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Courses

The Dead Sea Scrolls in their Context / Dr. Jonathan Ben-Dov
The course offers an acquaintance with the Qumran scrolls, with special emphasis on the way the scrolls interact with other, longer known frameworks: biblical literature, rabbinic literature, Jewish Pseudepigrapha and apocalyptic, Jewish-Hellenistic writings, and even contemporary non-Jewish Hellenistic writings. Students will learn excerpts of the main genres represented in the scrolls and will encounter the current scholarly questions regarding them. The course will offer a glimpse to technical disciplines like paleography, archaeology, and image processing, alongside a historical-theological evaluation of the religious institutions presented in the scrolls. Written at a pivotal period in the history of world religions, the scrolls require a comprehensive reassessment of many established categories in both Judaism and Christianity. This will be gained by placing the scrolls in the context: the early roman period in the Levant.

Conversion in Rabbinic Literature: From the academies of Tiberias to the Rivers of Babylon \ Dr. Moshe Lavee
The course will focus on the evolution of the rabbinic conversion to Judaism as a case study for the rabbinic conversion of Judaism. We will trace the development of the conversion procedure from its early beginning in Second Temple Period through key the amoraic academies in Tiberias, to its later consolidation in Babylonian Academies.

The case of conversion will serve us for considering the question of the rabbinization of the Jewish Society. Many sources from the land of Israel implies for a rabbinic effort to enforce new standards on Jewish communities in the Notrhern parts of Israel. However, a systematic comparison to later representations of these efforts in the Talmudic Academies in Babylon will enable us to portray the process of rabbinization as a gradual, evolutionary, and most important, as intricately related to the unique contribution of the Babylonian milieu.The course will supply a panoramic view of the legal parts of classical rabbinic literature as well.

Aggadic Midrash in the Cairo Genizah: From a Galilean Cradle to Mediterranean Spread \ Dr. Moshe Lavee
The earliest redactions of Aggadic Midrashim took place in the amoraic academies in the Northern parts of the Land of Israel. They developed the genre of homiletic Midrash, profoundly collecting and arranging rabbinic materials for selected Biblical lections. These pioneering effort were the beginning of a prolonged stage of productive creativity, in which the rabbinic ideas and literary forms were further developed, reflecting new conceptual perspective and social structures.

In this course we will survey this relatively neglected field of Rabbinic work, reconstructing the evolution of traditions through the use of variety of lost Midrashim found in the Cairo Genizah, as well as in printed editions and medieval anthologies. We will move from discussing the evolution of texts, to considering their role and reception in the Mediterranean Jewish societies represented in the Genizah.  The course will also serve for establishing familiarity with and tools in the study of the Cairo Genizah and in Talmudic Philology.

Saints and Pilgrims of the Middle Ages / Dr. Micha Perry
The Galilee was the birth place of Jesus and where he performed most of his Miracles, it was also the center of Jewish renaissance after the distraction of the temple. Thus it has become riddled with 'sacred geography': holy sites and holy tombs. Under Christianity the region became a magnet for pilgrims from around the world, and competing Jewish and Christian traditions were retold and reinvented.

In this course we will follow the itineraries of Christian and Jewish pilgrims to the holy landin order to establish an 'entangled history' of saints and holy places of the Galilee. From a methodological point of view this course will bring together two historical schools, the first of historical geography and sacred sites (sacred geography) and the second is transnational history (entangled history), thus converging two methodologies that rarely converge: a local and a transnational one together.