Jewish Studies Courses

ISRAEL CORE COURSE (ICC): Ancient to Modern History of Israel and the Middle East

This course will introduce the key periods and personalities in the history of Israel. The ICC will seek to discover the moments and personalities from the past which/who helped in the evolution of Jewish heritage, culture and tradition. The course is chronologically based, asking students to place themselves in the shoes of history – its movers and shakers – and then respond and react based on their own perspectives.

The ICC covers ancient near eastern civilization, biblical criticism and thought, the effects of Hellenism on ancient society, the medieval period and Crusades, the Enlightenment period and Emancipation and the modern era. As the course progresses, it will focus much more on modern issues in Jewish history and specifically the advent of Zionism and the State of Israel. It will focus on the roots of modern Zionism in the late nineteenth century and then examine the patterns of Jewish renewal and its effects on Israel as a modern state and people.

The ICC sourcebooks will provide most of the materials used with an emphasis on reading primary sources. The ICC is also taught outside the traditional classroom setting. The students are actively involved in at least two weekly field trips including visits to archaeological sites and many other locations throughout Israel. Students are asked to take advantage of their environment by studying as a group, learning as individuals, meeting people with recent historical stories to tell, going to the places where events took place, walking throughout the land, debating its rich history, charting, playing, writing, being dramatic, singing, dancing, goofing around, testing, being tested, discovering, talking and generally striving to be wise students, which the rabbis of the Talmud defined as those who learn by asking many questions. Because the course covers such an enormous time period, it will inevitably skip some more minor events and issues and delve more deeply into other topics.

Through a partnership between TRY and Gratz College, TRY students are eligible to participate in a concurrent enrollment program in which they may earn college credits. ICC is the equivalent of three classes, each worth three credits: The Rise of Biblical Civilization; Jews in Medieval Christendom and the Orbit of Islam; and Israel Today: Continuity and Change. (Students participating in the academic quarter earn only three credits.)

לימודי יהדות

All students enrolled in TRY participate in Jewish Liturgy: History and Philosophy, a daily Jewish studies class centered on familiarity with the Jewish liturgy, a survey of its history, analyses of its texts, and a study of the philosophy behind it. The liturgy course is facilitated by a member of the TRY faculty and is aided by guest lecturers composed of Ramah faculty and staff as well as visiting and local Rabbis and Jewish educators. Students are expected to participate in discussions and complete projects and written assignments responding to the tefilla sessions in order to earn credit.

תלמוד, חומש ומחשבת ישראל Talmud, Chumash, and Rabbinic Thought courses may be offered upon request. In these cases, we work specifically with the school to ensure that the correct curriculum is covered during the semester.


The TRY Israel experience promotes Hebrew as an important Jewish value. Hebrew has a vital role to play in our Israel programs. The participants should come to understand its centrality to Jewish civilization, appreciate its role in unifying the Jewish people, marvel at its resurrection as a living language, and value its contribution to the renaissance of Jewish life and culture today. Our students learn to buy a felafel, ask for directions, and find out the time with the words they learned in school. TRY participants can certainly enlarge their vocabulary during their four months in Israel. They can also train their ears to hear, and become more confident speaking the words they do know. And – perhaps most important – they will be motivated to continue studying Hebrew in high school in or in college.

Hebrew Language and Literature

(five credit hours per week – required)

Hebrew language instruction is required for all students. Students are placed according to level. Instructors use a variety of resources including workbooks and readers published by Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University, and Youth Aliyah. Hebrew newspapers and an anthology of contemporary Hebrew literature (songs, poetry, and short stories) are integrated into the instruction. Emphasis is on the acquisition of language skills, which will help students to communicate with Israelis. Taped radio broadcasts and television programs with supplementary printed materials specifically designed for the teaching of oral and reading comprehension development are used. Advanced classes (level 4+) will integrate literary readings into the curriculum.

Through a partnership between TRY and Gratz College, TRY students are eligible to participate in a concurrent enrollment program in which they may earn college credits. Our Hebrew course is worth three college credits.