(NOTE: Many of these courses are not offered every year)

Jewish History Courses


This is a "crash course" in the history of the Jewish People, with a specific focus on topics and issues of relevance to Torah Jews and Yeshiva students.  We will survey major events in Jewish History from the times of   until the Modern Period.  Our primary focus will be placing familiar Jewish leaders and in their historical contexts, and on understanding the issues that distinguished, engaged and often aroused the passions of Jews throughout the ages.  The primary purpose of all of this is to gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in history, and to formulate our own opinions on the pressing issues that dominate today's Jewish agenda.


Comprehending the incomprehensible. In this course we will attempt to understand the history, heroism and lessons of the Holocaust. Topics will include: The immensity of the loss, the hatred of the Jew, Nazi hatred of the Jew, influences upon impressionable Hitler, Nazi expertise in public relations, the Aryan pyramid, Nuremberg Laws, Evian conference, Kristallnacht, what could have been done to prevent the destruction, the differing agendas of American Jewry, the Vaad Hatzolah and its guiding principles, Halachic ramifications of life under Nazi rule, German deception, the definition of resistance, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising,  debunking I cannot believe in G-d after the Holocaust, education and culture in the ghetto,  dehumanization, Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia, Einsatzgruppen, Babi Yar, Wansee Conference, extermination camps, Auschwitz, Dr Gisela Perl , the Death March, Righteous Gentiles, children in the Holocaust.


In this course we will study the time periods in Torah Sheb'al Peh, from to modern times. In each period we look into the historical events that changed the times, the prominent scholars and their literary works. After learning about the different books, we will take examples of each sefer and understand how to learn it on its own as well as in comparison to the other works of its time. This will allow the students to become familiar with all the major works in Torah Sheb'al Peh and to gain the skills to learn any sefer independently. Students will gain an appreciation for Chazal and the great Rabbis of our tradition as well as an understanding of the links of the chain of Torah Sheb'al Peh that connect us back to Har Sinai.

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The story of the Jewish People is arguably the most bizarre and amazing narrative in all of human history.  No other group can tell a comparable tale of exile, dispersion, survival (in the face of the most systematic attempts at annihilation known to man) and rebirth.  Even more amazingly, the entire story was spelled out in advance in the !  In this class, we will examine some historical documents showing the uniqueness of the nation that, as prophesied, would always dwell alone.  We will also study many sources to understand exactly why Jewish History had to unfold the way it did.  Armed with a deeper understanding of what the appellation Chosen People means, we will then take a look at the problems and challenges facing us as a nation today, and try to get perspectives on solving them.