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Did you ever wonder where our rich and colorful minhagim originate? Why do Ashkenazim and Sephardim differ so greatly in practice? Most importantly, what is a minhag? This course will trace the evolution of many different minhagim and their reasons – from the Gemara (where possible) to the Rishonim and Achronim. Special attention will be placed on the minhagim associated with the chagim and the life cycle.




Peninei Halakha


In this class, we will study excerpts from Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s ‘Peninei Halakha’ which is a very popular and clearly written Hebrew compendium of Jewish Law available both in print, online, as well as a free app. We will learn laws relating to daily rituals as well as those associated with the forthcoming Jewish holidays, and offer opportunities to ask a broad range of questions on each of the topics we cover.




Halichot Beita


Halichot Beita is a test-based course exploring the laws pertaining to women in daily Jewish life and the holidays. Among others, we will explore laws of tefilla, Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, Purim and Pesach.




Moral Maze


In this course we will learn how Jewish teachings found in the Talmud can be applied to the complex moral dilemmas that we face in the modern world. We will explore a number of fascinating topics including concerning Medical Ethics, War Ethics and Animal Rights issues and discuss how contemporary Rabbis are able to apply ancient texts to modern moral dilemmas.




Contemporary Halacha


This course will take a behind the scenes look at how halacha responds to changes in our understanding of our world. Astrology, cloning, vegetarianism, homosexuality, abortion, smoking are just some of the contemporary issues that our ancient laws can address.




Practical Hilchot Shabbat [Intermediate]


On Shabbat, can I add water to a cooked chulent? Can I heat food on a timer? If all the food is in the refrigerator, but I forgot to unscrew the light – can I still open the fridge? Is there a specific way to make salad or tea? Can I reheat cold chicken on a hot plate? How do you deal with an embarrassing stain on your jacket or dress? How can I open a packages,
cans, or bottles in a permitted manner? We will answer the many practical questions that present themselves in the kitchen, dorm, and home.




Practical Hilchot Shabbat [Advanced]


An in-depth text-anchored analysis of the laws of Shabbat, tracing the halacha from the Torah and the Talmud through the Shulchan Aruch and modern Responsa literature. The course will analyze some of the 39 types of prohibitive work. The goal is to understand the definition and application of each Melacha that is studied.




Positive Mitzvot of Shabbat *


Often, we focus on the Shabbat prohibitions and restrictions. However, there is a very positive dimension of Shabbat that permeates the day. What are they? How can I connect to them? How can I enhance my Shabbat experience through the Mitzvot Aseh (the positive commandments)?




Advanced Hilchot Shabbat - Beyond the Kitchen

Can I tie a double knot in my shoes on Shabbat? Can I draw a picture in the sand? Can I get paid for babysitting on Shabbat? Is there a specific way to open food containers? Can I take medications or shower on Shabbat? Can I put anything on a Shabbat timer? Together we will delve into the sources and understand the practical halachot relevant to the Shabbat home.




Philosophy of Shabbat


We will learn how the Halachot and rituals of Shabbat create the structure which allows for deep spiritual experience. We will learn philosophical and mystical sources that will illuminate for us the beauty and depth that has been the foundation of our faith for centuries. We will taste the niggunim (melodies), understand the kabbalistic symbolism behind Kiddush, Hamotzi
and understand how ultimately this mitzvah is fundamental in bringing the world to a consciousness of geula (redemption).




Know What to Answer


Is the Jewish view on intermarriage racist? Why should I be interested in religion if religion is the cause of war and conflict? How do I respond to my relative who wants to know why she cannot be cremated? How do we explain mitzvoth and customs that seem very strange and confusing to us? Often in our daily lives, we are faced with these very real issues, and at times, we are unable to answer these and similar questions. These are just some of the questions we will answer in this course.




Kashrut (Semester I)/Pract ical Da ily Living (Semester II)


Can you eat vegetables that were cooked in a dairy pan with your hamburger?

What should I do if my oven is not kosher? Can I use my microwave for milk and meat? Can I use a sink for kosher and not kosher? These are just some of the questions we will be dealing with in the Laws of Kashrut. We will not only try to find out answers to all of our questions, but we will try to understand the rules that govern these laws in the hope that we can
understand the underlying concepts for all of our questions.




Practical Daily Living


What are the laws that guide me when I wake up in the morning? When do I recite the Wayfarer’s Prayer? What do I do if I forgot to make a bracha before eating my food? Are some places better for praying than others? Jewish law has a perspective and approach that governs every aspect of our lives from the time we wake up in the morning until we go to
bed. Attention will also be given to the basic laws of each approaching holidays.




Master Brachot


What bracha do you make on cholent on when you are not eating bread? If chocolate come from a tree, why do we make shehakol? If I have a salad with different fruits and vegetables, which bracha do I make first? Do I need to make a hamtozi on bread croutons in a salad? These questions and many more will be explored and answered in Master Brachot.




The Jewish Woman in the Modern World


In this course, we will examine the state of the Jewish woman as she confronts the modern world. We will conduct a halachic and hashkafic analysis of the Jewish woman’s life cycle and learn to appreciate the Orthodox Jewish perspective with modernity.




How Do Rabbis Make Decisions


We will learn about the often misunderstood process which leads Rabbis to reach their decisions. We will identify the sources of Jewish law which Rabbis must know; explore the processes of Jewish law that Rabbis must follow, and we will learn about the meta-principles in Jewish law which Rabbis must consider. Moreover, we will address questions such as whether it is permissible to get a second opinion from another Rabbi and whether it is preferable to choose a Rabbi who is more lenient.




Jewish Life Cycle

Mazel tov! It’s a boy! A girl! Twins! What are the halachot and minhagim that guide us when a baby is born? What is an Upsherin? Why is a Bat Mitzvah at age 12? What happens when a couple gets married? Is divorce a mitzvah? How do we mourn an individual’s death? This course will explore the Jewish Life Cycle from a Sefardi and Ashkenazi perspective and will explore the halachot and customs involved at each life event. Jewish Life Cycle will include source packets, familiarizing each student with both classical and modern works.



Learn more about thecourses we offer in Tanachmore-arrow Jewish Thought and Philosophymore-arrowJewish History and Israel Studiesmore-arrow




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