You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


Great World Religions: Judaism

Get an overview of the history and practice of this ancient and important faith with this concise and accurate course taught by a professor of Jewish history.
Great World Religions: Judaism is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 40.
  • y_2024, m_7, d_13, h_6
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_6, tr_34
  • loc_en_CA, sid_6103, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 9.23ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Gafni is a superb lecturer. This is my second course with Professor Gafni. He explains complex historical topics in a concise and interesting way. I would highly recommend it.
Date published: 2023-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent introduction! Thanks for this course! It is an excellent introductory course for people who are not Jews and also who are interested in religious studies, comparitve religion and history. Prof. Gafni has very engaging demeanor and I was able to binge the whole series in a day-or-two. Also note, he has excellent bibliography for further reading and study as well in the Guide book.
Date published: 2023-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Appropriate I found the course quick i t intriguing and an important read for any student of theology especially for comparative theology It somehow made think of Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Date published: 2022-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from At the right level of detail. Teacher is very enga
Date published: 2022-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent introduction to religion of Judaism Professor is fantastic. Learned, organized, witty sincere and totally knowledgable
Date published: 2022-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good Dr. Gafni offers an enlightening insider’s insight into the history and teaching of Judaism. Given about 4,000 years of history to choose from and only 12 lectures (vice the normal 24) to expound, he can only touch on the highlights but even so, he provides a balanced introduction into this ancient, influential, and variegated religion. For those with only incidental contact with Judaism (such as most Christians or Muslims), this not course not only provides a broader perspective of the world scene, but it also provides depth into their own religion. Dr. Gafni has a rather harsh, rapid-fire speaking style. However, if you can get past the accent, his lectures are well-organized and easy to follow. I used the audio version. I don’t think that the video would have added much value. It can easily be used while commuting or while jogging.
Date published: 2021-05-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from omitted too much Prof Gafni's presentation was very good - as far as it went. But, how can any analysis/detailing of a religion (& here, to be specific as to Judaism) be complete without addressing, or adequately addressing (where touched on but far too superficially) such critical matters as the role of women, with the biases inherent in how religion is practiced; the roles of the ultra-orthodox (such as the Haredi) & the distortions they create; Israel - there was virtually nothing on the one Jewsih state; synagogue edifices vs those of various other religions; Jewish communities in various countries & what's left of them in for instance Arab countries; the prevalence of anti-semitism; ++
Date published: 2021-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Prof - lot of material for 12 lessons I’m a Born Again Agnostic… I was raised Southern Baptist, but never felt comfortable there. After much study I am comfortably agnostic. My wife is 99% Eastern European Jew (DNA test) who occasionally goes to a reformed synagogue. We paid for an annual subscription to the Great Courses and thought resurveying the world religions would be interesting. I will admit I was expecting something like Judaism for Dummies. That is not this course. While he does get in some of the nuts and bolts of the Jewish practice, this is more a survey of the history and philosophy of Judaism. I knew Judaism was diverse, just did not know how diverse. I saw one reviewer called the professor eccentric which is a very fair description. He is also very knowledgeable and very passionate about his subject. We both really enjoyed his presentations. Twelve 30 minute classes was not really enough time to do the subject justice, but – dang – if he did not try his hardest. However, several millennium of history was a lot to cover. Definitely worth our time.
Date published: 2021-03-25
  • y_2024, m_7, d_13, h_6
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.42
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_6, tr_34
  • loc_en_CA, sid_6103, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 4.55ms


What is the essence of Judaism? Is it the Ten Commandments? The teachings of the Hebrew Bible? Or something else entirely? Professor Isaiah M. Gafni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem addresses these and other fundamental issues as he explores the ever-changing, 4,000-year saga of Judaism, one of the world's most ancient and influential religions. Throughout Great World Religions: Judaism, you study this faith as it was understood by its adherents in the past and by those who practice or identify with Judaism today.


Isaiah M. Gafni

I've taught students about ancient Judaism for more than 40 years at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Dr. Isaiah M. Gafni is the Sol Rosenbloom Professor of Jewish History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he earned his Ph.D. and has taught for more than 40 years. He was formerly the Director of the Mandel Center of Jewish Studies at the university and also previously served as Director of Graduate Studies at the university's Rothberg International School. He has been a visiting professor at numerous American universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown. Professor Gafni has written extensively on a broad range of topics relating to the social, religious, and cultural history of the Jews in late antiquity, including more than 100 entries in the Encyclopaedia Judaica. Professor Gafni was honored as the Louis Jacobs Fellow in Rabbinic Thought at Oxford University in 1994 and received Hebrew University's Michael Milken Prize for exceptional teaching. Professor Gafni has written or edited more than 15 books on aspects of Jewish history, including Land, Center and Diaspora: Jewish Constructs in Late Antiquity. His book The Jews of Talmudic Babylonia: A Social and Cultural History was honored with the 1992 Holon Prize in Jewish Studies.

