How can Jewish wisdom help inform the ways that we communicate with each other online?
While social media platforms have only been in existence for two decades, they raise moral questions that have been familiar to Jewish tradition for many centuries. Our course together will explore a wide range of ethical and legal concepts that touch on these questions.
Rooting ourselves in Jewish texts, we’ll see firsthand how approaching these present-day social dilemmas through a lens of Jewish tradition can offer unique insights.
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What do Jewish sources say about starting anew after breaking the law, and how can that inform our understanding of modern day criminal justice?
In this course, we’ll do a deep dive into teshuvah (repentance) and the rehabilitation process after one has committed various types of offenses. We’ll ask whether it’s ever too late to turn over a new leaf, and what the consequences should be for a communal leader who speaks or acts inappropriately. For example, what should happen to a shochet, a community butcher, who fraudulently sold his customers non-kosher meat? What about a politician convicted of bribery who wants to return to public office? Should the damage to someone’s reputation or employment ever be permanent?
Rooting ourselves in Jewish texts, we’ll explore complex real-life cases together. In doing so, we’ll see firsthand how approaching these moral questions through a lens of Jewish tradition can offer unique insights.
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Rabbi Avi Strausberg
Power and money introduce tricky dynamics and complicated moral questions into professional and personal relationships. In this session, we'll be exploring the effects of influence and how Jewish sources might advise us to respond when navigating relationships with power imbalances. We'll explore questions like: when do we speak up and when do we stay silent? When do we speak truth to power and when do we flatter to avoid conflict? What moral standards should we require from those in power and what happens when they fail to meet those standards?
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Rabbi Avi Killip
Is there a right way to question authority? Should I speak out on every issue or choose my battles? What role should shame and humiliation play? When can I leverage power-dynamics, and when should I just keep quiet? In this 10-session course we will explore Jewish stories where our ancestors pushed back on the authority of their government and society, of their own Jewish leadership and even of God.
This course was inspired by the book Why Be Jewish? by Edgar Bronfman.
This course was made in partnership between Project Zug and Samuel Bronfman Foundation. The course was inspired Edgar Bronfman’s book, Why Be Jewish? which can be purchased on Amazon.
Rabbi Seth Goren
What is "Jewish Social Justice"? What does it mean to repair the world as Jews? This 4-session course, created by Repair the World, will explore a range of tensions: What is the relationship between learning and action? Should we preference immediate needs or long-term impact? How can we prioritize among the variety of inequalities? Is our primary responsibility to our own community or the broader world? Does your desire for justice come from your relationship to Judaism or somewhere else? Through traditional and modern sources, we'll seek to understand what Jewish social justice is, and how it can guide our efforts to improve the world.
This course was made in partnership between Project Zug and Repair the World. To learn about Repair the World check out: www.werepair.org
What kind of power do we have as human beings, and who grants us this power? To whom, or what, are we responsible and are there limits to this responsibility? In this ten-session course we will explore a range of ancient and contemporary sources, Jewish and secular, to address these questions and examine the obligations and limits of our responsibility as Jews—and as humans—to the rest of the world.
The videos for this course are a little different than other Zug classes: They model a real chavruta between two Limmud all-stars, Maureen Kendler, Maureen Kendler z’’l who inspired a generation with her gifted teaching, and Clive Lawton, one of the founders of Limmud.
For 20 years, one of the central features of the yearly Limmud Conference in the UK has been the Limmud Chavruta Project. Every year, the project produces a beautiful book of learning material, both traditional and non-traditional sources, designed to be learned in pairs. This is the second Project Zug course adapted from a Chavruta Project curriculum.
How Do We Increase Peace in the World? This course looks to our sages to answer this important question. Sephardic Jewish textual wisdom speaks to the complex interactions between Jews and non-Jews today in Israel and around the world. Over the next three months, explore Jewish views on racism and intolerance through the perspective of Sephardic sages whose teachings you may never have encountered before. These rich and often overlooked traditions of Jews of Spain and Muslim countries offer a perspective on Jewish identity that is moderate, inclusive, and does not force its values on others. This course will address the proper treatment of other nations, rights of minorities, neighborly relationships, and respect for human beings. Draw on this wisdom, and your personal encounter with racism and intolerance to discuss larger themes of social-ethical values and humanity.
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
Why do you give? How does your Judaism affect your giving habits? This course will explore what Judaism has to say about the need to give charity: Who needs to give? How much should we give, and to whom? We will explore these issues together through traditional sources and modern answers.
This is a short (5 week) course. Please note that the 5th week includes a closing video without an accompanying source sheet.
Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair
Shmita, the biblical, agricultural seven year cycle, is arguably the most under-appreciated idea in Judaism. It embodies profoundly relevant values of socio-economic equality, environmental sustainability and societal renewal. Yet, in recent decades the public face of shmita has emerged in increasingly bitter disputes about kashrut certification in Israel.
This course was created for the shmita year 2014-15, a year which has proved to be different. A network of rabbis, educators, social activists, environmentalists and business people spanning Israel and the Diaspora had begun recovering the values of shmita and finding creative ways to express them in the public sphere. This remains true for the current shmita year as well.
This course will explore some of the foundational texts and values of shmita, seek to understand a little of the history of shmita since the return of Jewish agricultural pioneers to Israel in the 1880s and attempt to envision new possibilities for shmita in the coming decades. This course is offered in partnership with Hazon.
Rabbi Michael Marmur
In these sessions, we will explore the ways in which Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) came to articulate a theology of social activism and political engagement from within the sources of traditional Judaism. We will look at some key passages in his writings and identify some of the key strands in this theology, as well as raising some challenges implicit in his approach. The Bible, Rabbinic literature, Maimonides, the Kabbalah and Hasidism – all these and more play a role in the development of his activism. We will consider some of these sources and ask if it is possible or desirable to seek a basis for a liberal political agenda from within an ancient tradition.