PHL 335/REL 383   Office Hours in RH-428   (445-4489) 
Philosophies of Judaism   MWF 9:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.
Spring 2007
 and by appointment. 
 Prof. Michael Kagan
 Email: kagan@lemoyne.ed

We will consider a variety of Jewish philosophical responses to fundamental problems and concerns including human nature, faiths/reasons controversies, theories of revelation,  existential and feminist Jewish philosophies. Be willing to struggle with difficult philosophical texts and issues. Requirements include participation, attendance, successful completion of a presentation on at least one of the readings and a final project to be agreed upon with the instructor.  

Course Objectives:

(A) To examine a variety of Jewish philosophical tendencies as responses to fundamental crises and challenges. The course will focus on several paradigmatic philosophies of Judaism in terms of the following:

(B) encourage sensitivity to the influence and importance of gender and culture in the development of these philosophies;
(C) challenge students to closely and critically examine a Jewish philosophical work in depth, report on the results of that examination and respond to it in light of their own philosophical religious orientations.

Required Texts

There are also some other required readings on reserve in the library, as indicated in the syllabus and class discussions.

Other Texts (Final projects may be based on any of the following)

Method

The aims of this course are intended to be met through lectures, discussion, preparation and completion of examinations, and preparation and presentation of the final project.

Course requirements and grading

* Carefully read the assigned texts. Be prepared to discuss the readings in class. I recommend that you always bring your Bible and the reading assignment to class.   Participation counts for 10%; in class writing assignments will be figured into this part of the grade. 
* Prepare short writings on the reading assignments to be used for class discussion and in preparation for in-class quizzes and the three take-home exams. Please bring all your completed short writings to each class.  Although the quizzes will not be announced, you will have an option to turn in some specific short writings instead of the quiz.  The in-class quizzes (10%)  and the three take-home exams (30%) together count for 40% of your grade.
* Prepare and present on one of the readings for class. (25%)
* Complete and be prepared to present a final project. (25%)
 
Grades are based on a 10 point scale as follows:
90-100 - 'A' range (97-100 = A+; 94-96=A; 90-93=A-).
80-89  - 'B' range (87-89 = B+; 84-86=B; 80-83=B-).
70-79  - 'C' range (77-79 = C+; 74-76=C; 70-73=C-).
60-69  - 'D' range (67-69 = D+; 64-66=D; 60-63=D-).
Below 60 - 'F'.

Failure to complete any of (1)-(4) can result in a failing grade. Plagiarism will result in a failing grade.
Based on the date received, there is a 5%-20% per day grading penalty for late exams, depending on the exam.

ABOUT SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS:

Reading  question(s) are given for each assignment.  Unless otherwise indicated, please answer the reading question(s) in less than one TYPED page (all assignments except in class writings are to be typed).  Make sure you are working with the current version of this syllabus.

STUDENT PRESENTATIONS:  For reading and project presentations,  you will be required to turn in an outline or abstract of your presentation, complete with a list of all works used. Also, if you use any web pages, not only should these be listed on the outline with the rest of your bibliography, but you are also required to turn in a printout of all web pages used in preparing the presentation. If your group divides the work into separate parts, each member of the group will need to provide his or her own outline/abstract and printouts. Outlines/abstracts, and printouts are to be given to me BEFORE the presentation. Failure to do so BEFORE  the presentation will result in a 30% deduction from the relevant presenter's presentation grade. If the outline and printouts are not turned in by the next class, there will be an additional 30% deduction. You may use up to but not more than 5 minutes of videotaped material for your presentation. If the class is meeting in a room with a built-in VCR, make sure you know how to use it. If you need to bring in a VCR for the presentation, you may order one from AV by calling 445-4380 or on the web at http://www.lemoyne.edu/information_systems/audio_visual/class.htm
In the event of a technical glitch or delivery problem make sure you can present without the videotaped material.

STUDENT PRESENTATIONS ON READINGS:
All students are expected to do all readings and to share their understanding with one another in class discussions by leading their own and participating in other students' presentations on the various readings. Student presentations on readings begin the second week of class, and will be scheduled during the first week. The subtopics will be divided up into student groups whose size will be determined by the class size.
       Remember: You have less than an hour to present. Focus on the aspects your group finds most interesting and important. Do not try to cover everything. Your presentation will be improved if you make it easier for others to participate. (Please try to help others' presentations by participating!) Please feel free to meet with me to discuss your presentations. If you don't find me on campus, you are welcome to call me at home before 8:00 PM. YOU CAN ALWAYS LEAVE A VOICE MAIL MESSAGE AT 445-4489.

