1 2020

Beyond Disputes - CBI

10:30AM - 11:30AM  

Congregation B'nai Israel Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Petersburg
300 58th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL

Contact Allison Sapiega

Debates—philosophical, spiritual, ethical, and cultural—are at the heart of Judaism and Jewish life. Are religion and reason compatible? Can Jewish law change based on context? How do we teach and talk about the Holocaust and the State of Israel? Should we prioritize Jewish causes or universal causes in our giving? Is Jewish tradition intrinsically patriarchal and ableist? Is our relationship with God defined by human obligation or divine compassion?

The Jewish Theological Seminary's Beyond Dispute is a substantive, text-based exploration of how these debates have been manifested over the course of Jewish history, and to lead rich discussion about their continued resonance for contemporary Jewish life. The course enables students alike to go beyond the conflicts themselves to uncover the essential questions that underlie them, and to build a more inclusive view of the Jewish past, present, and future.

Each of the 11 units of the course includes a short video lecture, classical and contemporary study texts, and an extensive leader’s guide featuring lesson plans, hevruta questions, and more.

Course Contents


  1. Does Dispute Unite Us or Divide Us? The Complex Legacy of Debate in Jewish Tradition


  1. Is Judaism Particularist or Universalist? Giving Tzedakah in a Global Era: Rabbi Jan Uhrbach
  2. When Can We Legitimately Modify Tradition? Waging War on Shabbat: Rabbi Eliezer Diamond, PhD
  3. Do We Need to Mean What We Pray? Sacrifices in the Siddur: Rabbi Daniel Nevins
  4. Who Wields Authority in Jewish Ritual? Smashing Wine Barrels and the Patriarchy: Dr. Marjorie Lehman


  1. What Defines Our Relationship with God? A Tale of Two Covenants: Dr. Benjamin Sommer
  2. Does the Torah Contain Everything We Need to Know? The Maimonidean Controversy: Dr. Alan Mittleman
  3. Is Judaism a Religion of the Heart or the Mind—and Who Decides? Hasidism and its Opponents: Dr. David Fishman


  1. What Do We Mean by Jewish Continuity? The Legacy of “Be Fruitful and Multiply”: Dr. Michal Raucher
  2. How Much Should Tragedy Define Us? The Holocaust in Contemporary Jewish Life: Dr. Edna Friedberg
  3. Can Commitment and Critique Coexist? Teaching Israel in the 21st Century: Dr. Alex Sinclair

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