Learning Outcome: Students will witness religious life through observation and study of a synagogue or Jewish educational institution.
Description: Los Angeles and other communities have a wide variety of Jewish institutions that comprise a colorful tapestry of theological discourse, religious authority, ethnic and cultural identities. In order to understand and appreciate this diversity, students will participate in a Field Study—worship, classes, interviews, and other activities in a synagogue or Jewish educational institution, and submit a research paper based on their engaged learning experiences. For this assignment, you are expected to:
1. Choose a synagogue or educational institution in L.A. besides L’Cha Dodi, Central Synagogue, or Happy Minyan, you’ll select a site to visit virtually for your Field Study.
2. Visit the synagogue or school online to experience a religious service, class, program, or project
3. Following your visits, write a 9-10 page reflection paper that addresses these questions/ issues and any others that are relevant to your experience and this course. You may wish to include photos, videos, and/or links to the center’s media resources (if you visit in person, be sure to check beforehand to ensure that it’s ok to take photos and videos).
Style: Select the site you will visit either virtually or in-person and begin researching and outlining your paper early in the semester. Write this paper as a formal essay with a thesis, body, and conclusion that address the questions above. The style required for this class is CMS, MLA, or APA. Double-space your paper and use 12-point font. Cite references in-text according to CMS, APA, or MLA guidelines and put a bibliography at the end of your paper. Please do not exceed 10 pages of text for the essay and be sure to use Word (not Google docs) for the paper.
· Jewish denomination(s) represented · When was the institution founded?
· What is the history of the institution?
· Is the institution part of a national or international association?
· What are the ethnic backgrounds of the members of the institution?
· Brief description of the congregation, school or institution (# member units or students, demographic composition)
Core Questions (the majority of the essay)
· What are the core tenets of the institution?
· What are the primary components of the service/program/class that you attended?
· What language(s) are used in the liturgy (if applicable)? Classes? Spoken by the members or students?
· What is the religious mission of the institution? How is this carried out in its programs?
· What is the educational philosophy of the institution? How is this carried out in its classes for adults? Children?
· How does the institution balance issues of Jewish tradition and modernity? Faith and reason?
· Does the institution have clergy (rabbi/cantor)? Educational director(s)? Professional staff? Volunteer leaders? Did they welcome and acknowledge you?
· What are the primary concerns of the institution’s leaders?
· What do the leaders and members believe are the institution’s unique contributions to the Jewish community? The community at large?
· What programs does the institution sponsor with other synagogues and Jewish organizations? Other faith communities?
· What impressed you the most about your experience(s)? What lessons did you learn about trends in Jewish life and thought?
· An additional question you choose to ask the rabbi/cantor/head of school, etc.
Los Angeles and other communities have a wide variety of Jewish institutions that comprise a colorful tapestry of theological discourse, religious authority, ethnic and cultural identities.