Final Project:  Written and Presented to Class

Students are to closely and critically examine a Jewish philosophical work (of their own choice) in depth, report on the results of that examination and respond to it in light of their own philosophical religious orientations. The first portion of this assignment is exegetic and expository, requiring the student to present and explain the work in question, making  sure to indicate philosophical strengths and weaknesses. The second part of the assignment invites the students to respond. The response may consist of an essay explaining your view and criticisms; you might write a dialogue or story addressing some of the central issues; you might do something else. Students who do this project as part of a group are required to write an additional brief individual essay on the project topic.

SPECIAL NEEDS
In coordination with the
Academic Support Center (ASC), reasonable accommodations are provided for qualified students with disabilities. Please register with the ASC Office for disability verification and determination of reasonable accommodations. After receiving your accommodation form from the ASC, you will need to make an appointment with me to review the form and discuss your needs. Please make every attempt to meet with me within the first week of class so your accommodations can be provided in a timely manner. You can either stop by the ASC, Library, 1st floor, or call (445-4118-voice or 445-4104-TDD) to make an appointment.

IMPORTANT DATES

No classes on the following dates: Mon., Jan. 15 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day),
Fri. Feb. 16 (First take-home exam distributed.  These are to be emailed before class on 2/23 and a printed copy turned in during class  on Friday, February 23).  Feb. 26-Mar 3 (Spring Break), Apr. 5-9 (Easter Break), PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE Mon, Mar. 12.   Apr. 4.  Project presentations scheduled and second take-home exam distributed.  These are to be emailed before class on 4/18 and a printed copy turned in during class  on Wed., April 18  WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE: Mon., Apr. 16, LAST DAY OF CLASS - May 4 - The  take-home final exam is due by email before 9 a.m. on Friday May 11, 2007A  printed copy is to be turned in to me during the exam time 9:00 - 11:30 A.M.  All exams may cover any previously assigned material; the final will include questions based on your final presentations.

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE ('*'indicates dates on which students present)

#1 (Wed.,  Jan. 17)  Introduce course, choose groups and schedule presentations on readings.  

#2 (Fri., Jan 19) IN CLASS WRITING #1: Write a brief ( less than 1 page)  essay or outline describing your knowledge of and experience(s) with Judaism(s).  At the end of the essay/outline, please say what you would like to learn from your work in this course.

#3 (Mon.,  Jan. 22)  Introduction of some biblical perspectives.  Read Rivkin, pp. 1-48 ("Patriarchs and Prophets" and "The Revolution of the Aaronides").  Read the book of Genesis, Chs. 1 to 23, and chs. 37-50.

#4
(Wed., Jan, 24) Text and commentary.  Read Rivkin, pp. 49-99 ("The Pharisaic Revolution" and ""Heirs of the Pharisees"). 

#5
(Fri., Jan, 26) Text and commentary.  Read Rivkin, pp. 100-126.

*#6 (Mon., Jan. 29) 
Students present on issues suggested by the texts from Genesis. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT  #1( ALL SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE THE DATE OF THE RESPECTIVE STUDENT PRESENTATION ): What is God's relationship to people in the book of Genesis?  Does it change?  How so?  What does Rivkin's analysis suggest about this?

#7 (Wed., Jan. 31) Read the books of Exodus, chs. 1-15. 

#8 (Fri., Feb. 2) Read the book of Exodus, chs. 16-34, and Ch. 40.

*#9 (Mon., Feb. 5). Read the book of Esther, and read Plaskow, pp. 114-117 ("Dealing with the Hard Stuff), pp. 128-133 ("Beyond Egalitarianism")  and pp. 152-156 ("Preaching Against the Text"). SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2:  How, if at all, has the relationship between the people and God changed (from what we read in Genesis and Exodus)  in the book of Esther?  Students present on Esther.

