Fall 2016 Semester Schedule (pdf)
Spring 2017 Semester Schedule (pdf) 

Talmud and Midrash (Rabbinic Literature)

Talmud Level I

This course is an introduction to Mishnah, Babylonian Talmud and Rashi’s commentary. We will learn how to read the Tana’itic literature (Midrash Halakha, Mishna, Tosefta) relevant to of מסכת עבודה זרה (Tractate Avodah Zarah) as independent texts and then move on to see how the Talmud uses these and other materials to build the basic units of Talmudic discussion know as a sugya or argument. Emphasis will be placed on learning Talmudic terminology, the structure of the Talmudic sugya, and on the Talmud’s manner of interpreting earlier sources. The class aims at fostering independent learning skills including the use of Rashi’s commentary. The tractate chosen this year will give us a window into the rabbinic view of interaction with non-Jews and religions other than Judaism.

Required texts: Mishna Avodah Zarah, Talmud Avodah Zarah, appropriate dictionaries
Schedule: Meets 4 mornings per week. The time is divided between chevruta and shiur.
Language of Instruction: Beginning in English, moving into Hebrew when appropriate
Instructor: Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein

Talmud Level II 

How do interactions between Jews and non-Jews change and develop from one generation the next? How do we maintain a commitment to particularity and universality?  What role does food play in creating and dividing community? These and other deep and lasting questions are address throughout Masechet Avodah Zara.

This level course is for students who have already acquired a certain familiarity with the study of Mishnah and Talmud. We will begin by reading selected chapters of Mishnah Avodah Zara together with parallel sections from the Tosefta. We will go on to read selected sugyot from Bavli Avodah Zara with Rashi’s commentary – with special attention being paid to the tannaitic background of the Talmudic discussions, the literary structure of those discussions and their social, moral, and philosophical underpinnings. Finally we will develop the tools to understand and analyze the Tosafot, using this commentary as a key to uncovering the ambiguities in the text of the Talmud.

Required texts: Mishnah Masechet Avodah Zara, Gemara Avodah Zara, Jastrow and Frank Talmudic dictionaries.
Schedule: Meets 4 mornings per week. The time is divided between chevruta and shiur.
Language of Instruction: English
Instructor: Rabbi Shoshana Cohen

Talmud Level III

This course is an in-depth study of the Babylonian Talmud with the classical medieval commentaries Rashi, Tosafot, and other Rishonim.  The course begins by focusing on the structure of the sugya, its components, and its use of earlier sources including the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Midreshei Halacha.  In addition, the student will develop the tools to understand and analyze the commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot, and subsequent Rishonim.

Required Texts: Talmud Tractate Avodah Zarah.
Schedule: Meets 4 mornings per week. The time is divided between chevruta and shiur.
Language of Instruction: English
Instructor: Dr. Joshua Kulp

Introduction to Talmud

An introduction to the reading and comprehension of rabbinic texts for beginning-level Talmud students. The course will use Tractate Sanhedrin chapter eight as a base text for introducing students to the different genres of rabbinic literature and to provide them with basic reading skills for parsing rabbinic texts. Additionally, we will focus on exploring rabbinic values in their interpretation of difficult biblical passages.  

Required Texts: Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin Chapter 8
Schedule: Meets 2 Afternoons per week. The time is divided between chevruta and shiur.
Language of Instruction: English
Instructor: Dr. Jason Rogoff

Advanced Midrash (Spring)

This course will be an in-depth study of selected passages in the midrash. Its purpose will be to give the student the tools to analyze the midrashic literature as a rabbinic attempt to answer Biblical textual problems in a religiously meaningful way. This course also aims to give the student the tools to evaluate critical textual problems in midrashic texts, to trace the evolution of the use of midrashic texts through their historical evolution, how to evaluate variant textual traditions, and how to use classical and modern commentaries in interpreting midrashim.

Required texts: Photocopies to be distributed.
Recommended texts: Jastrow Talmudic dictionary, Hebrew/English Tanach.
Schedule: Meets twice per week for 2 hours each session, part chevruta and part shiur.
Language of instruction: Hebrew or English as appropriate
Instructor: Shoshana Cohen

Tanach (Bible)


This course focuses on learning Chumash as Torah, that is, the teaching of God. Learning in this way isn’t only about religious conviction but also about methodology. We will seek to understand the method that Jewish tradition has developed for hearing Hashem’s voice speak from the pages of the Chumash. The heart of that method is Midrash, which reads Written Torah through the prism of Oral Torah. We’ll also make use of tools provided by modern Bible scholarship, primarily those approaching the Bible as literature but also those of biblical criticism, and consider how these can enrich classic Jewish learning.

