How often do classes meet?
Context consists of four 10-session semesters over two years, for a total of 40 sessions (80 hours of instruction). Classes meet weekly on Wednesdays. At the end of each year, there is an informal session with both instructors for reflection and synthesis.
How long is each class session?
Each session consists of two hours of study and a 15-minute break. Classes begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:15 p.m.
How much reading is required?
The amount of reading varies depending on the class and instructor. On average, 30 to 60 pages of reading, including both primary and secondary sources, are assigned each week. Instructors will typically review each week's assignment in advance and prioritize readings that are most central for the next class.
What if I can't do all the reading?
You are encouraged to complete all assignments to maximize your learning experience; however, instructors understand that adult learners are busy individuals who do not always have time to complete the reading.
What if I have to miss some classes?
Attendance is important for your own intellectual progress and for the purposes of building a learning community. If you do need to miss a class, you can listen to a digital audio recording of the session online.
Do I need to have previous Jewish Studies knowledge to take Context?
Context participants have diverse backgrounds, from those with minimal formal Jewish education to those familiar with Jewish texts and traditions. The range of experiences contributes to a vibrant class dynamic.
Is knowledge of Hebrew required?
All Context classes are conducted in English, and texts are studied in English translation. Instructors do not assume that students know Hebrew.
Are there any written requirements?
There are no tests, papers, or grades.
What is the tuition?
Tuition for the 2016–2018 Context program is $850 per year. This includes instruction and access to the majority of course materials via JTS's online course management system. Payment plans and a limited number of need-based scholarships are available.
Is there an additional cost for materials?
Some instructors may require students to purchase a few books per semester. The number of required books varies depending on the class and instructor. The total cost of required books will not exceed $100 per year.
Can I join the program once it has already begun?
Because each Context semester builds on the material covered in previous semesters, you may enroll only at the beginning of the two-year program.
Do I need access to a computer to take Context?
Access to email is essential. You will need Internet access to download readings and other materials from the course website and to listen to digital recordings of sessions online. You will also be responsible for bringing assigned readings with you to class, which entails printing them or having them accessible on an electronic reader.
Who are the instructors?
Context instructors are members JTS's renowned Jewish Studies faculty. They bring a level of scholarship typically encountered only in university settings.
Spring 2017 (Rabbinics): Rabbi Noah Bickart, Phd, Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS
Is Context a degree-granting program?
No. Upon completion of the two-year program, you will participate in a graduation ceremony where certificates will be conferred.
Are there refreshments?
Refreshments are provided by class members on a rotating basis.
How can I help?
Every Context cohort needs an administrative liaison-someone who can facilitate the flow of information between staff and students. If you are interested in serving as the liaison and receiving a tuition discount for your services, please contact the Context office.