Matriculated Student Courses Spring 2024

Spring 2024 Courses for AOP Matriculated Students


Jewish Music History

Instructor: Hazzan Marlena Fuerstman
Tuesdays 3- 5 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 30

This course addresses a wide range of topics under this heading, including known scholarship on early Jewish music, the cultural contexts in which the multiplicity of Jewish communities developed their musical traditions, and Jewish music in modernity. Some lecture titles (by way of example) are: The Music of the Temple; Early Jewish Music and its Influence on Early Christian Chant; Cultural and Denominational Diversity in Jewish Liturgical Music; The Basic Elements of Ashkenazi Modality; Environmental Influences upon Cantorial Music; European-Jewish Psalm Settings; Learning to Chant the Bible in the Bukharan-Jewish Tradition; Sulzer’s Musical Style in the Context of 19th-century German Romanticism; A Hundred-and-fifty Years of Jewish Art Music: from the French Revolution to the outbreak of World War II.

hebrew language

Biblical Hebrew 102

Instructor: Rabbi Fern Feldman
Wednesdays 1 – 3 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 31

Areas covered: nouns, verbs and other topics in grammar. In the fall semester (101), students will learn the binyan pa’al (qal) in all its tenses. In the spring semester (102) they will learn all the rest of the seven binyanim. The goal of these courses is a solid grounding in translation of Hebrew texts from TaNaKH and Siddur.
If you have passed Biblical Hebrew 101, you will be prepared for Biblical Hebrew 102. If you want to start with Biblical Hebrew 102 without having taken 101, please be able to conjugate all tenses in the binyan paal (qal), as well as the rest of the content in EKS First Hebrew Primer through chapter 20. Biblical Hebrew 102 employs texts from Genesis, parashiot ha-shavuah, and Siddur.

hebrew language

Rabbinic Hebrew Workshop

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Natan Margalit
Wednesdays 3:30 – 5:00 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 31

This workshop will offer practice and instruction in Rabbinic Hebrew, both Rabbinic Hebrew Level One: Mishnaic Hebrew, which is relatively similar to Biblical Hebrew, and Rabbinic Hebrew Level Two, Medieval Rabbinic Hebrew, which includes a number of Aramaic terms that are common in the Talmud. We will also work on some common roshei teivot  (abbreviations) reading without vowels and reading Rashi script. (For those who have taken Reb Natan’s Reading the Rabbis courses through Hebrew College, this will follow a similar format). We will be primarily studying texts from the Mishnah along with medieval commentaries.

The workshop may be taken by students who have passed Biblical Hebrew 102 or an equivalent level of Biblical Hebrew as approved by the instructor. 

 Jewish History

Ancient Israelites, Judeans, and the Making of a People

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Elizabeth Goldstein
Two Sections: Wednesdays 1 – 3 pm (eastern) (starting on January 31) OR Thursdays 1 – 3 pm (eastern) (starting on February 1)

How did we go from ethnos to religion? How well do such categories work to explain our history from the time of King Saul in the 11th century BCE to the ascendancy of the rabbis in the 6th century CE? What was “Judaism” before the rabbis became the power brokers of Jewish life? These key questions will help us discover ancient Israelite (and Judean) identity, practice, and beliefs and ask what they can teach us about who we were and who we remain — even in our own time.

 Jewish History

The Merkavah: A History of the Visionary Path in Jewish Mysticism

Instructor: Dr. Yosef Rosen
Wednesdays 12 – 2 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 31

The Glory: Ezekiel’s Visions; Ascents: Enoch & the Apocalypses; Archangels: Metatron & Yahoel; Whispers: Rabbinic Secrets & Sociality; Angelic Sing Along: The Heikhalot; The Intelligences: Maimonides & The Iyyun Circle; The Merkabah in Early Kabbalah

Over two millennia ago, Jewish mystics began to address their own diasporic experience, filled with grief, disconnection, trauma, and hope, with a vivid and bold claim: Spirit can be accessed anywhere by cultivating visions of the Merkabah—an animate and mobile chariot made of wings and wheels. Practitioners of this visionary path became the founders of Jewish mysticism and the progenitors of Kabbalah. This course explores the evolution, spiritual symbolism, and ritual practices of Merkabah mysticism. By traversing two thousand years of religious history (593 BCE – 1250 CE), this course will enable you to acquire a big-picture understanding of both Kabbalah and the origins of Jewish mysticism. Along the way we will learn about archangels, apocalypses, heavenly ascents, the value of secrets, the aesthetics of mysticism, meditation techniques, mythological revolutions, and diasporic theology.

