Online Learning with David Bernat

David Bernat has a PhD in Biblical & Near Eastern Studies from Brandeis, with publications in areas such as Jewish ritual, & representations of violence & zealotry in ancient Jewish writings. David has held faculty positions at Wellesley College, Hebrew College Rabbinic School, & UMass Amherst. David also planned & led several study tours to Israel, focusing on history & archaeology.

David has taught a winter/spring course at The Boston Synagogue every year since 2016, & we are excited to embark on future courses with him.

These courses consist of ten weekly sessions running from February to May.

Past David Bernat Courses:

Give Us A King

Thursdays, 7-9 pm

You think your family has problems?

What Makes The David Narrative So Compelling?

Take a deep dive into his lovers, slaying their husbands, rejection by his son, his generals & other pivotal figures. Why was this enigmatic, complicated & charismatic figure chosen to be forerunner of the Jewish & Christian Messianism?

David gets the most ink in the Tanach. Why?

“Moses has the Ten Commandments, it’s true, but I’ve got much better lines. I’ve got the poetry & passage, savage violence & the plain raw civilizing grief of human heartbreak.” -says King David in Joseph Heller’s novel, GOD KNOWS

This course will examine relevant Biblical sources backed by Archeological findings.

Within the King David context, study other significant royal figures, like Saul who was a leader before the Davidic Monarchy, Solomon who succeeded David, Queen Athaliah who ruled Judea ruthlessly for 6 years, Omri who founded the kingdom of Israel, and Hezekiah whose arrogance nearly led to the destruction of Jerusalem

Registration: $375 payable to David Bernat directly via check by mail or Venmo.

Dead Sea Scrolls

Thursdays 7:00-9:00 PM

Unravel the crucial details of ancient Jewish history & tradition during the time of the Maccabean Kings, Roman conquest of Judea & more!

Course Description:

In 1947, a Bedouin youth “stumbled upon” a cave with clay jars & a Hebrew parchment that found its way into Israel’s hands in an episode worthy of spy novelists such as John Le Carre or Daniel Silva.

Decades later a settlement by the Dead Sea, alongside 11 desert hillside caves

was discovered. These caves contained thousands of documents providing crucial information about ancient Jewish history, tradition, & practice from approx 200 BCE & the time of the Maccabean Kings to 70 CE & the Roman conquest of Judea & destruction of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem. The scrolls also clued us in to the transitions from the Torah to Rabbinic Literature, & the connections between early Judaism & nascent Christianity.

Registration: $325 payable to David Bernat directly via check by mail or Venmo.

Anti-Semitism: Origins to Today

Thursdays, 7-9 pm

Course Abstract:

A 10-session deep dive into Anti-Semitism — hostility to Jews & Judaism, & persecution of Jews — from antiquity to modernity.

This class will look at the history of ideas & events pertaining to Anti-Semitism, along with a general review of Jewish history. We will explore questions such as: To what extent are the hostility & hostile acts toward Jews tied to Judaism in particular, & to specific circumstances in which the Jews found themselves? Is Anti-Semitism a function of general hostility to the “other?” How do we make sense of the current spike in Anti-Semitism? How does Jewish history help explain our current circumstances?

Topics include “The beginnings of Anti-Semitism in the Greco-Roman world,” “Crusades & Blood Libel,” “Inquisition & Expulsion,” “Eastern European Pogroms,” “Anti-Zionism & Anti-Semitism,” “Anti-Semitism from the Left & the Right.” We will also read & discuss the Shakespearean classic, “The Merchant of Venice,” & evaluate the various film versions of the play.

Registration: $325 payable to David Bernat directly via check by mail or Venmo.