Required texts: Chumash with Rashi.
Schedule: Meets twice per week in Fall and Spring.
Language of instruction: English
Instructor: Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

Tanach with Mefarshim – Isaiah of Jerusalem (Fall)

The 8th century BCE was a time of tremendous upheaval that gave birth to a new world order and to the era of the classical prophets whose words seems eerily relevant. We will focus our study on Isaiah and from there look at the world that surrounded him.

Required Texts: A full Hebrew Tanakh (without commentaries). Mikraot Gedolot for Isaiah. (recommended:  “HaKeter Mikraot Gedolot” published by Bar Ilan University. Other Mikraot Gedolot will do.)
Schedule: Meets twice per week, 2 hours per session, part chevruta and part shiur.
Language of Instruction: Hebrew
Instructor: Vered Hollander-Goldfarb<name=”isaiah”>

Tanach with Mefarshim -Bamidbar (Spring)

Forty years in the desert – a punishment for a generation or a magical time of forming a nation?  Along with a close reading of the text, we will use Midrash, and gain an appreciation for the depth and thought process of some of the classic medieval commentators commonly found in the Mikraot Gedolot.  

Required Texts: A full Hebrew Tanakh (without commentaries). Mikraot Gedolot for Bamidbar
Recommended Texts: For  Miqraot Gedolot, either “Torat Haim”, published by Mossad HaRav Kook or “HaKeter Mikraot Gedolot” published by Bar Ilan University. Other Miqraot Gedolot will do.
Schedule: Meets twice per week, 2 hours per session, part chevruta and part shiur.
Language of Instruction: Hebrew
Instructor: Vered Hollander-Goldfarb

Tanach –Sefer Devarim, of Humans and God (Fall)

Required texts: Tanach, must include Hebrew.
Schedule: Meets once a week
Language of instruction: Texts will be read in English and/ or Hebrew. Incorporation of Hebrew in classroom discussions will depend on the Hebrew of the class participants.
Instructor: Esther Israel

Halacha (Jewish Law)

Practical Halacha and the Philosophy of Religious Practice (Fall and Spring)

This course is a general survey of normal, daily halachic practice which introduces the students to primary halachic material and concepts. Topics covered will include prayer, blessings, Shabbat, chagim and kashrut. This course is not designed to be entirely theoretical – students will be encouraged to experiment with their observance in the areas that are covered and keep a journal of the phenomenology of religious practice.

Additionally, we will explore the meanings of religious practice using models taken both contemporary sociology of religion and Jewish religious tradition.

Required texts: Hayyim David HaLevi, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: M’kor Chaim. Shulchan Aruch Orech Chayim with Mishnah Brura.
Schedule: Meets twice per week (once focusing on halacha, once on the philosophy of religious practice) in Fall and Spring.
Language of instruction: English
Instructors: Rabbi Joel Levy and Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

Topics in Halacha LeMa’aseh – Kashrut (Spring)

The subject matter of this course is the laws of kashrut, and will include all of the primary matters of kashrut law.  The course meets one day a week for two sessions, each of 1.5 hours, one devoted to hevruta and the other to shiur.

Required Texts: The primary sources for the course will be distributed in advance, and will focus primarily on the Shulhan Arukh, commentators thereto and later posekim.  The Eretz Yisrael subjects are dealt with on the basis of academic/halakhic articles from journals.
Schedule: Meets once per week, 1.15 each session, part chevruta and part shiur

Language of instruction: Hebrew
Instructor: Rabbi Joel Roth

Topics in Halacha LeMa’aseh – Eretz Yisrael and Aveilut (Spring)

Description- The course is divided into two different subjects.  The first is the laws of Aveilut.  All relevant and practical matters of the laws of mourning – visiting the sick, purification of the body, burial, shiva, sheloshim, year of mourning and yahrzeit – will be covered, based upon the Shulhan Arukh primarily, with commentators and later posekim. The Eretz Yisrael element of the course will be devoted to halakhic analysis of current issues involved in matters of concern within the State of Isarael, like land for peace, exchange of prisoners for Israeli soldiers being held, and others.

Required Texts: Shulhan Arukh, commentators and later posekim, is handed out in advance.  The Eretz Yisrael subjects are dealt with on the basis of academic/halakhic articles from journals.
Schedule: Meets twice per week, 3 hours each session
Language of instruction: Hebrew
Instructor: Rabbi Joel Roth

Intro to Halakhah

This course will provide both an introduction to some of the important halachic works necessary for leading a Jewish life as well as a survey of some of the issues in halachic practice which confront a Jewish person on a day to day basic. It will also attempt to give the student the tools to be able to find answers to basic question on his or her own.

