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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Noam Pianko
RELIG 210
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Judaism

Basic ideas and motifs of Judaism: God, Covenant, Law, Life Cycle (birth, marriage, family life, sexual laws, role of women, death); Cycle of the Year (Sabbath, holidays, festivals); Holy Land, prayer, Messianism.

Class description

This class explores the question: what is Judaism? However, the course will not provide a single definitive answer—such as a specific belief, set of ritual practices, or shared texts and myths. Instead, our investigation of Judaism will illustrate the limitations of any effort to identify a single, static conception of Judaism. Judaism, this course argues, can only be understood as a dynamic religious tradition that has developed many forms (most of which no longer exist today) during a more than 3000 year history that has spanned nearly the entire globe. Particular attention will be paid to innovations introduced during the last two hundred years in Europe and the United States. >

Student learning goals

The goal of this course is to enable students to compare and contrast these diverse expressions, both past and present, that have called themselves “Judaism.” Students will gain the tools for this analysis by engaging with primary sources ranging from the Bible to modern Jewish philosophy, by investigating the liturgical and holiday cycles, by familiarizing themselves with Jewish history, and by discussing Jewish beliefs and practices. The heavy emphasis on writing assignments in this course is designed to help students develop their writing and critical thinking skills. (It also means that this course qualifies as a “W” or “writing intensive” class!).

General method of instruction

Two lectures and required discussion section weekly.

Recommended preparation

No prior knowledge of Judaism is required or expected.

Class assignments and grading

Two seven-eight page essay assignments (including a paper outline and final draft), In-class test on key-terms, two short response papers, and regular section participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Loryn Hazan Paxton
Date: 10/15/2007