#10, (Wed., Feb. 7)  Philosophical Theology and Medieval Jewish Philosophy.  Read Plaskow, pp. 121-123 ("God: Some Feminist  Questions" and pp. 124-127 ("'It is Not in Heaven' Feminism and Religious Authority").  Read Rivkin, pp. 126-167 ("Medieval Ways to Salvation").

#11 (Fri., Feb. 9)  TBA, please bring texts and questions to class.  

*#12  (Mon., Feb 12)  Read the book of Ecclesiastes. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #3:   What problem is bothering the author of Ecclesiastes?  Students present on Ecclesiastes.

#13 (Wed., Feb 14) Instructor presents on some views about  the after-life in the development of Judaism..

#14 (Fri. Feb 16)   Lecture on secret writing and Strauss.   Read Strauss's Introduction (Ch. 1, pp. 7-21) and title essay (Ch.2, pp. 22-38). Read Guide., pp. 1-37. Take-home exam #1 is distributed.    These are to be emailed before class and a printed copy turned in during class  on Friday, February 23;  students who both email and turn in the exam early or on time will have 5% added to their exam's grade.  Late exams are to be emailed (if you have no access to email over break you can fax the exam to 315-445-4540 or mail them to me at Le Moyne College (1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, NY 13214 ) as soon as it is completed.   Exams received by the 25th will be accepted with no penalty, after that, 5% will be subtracted each day with a maximum deduction of  100%. For example, an exam that would have received a 98 if turned in on time, would have its score reduced to a 93% if I  received it on February 26th and a 43% if I received it on March 6.

#15 (Mon. Feb, 19).   Read Guide., Pages 59-120 Read Strauss, Ch. 3.    Bring Strauss,  Guide., and Bible to class. 

#16 (Wed., Feb 21) Bring Strauss, Guide., and Bible to class.  IN CLASS WRITING #2: Find two texts in Strauss, the Pentateuch, or the Bible readings we have done so far which it would make sense to interpret as secret writing.  Explain why, and how we might interpret them.   

*#17 (Fri., Feb. 23)    Take-home exam #1 is due.   Read Guide, 212-250.  Bring Strauss,  Guide.,  and Bible to class.  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #4:  Who is Maimonides' audience?   Students present on Maimonides'  life and multiple careers. 

Note :  No class Feb. 26-Mar 3 (Spring Break)

*#18 (Mon. Mar. 5)  Read Guide 307-397.   Bring Strauss,  Guide., and Bible to class. Students present on Guide, pp.  307-397.  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #5:   According to Maimonides, How do the best persons conduct their lives? 

#19 (Wed.,  Mar. 7)  Read Maimonides on Evil  and Providence (Guide., pp. 264-306).     IN CLASS WRITING #3:   What do you take to be Maimonides' central thesis about evil and providence?  How does it square with your own views?  

*#20  (Fri., Mar. 9)  Read Rivkin, Ch. IX, "The Road to Auschwitz"  (pp. 244-251)  Wiesel on Evil and Responsibility.  Read DawnSHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #6: What problem faces the protagonist in Dawn?  How does this and related problems affect our lives today?   Note:  You are welcome to do this within one page if you can, but, for this assignment, the page limit is extended to 3 TYPED pages.  Students present on Dawn

#21 (Mon. , Mar. 12)   PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE.  Buber's I and Thou, "First Part"  (pp. 51-86).  If you have not ever read Buber's I and Thou before,  I strongly recommend that you do not read Kaufmann's  "I and You:  A Prologue"  until AFTER you have completed reading Buber's I and Thou.   SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #7:  Using the text to support your thesis, explain what you think to be the problem that is bothering Buber.  Do you think this is an important problem?  Why or why not?

#22  (Wed., Mar. 14).  Buber's I and Thou, "Second Part"  (pp. 87-122).

#23 (Fri., Mar. 16) .  Finish reading  Buber's I and Thou (pp. 123 to the end of the book).

*#24 (Mon., Mar. 19)  Schwarzschild on responsibility after the Holocaust.  Read Schwarzschild's Ch. 4, "On the Theology of Jewish Survival" (pp. 83-98, and pp. 278-284, and Ch 12,"Modern Jewish Philosophy" in Pursuit of the Ideal, pp.229-233 [on reserve in library]).  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #8:   How does Schwarzschild think we should live in a post-holocaust world?  Why?