Required texts: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Harav Halevi and distributed materials
Schedule: Meets twice a week, 2 hours per session, in the Spring
Language of instruction: English
Instructor: Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein


Halacha & Hashkafah

There is a commonly known drasha on the words “naaseh v’nishma” which literally mean “we shall surely do” which sets out an agenda for Jewish religiosity, interpreting these words to mean: “We shall do and consequently understand, or, in other words, observance will bring about understanding. In this course, we will utilize the basic observances which characterize Jewish living as a window into understanding what it means to be Jewish. By exploring the basics of the prayer service, Jewish day to day life and the observance of Shabbat and the holidays along with relevant classical and contemporary sources, we will gain both skills and depth in our search for authentic Jewish living.

Required texts: Materials will be distributed
Schedule: Meets twice per week, 2 hours each session, part chevruta and part shiur
Language of instruction:
Instructor: Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein

Advanced Poskim

This course will introduce the student, in particular, to the basic medieval codes and the working out of halachic issues over time. In the first semester we will study consecutive treatments of a number of topics in the Mishneh Torah, the Tur with the Beit Yosef, and the Shulchan Aruch, tracing topics from the Talmud through the codes. In addition, we will examine the styles of various responsa relevant to the examined subjects. In the second semester we will examine a number of halachic questions and trace their development from the Mishnah through our own time, including relevant modern halachic literature which might serve as resources for answering modern questions.

Required texts:
Schedule: Meets twice per week, 2 hours each session, part chevruta and part shiur
Language of instruction: Hebrew
Instructor: Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein

Jewish Thought

From Theology to Prayer

In this course, we will try to make sense of the basic ideas of Torah life by interpreting the siddur and other sacred texts. We’ll attempt to understand concepts such as “God”, “Prophecy” and “Torah” in ways that are both faithful to Jewish religion and true in light of our understanding of the world. The class will utilize a variety of different methods for approaching these questions, including chanting, visualization, meditation and personal reflection.

Required texts: Will be provided.
Schedule: Meets once per week in the Fall.
Language of instruction: English
Instructor: Dr. Shaiya Rothberg


Since its mysterious appearance some seven hundred years ago, the Zohar has emerged as one of the most powerful forces in the history of Jewish tradition. The Zohar’s radical hermeneutics, its passionate and often erotic religious intensity, and its mystical formulation of Judaism’s fundamental ideas, have riveted many of Israel’s greatest sages while appalling others. This class is an introduction to the Zohar through a close reading of its opening section, the Hakdamah. We will approach the text in its original Aramaic alongside Hebrew and English translations. We’ll also explore how practices like guided imagination and chanting can help evoke the power of the text.

Required texts: Photocopies of material will be distributed.
Schedule: Meets once per week in the Fall.
Language of instruction: English
Instructor: Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

Jewish Spirituality

In his timeless classic, Tanya, published in 1796 in the Ukraine, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explores the spiritual teachings of the Baal Shem Tov through the lens of an intellectual framework that embodies traditional Jewish scholarship. The student is swept up in the quest for G-dliness and self-perfection that grows out of real-life situations. This monumental text addresses the heartfelt struggle to bridge the gulf between the material and the spiritual, between the individual and one’s intimate and personal relationship with G-d. We will learn about the two centers of consciousness on which we each operate as we examine the essential attributes and practical faculties of each.

Required texts:  Tanya Hebrew – English Standard Revised Edition
Schedule:  Meets once per week, 2 hours per session, during the Fall and Spring
Language of Instruction: English
Instructor: Yiscah Smith

Aggadot Hazal (Spring)

Required texts:
Schedule:  Meets twice per week, 2 hours per session, during the Spring
Language of Instruction:
Instructor: Yarden Raber

Ulpan (Hebrew)

Hebrew for Text

While most other Yeshiva classes are content and thematically based, in this course we will slow down and try to decipher exactly what is happening in the original language of study in order to ultimately assist in fully understanding and appreciating the sources. We will commence with the Tanakh as those who have occasion to read or chant biblical texts often want to learn how to bring each word and each verse into sharper focus, to be able to understand them and pronounce them with greater precision. This introduction to the sounds, word structures, and sentence structures that characterize Biblical Hebrew can help make that happen. We will proceed to learn of the differences in Rabbinical and Modern Hebrew and we will devote some time each class to spoken Hebrew. Time permitting we will advance towards the end of the year to the basics of the Aramaic language, tools that should assist in understanding the Talmud as well.

