RELST 181: Schedule of Readings & Assignments (Sp18)

January 30: Course Introductions, Expectations

February 1: Religion & Culture

READ: “Religion as a Cultural System” (Geertz)

February 6: Religion & Food

READ: “Blood in the Barbecue?” (Roof); “The Torah of Food” (Nathan); “I Gladly Adopted Judaism, but the Food Was Another Story” (Velez); “A Taste of the Jewish South” (Nathan)

February 8: Approaching Judaism

READ: HESCHEL (entire); Devarim [“Deuteronomy”] 26:5-11; “Sabbath” (Sacks); “Is Belief a Jewish Notion?” (Gutting); “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Love Shabbat Dinner” (Stub); “Months of the Jewish Year” (Staff)

TERMS: Choseness; Covenant; Mitzvah; Shema

February 13: Divine Foundations

READ: B’reshit [“Genesis”] (entire); Shemot [“Exodus”] (entire)


TERMS: Halakhah; Tanakh; Torah

February 15: Shabbat & Prayer

Pre-class event (REQUIRED): “From Conflict to Peace in Modern Israel” Shafer Room, 12:00-12:50 pm

READ: COX, chapter 1; “Common Prayer Words” (Staff)


Worksheet References:
B’reshit: 1:1-52:3; 22:3; 24:63; 28:11
Shemot: 20:8-11
D’varim: 6:4-7
Tehilim [“Psalms”]: 55:18
Daniel: 6:11

TERMS: Aliyah; Bimah; Challah; Daven; Eruv [Norfolk Eruv];  Havdalah; Kippah / Yarmulke; Mezuzah (in Torah); Minyan; Rabbi; Shomer Shabbat; Tallit (in Torah); Tefillin (in Torah)

February 17 (Saturday): FIELD TRIP ‘n FOOD #1 (REQUIRED)

DESTINATION: Congregation Beth El

[NOTE: Please download and print this TICKET, put your name on it, and bring with you to the synagogue.]

February 20: Food Rules, I

READ: Vayikra [“Leviticus”] (entire); “Jewish Food Does Not Begin and End With Kosher” (Gross)

February 22: Food Rules, II

READ: “How Coca-Cola Became Kosher” (Feldberg);

LISTEN: “Keeping Kosher: When Jewish Law Met Processed Foods”:


Worksheet References:
B’reshit: 2:16-17; 32:25-33
Shemot: 22:30; 23:19
Vayikra: 17:2-47
D’varim: 14:3-22

TERMS: Heksher; Kashrut/Kosher; Parve; Talmud; Treyf

February 27: FIELD TRIP ‘n FOOD #2 (REQUIRED)

DESTINATION: Farm Fresh Supermarket (Wesleyan Dr. & Diamond Springs Rd.) – meet at the front entrance area of the store

[NOTE: Please download, print, and bring this WORKSHEET #4 with you.]

March 1: Reality Check #1: Purim

READ: COX, chapter 7; Megilat Esther [“The Book of Esther”]; “The Story of Purim” (Goodman)


TERMS: Grogger; Hamantashn; Shpiel

March 6-8: Torah Feasts

READ: COX, chapter 2, 4; Megilat Ruth; “The ‘Gifts’ of Pentecost and Shavuot” (Winston); “Why Shavuot is All But Ignored Across America” (Brostoff)


Worksheet References:
Shemot: 23:17; 34:22-23
Vayikra: 23: 24-25; 23:34-36

TERMS: Lulav / Etrog; Shofar; Sukkah; Yom Tov

March 13: Other Observances: Shemini Atzeret, Simhat Torah, Tu B’Shevat

READ: COX, chapter 5; “A Convert’s First Simhat Torah” (Gibby)

March 15: Torah & History

READ: “Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi, and Ethiopian Jews” (Solomin); “Who are the Hebrew Israelites?” (Kestenbaum)

TERMS: Ashkenazi; Diaspora; Exile; Sephardi; Temple

March 20: Mid-Term Exam Review (No new readings)

March 22: Mid-Term Exam

March 27-29: NO CLASS (Spring Break)

April 3: REALITY CHECK #2: Pesah

READ: COX, chapter 8; “Passover, the Jewish Holiday for Gentiles” (Davidson); “Push-Pull“(Gibby); “The Orthodox, Online Version of the Deep-Freeze for Passover” (Otterman); [And for those of you who are 21 and older.]


Worksheet References:
Shemot: 34:18

TERMS: Haggadah; Hametz; Matzah; Seder

April 5: Class Seder

April 10: Some Historic Holidays: Yom HaShoah & Yom Ha’Atzma’ut

READ: COX, chapter 9, 10

April 12: Torah Fasts

READ: COX, chapters 3, 13; “Better to Suffer, or Better to Live?” (Kirsch); “Tisha B’Av: An Unloved Jewish Holiday Gets a Makeover” (Markoe); “Kosher Food Pantries Report Growing Need” (Markoe)

Worksheet References:
Vayikra: 23:27-28

TERMS: Kol Nidre; Tashlikh

April 17: REALITY CHECK #3: Hanukkah

READ: COX, chapter 6; “What You Need to Know About the Hanukkah Story” (Ross); “Why the Maccabees Aren’t in the Bible” (Turkienicz); “Why American Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas” (Chandler)

TERMS: Chanukiah / Menorah; Dreidl; Latke; Sufganiyot

April 19-26: “Matching, Hatching, & Dispatching”: The Jewish Life Cycle … and Food

READ: COX, chapters 12, 14, 15; “Down to Earth: The Vital Lessons Learned in Burying the Dead” (Sandler-Phillips); “Guarding the Dead” (Savage)

DUE (April 26): WORKSHEET #8

Worksheet References:
B’reshit: 3:19; 17:10-14; 29:16-30; 34:14-17:
D’varim: 7:3-4;
Ezra: 10:10-11

TERMS: Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah; Beit Din; Brit Milah; Chuppah; Get; Hevra Kaddisha; Ketubah; Kittel; Mamzer; Mikveh; Mohel; Sandek; Shivah; Yahrzeit; Yizkor


DESTINATION: The Route 58 Delicatessen


May 3: NO CLASS (VWC Port Day)

Port Day Extra Credit Form (.pdf)

May 8: Conclusions, exam review (No new readings)

Final Exam: TBA