Sponsoring Agency: Rohr Chabad House at Columbia University
625 West 113 Street, New York, NY 10025 USA
|Think Jewish: Jewish Wisdom for Modern Life|
|About the Course||
A Jewish Educational Experience
Do you want to challenge the status quo?
Do you have questions about Judaism that are important to discuss?
Do you want to discover how Judaism is relevant and forward-thinking?
Do you want to join a warm community?
Then join the club! Sinai Scholars is for you! This learning experience is different from any class you have ever attended!
Sinai Scholars is not a series of lectures; it is a series of interactive discussions. It is not a repeat of what you experienced in Hebrew school; it is fun, stimulating, deep, and relevant. It is not a time to listen; it’s a time to question. It is not geared to tell you what to think; it provides an opportunity to explore Judaism’s rich heritage at your own pace with you in the driver’s seat.
Sinai Scholars is a platform upon which participants explore central elements of Judaism that are relevant, interesting, and empowering for all Jews, irrespective of background, education, and level of commitment. By the end of this journey, you will have a richer appreciation for some of the core elements of Jewish heritage and Jewish identity, along with a deeper understanding about how these interface with modern life.
You meet a Jewish person who says, “You know, I don’t know why people consider me Jewish. I do not support Israel; I do not ever visit a synagogue; and I do not celebrate any Jewish holidays.” How would you respond?
What does it mean to be a Jew? Is Judaism a religion, culture, nationality, or some combination thereof?
Since the dawn of time, individuals and groups sought to define and explain their identities, and Jews throughout the ages questioned the meaning of their Jewish identity. Today, the shifting sands of Jewish life require that this conversation persist but with newer insights and profounder definitions.
If you were G-d and you were going to address a once-for-all-time message to all of humanity, what would you say?
What messages does humankind need to hear today?
Mark Twain noted that while many nations filled the planet with sound and splendor, all of them soon faded and vanished. But the Jews are different, he noted. “All things are mortal,” he wrote, “but the Jew.” For Jews, survival is not celebrated for survival’s sake; survival is seen as a call to a purpose. A dialogue about the nature of this purpose is one crucial step in making this world a better place.
In medieval times, a despotic ruler once agreed to release a Jew from jail for one day each year to practice religion. The Jew was now in a quandary. Should that day be Yom Kippur? Passover? Rosh Hashanah? Some other day? How to choose?
What would you choose?
This leads into a broader discussion about Jewish rituals, which often seem foreign and archaic. In what ways can we find meaning and value in some of these observances?
Life is continuous and unrelenting. Might there be some benefit in a creative pause?
Enter the Jewish Sabbath. It is difficult to imagine a society functioning without a weekend, but this institution was unheard of in the ancient world. What meaning did Jews find in their Sabbath that allowed them to shrug off their cultural isolation?
Examining this question is relevant to those who are troubled that today’s society is insufficiently happy and inadequately connected in meaningful ways.
Orientation / Lesson 1 -
Tikun Olam / Lesson 2 -
Lesson 3 -
Lesson 4 -
Lesson 5 -
Lesson 6 -
Lesson 7 -
Lesson 8 -
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