By This Professor

What is Judaism?

01: What is Judaism?

The goal of this course is to present Judaism as it is perceived by its adherents and practitioners. This opening lecture attempts a definition, or essence, of Judaism. The beliefs, practices, attitudes, and institutions of Jews through the ages evince a striking diversity, yet all would ascribe to a common heritage....

32 min
The Stages of History

02: The Stages of History

This lecture begins delineating the stages of Jewish history and the evolving nature of Judaism. The major portion of this lecture addresses the earliest and formative stages of Judaism, those that serve as historical frames of reference for much of Jewish ritual and behavior and, in certain cases, as a model for a future restorative process....

30 min
The Jewish Library

03: The Jewish Library

The aim of this lecture is to describe the literary works, beginning with the Bible, that fashioned and constantly directed Jewish behavior. Other writings to be discussed include the Mishna and Talmud; midrashic commentaries and homiletic expansions of the Bible; and the phenomenon of responsa literature....

30 min
The Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism

04: The Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism

If the faith and behavior prescribed by Judaism are derived from the Bible, why is the Judaism we encounter today so different from the biblical representation of that religious tradition? The answer will lead us to a discussion of the origins and tenets of rabbinic Judaism and the paths of Jewish religious expression....

30 min
Jewish Worship-Prayer and the Synagogue

05: Jewish Worship-Prayer and the Synagogue

This is the first of three lectures that sets out to describe the ways Judaism manifests itself in the lives of its adherents. This lecture addresses the emergence of prayer as a major means of religious worship. What do Jewish prayers contain? When are they conducted? In what language? Attendant to this discussion is a history of the synagogue, its design, and functions....

30 min
The Calendar-A Communal Life-Cycle

06: The Calendar-A Communal Life-Cycle

Judaism has a fixed calendar, accepted by all groups practicing Judaism, that determines holidays and is the most important unifying factor in a frequently fragmented community. After presenting the fundamentals of reckoning the Jewish calendar, this lecture goes through the year, stressing what, how, and why Jews celebrate....

30 min
Individual Life-Cycles

07: Individual Life-Cycles

Judaism finds expression at all major stages of an individual's life. This lecture presents the major rituals and rites of passage that accompany boys and girls, men and women, from birth to death. In this lecture we look at questions about gender-specific obligations and distinctions in historical Judaism and recent changes in branches of the Jewish community....

30 min
God and Man; God and Community

08: God and Man; God and Community

As with so many aspects of Judaism, the perception of the deity cannot be reduced to one accepted creed. This lecture touches on issues of Judaism that have appeared throughout history: knowledge of God; God as creator or the God of Israel; free will, fate, and determinism; reward and punishment; and the afterlife....

30 min
Philosophers and Mystics

09: Philosophers and Mystics

The first part of this lecture discusses Jewish philosophers of a variety of ages and cultural environments. The second portion is devoted to the mystical branch of Jewish thought, Kabbalah. The profound impact of the latter would be felt with the appearance of new forms of religious and communal organizations, with one major example being the appearance of Hasidism....

30 min
The Legal Frameworks of Judaism-Halakha

10: The Legal Frameworks of Judaism-Halakha

This lecture addresses the ideology of the legal system known as Halakha. Orthodox Jews recognize the divine authority of Halakha as a critical foundation of Judaism; others have either tempered this understanding or consider it outmoded....

30 min
Common Judaism-or a Plurality of Judaisms?

11: Common Judaism-or a Plurality of Judaisms?

That there are many representations of Judaism has been a constant factor throughout its history. With the element of faith, Judaism also represents an ethnic community, which adds cohesiveness based on nonspiritual foundations. This brings us to a brief discussion of denominations in Judaism today and the current challenge to unity....

30 min
Judaism and

12: Judaism and "Others"

The biblical notion of the "election" of Israel by God has been a source of constantly changing interpretation. The idea of a universal salvation through adherence to Judaism is clearly absent. The ethnic component of Judaism did not represent an impenetrable barrier, and converts were happily accepted. This discussion brings us full circle, again addressing the questions raised in the f...

31 min