This course is a ‘taste’ of Judaism and is based on our conversion to Judaism program. Learn about Jewish holidays, lifecycle, history, texts, culture, and more. With your registration, you’ll also receive our Basics of Judaism course (a $55 USD value) at no additional charge.
What is included in the program?
Support from our Rabbi Help Desk
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Have a question about something you're learning in our program? Our Rabbi Help Desk is here for you! Currently enrolled students receive access to a special email address where you can ask questions about anything in our program. Our current rabbinical support team includes Rabbi Patrick Beaulier (Post-Denominational), Rabbi Barbara Aiello (Pluralistic) and Rabbi Brian Mayer (Reform). Emails are answered within 72 hours or less. This is in addition to the one-on-one rabbinical support received by conversion students.
Tanakh, Talmud and other Jewish Texts
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Jews are the "people of the book". But we could also be called the "people of the books!" Learn the fundamentals of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), the Talmud and the important Jewish texts throughout history.
Jewish and Israeli Holidays
The historic and religious background, rituals and insights of Jewish holidays
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Students will gain an appreciation for each of the many Jewish holidays, as well as the Israeli national holidays. The focus is on the "who, what, where, when, why and how" of each of the holidays. Careful attention has been paid to understanding these holidays from both religious and secular backgrounds, as well as mystical approaches to these chagim. Students will also gain an understanding of how the Jewish calendar works and its origins.
Prayer Book Hebrew
Master the basics of prayer book Hebrew
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Taught by Sara Eiser, a rabbinical student in Israel, this series of five units will give students the ability to go through a typical prayer service using a Hebrew siddur. Learning a new language takes a long time, but this class breaks down the complicated language in an incredibly simple, easy-to-approach manner.
Weekday Prayer Services (Shacharit, Mincha and Maariv)
Learn to davven or lead a group in weekday prayer
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In this series students will learn the basic Jewish prayers from weekday services: Shacharit (morning), Mincha (afternoon) and Maariv (evening). The video presentation of these prayers is in a modified Conservative style; however, video and audio links in each class showcase the nusach (style) of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Orthodoxy. A siddur is included in each classroom.
Shabbat Liturgy and Other Brachot
Shabbat prayer services, blessings after meals and Havdalah
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Learn to pray and lead the evening Shabbat services (Kabbalat and Erev Shabbat), Shabbat morning, afternoon and evening as well as Havdalah. Included is a unit on Birkat Hamazon, the blessings after meals and additional relevant brachot. The approach of this series is pluralism: providing students with Reform, Conservative and Orthodox approaches to these services. A siddur is included in each class.
Early Jewish History
Pre-Israelite civilization to the Crusades
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How did the Jewish experience begin? How did a group of Canaanites break off from society to become the Ancient Israelites? How did these people, shaped by religion, politics and warfare, become the People of the Book? In this series based on the most recent research from archeologists and scholars, we will trace the early history of the Jewish people. Units in this series include: the dawn of Jewish history, context of ancient Israelite religion, Judaism after the Babylonian exile, the rule of Rome, rabbinic Jewish development and the Talmud, the introduction of Christianity in the Jewish world, the Medieval period and the Crusades.
Modern Jewish History
The Ottoman Empire, Reformation, Enlightenment the modern state of Israel and beyond
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A lot has happened since the 13th century. In this series we explore Mamluk Rule, Jews in the Reformation and Ottoman Empire, Jewish Modern and Contemporary Periods, Islamic Unrest and Realignment in the Middle East, The Modern State of Israel and take a glimpse of the Jewish future. Please note that our classes on the modern state of Israel take a non-political stance.
Living the Jewish experience through life's milestones
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Judaism is not just a religion of the mind, but a lived experience through the entire lifecycle. Students begin with Birth and the first month of life, then move onto the milestones of bar/bat mitzvah and confirmation, marriage (as well as divorce) and finally, the process of life, death and mourning. The final class on mourning is terrific when combined with the lay chaplaincy approach to dealing with death.
Sefer Bereishit (The Book of Genesis)
From Creation to Egypt
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From the creation of the world to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. See how the universe began and chart the course for the Jewish people in Egypt.
Intro to the Hebrew Bible
Historical development of the Torah
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How did the Torah develop? Who were the ancient Israelites who wrote the previously oral traditions of ancient Israel? In what context was the Torah written, and what historic events shaped the way that this sacred text was understood? Drawing from archeology, ancient history and biblical scholarship, we will learn more about how to core Jewish text that would later become the Hebrew Bible came to be.
Sefer Shemot (Book of Exodus)
From Slavery to Freedom
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Learn how the Israelites leave slavery in Egypt through the strength of God, who has remembered the covenant with the patriarchs. Led by Moses, the Hebrews will encounter God at Mount Sinai, entering into a covenant with God who gives them their laws and instructions for the Tabernacle through the wilderness.
Sefer Vayikra (Book of Leviticus)
Laws of purity and holiness
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In the book of Leviticus, God tells the Israelites and their priests how to make offerings in the Tabernacle and how to conduct themselves while camped around the holy tent sanctuary. We learn more about the ritual, moral and legal practices of the Israelites, including the concepts of holiness and purity. The focus of Leviticus is on how one must behave in order for God to continue to dwell amongst the people.
Sefer Bamidbar (Book of Numbers)
Strife and lessons before entering the Promised Land
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The Israelites begin their journey into the Promised Land, but not without turmoil. The book of Numbers tells the story of political and social upheaval, spies, curses, and even fiery serpents. A generation will perish in the desert before entering the Promised Land. Learn why in the book of Numbers.
Sefer Devarim (Book of Deuteronomy)
The law and Israel
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On the plains of Moab, Moses delivers the sermons that make up the Deuteronomist Code, which became the Book of Deuteronomy. These sermons recount the years of wandering in the wilderness, pleas to remain holy in the eyes of God, and on keeping the eternal covenant.
Judaism for Beginners costs only $20 more than Basics of Judaism does, and with it, you’ll receive our Torah Study course for free!