Talmud Torah of St. Paul

Where critical thinking
and Jewish values intersect


Trimester 1 (Fall 2017) Midrasha Electives

Monday Electives

Violence in Jewish Law, 7:45 - 8:45 PM

How do you solve a Mafia murder? Maybe by using the midrash. That's what we'll do for the Fall Term of this elective: look at the facts about a terrifying virtual Mafia murder (the killer used an iron bar to smash in the...) and then look at three ancient rabbis who will help us decide whether to take the murderer and stone him to death. Taught by Rabbi Yosi Gordon.


The Story of Jerusalem: from King David through the Islamic Caliphate (1000 BCE - 1100 CE), 7:45 - 8:45 PM

The course examines how Jerusalem became the religious and political center of the Jewish people. Among other topics, the course will discuss: how the Jews lost their sovereignty in 586 BCE; how the Babylonian exile impacted the Jewish people's sentiments towards Jerusalem; the return to Jerusalem after the Decree of Cyrus in the 6th century BCE; the impact of Hellenism on Jews in Jerusalem; the Maccabees/Hasmonean Kingdom; the Roman occupation of Jerusalem and the impact of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE; Jerusalem under Byzantine rule; the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem and its impact on Jewish life through the 10th century CE. Taught by Dr. Arie Zmora.

All of Dr. Zmora’s courses are open to the community and adults are also encouraged to register for one or more of them.


Wednesday Electives

- Slam Poetry, 7:00 - 8:30 PM

Slam poetry, an art form that combines writing and performance, has been blowing up on the internet and across the country in the past few years. If you have seen some of the viral YouTube videos or gone to a poetry slam, you know there is something incredibly powerful about watching someone share their life and words with an audience of strangers. Slam Poetry is premised on the idea that everyone has something to say, that if you do the work of writing a poem, you can have a microphone and the attention of an audience. Over the weeks of this course, we will write poems of our own which we will perform in a poetry slam at the end of the semester. We will study the work of prominent poets, letting their craft guide our work. We will explore Jewish identity and Jewish ideas around text and language. We develop skills for generating writing, editing poetry, and performing effectively. In the process, we will deepen our understanding of ourselves, of Jewish traditions, and of each other. Taught by Talia Young.


- Torah: The Book of Samuel, 7:00 - 8:30 PM

This is a course in three parts, including Tri-II. You can take any or all of this course; each part is an independent unit.

The greatest political novel ever written is the biblical book of Samuel. We will study the political stories in Samuel and, as we go, read articles from today's newspapers that can be understood from the teachings of Samuel. What does Samuel have to say about war, poverty, power, political lying, betraying one's own values, fake news, involving family in government, scandals, murder, power-and-sex and massive corruption? How can we use ancient insights to bring modern issues to light? All thoughtful opinions, civilly discussed, will be welcomed with respect. Taught by Rabbi Yosi Gordon.


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