The Department of Religious Studies at McMaster is offering an array of exciting courses in Jewish Studies this academic year. Members of the community are warmly welcomed to join these courses as listeners (see for information on how to do so). The courses described here do not require any previous knowledge or coursework. Fall classes are offered Sept. 5 through Dec. 6; winter classes begin Jan.4 and end Apr. 9. ( Term two classes will appear in the November HJN) Classes meet for two hours of lecture each week and an additional tutorial hour, which allows time for small group discussion and films.  To view complete course outlines go to: Faculty who teach the courses described below are members of the department’s Jewish studies committee. The following courses are offered during the fall semester. 


Archaeology and the Bible    (REL1AB3)
What archaeological evidence exists for the stories and characters of the Bible? Why, and in what ways, does such evidence matter? In this course, we will seek to answer these questions, with a focus on major archaeological discoveries from the land of Israel in connection with the Jewish and Christian Bibles. A major goal of this course will be to enrich our understanding of what the Bible is, and the potential roles of archaeology in relation to it.
Wednesdays 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
Fridays 1:30 - 2:20 p.m.
Professor Dan Machiela

Women in the Biblical Tradition (REL2B03)
In this course we will analyze the portrayal of women in Biblical literature, taking into consideration some material artifacts. We will read about how women are depicted in different genres of literature, and what the ancient authors say about women. By analyzing the portrayal of women and gender in antiquity, the course will also provide conceptual tools to engage in contemporary debates concerning them. 
Mondays, Thursdays 1:30 - 2:20 p.m.
Professor Hanna Tervanotko

Term 2 January – May 2018

Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy (REL2JP3)
Interested in Jewish ideas about how the world may end? Professor Matt Thiessen will be taking students on a journey exploring visions of the end of days from ancient times to the present in his course: 


Apocalypse Then and Now (REL2AP3) January 2018
This course will focus on apocalyptic literature written by ancient Jews and Christians who were wrestling with being faithful to their God in times of persecution. The course will also examine how such ancient literature differs from and/or informs modern end-times movements and thinking.

Judaism in the Modern World (REL3ZZ3) 
This course will examine a series of recent controversies in the Jewish world, including Israel’s proposed conversion bill, the creation of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, and the rising tide of European anti-semitism. We will examine the historical and religious roots of these issues so we can better understand their current depths and potential implications for the future. 
Professor Celia Rothenberg
WeTh 1:30PM - 2:20PM

Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy (REL 2JP3)
 Introduction to different conceptions of the connection between Jewish traditions and philosophical questioning. Authors may include: Maimonides, Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Cohen, Buber, Rosenzweig, Strauss, Levinas, Soloveitchik.
Professor Dana Hollander
TuWeFr 12:30PM - 1:20PM



Conversational Hebrew for Adults 
Mondays, Nov. 6 - Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

Why Pray? with Rabbi Jordan Cohen 
Mondays, Nov. 6 - Dec. 18 at 8 p.m.
For over 2000 years, prayer has been the main mode of Jewish worship. And yet, for many Jews, prayer remains a challenge and a mystery. In this course we will explore the Jewish approach to prayer, the differences between individual prayer and communal worship, the development and the meaning of the prayers of the siddur, and how you can strengthen your own prayer life. All texts will be provided.

Introduction to Judaism
Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. beginning Sept. 7. Classes alternate between Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, Shaarei-Beth El in Oakville and Solel Congregation in Mississauga. Registration fee. For more information contact

All courses take place at Temple Anshe Sholom and are free, unless otherwise noted. For more information contact the Temple office at 905-528-0121.


Your Sacred Voice with Rabbi Hillel Lavery-Yisraeli. Sundays 9:30-10:30 a.m. beginning Nov. 5. 
Learn to sing and lead prayers, and gain a deeper understanding of how and why we pray as we do. 

Talmud: Jewish Jurisprudence. Tractate Makkot, with Rabbi Hillel Lavery-Yisraeli. Mondays 6:15-7:30 p.m. beginning Oct 23.
Explore the Jewish concept of justice through this short tractate. What constitutes legitimate testimony? What is the Jewish definition of perjury? What is an appropriate court-administered punishment and how ought it to be carried out in different times and contexts? This course will incorporate modern legal approaches as well as guest speakers.

The December Project with Rabbi Yonah Lavery-Yisraeli. Wednesdays, 6:30-7:30 p.m. beginning Oct 26.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1924-2014) was a legendary Hasidic rabbi famous for, among other things, the invention of the now-ubiquitous rainbow tallit, the founding of the Jewish Renewal movement, and taking LSD with Timothy Leary. But the core of his life’s work was the excavation and expansion of mindfulness in Jewish tradition and practice. Join us as we read and discuss the book The December Project (by Sara Davidson and Reb Zalman), which contains his teachings on  mortality – from the perspective of the person experiencing it. The course will include supplementary material from traditional Jewish literature and exercises by Reb Zalman on how we might gain a skilful, spiritual, and positive approach to the journey we all will take.  Cost of registration is $10 to cover the purchase of the book. Please register by Sept.10.

A Taste of the Parsha with Rabbi Hillel Lavery-Yisraeli. Shabbat 9:00-9:15 a.m.
Join us for a quick cup of coffee and a quick glance at the morning’s Torah portion before the Shabbat morning service begins.Ongoing, drop-in, no registration necessary.

All classes take place at Beth Jacob Synagogue, 375 Aberdeen Avenue. Please confirm your attendance via email to


To infinity and beyond:  A four-week series exploring the nature of our soul and the afterlife  with Rabbi Daniel Green. Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. beginning Oct 17.

Crash Hebrew Course with Geraldine Katz-Rose. Starts Wednesday, Oct 25 at 7:30 p.m. 
Inside Look at the Weekly Parsha with Rabbi Aaron Selevan. Sundays 7:45 a.m.

Contemporary Analysis of Jewish Law  with Rabbi Aaron Selevan. Wednesdays, an hour before sunset.

All classes take place at the Adas Israel Synagogue, 125 Cline Ave. S. For more information visit