Teaching

I am an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and serve as the Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. The undergraduate and graduate courses that I offer focus broadly on the Jewish tradition, theories and methods in the study of tradition, and topics in religious thought across diverse traditions. Some of my courses include:


FYSM 1000 (First-Year Seminar): God

Does it make sense to believe in God, and should believing or not believing in God make a difference for how individuals lead their lives? This course will explore diverse responses to these questions in ancient and modern sources. We will devote special attention to topics such as the reasons for evil and undeserved suffering, the nature of revelation and religious experience, and role of religion in contemporary politics. We will wrestle with issues such as the possibility of belief in God in the wake of events such as the Holocaust, the relationship between science and religion, and the implications of belief in God for debates surrounding topics such as torture and poverty.


RLST 2400: Religion and Contemporary Society

What role does religion play in contemporary society? What do religious traditions have to say about contemporary ethical, social, and political issues, and how have these traditions themselves been transformed in light of changing circumstances? What place does religion have in a multicultural society, and how should religious and secular voices interact in discussions about ethics and public policy? This course will explore such questions, focusing on the contemporary United States. We will examine a wide range of voices drawn from Christianity, Judaism, and other traditions, considering diverse roles played by religion in ongoing debates about issues such as same-sex marriage, climate change, war, genetic research, criminal justice, torture, sexual ethics, abortion, and economic justice. We will devote special attention to the relationship between religious and secular perspectives, as well as to ways in which communities reimagine, debate, and struggle with the meaning of ancient sources and rituals in the modern world.


RLST/JWST 3100: Judaism

What is Judaism? What beliefs and practices have been associated with this tradition, and how have these ideas and customs developed over time? Is there such a thing as Judaism, or should we speak instead of various Judaisms? This course will explore such questions, surveying Jewish belief, practice, and literature from the biblical period to the present day. We will encounter diverse voices and explore the changing contexts in which these voices have emerged, paying special attention to the relationship between the beliefs that Jews have held and the rituals that Jews have performed. We will consider specific topics such as forms of worship associated with Jewish life, Jewish views on religious diversity, and attempts to reimagine inherited beliefs in light of developments such as the Holocaust. Exploring these topics will also lead us to reflect more broadly on the nature of religion.


RLST/JWST 4170-5170: God and Politics

Does God have anything to do with politics, and does political life have anything to do with God? This course will explore diverse approaches to these questions, examining accounts of the relationship between religion and politics in ancient, medieval, and modern sources. We will devote special attention to the implications of these accounts for a variety of contested issues, such as the status of religious minorities, the nature and purpose of the state, and the role of religion in contemporary debates surrounding topics such as torture, climate change, and economics. We will focus primarily on Jewish and Christian sources, while also placing this material in conversation with works drawn from other traditions. Throughout, we will seek to understand and evaluate how the works we are reading wrestle with questions such as: Are the Hebrew Bible and New Testament political texts, and what authority should these sources possess today? Can Jews and Christians be citizens of a secular state, and how should they relate to neighbors who do not share their religious commitments? Should religion play a role in policy-making, and should politicians publicly invoke religious beliefs? What is the relationship between religion and war, and is there a place for religious law in modern politics?


RLST/JWST 4180-5180: Is God Dead?

Does it make sense to believe in God, and should believing or not believing in God make a difference for how individuals lead their lives? This course will explore diverse responses to these questions, examining debates surrounding the existence and nature of a higher power in ancient, medieval, and modern sources. We will devote special attention to topics such as the problem of evil and undeserved suffering, the nature of revelation and religious experience, and the ethical and political significance of religious convictions, considering issues such as the possibility of belief in God in the wake of events such as the Holocaust, the relationship between scientific knowledge and diverse types of religious commitments, and the implications of belief in God for debates surrounding topics such as torture and poverty. We will focus primarily on Jewish, Christian, and philosophical sources, while also placing this material in conversation with works drawn from other traditions.


RLST/JWST 4260-5260: Topics in Judaism: Love and Desire in Judaism and Christianity

What and whom should humans and gods love, and what role should passion play in religious life? This course will explore diverse answers to such questions, examining accounts of love and desire in ancient, medieval, and modern sources. We will wrestle with different understandings of divine and human passion as well as the implications of these understandings for a variety of issues, such as the status of sexuality, the nature of politics, and the relationship between religion and morality. We will focus primarily on Jewish and Christian sources, while also placing this material in conversation with works drawn from other traditions. Building on treatments of love and desire in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and other ancient sources, we will devote much of our attention to medieval and modern texts that wrestle with questions such as: What and who deserves to be loved, and what behavior should love involve? Does God love all of humanity equally, or does God enter into special relationships with particular groups and individuals? What types of sexual desire are proper, and does even God experience sexual yearning? What is the relationship between love and law, and what role should love play in ethics and politics?


RLST/JWST 4260-5260: Topics in Judaism: The Bible in Judaism and Christianity

What is the Bible, and how should this text be interpreted and used? This course will explore diverse approaches to these questions, examining treatments of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament in ancient, medieval, and modern sources. We will devote special attention to the changing ways in which the Bible has been read in different historical contexts, exploring issues such as the authority and authorship of biblical texts, the relationship between the Bible and fields such as science, and the roles of the Bible in contemporary political debates surrounding issues such as sexuality and poverty. We will focus primarily on Jewish and Christian sources, while also placing this material in conversation with works drawn from other traditions.


RLST 6830: Introduction to the Academic Study of Religion

What is the academic study of religion? What do we mean when we talk about “religion,” and what does it mean to adopt an “academic” approach to this subject? This course will explore diverse approaches to these questions, providing an introduction to a wide range of methodological options and theoretical perspectives in the field of religious studies. We will devote attention to topics such as the relationship between practice and belief, the promise and perils of comparing different religious traditions, and the role of the body and materiality in religious life. We will also examine the complicated history and political stakes of the field of religious studies itself, wrestling with issues including the development of concepts such as “religious” and “secular,” the relationship between the sciences and the humanities, and the role of political advocacy in scholarly work. We will encounter and assess a wide range of approaches, but we will also be concerned with exploring the “nuts and bolts” of building a career—with everything from identifying questions you might be interested in exploring to deciding whether to pursue further studies to learning about various professional organizations.