Required text (copies in the Beit Midrash: Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern Israeli Hebrew by Marc Brettler.
Schedule: Meets once per week for three hours which will combine instructional class time and individual work.
Language of instruction: Hebrew
Instructor: Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow

Ulpan – For Upper Level Students

Required Text: To be determined.
Twice a week, 2 hours each session.
Language of instruction:

Other Courses


The Torah of Human Rights

The Torah is not just a book but a way of life. For thousands of years, Jews have sought the meaning of their lives in the study and practice of Torah. At the core of the Torah project stands the struggle for justice. In this course, we’ll explore what it might mean to view our world today through the prism of Torah tradition. Starting with Breshit and the creation of humanity, we’ll follow the logic of the Holy Story through the tribulations after the exile from Eden, the choosing of Abraham, the covenant at Sinai, the visions of the prophets, and the meaning of these in some Rabbinic, Medieval and modern interpretation. As we progress through the inner logic of Torah, we will seek to answer the following question: Are democracy and human rights the vehicle we need today in order to fulfill God’s purpose in creating humanity at the beginning of days?

Required texts: Will be provided.
Schedule: Meets once per week in the Fall.
Language of instruction: English
Instructor: Dr. Shaiya Rothberg

Second Temple Period: Different Types of Judaism in Antiquity 

Discussions on diversity within the Jewish world in the Second Temple Period as well as in Late Antiquity are often limited to some well-known Talmudic passages about the successful coexistence of the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel despite their rivalry over halakhik issues. While these aforementioned passages certainly are clear-cut examples of diversity in the ancient Jewish world, it cannot now be ignored that diversity exceeded Rabbinic circles to a large extent.

The aim of this course is to shed light on the several ways Jewish culture and religion were understood and practiced by different groups in Ancient times. Therefore, we will conduct a  comparative study of the Jewish social mores, customs and practices in Antiquity in light of both Second Temple Period and Rabbinic literature. Among the sources to be analyzed are Josephus Flavius’ and Philo’s works, Apocryphal writings, ancient translations of the Bible, and Dead Sea Scrolls works, as well as the aforementioned Rabbinic (mostly tannaitic) literature.

Schedule: Meets once a week for 2 hours.
Language of Instruction: English.
Instructor: Yardén Raber


The course will examine in detail both the texts of the principal portions of the Siddur and their contexts, historical and liturgical.  The course will cover the weekday services, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and the Holidays.  Other ritual texts, such as Birkat HaMazon and the Haggadah, will also be studied.  The course will also include relevant halachot and an attempt to identify fundamental principles of Judaism as embodied in the Siddur as well as essential characteristics of the nature of Jewish prayer.

Required texts: Siddur (whichever edition the student feels comfortable with).
Recommended texts: R. Hammer, Entering Jewish Prayer and Or Hadash; H.H. Donin, To Pray as a Jew.
Schedule: Meets once per week, 2 hours each session, divided between chevruta and shiur.
Language of Instruction: English
Instructor: Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb

Sicha with Rabbi Joel Levy

A weekly reflection and discussion on the moral and spiritual meanings of our shared and intensive life of Talmud Torah.
Schedule: Meets weekly for 1.5 hours
Language of Instruction: EnglishInstructor: Rabbi Joel Levy

Kehillah Medaberet (Community in Dialogue)

Every other ​Wednesday evening the students and faculty of the CY gather together to become a “kehillah medaberet” or “community in dialogue”. At these times, we’ll share a communal dinner, discuss issues facing the community and engage in experiential learning. Kehillah Medaberet. Everyone is encouraged to come.

Schedule: Meets twice a month
Language of Instruction: English


In this course we will learn all of the relevant laws and practicalities related to the slaughtering of chickens. Week by week we will delve into the ancient texts and gradually practice sharpening and checking our knives. Through a series of outings, we will have opportunities to handle, slaughter, gut and kasher (rinse and salt) chickens. Those who successfully complete the course and final examinations will be granted certifications as שוחטים ובודקים לעופות, ritual slaughterers of fowl.

Required texts: The “Bet David” by David Kamin, revised second edition updated by Hayyim Yosef Waldman. Additional supplies to be purchased include knives, sharpening stones and chickens!
Schedule: The class meets once a week for two hours with occasional outings of longer duration. There will be some hevruta time each week in additional to homework which will have to be prepared in advance.
Instructor: Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow,  שו”ב