We’re excited that our authors have begun writing two new Scholars courses set to be released in Fall of 2017 (Islam) and January of 2018 (Vayikra). Here’s a preview using their “working titles”:
The Star and the Crescent: The Long Relationship of Judaism and Islam
Author: Professor Howard Lupovitch
Jews and Muslims have co-existed, at times peacefully, at times contentiously, for more than a millennium. What do they share in common? What are the sources of tension and conflict between Judaism and Islam? In order to delve successfully into these questions, it is necessary to unglue ourselves from a twenty-first century perception that presumes the relationship between Muslims and Jews to be one of perpetual strife and mutual antagonism.
In this ten-lesson Scholars course, students will discover what it was like for a Jew to be living in a Muslim country during the first thousand years after the founding of Islam, and what were the factors that ultimately brought that largely peaceful experience to an end.
Vayikra: The Democratization of Holiness
Author: Judy Snowbell Diamond
Despite the emphasis on the priesthood, priestly functions and the Temple sacrifices, the third book of the Torah actually outlines for the first time the Democratization of Holiness. It is not just the priests who are holy; all people offer sacrifices; men and women, Jew and non-Jew — at times of concern, celebration, mourning, transgression, and also routinely, every day. A central verse in the book is, "Speak to the whole Israel and say to them: You shall be holy!" K'doshim tih'yu (Leviticus 19:2). Such a challenging declaration in the ancient world — that laypeople as well as priests can attain holiness — would serve as the basis for the eventual total democratization of Judaism post-priesthood.
This ten-lesson Scholars course, the 6th installment of the seven-part Rachel Wasserman Scholars Course Series entitled Shiv'im Panim- Seventy Faces of Torah, takes students on a journey through a lesser known book of the Torah which they will discover to be strikingly relevant today.