RELST 181: Judaism Through Food

Course Description

A hands-on introduction to Judaism. From feasts to fasts, you will explore the history, texts, and traditions of Judaism through the study and first-hand encounter with its foods; their place, preparation, restrictions, and geographical variations that are central to the religious and cultural experience of Judaism.

Goals

By the end of the semester, students enrolled in this course:

Should be familiar with the basic history, practices, and diversity of Judaism;

Should have an appreciation for the study and analysis of a religious tradition through its basic practices and traditions; and

Should be familiar with how foods and food-related practices can be used to examine symbolic actions and cultural and social relationships.

Texts

The following texts are available at the VWC bookstore. You are free to purchase them elsewhere, but should check with me to be certain you are purchasing the proper edition(s).

Cox, Harvey. Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian’s Journey Through the Jewish Year (COX)

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. The Sabbath (HESCHEL)

 

Additional readings are provided as links (to other Web sites or to downloadable PDFs) via the class “Schedule of Readings & Assignments,” or may distributed electronically or in class.

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLETING ALL OF THE READINGS, INCLUDING ANY ON-LINE READINGS OR READINGS DISTRIBUTED IN CLASS. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR FAILURE TO OBTAIN READINGS OR READING ASSIGNMENTS DISTRIBUTED IN CLASS.

Responsibilities & Evaluation

In-Class Participation (40 points)

You are expected to attend all scheduled classes and complete all assignments. In addition, you are expected to participate fully in regular discussions, and engage the materials in class. Regular and thoughtful participation in class, as well as enthusiastic participation in the assignments, will be rewarded in this category. Mindless blather will not.

Class participation grades will be assigned in three areas:

Class attendance, participation, and interaction—including “FIELD TRIPS ‘n FOOD” (20 points)

There are 3 field trips scheduled for this class; the first is scheduled for a SATURDAY, while the other two are scheduled to take place during regularly scheduled class time.

If you cannot attend the SATURDAY event, you must make arrangements with me for an alternate experience. Points will be deducted for failure to attend the field trips. Any student who has not participated in the first two field trips will not be permitted to attend the last field trip.

Worksheets (9 x 2 points each = 18 points [+2 “bonus”])

Placed throughout the “Schedule of Readings & Assignments” are worksheets related to the various topics covered in class and in the readings. After you have completed the reading, download the worksheet (.pdf), print it, complete it, and bring it to class. (Be sure your name is on it!) While these sorksheets will not be graded, they are worth “Class Participation” points, and will not be accepted after the date for which they are due.

Mid-Term & Final Exams (2 x 30 points = 60 points)

The mid-term and final exams will cover readings and class discussions. More information related to the format will be provided closer to the exam dates.

⇒ FOOD DISCLAIMER ⇐

While you are free to refuse to taste any of the foods associated with the class, you may be asked to handle—or may come into contact with—foods or food ingredients. Students with medical dietary restrictions (such as food-related allergies) or religiously / conscientiously held food-related dietary restrictions (such as vegetarianism or veganism) must notify me at the beginning of the semester so that the proper precautions can be observed. Students will NOT be forced to jeopardize their health or conscientiously held beliefs, nor will students’ grades be adversely affected.