Ou-là-là! A Midterm is Coming Up…

The guidelines for the upcoming Midterm Examination (Week 9) will be discussed in class next Wednesday, October 22nd. As it is often the case in this class, this examination will also provide us with a chance to explore collaborative processes, and to test out how the #digitalhumanities may serve our learning goals.

In this case, we are going to explore a consolidated format of Jewish collaborative learning practice, the chavruta.

Derived from the Aramaic for “friendship,” this term (which on Wikipedia you can find under the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the word, chavrusa) indicates the teams of two students learning together inside a Talmudic Academy, or yeshivah (link is to the EJ, with UCB-only access). Each partner in a chavruta is supposed to challenge the other’s views, thus expanding knowledge in an eminently collaborative form.

Carteret beis medrash.jpg

Study partners sit opposite each other or side by side at the Yeshiva Gedola of Carteret (image licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.).

Who will be your chavruta? (Note, you cannot “choose” your partner beforehand: selection criteria will be announced on the day of the examination…).

As the Ethics of the Fathers (pirqe avot) remind us:

Yehoshua ben Perachia says: Make for yourself a teacher [“rav”], acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every person as meritorious.

Or, as the Babylonian Talmud puts it (at least in the translation linked here):

How may one explain the verse, “A sword is upon the boasters and they shall become fools” (Jeremiah 50:36)? A sword is upon scholars who sit alone to study the Torah. And not only this, but they also become stupid, as it is written here, “and they shall become fools”….

Jewish Nightlife | Unannounced Response Exercise #1

Complete the two-part assignment below, and post your responses to this document within 30 minutes from the beginning of the exercise, listing your name and student Number.

  1. Survey/Review

Select a term from one (any one!) of this week’s assigned readings that was unfamiliar to you, and briefly describe its meaning and what sources you used to clarify it. If all terms in the readings were already fully familiar to you, chose the one you felt was the least so 😉

  1. Comparative Approach/Use of Class Resources (+ a treasure hunt)

Cultures of the Jews (assigned reading this week) mentions a depiction of three ritual duties pertaining to women (baking challah bread for the Sabbath; observing ritual purity; and lighting the Sabbath candles).

  1. Find the exact mention in Culture of the Jews
  2. Go on a “treasure hunt,” and locate a similar item in “Gourmet Ghettos” (which we “visited” on Monday)
  3. Briefly describe each of these two items (the one in the reading and the other in the exhibition) by highlighting the following elements:
    1. Place of origin (embrace the complexity of the Jewish diaspora in describing geography)
    2. Historical period (here, too, be critical of possible assessments)
    3. Language(s)
  4. List which ones among this week’s assigned readings can best help shedding light on each of the two items discussed in this assignment (the one in Cultures of the Jews, and the one in Gourmet Ghettos), and provide a full bibliographic citation for each reading (i.e., Author, Title, year: page number/s; bibliographic format is your own choice). Hint: you may need to refer to both EJ entries, and to Idelsohn…

Once you are ready, post this assignment to http://bit.ly/JNLResponse1 (just below this text). Remember to add your name to the completed assignment!

Personal computers or other devices may be used to complete today’s assignment. If you are without a portable device, you may pair with another student in the class. In this case, list both your names under the completed post.