 Jewish Philosophy

Jewish Traditions of Sacred Time

Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Wednesdays 11 am – 1 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 31

This course will cover shalosh regalim and Yamim Noraim, paying attention to the ways that seasons give way to seasons and moods and foci shift through time. Course goals:
1. To understand the patterns and moods of the Jewish calendar as they express agricultural, mythic-historical, halakhic, and mystical points of view.
2. To become familiar with the particular practices and liturgies associated with each of the festivals and their seasons.

 Jewish Philosophy

Deep Ecumenism

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Nancy Kreimer
Mondays 1:30 – 3:30 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 29

The course begins with the questions raised by a close reading of Reb Zalman’s writings on “deep ecumenism.” We study comparatively the spiritualities / mysticisms of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism utilizing insights from Ken Wilber’s writings to help our comparisons. Each student partakes in an ecumenical experience and reports to the class.

 Jewish Philosophy

Foundations of Jewish Philosophy and Theology

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Aubrey Glazer
Mondays 1 – 3 pm (eastern)
Starting on January 29

This course offers an introduction to foundational concepts in Jewish philosophy and theology by a diverse selection of thinkers, placing their ideas in the context of contemporary debates. In building a lexicon of foundational concepts in Jewish philosophy and theology, we will continually be considering their relevance and applications for thought leaders and activists within and beyond a Jewish Renewal context of community building.



Living in God’s Presence

Instructor: Rabbi Ebn Leader
Mondays 1 – 3 pm (eastern) 
Starting on January 29   

This course examines Hasidic approaches to the major ideas and pathways of Judaism. We will explore the central themes in Hasidism through studying selected texts authored by great Hasidic masters from the 18th century to the present. This journey will lead to an in-depth understanding of the unique Hasidic approaches to Jewish values and practices and an appreciation of Hasidism’s profound theological and psyChological insights.


Liturgy: : Festivals (Shelosh Regalim) 

Instructor: Rabbi Elyssa Joy Austerklein
Tuesdays 11 am – 1 pm (eastern) 
Starting on January 30

This course offers a rigorous historical and textual survey of the liturgy of the Shelosh Regalim and Minor and Contemporary Festive Days. The critical texts of each day will be examined for historical context, and also for spiritual significance and ritual agenda. We will consider the dynamics and structure of these unique gatherings of the Jewish people, and the various strategies that have been employed by denominational streams and Jewish Renewal to construct and reconstruct meaning in the layered rubrics that have been passed down to us. The course will pay close attention to the text, but aim beyond the text to empower future clergy to lead the Jewish people with learning, insight and courage.



Liturgy of the Lifecycle

Instructor: Rabbi Vivie Mayer
Mondays 11 am – 1 pm (eastern) 
Starting on January 29

 This sequence explores the rituals and customs of the Jewish lifecycle. Students will develop understanding of the history minhagim and Halachah associated with each event in the cycle of life – and explore the circumstances and context that has led to the development of new rituals and ceremonies at various stages in Jewish history. Even as we recognize that the contemporary era is a time of great fluidity and paradigm shift, the course will emphasize knowledge and fluency with the traditional sources as the basis for exploration and development of new or innovative approaches. This class will look at halachot and customs associated with traditional and modern life cycle events, and at both classical and modern liturgical texts associated with these events, covering birth, maturation, marriage, and death. There will also be consideration of conversion, divorce and newly identified life-transitions such as retirement, leaving home, menopause, entering military service.


