Review Comment

Explorations in Hasidism

May 13, 2006

Schorsch, Jonathan
Explorations in Hasidism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

As someone who was somewhat familiar with Hasidism in the past, I did find this class very stimulating and interesting. The title of this course says it all: explorations, as this class was a haphazard adventure through Hasidism, both the scholarly perspectives and Hasidic perspectives from within. Schorsch assigned about fifty pages of reading for each class, which were either never available on Courseworks due to “technical reasons” (and a lazy T.A.), or rarely read by more than a handful of students in the class. It’s OK, as if not even to expect students read them in the first place, he summarizes them in class anyway! Yet, he will catch you if you pretend like you did the reading - at times he answered idiocy with sarcastic or satirical retorts.

SchorschÂ’s humor and witticisms are like an oasis in an endless desert of humdrum lecturing. There were a few students in the class who seemed to contribute to the class discussion from only their own personal agendas, be it feminist, or otherwise, yet Schorsch was determined to face the controversial issues head on (including relationship to Christianity, women, hypocricy, etcÂ…). We even discussed smoking, alcoholism, "neo-Hasidism," music, and other interesting topics in Hasidism.

Workload:

The workload was fair. One 2-page original Hasidic analysis of any passage in the Bible, one 5-page ethnographic analysis of a Hasidic event (he was flexible with requirements), and one 10-page research paper on any topic pertaining to Hasidism. He is a very demanding paper grader, especially with the research paper. Very approachable, frequent office hours, and answers email within 24 hours.

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