M.A. Tracks in Jewish Studies

Interdisciplinary M.A. in Jewish Studies: Tracks and Programs

Jerusalem and Israel Studies: This unique specialization deals with the complex and fascinating history of the Holy City and the capital of the State of Israel. Students see the varied faces of the city that have been holy throughout the generations to the three monotheistic religions. It includes courses on the history of the city, the development of its popular and national holy places, its place in Jewish and Israeli art, and its status after the Six-Day War.

Judaism and the Arts: The specialization in Jewish Art explores the connection between creativity and Judaism and understanding how it was influenced by its non-Jewish environment. Students open a window to the Jewish past: from mosaics in the ancient synagogues and the magnificent illustrations in the medieval Hebrew manuscripts to famous contemporary Jewish and Israeli artists.

Gender and Feminist Studies: This is the first and only multidisciplinary program of its kind in Israel that combines theoretical and practical studies on the status of women in Judaism. Students are exposed to the approach of gender research that raises questions related to sexuality, definitions of “femininity” and “masculinity”, in relation to the human body, birth, parenting, and so forth. The track includes training for students to lead gender discourse in Israeli society in general and in their workplace in particular.

Jewish Thought: Life in Israel in the 21st century raises religious, existential and cultural questions about Jewish identity, Jewish and democratic state, social justice and more. The specialization emphasizes the connection between Jewish Thought and the thought of the nations, and the ideas and patterns of thinking that characterize Jewish Thought throughout history.

Midrash and Aggadah: The purpose of study in the field of Midrash and Aggadah is to expose students to the rich conceptual world of Aggadic literature. The curriculum presents students with essays from different styles, creative ways of midrash, and topics and problems that preoccupied the sages in the first centuries CE.

Talmud and Halacha: The Talmud program provides students with tools that will enable them to study the Talmudic literature and Halachah in their varied aspects. The Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud are studied, as well as seminars on current issues such as education in Rabbinic literature, gender and halachah, and medical ethics.

Sephardic Studies: Using lenses of Jewish history, Jewish thought, literature, halacha, art, and gender, Sephardic Studies examines the diverse worlds that developed following the Spanish expulsion in Jewish communities in Islamic countries from the Middle Ages and into the modern era.

Israel Studies and History of Zionism: This track focuses on contemporary Judaism from the rise of Zionism in the 19th century to the present. Students examine, through literature, art and music, the challenges faced by Israeli residents during the Yishuv period and after the establishment of the state, along with the absorption of immigrants and 21st century dilemmas.

Jewish History: Jewish History combines research with original sources and field literature examining basic problems relating to Jewish existence in the past and present. A central goal is to present the historical research of various periods, such as the historical memory of contemporary society, as developing and dynamic, and to discuss critically the work of historians of different generations.

Special M.A. Programs

Schechter’s unique Applied Jewish Studies M.A. Program enables Israelis to go back into their schools, communities and congregations with the Jewish knowledge and commitment needed to advance pluralistic Jewish education in the State of Israel.

The Maccabi M.A. community leadership program offers hands-on leadership training for community center and nonprofit professionals in integrating Jewish values and content into their programs and organizations. Maccabi (acronym for Community Leadership in the Jewish Spirit), is one of Schechter’s most popular study tracks. Attracting community activists from around the country, this unique program combines Jewish studies with practical tools for building strong community-based professional leadership. Students include directors of neighborhood community centers and a variety of non-profit volunteer organizations whose mandates span the spectrum from municipal culture to special needs child development.

Marpeh Spiritual Care: Due to the acute shortage of individuals qualified to offer spiritual support to those suffering from ill health, life-threatening diseases, and facing old age and death, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, under the direction of Dr. Einat Ramon, established the the Marpeh Pastoral Care Program in 2006. Based on Jewish values such as bikkur holim (visiting the sick) gemilut hasadim (deeds of loving-kindness), and grounded in Jewish tradition, students in the year-round Marpeh program include educators, clergy, and health care professionals. They offer solace and support to people across a wide spectrum of ages, religious backgrounds and cognitive capacities, both in cities and in rural areas. Clients served include Jews and non-Jews, hospital patients and their families, patients in hospice, the frail elderly, Holocaust survivors, Russian immigrants, children with special needs and their parents and many more.

Bible and Society: Designed in coordination with Israel’s Ministry of Education, Schechter’s interdisciplinary M.A. track aims to reverse the trend of declining Bible studies in Israel’s public schools. This new Schechter M.A. program which opened in Fall 2018, hopes to reverse the trend by offering an attractive interdisciplinary curriculum alongside generous scholarships. Additionally, a robust yearly 9-part Bible study series of lectures and guided tours showcases some of Israel’s leading literary and academic figures.

Judaism and the Arts M.A. program, “Informed Creations,” takes Judaism and the arts to new level by providing an academic platform where Jewish traditional texts meet Israeli contemporary culture in the plastic arts, music and dance. Offered in conjunction with Jerusalem’s HaKubia Art Schoo, it is Schechter’s newest study program. This unique Jewish Art program combines theory and practice in a dynamic, interdisciplinary curriculum. Schechter faculty present the philosophical, historical and religious underpinnings of Jewish art and the creative process alongside guest experts in sculpture, drawing, painting, ceramics who provide “hands-on” workshops.