/ Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism


Learn more about the curriculum for Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism
Patrick Seli/unsplash
Patrick Seli/unsplash

The Foundations curriculum covers four areas of compelling contemporary interest to North American Jews: Peoplehood, Faith, Practice, and Ethics. Classes on these topics can be deployed in linear fashion to think through, for example, Jewish attitudes to ethics, or in modular fashion to deal with issues that have an impact on our communities such as charity, climate change or democracy.

Hartman faculty bring these topics to partners and help prepare educators to work through insights, framing, and enduring questions with participants.


Explores questions related to the collective experience of Jewish life: What does it mean to be part of the Jewish community? To what extent can communities hold diverse and shared values at the same time? What does Jewish Peoplehood mean today, when the centers of Jewish life, North America and Israel, are so different and independent from one another? 


Explores questions related to what a relationship in God and a life of faith entails: Where does faith come from? What are the models in Jewish tradition for a complex relationship with God which includes reverence and joy, but also anger and argument? Where does doubt fit into a life of faith? Where do Jews who do not believe fit in? 


Explores questions that are fundamental to Jewish practice: What is the system of mitzvot trying to accomplish? Why the need for ritual action beyond belief? How have Jewish thinkers conceived of the meaning of mitzvot in an age of radical human autonomy?   


Explores questions related to ethical obligation and decision-making: How has Jewish tradition conceived of what we owe other people? How might we approach ethical dilemmas which test our loyalties to values and to people? 

The Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism curriculum allows for flexibility and creativity in course design. Each of the volumes, units, and classes can be modularized. Linked below are some ideas that show the ways in which the thematic volumes can be used to craft courses of varying lengths and complexity for diverse populations.

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