Since the last week of August I’ve been teaching at St. Michaels College. The subject I teach is a Survey of Judaism. The majority of my students are juniors and seniors with majors in religion. No one taking the class is Jewish. It’s been something of an eye opener as well as a home coming to be back on a college campus. It’s a home coming of sorts given that I was once a student at a Catholic college. I attended Boston College in my hometown of Newton, MA. And it’s something of an eye opener given the many changes that have occurred in higher education. The use of technology is everywhere, computers and LCD projectors in all the classrooms, posting class readings online and the ability to contact my students individually or collectively via email is just a key stroke away. Yet what hasn’t changed over the course of time is the eagerness and intelligence of the students. When our studies began it was apparent that my students had very little prior knowledge about Judaism. I initially found this surprising. But then quickly realized how much of my life is within a Jewish bubble. I work in a synagogue, most of my friends are Jewish and I read mostly Jewish journals and novels. I see the world with “Jewish eyes.” How do I teach my students the width and breadth of Judaism in a one semester course? That’s the challenge! (Little wonder why someone converting to Judaism requires a year of study!) Within a few short weeks the semester will be over and I will have completed my teaching at least for this academic year. I feel very positive about this new experience as well as the knowledge gained by my students. It also feels wonderful that more young people have a better understanding about our faith and practice.
Rabbi James Glazier