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Judaic Studies FAQs

What is a seder?
The seder is one of the most popular Jewish traditions, in which family and friends gather together for a festive meal celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. Symbolic foods are eaten as the biblical story of the Jews' liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt is narrated, remembered and discussed.

What is a feminist seder?
At a feminist seder, we use the model of the traditional seder to explore the role of women in Judaism and Jewish history. Where are the women in the traditional exodus story? How does the language of liberation from the traditional narrative apply to the experiences of contemporary women from a variety of traditions? Each spring Judaic Studies hosts a feminist seder to which all are invited, Dickinson students as well as members of the greater Carlisle community.

What is Shabbat?
Shabbat is also known as the Sabbath and as Shabbos. It is a day of rest beginning at sundown on Friday night and ends when there are three stars in the sky on Saturday Night.

What is the Jewish Bible?
In Hebrew, the Jewish Bible is called the TaNaCH which is an acronym for: Torah, Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). In Christianity this would be called the Old Testament.

What is the Torah?
The Torah is a part of the Jewish Bible that consists of the five books of Moses: Genesis - Bereshit (creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and ends with the descent of Jacob and his family into Egypt), Exodus - Shmot (the Hebrew title of this book refers to the names of the Jews who entered into Egypt), Leviticus - Vayikra (G-d calls to Moses and teaches him the laws of the priests, the temple, the sacrifices and festivals), Numbers - Bamidbar (travels, battles and struggles of the Jewish people during their 40 year sojourn in the desert), and Deuteronomy - Devarim (final address of Moses to the Jewish people before his death: rebuke, encouragement, and warnings).

What can I do with a major in Judaic Studies?
Judaic studies majors develop strong critical skills with an emphasis on communication, analytic thinking, reading and interpretation. Majors are well prepared for careers in social services, business, education, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and the religious vocations. A major in Judaic studies is distinctive among the scores of English and business majors competing in similar job areas.

Graduate quote:
"The Judaic studies major opened my eyes not only to the knowledge I lacked in my own faith, but to the links there are between all of the world's religions, a knowledge which is essential in the world of religious turmoil in which we live." —Rachel Mendelson '03