The second year expands the student’s knowledge base and skill set, advancing their Talmud studies by incorporating more attention to the commentaries that surround the Talmud text and expand upon it. Attention to this pillar of rabbinics is supplemented with exposure to Midrash, creating a critical and contextual knowledge of different Midrashim, and also developing an ability to read and utilize Midrashim independently. The Bible syllabus builds on its progression of Humash and then of Humash and Rashi to incorporate other scholarly and contemporary modes of reading and studying the Bible, including Biblical source criticism, literary approaches, and others. At the end of the semester, the student writes an exam in Bikkiyut in Torah, demonstrating sufficient familiarity with the names, places, key narratives, laws, and quotations of the Torah, as well as the content of the parashiyot. By Year 2, all students must be at least at Hebrew 4 level, and all must enroll in a total of 6 semesters of Hebrew during the program (including their year in Israel). Those entering in Hebrew 4 Literature level will only take 4 semesters of Hebrew. The second field placement occurs during this semester, and Shiur Klali continues through each semester of the program.
The Spring Semester of year two rounds out the offerings of the first two years, giving the student’s a solid introduction to the different fields of Jewish scholarship, solidifying their language and text skills, and preparing them to continue that growth during their year in Israel. The Bible curriculum concludes its survey of the Tanakh with consideration of the final two sections – the prophets and the writings. As with the fall semester, this material is examined in a Bikkiyut exam in which the student demonstrates knowledge of the key names, figures, and messages of these books. The student is introduced to the study of Jewish mysticism, its key terms and constructs, as well as the central texts of the field. Talmud advances with exposure to more Sugyot and commentaries, and the program is rounded out with exposure the tensions and promises of modernity. This course will focus on the tensions and issues that modernity brings to Jewish life and will examine the roots of those tensions historically (autonomy vs. corporate identity, citizenship, Emancipation and Enlightenment, secularism, Zionism and Diaspora identity, to name a few), consideration of the role of Rabbi as teacher, and the third and final field placement. At this point in the curriculum, the student must demonstrate mastery of weekday and Shabbat liturgy, Torah and Haftarah chanting.