Compare Talmud to U.S. law in course open to everyone

Posted Monday, Jan 26th, 2009

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- An open mind is all you need to enroll in a Talmudic study course beginning Feb. 11 at the Joan & Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center in Sea View.

"Perhaps you have been curious about the Talmud but thought it was complex and inaccessible to anyone but scholars of the law," said Rabbi Shmuel Bendet, course instructor. "Perhaps you thought you needed to understand Aramaic or Hebrew to take part in the discussion. Not anymore."

"You Be the Judge," developed by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, is an interactive course that allows students to explore the Talmud's thinking about civil law.

The course presents students with real cases brought before the beit din, the court system of Jewish law, and compares Talmudic analysis with the approach taken in American courts on such topics as business ethics, property rights and employment practices.

Six case studies will give students an opportunity to pit their wits against some of the best minds in the country.

"If your mother always said you should have been a lawyer, this is the course for you," said Rabbi Moshe Katzman, local coordinator for the Jewish Learning Institute.

The course has proved so popular among attorneys, including Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, that 13 states provide continuing education credits to lawyers who attend. New York is among several states considering awarding the credits.

Classes will run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays. The fee is $100 but some scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

This is the second course offered by the Jewish Learning Institute and taught by Rabbi Bendet.

"Soul Maps," which began in November, aimed to provide an innovative approach to understanding human psychology. The six-step program used tools from Kabbalah to help participants understand themselves and find inner contentment.


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