Interested in Judaism?

One of my favorite classes at UNC was Religion 24: Introduction to Judaism with Dr. David Halperin. Dr. Halperin was someone everyone on campus knew, by sight if not by reputation. He wore a three piece suit every day he taught, usually adorned with a carnation on the lapel. He always wore a hat outdoors. Reli24 was his “big” lecture class, but he kept it small (max 120 students) and learned every name within two weeks WITHOUT ASSIGNED SEATS. He was one of the most honest professors I ever encountered. He would speak about things fully, describing what scholars said, what traditional Jews believed and almost always told where he fell on the spectrum so we could identify for ourselves the bias he brought to the subject. He made his large lecture class warm and interactive, and he listened to students and respected their opinions and validated their insights by doing things like finding his top hat so he could put it on for a brief moment and tip it off to a student who said something that really impressed him. My one and only class with him was his last class before an early retirement due to illness, and we sent him out with a standing ovation. I’d see him around Chapel Hill from time to time before I graduated, almost always wearing a flannel shirt and jeans, such a far cry from his professional look. He remembered my name for several years, even though I never was privileged to take a small seminar with him.

I learned an incredible amount from his class, and was delighted to find he developed the course material for the web: Judaism: A Course. He developed study guides for readings and posted lecture notes, and it seems thorough. He did have us do some other things in class, but of course the web has its own restrictions. I’d highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning about the history of Judaism (ancient to modern) or for high school homeschool students. Other than buying the books, it’s free!

One response to “Interested in Judaism?

  1. Carol in Oregon

    Thanks for the tip, Kristen. My cousin, a MK who grew up in evangelical circles, homeschooled her daughters, played the organ for church, (you get the idea) converted to Judaism a few years ago. My heart was pierced and broken when she told me that she no longer held to the deity of Christ. We have continued to have sporadic discussions. Lord willing, we will meet in the next three weeks before she moves permanently to Israel. I’ll take a look at Dr. Halperin’s stuff.

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