NISHMA Course Descriptions

Talmud I "Sugya Skills" (Monday–Thursday, 8:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.): Students will be exposed to Mishnah and Gemara, with a focus on developing familiarity with the literary structures and terminology of the talmudic sugya and understanding its logical underpinnings, along with close readings of Rashi's commentary. Faculty: Rabbi Noah Bickart (Session I); Sarah Wolf (Session II)

Talmud II "Tempting Tosafot" (Monday–Thursday, 8:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.) Students who are already somewhat familiar and comfortable working through the Talmudic text on their own will continue to hone their skills in Talmud and Rashi, now venturing into the world of the Tosafists who saught to harmonize disparate passages. At times we will entertain modern academic methods to provide alternative answers to the questions posed by these medieval geniuses.  Faculty: Rachel Rosenthal (Session I); TBD (Session II). 

Talmud III "Reading Rishonim" (Monday–Thursday, 8:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.): Fellows and students with extensive experience learning Talmud will be exposed to the richness of the commentarial tradition, with a focus on understanding the textual and substantive basis of conceptual disagreements. In addition to the significant focus on Rishonim, modern critical methods will be applied, especially analysis of the various manuscripts of the Talmud. Faculty: Rabbi Eliezer Diamond (Session I); Rabbi Noah Bickart (Session II)

Hebrew (Tuesday–Thursday, 8:30* a.m.–12:45 p.m.): Four levels of Hebrew are available: Introduction to Hebrew, Advanced Beginner, and Intermediate Hebrew I and II. Students will take a placement exam at the beginning of the summer to match them to the appropriate level.

*Exact start time TBD

Rabbinic Literature (Tuesday–Thursday, 2:00–6:00 p.m., Session I): Students with limited Hebrew backgrounds will study various genres of rabbinic literature, including midrash and halakhah, with an intense focus on improving students' Hebrew language skills as well as their familiarity with the basic concepts and structures of rabbinic texts. Faculty: TBD

Parshanut (Tuesday–Thursday, 2:00–6:00 p.m., Session I): Students will study the major medieval commentators on the Torah, including Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, and Ramban. This course will focus on sharpening language skills and learning to recognize interpretative cruxes and strategies. Faculty: TBD

Advanced Halakhah (Tuesday–Thursday, 2:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.): Fellows and other advanced students will study an area of Jewish law in depth, tracing it from its biblical or talmudic origins through medieval commentaries (rishonim), halakhic decisors (posekim), and responsa (teshuvot) through the present day. Attention will be paid to developing skills in reading post-talmudic literature, gaining sensitivity to changes in halakhic forms, and identifying the underlying issues at stake in the halakhic discussion. Faculty: Rabbi William Friedman

Independent Learning Projects (Monday, 2:00–6:00 p.m. and Wednesday, 7:00–9:00 p.m.): Fellows will complete an independent research project into primary sources addressing a topic of their choice, culminating in shiurim that will be delivered to the entire group in the final week of the program.

Guest Lectures (Thursday, 6:00–8:00 p.m.): JTS faculty and visiting scholars will address important issues in the Jewish community, and share their expertise and insights with Nishma participants. Dinner will be provided, allowing time for informal interaction before the presentations and for Q&A sessions following them.

Sihot (Tuesday, 6:15–7:45 p.m.): Rabbinic fellows will participate in conversations on topics surrounding text study and the rabbinate, facilitated by Nishma faculty and visiting scholars.