In his parting instructions to his people, Moses stresses the importance of historical perspective, for the present is an outgrowth of our past. By studying history, we are able to relate to current issues with greater understanding.
The story of the Jewish people is a story of a nation that has contributed to world history far more than might be expected from its small numbers. Indeed, it is remarkable how often the Jews have been found at the epicenter of world events. Many surveys of Jewish history have responded to this fact by considering the impact of Jews upon other nations and their contributions to history at large.
This course, however, looks at the Jewish encounter with other cultures in light of what these interactions have meant to us as Jews. The protean ability of the Jewish people to adapt to wildly different contexts has growing relevance to all of us as we enter an era of globalization and increasingly permeable borders.
This April, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is proud to launch a new course, "Flashbacks in Jewish History." Each of the six lessons considers the Jewish people as they grapple with surrounding cultures. Rather than focus on the geopolitical, we have kept an eye towards themes that resonate with contemporary Jewish experience. We expect even those students who do not consider themselves history enthusiasts to find the readings compelling and relevant.
Once considered preposterous, many of Judaism’s revolutionary teachings are today’s universal values that are taken for granted. The history of the gradual transition of attitudes on values is as instructive as it is fascinating. An analysis of Jewish contributions past and present allows us to define ways in which Judaism can continue serving as a beacon of light and wisdom for all humanity.
The Bible is rich in tales, from the Garden of Eden to Noah’s Ark, from the selling of Joseph to Moses’s breaking of the Tablets. But what do these stories truly tell us? Review six famous and infamous biblical stories, and investigate the questions and mysteries they raise under the lens of the Torah’s mystical insights. The results bear both cosmic significance and practical relevance.