Woe Is Me: Difficult Experiences Within Jewish Art and Text—Syllabus

September 23

September 30
Introduction: Who, What, Where, When, and Why? Let’s Discuss . . .

October 7
Making Complex Choices About Learning: “He Cast a Look and Went Mad”
(Maurycy Minkowski) and Chaggigah 14b (Ben Zoma in the Pardes).

October 14 
Like Parent, Like Child? “The Return of the Jewish Volunteer”
(Moritz Oppenheim) and Kings 2, 18:1-8, Chronicles 2, 32:32–33:20
(the prodigal/wayward son motif).

October 21
Why us? Grappling with Religious Persecution: “Eclipse of God”
(R. B. Kitaj) and various biblical quotes and rabbinic commentary on the
concept of “Hester Panim,” or God’s hidden face.

October 28
The Jewish Museum Field Trip #1: Viewings and on-site assignments including artwork
and text: “Missile Tow” (Igael Tumarkin) & Lamentations 1:1-22, “After the Pogrom”
(Maurycy Minkowski) and selections from Job.

November 4 
What did we see, feel, and discover at the museum? Assessment: In-class
“Think, Pair, Share,” and Student Presentations.

November 11 
Jewish Film as Text: Viewing of several video clips and analysis of their treatment of
“Pain” and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

November 18
Consumers and Connoisseurs of Art. Assessment: Class examination of student-chosen quotes, poetry, biblical text, music, movies, etc., on “Pain.”

November 25  
Thanksgiving (No Sunday classes).

December 2 
 “Monument” (Christian Boltanski) and “The Holocaust” (George Segal) and Liturgical
Selections: El Malei Rahamim, Mourners’ Kaddish, and Yom HaShoah readings
(Siddur Sim Shalom, etc.). Assessment: Journaling in preparation for final museum visit.

December 9 
The Jewish Museum Field Trip #2: Viewings of installation pieces/sculpture, lecture, and
art projects.

December 16  
Show and Tell: Student work on “Pain” theme.

December 23  
Winter Break (No Sunday classes).

December 30   
Winter Break (No Sunday classes).

January 6
Finding Common Threads. Assessment: Student reflection on artwork, texts, discussions, and personal responses to “Pain.”

January 13  
Concluding class.

Teacher's Expectation of Students: 

  • Students and teacher will come to class on time, open-minded, and well-prepared to learn together. 
  • Everyone will help create “safe space” with respect to each other’s turn to speak, opinions, and ideas. 
  • Only one student at a time may be out of the room; however, students may leave the room when they need to without asking the teacher’s permission. 
  • Students will try their best to participate fully in class, which includes thoughtful group work, attention to suggested homework assignments, and active listening.