Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

University College offers Jewish culture courses

For the first time this fall, the Center for Judaic Studies’ ALEPH Institute for Jewish Culture is offering courses through the Enrichment Program at DU’s University College. Three new ALEPH courses are among the offerings.

Named after the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the ALEPH Institute seeks to explore Jewish culture and themes through the study of Art, Literature, Education, Philosophy, and History. 

“We hand-select faculty from DU and we customize courses for the public,” says Ana Sanjuan, Enrichment Program director.

“There are no grades, no papers. This is just for the love of learning,” Sanjuan says.

Each of the Enrichment Program ALEPH classes is held one night a week for four weeks. The first class, which began Sept. 18, focuses on Jewish perspectives on virtues, ethics and the meaning of life. 

Sarah Pessin, philosophy and Judaic studies assistant professor, will have her class examine the work of a variety of Jewish philosophers and poets to discuss if God is found in the heavens or in face-to-face encounters with their neighbors.

This month, Julie Lieber, an adjunct professor of history and Judaic studies, will teach a course on understanding genocide. She says modern cultures can learn much from the rise and fall of the democratically elected Third Reich.

The class will explore how the Holocaust relates to similar actions in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.

In November, the Enrichment Program will offer a class on Jewish thought after the Holocaust, taught by Janet Rumfelt, DU’s Holocaust Awareness Institute scholar in residence.

Students will read a variety of work addressing the theological problem the Holocaust presents in Jewish faith: If God redeems Jews from major suffering, where was God during the Holocaust?

“How do we maintain a belief in God when God did not rescue?” Rumfelt asks.

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