Pastoral Skills

Jewish Bioethics and the Role of Jewish Clergy

Instructor: Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit Fagan
Wednesdays 9:30 – 11:30 am (eastern) 
Starting on January 31

This class will prepare talmidim to undertake the main roles and responsibilities of a Jewish clergy person in a wide range of settings where Jewish bioethical questions arise. The history and fundamental principles, decision-making and counseling processes involved will be taught, often through application to realistic case situations brought by students and instructors. Primary Jewish sources will be studied, as well as contemporary responses from across the full spectrum of Judaism. Learning modalities will include reading in assigned books, articles and teshuvot, podcasts, weekly hevruta, and role playing. Topics will include issues relating to the beginnings and endings of life, abortion and contraception, organ donation/transplantation, stem cell research, gender and sexuality, addiction and mental health issues, and more.


Rabbinic Texts

Second Encounter: Skills in Reading Talmud

Instructor: Rabbi Dr. Natan Margalit
Tuesdays 3 – 5 pm (eastern) 
Starting on January 30

This course will give students an opportunity to improve their skills in reading Talmudic texts in the original Aramaic and Hebrew. It will include study of some of the most essential sugyot of the Talmud and integrate a Renewal, feminist and critical perspective into the reading of these texts. By the end of this course students will need to be able to read rabbinic literature at a reasonable level. This course will serve as the main “breaking the sefer barrier” course. As such students may need extra work with tutors or they may need to take additional course work in rabbinic literature in order to pass this course with the requisite level of competency.

In addtion to the weekly meeting on Tuesday, there is a Beit Midrash on Wednesday from 2 to 3 pm eastern time, with an additional cost to participate. This is strongly recommended by not required.



Leviticus: Entryways into Earth-based Perspectives

Instructor: Rabbi  Dr. Natan Margalit  
Thursdays 3 pm – 5 pm (eastern)
Starting on February 1 

In this class we will focus on the book of Leviticus as an entry point in re-visioning the TaNaKH from an Earth-Based point of view. Many of us have come to view Leviticus with a sense of its difficulty and perhaps even distaste at its description of priestly sacrifices and purity rituals. Yet, with its focus on human/animal relationships, on bodies, the seasons, agriculture and ritual, Leviticus can be an excellent entryway into understanding the TaNaKH’s earth-based character. Using an intertextual approach in which understanding of one biblical text is enhanced by comparisons with other texts to create richly layered patterns, we will usually start with a text from Leviticus but will end up exploring many parts of TaNaKH from Genesis to Deuteronomy to Song of Songs to Kings and the Prophets. In addition, we will explore the writing style of Leviticus (and other parts of TaNaKH) as it exemplifies an organic mode of thought which puts humans, land, and other beings, living and divine, into dynamic networks of relationship. Subjects will include: the Israelite Dietary System, Blood as a complex symbol, Animals and the wild, Death, Life and Purity, Shmitta, Pe’ah and our relation to agriculture, Sexuality, Priests and Gender, Society and Ritual.


Midrash from a Renewal Perspective: Contemporary PaRDeS

Instructor: Rabbi  Dr. Leila Gal Berner
Tuesdays 11 am – 1 pm eastern Starting on January 30

In the introduction to his book on the prophets, R.A.J. Heschel writes – “Prophecy is not simply the application of timeless standards to particular human situations, but rather an interpretation of a particular moment in history, a divine understanding of a human situation. Prophecy, then, may be described as an exegesis of existence from a divine perspective.”

We will use exegetical methods to get as close as we can to understanding how the prophets tried to share that “divine understanding.” Through careful reading of selections of biblical texts, in both prose and poetic styles, relating to both men and women identified as prophets, and informed by academic scholarship on these texts, we will attempt to come closer to understanding the biblical experience of speaking “from a divine perspective.” Towards the end of the semester, we will also spend some time studying the Classical Rabbinic rejection of prophecy, and the ways that some forms of that yearning for access to that “divine perspective” remained.

Students should have completed Biblical Hebrew 102 or the equivalent in order to enroll.