#25 (Wed., Mar. 21) .  Rivkin on responsibility after the Holocaust. Read Rivkin, Ch. X, "The Road from Auschwitz"  (pp. 252-281)  and Ch. XI, "Postlude:  The Present and Beyond" (pp.282-327)   SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #9: How does Rivkin think we should live in a post-holocaust world?  Why?  

#26  (Fri ., Mar. 23)  Read  Plaskow and Berman,  pp. 1-19  (the foreword and the introduction, "Intersections"), pp. 35-55 ("The Jewish Feminist:  Conflict in Identities" and "Male Theology and Women's Experience") and pp.65-80 ("Jewish Theology in Feminist Perspective")  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #9 (3 page maximum):  What are the basic problems Plaskow addresses in this book?  How did she become aware of them?    

*#27  (Mon., Mar. 26)  Students present on selections from Plaskow and Berman, Part II ("The Complexity of Interlocking Oppressions," pp 89-117) Read  Plaskow and Berman,  pp. 89-93 ("Christian Feminism and Anti-Judaism"), pp. 94-99 ("Anti-Semitism:  The Unacknowledged Racism"), pp. 100-109  ("Feminist Anti-Judaism and the Christian God"), and pp. 110-113 ("Jewish Anti-Paganism.").   Review "Dealing with the Hard Stuff"  (pp. 114-117) SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #10:  What is the basic kind of challenge that Plaskow addresses here, and how does she recommend we respond to this challenge (3 page maximum)

#28 (Wed., Mar. 28)  Read Kamenetz, Chs. 1- 12  (up to and including "JUBUs in America").  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #11:  Of all the people you "met" reading this book, which two did you like the best?  Why?  What did you learn from reading about them?

#29 (Fri., Mar. 30)   Read Kamenetz, Chs. 13- 17  (up to and including " Survival Strategies")  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #12 (2  page maximum): What is the basic problem faced by the Jews in this book?  What is the basic problem faced by the Tibetans? 

*#30  (Mon., Apr. 2)  Finish reading Kamenetz.  Students present on Kamenetz. 

# 31  (Wed., Apr. 4)  Project presentations scheduled and second take-home exam distributed. These are to be emailed before class on 2/18 and a printed copy turned in during class on Wed., April 18. Students who both email and turn in the exam early or on time will have 5% added to their exam's grade.  Late exams are to be emailed (if you have no access to email, you can fax the exam to 315-445-4540 or mail them to me at Le Moyne College (1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, NY 13214 ) as soon as it is completed.   Exams received by the 20th will be accepted with no penalty, after that, 5% will be subtracted each day with a maximum deduction of  100%. For example, an exam that would have received a 99% if turned in on time, would have its score reduced to a 54% if I  received it on April 29th.

Note:  No Class Apr 6-9 ( Apr. 5-9 Easter Break).

**#32 Apr. 11-May 2.  
Final project presentations begin.  These reports are to be between 10 and 15 minutes in length; more time will be allotted to students working in groups. Students who are unable to do their individual presentations at the scheduled time will need to schedule a make-up presentation to be done at the regularly scheduled final exam time for this course.

Note: Second take-home exam is due by email before class 4/18 and a printed copy is to be turned in during class on Wed., April 18.  

**(May 4, last day of class).  TBA.  The third and final take-home exam is distributed.   Make-up presentations.  Course evaluations, if not already done.

If Dolphy day occurs during our class time, class will be held.  If it occurs on a quiz day, the quiz will be given.  (Your lowest quiz grade will not count.)
Remember:   WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE: Thurs., April 16.

EVALUATIONS: Sometime during the last 3 weeks of class, whenever we have time to do them.

Your take-home final exam is due by email before 9 a.m. on Friday May 11, 2007A  printed copy is to be turned in to me during the exam time *9:00 - 11:30 A.M.(Students who both email and turn in the exam early or on time will have 20% added to their exam's grade.  Exams received by the 12th  will be accepted with no penalty, after that, 20% will be subtracted each day with a maximum deduction of  100%.  For example, a 100% on the 12th would be an 80% on the 13th a 40% on May 15th.  Senior grades are due before noon on May 15.  If you are a senior and have not turned in an exam by the 14th, I will record a grade of  40% of your previous exam average for this exam.  This will be applied to non-seniors as well, if they request it or if I can see that it would help their exam average.  

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