RELST 181 / WES 200: Schedule of Readings & Assignments

January 24: Course Introductions, Expectations

January 26: Religion & Culture

PRIMARY:Religion as a Cultural System” (Geertz)

SECONDARY:From Collards to Maple Syrup, How Your Identity Impacts the Food You Like” (Kusmer)

January 31: Religion & Food

PRIMARY:Blood in the Barbecue?” (Roof)

SECONDARY:I Gladly Adopted Judaism, but the Food Was Another Story” (Velez); “A Taste of the Jewish South” (Nathan)

February 2: Approaching Judaism


SECONDARY: Devarim [“Deuteronomy”] 26:5-11;

TERMS: Choseness; Covenant; Mitzvah; Shema

February 7: Divine Foundations

PRIMARY:Law, the Sacred, & a Nosh” (Mazur);  “Is Belief a Jewish Notion?” (Gutting)

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


TERMS: Halakhah; Tanakh; Torah

February 9: Shabbat & Prayer

PRIMARY: COX, chapter 1

SECONDARY:Guide to the Synagogue Sancturary, From Ark to Yad” (Strassfeld and Strassfeld); “Sabbath” (Sacks); “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Love Shabbat Dinner” (Stub); “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 14-16: Jewish Cycles of Time

PRIMARY: “Jewish Calendar: Solar and Lunar” (Staff); “Months of the Jewish Year” (Staff)

February 21-28: Food Rules

PRIMARY: Kosher Food: What Makes Food Kosher or Not?” (Staff)

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


Worksheet References:
B’reshit: 2:16-17; 32:25-33
Shemot: 22:30; 23:19
Vayikra: 11:2-47
D’varim: 14:3-22

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


DESTINATION: Food Lion Supermarket (5461 Wesleyan Dr., near intersection with Diamond Springs Rd.) – meet at the front entrance area of the store

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

March 7: Purim Costume Party & Mid-Term Exam Review (No new readings)

Mid-Term PREPTerms Worksheet #1

March 9: NO CLASS (Out of Town)

March 14-16: NO CLASS (Spring Break)

Worksheet answer keys:




March 21: Mid-Term Exam

March 23: Torah Feasts, I (Rosh HaShanah, Sukkot)

PRIMARY: COX, chapters 2, 4


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

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

March 28: Torah Feast, II (Pesah, Shavu’ot)

PRIMARY: COX, chapter 8

SECONDARY:Passover, the Jewish Holiday for Gentiles” (Davidson); “What It Means to Keep Kosher for Passover” (Staff). [And for those of you who are 21 and older.]


Worksheet References:
Shemot: 34:18-23

TERMS: Haggadah; Hametz; Matzah; Seder

March 30: … & the rest (Shemini Atzeret, Simhat Torah, Tu B’Shevat, Yom HaShoah)

PRIMARY: COX, chapters 5, 9, 10

SECONDARY:What is Shemini Atzeret?” (Steinberg); “What Happens in Synagogue on Simhat Torah” (Steinberg); “A Convert’s First Simhat Torah” (Gibby)

April 4: Torah Fast (Yom Kippur) & Tanakh History (Purim)

PRIMARY: COX, chapters 3, 7

SECONDARY:Better to Suffer, or Better to Live?” (Kirsch); “The Story of Purim” (Goodman)


Worksheet References:
Vayikra: 23:27-28

TERMS: Grogger; Hamantashn; Kol Nidre; Shpiel, Tashlikh

April 6: NO CLASS (Pesah)  

April 11: NOT-Tanakh & History (Hanukkah)

PRIMARY: COX, chapter 6

SECONDARY: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 13: Just History

PRIMARY:Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi, and Ethiopian Jews” (Solomin)

SECONDARY:Sephardic Cuisine” (Staff); “The 22 Best Yiddish Words to Know” (Staff); “The Trefa Banquet and the End of a Dream” (Feldberg); “Who are the Hebrew Israelites?” (Kestenbaum)

TERMS: Ashkenazi; Diaspora; Exile; Sephardi; Temple;

FOOD! (Elements of a Pesah seder)

April 18-25: “Matching, Hatching, & Dispatching”: The Jewish Life Cycle … and Food

PRIMARY: COX, chapters 12, 14, 15

SECONDARY:The Brit Milah (Bris): What You Need to Know” (Staff); “Liturgy, Ritual and Custom of Divorce” (Staff); “Down to Earth: The Vital Lessons Learned in Burying the Dead” (Sandler-Phillips); “Guarding the Dead” (Savage); “Jewish Funerals: What to Expect When You Go” (Wolfson); “Timeline of Jewish Mourning” (Staff)

DUE (April 25): 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

April 27: NO CLASS (VWU Academic Symposium)

May 2: Conclusions, exam review (No new readings)

Final Exam Prep: Term Worksheet #2

Worksheet Answer Keys: #1 / #2 / #3 / #5 / #7 / #8

May 9: Final Exam (11:30 am – 2:00 pm)