At The Jewish Theological Seminary, Gary Karlin is a second year doctoral student at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, and graduated from The Rabbinical School in 1987.
At the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies, Gary serves as a teacher, where one of his classes is popular with students and grant committees alike. The curriculum he developed for a class called “Who Wrote The Bible?” recently won a two-year grant from the Institute for Informal Jewish Education of Brandeis University. “The class was designed to help kids articulate their beliefs and is about theology as much as it is about text and the history of text,” Gary said. “Our students are going to be exposed to these ideas and they should be exposed to them in a way that is supportive and constructive.”
Dr. Ofra Backenroth, associate dean of The Davidson School, was hired by Brandeis University to lead the project and served as Gary’s adviser. While Gary and Ofra spent two years working on the curriculum, this is not their only connection: they attend the same shul in Teaneck, New Jersey.
The focus of Gary’s class mirrors the values and aims of courses at JTS. “The idea was that there are many ways to see the torah and more than one can be the basis for a rich and passionate Jewish life. For me, that is what JTS stands for: intellectual honesty, academic rigor, and religious devotion,” Gary said.
As Gary asks his students meaningful questions, there is no doubt that he credits JTS as being the best place to develop his already extensive knowledge of Jewish texts: “This is the natural place for me to be.”