Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is an engaging multi-session course for anyone interested in exploring Jewish life through a Reform lens.
Open to all, this course is perfect for interfaith couples, those raising Jewish children, spiritual seekers, individuals considering conversion, and Jews who want a meaningful adult Jewish learning experience.
Topics include holidays, life cycle celebrations, theology and core beliefs, Hebrew, prayer, the Bible and other sacred texts, history, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, Zionism and Israel, the American Jewish experience, and the tapestry of the Jewish people today.
Instructors: Rabbi Devorah Marcus, Rabbi Benj Fried, Rabbi Yael Ridberg and Rabbi Cookie Lee Olshein.
To earn a Certificate of Completion for the course, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Attend all class sessions. To make up an absence, you may attend a class on the same topic at any URJ Introduction to Judaism course location.
- Attend at least one Shabbaton.
- Attend at least three Shabbat services and submit a report to your instructor about your experiences, reactions and impressions about each of these.
- Complete all homework assignments and journal entries the instructor assigns.
- Complete the take-home Summary Review. This is an open-book Final Exam and you are encouraged to use all the materials you receive in class to write this paper. You will obtain the Summary Review Questions from your instructor at the 14th class session. When you complete the Summary Review, you should submit it directly to your instructor who will review it and may ask you to revise some sections.
The word Shabbaton is related to the word Shabbat. Shabbatonim (plural) take place on Saturdays after the morning service. It usually runs from 10 am until 3 pm. Time, location and other specifics will be announced and e-mail notifications sent to students. Although the specific programs of each Shabbaton will vary somewhat, you can expect to enjoy yourself experiencing prayer, study, singing, and discussion about Judaism with a group of rabbis and your peers.
Book List for the 2022-2023 Session
Diamant, Anita. “Living a Jewish Life,” HarperCollins, (rev. ed.) 2007
Green, Arthur. “Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas,” Jewish Lights, 2014
Silberman, Shoshana. “A Family Haggdah II,” Kar-Ben, 2010
Sonsino, Rifat and Syme, Daniel. “Finding God: Selected Responses,” Behrman/URJ Press, 2002.
Wylen, Stephen. “Settings of Silver,” Paulist Press, 2000
Also recommended for further reading:
A Jewish Bible (Tanakh) (JPS English translation) will be used in the class.
The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 2014.
Zion/Fields-Meyer. “A Day Apart: Shabbat at Home,” Shalom Hartman Institute, 2004. $24.95
Mark Shapiro. “Gates of Shabbat’” CCAR Press, (rev. ed.) 2016. $18.95
Books are available (new, used or e-books) online at Amazon.
Please make sure you buy the most recent edition of the books
Click here to download a sample course syllabus with dates and reading assignments.
If you have any questions about the course, please feel free to contact Rabbi Benj at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Devorah at email@example.com.