Jews, Judaisms, and Jewish Identities

Aaron J. Hahn Tapper

THRS 195
Core D2

Course Description:

All of us identify with particular groups. But what does this actual mean? And how are these social identities constructed? Using the case example of the identity ‘Jew’ – the diverse expressions of ‘being Jewish’ and the myriad ways to identify as a Jew in the twenty-first century – this course explores these questions in an effort to both deepen your understanding of this group and yourself. We will examine the historical development of some of the foundational beliefs, doctrines, institutions, practices, rituals, and cultural expressions of Judaism from the time of the Hebrew Bible through today, paying particular attention to the dominant Jewish Ashkenazi narrative within the context of the greater corpus of Jewish history and identities of non-Ashkenazi Jews, as well as Zionism (Jewish nationalism) and the Shoah (the Jewish genocide). Each class will take place at a ‘Jewish’ location in San Francisco, including synagogues, museums, kosher restaurants, and more.

Faculty Bio:

Aaron Hahn Tapper directs USF’s program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice. In addition to attending 13 years of Jewish day schools and studying in numerous Orthodox yeshivot (seminaries), Aaron has lived in the Middle East for more than five years, including time spent in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Syria. He has also traveled extensively around the world, backpacking in Europe, Southeast Asia, and even spent a summer in Sierra Leone volunteering with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, Aaron is the founder and Co-Executive Director of Abraham's Vision, a conflict transformation organization working with Jews, Muslims, Israelis, and Palestinians.