemporary divisions in our Orthodox world can be traced to differences in approach between Rambam and Ramban. Understanding their historic and cultural milieu will also help us contextualize these debates. Some of the issues we will tackle include: Rationalism versus Mysticism, Divine Providence, the end of Days, Mashiach and the nature of the soul. We will examine a variety of texts but will focus on the Rambam’s Guide for the Perplexed and the Ramban’s commentary on Tanach.

Mesilat Yesharim 

Instructor: TBA

Credit: 1 credit hour

Have you ever wondered about making a difference? About realizing your potential? Have you ever felt that there was something amazing in store for you? That you were part of something bigger and more beautiful than you could imagine? Well, you're not alone in your wonderings. Using a text composed by the poet, mystic, and scholar of 18th century Italy, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, we'll explore who we are and what we can become. Using his most famous text as a guide we'll consider what lies beyond our daily lives and ideas of what is and what should be.

Shabbat in Jewish Thought

Instructor: Rav Ari Schwartz

Credits: 1 credit hour

If a non-religious person would ask a religious person what is Shabbat, many religious people would answer: A day where you cannot turn on and off lights, cook, use your phone, and travel in a car. In other words: a day of restrictions. Yet according to Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah, all the laws of Shabbat are spiritual tools that help a person experience the power of Shabbat. It is not a day of restrictions, but a day of celebration.

In this course we will study many Jewish sources that explain the meaning behind the many laws of Shabbat. This course will focus less on analyzing the laws, and more on uncovering the meaning of the laws.

Topics focused on in the course include:

- What is the spiritual purpose of Shabbat?

- Why are there so many restrictions and laws?

- What are the reasons behind the many Shabbat customs?

- The deeper relationship between the week and Shabbat.


Book: “The Inner Experience of Shabbat: Uncovering the Meaning Within its Laws and Customs,” by Rabbi Ari Ze’ev Schwartz.


Getting to Know Rav Kook

Instructor: Rav Ari Schwartz

Credits: 2 credit hours

Unfortunately, for most of the English-speaking world, Rav Kook (1865-1935) has become one of those cliché thinkers that many people talk about, but very few have actually learnt and become inspired from the inside out. This course is an in-depth study of Rav Kook's writings, who spearheaded religious Zionism. We will study his philosophy of individuality, teshuva (spiritual growth), Torah, Zionism, atheism vs. faith, vegetarianism, and geulah (universal redemption).


Book: “The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook: The Writings of a Jewish Mystic,” By Rabbi Ari Ze’ev Schwartz.

Emunah and Its Obstacles

Instructor: Rav Michael Unterberg

Credits: 2 credit hours

Students will face many challenges to their Orthodox Jewish identities on college campuses. This course is designed to address such issues in a head on manner, through discussion and source study. Students who are bothered by these issues will have a chance to work them out. Students who don’t will work on them here in seminary, before they encounter them on campus.

Meaning through Media

Instructor: Ms. Rivi Frankel

Credits: 1 credit hour

Have you seen…

As creative people, we know messages can take on deeper meanings depending on the media they are presented in.  In their course we will use popular movies and video clips as well as classic Jewish sources to delve into issues like- understanding prophecy, happiness, and the purpose of the world.  And of course- popcorn will be provided!!

Becoming a Better Me

Instructor: Mrs. Franny Waisman

Credit: 2 credit hours

Can a person change? Am I truly connected to myself and my path in life? How are my body and soul connected? What does it really mean to be Jewish? This course will be divided into two parts. The first semester will be based on Shemoneh Prakim of the Rambam where the focus will be understanding the internal makeup of each person and through that learning how to change. The second semester will be based on Sefer HaKuzari and will focus on how a dream can change a person's life. Why is Judaism any different than any other religion? We will dive into deep philosophy of the foundations of Judaism and bring it into our personal lives. You can choose to take the course for one or two semesters.

Books: Shemoneh Prakim*

            Sefer Hakuzari*

*I will be teaching from the Hebrew versions, therefore it will be easier to follow if you bring a Hebrew version to class.

Essential Questions

Instructor: Rabbanit Shira Zimmerman, Mrs Franny Waisman & others

Credit: 1-2 credit hour – Bet Midrash Class

There are so many big questions that a person has to find answers for themselves in this world.  What is the purpose of living? What is each chag really about? If the orot techashim that were used in the beit hamikdash are dolphin skins, where did bnei Yisrael find dolphins in the desert?! (real question asked by EVO student from year 5778).  These questions and others aren't necessarily covered in one of your classes, or it was covered but it left you wanting to know more. 

This class is for exploring the questions that are important to you.  Whether in chavruta or on your own, Rabbanit Shira will help you acquire the tools you need to learn on your own and find the answers you are looking for.  We will compile those questions and answers into a book so that other students can learn from our research. 

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