Frequently Asked Questions
What to expect from the Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Shalom Hartman Institute?

  • The Shalom Hartman Institute is a think tank and an educational center for the Jewish people. It is based in Israel (in Jerusalem) and in North America (New York, with offices across the country).
  • Hartman develops ideas that identify, frame, and bring Jewish wisdom to bear on the challenges that face the world’s Jews today.

What is Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism?

  • A pluralistic curriculum powered by Hartman that is a distillation of the best of Hartman Torah as taught over decades and functions as a sophisticated introduction to foundational concepts of Judaism and Jewish life
  • An invitation for learners to join Judaism’s interpretive conversation
  • A curriculum designed specifically to be accessible for adult learners taking their first steps into Jewish thought

What are the basic aims of the Foundations curriculum?

  • To explore and make accessible the most compelling and deepest questions in Jewish thought and demonstrate the principles and debates that underlie our Jewish heritage
  • To reject the assumption that every learner is on track toward practicing Judaism in a specified way

Do learners need a set level of Jewish practice?

  • No, learners do not need a specific level of practice to benefit from the curriculum

Who would use the Foundations curriculum?

  • Rabbis, educators, and centralized adult education programs seeking to teach and implement a flexible foundational curriculum for learners
  • Learners are diverse and interested in exploring foundational Jewish concepts and ideas. They might include:
    • Young marrieds
    • Interfaith couples
    • Book groups
    • Empty nesters
    • Teens

Why should someone use the Foundations curriculum?

  • North American Jews and interfaith families are searching to understand aspects of Jewish identity.
  • Jewish wisdom draws on an unbroken record of experience and thought facing vital questions in the world and society. Hartman brings millennia of thoughtful debates and framing to bear on our own, contemporary world.
  • The curriculum is based on ideas and not practice. It presents options, conversations, conflicts, and deep understandings surrounding Jewish life and concepts. It is not a “how to” guide.

What does the Foundations curriculum look like?

  • Four volumes, each devoted to one of four themes: Peoplehood, Faith, Practice and Ethics. Each volume contains 10-12 classes.
  • Classes are designed to be modular and adaptable for a variety of audiences.
  • Each volume is accompanied by a series of podcasts and 10-minute videos, as well as a leaders’ guide and suggested source sheets for learners.

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.