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Journey Through the Jewish Year:
A Philosophical Exploration of the Holidays

From our earliest years at home and school, the Jewish holidays often feel like a comfortable presence in our lives. But with that comfort and familiarity, we may fall into a grave and highly consequential intellectual error: the error of assuming that the surface understanding of a novice could suffice for the deeper and more sophisticated knowledge that the Jewish tradition, in all its breadth and depth, has to offer. In this seminar, we will explore the major themes—the theological first principles—that animate the Jewish calendar. This fall, we will begin our studies with the Days of Awe, the High Holidays of Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot and conclude with a conversation about the holiday that commemorates a Jewish civil war, Chanukah. Drawing on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, among others, we will suggest that an entire philosophy of Judaism can be drawn from the familiar practices, prayers, and customs that undergird the Jewish Year—in all its beauty, meaning, and sophistication.

This is Part I of a full-year course, spanning all three Tikvah Online Academy semesters. Full-year courses are an exciting opportunity for students to dig deeper into a critical topic in Jewish thought and history. Students may enroll in Part I as a standalone course without enrolling in future semesters but are encouraged to reenroll in subsequent terms to gain mastery over the subject.