When you walk down the street, it doesn’t take long to see people wearing white earbuds. You might assume they’re listening to a hit song or a golden oldie. But there is a chance they’re auditing a university course on Jewish mysticism, listening to a college lecture on the Torah or taking in a talk on surrealist artist Salvador Dali and Israel. Maybe they’re attending iTunes U with its thousands of free lectures, many of which touch on Judaism and Jewish history.
If you’d like to “attend” iTunes U, you’ll need to download iTunes, also free. [http://bit.ly/itunesu1] Then you can visit the iTunes U section and start browsing through the talks on practically any topic imaginable. [http://bit.ly/itunesu20] You can listen – and sometimes view – these lectures right on your computer and do not need to own an iPhone or iPod. But they are handy if you’d like to listen on the go.
The Jewish Theological Seminary certainly has breadth in its offerings. Topics include Nazi-looted Jewish Archives in Moscow, and Jewish Mysticism in the Spiritual Life. Or how about something contemporary with What to Wear: Exploring Women’s Clothing and its Relationship to Religion and Culture. Lecture 1: “From Jewess Jeans to Juicy JAPs: Clothing and Jewish Stereotype.” [http://bit.ly/itunesu3]
More than half a century after he died, Albert Einstein continues to amaze and mystify. American Public Media’s 12-part radio series, Einstein and the Mind of God, delves “into Einstein’s Jewish identity, his passionate engagement around issues of war and race, and… Einstein’s way of thinking about mystery, eternity and the mind of God.” Almost three hours of radio documentaries and interviews about the genius are featured. [http://bit.ly/itunesu4]
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has 25 talks on a variety of topics including “Forced Labour in Nazi-Dominated Europe,” “Voices on Antisemitism,” and “Days of Remembrance,” a speech by U.S. President Barak Obama. [http://bit.ly/itunesu5] You can also listen to 48 conversations with Holocaust survivors, including Rabbi Jacob Wiener on his arrest on Kristallnacht and Halina Peabody on her mother’s decision to have Halina live as a Catholic during the war. [http://bit.ly/itunesu6]
Always wanted to attend Harvard? Now you can as you listen to Prof. Shaye J. D. Cohen’s 26-part course, The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity. In addition to the audio, you can download lecture notes and even the exam questions. [http://bit.ly/itunesu7]
Here’s an interesting find: A 29-part series produced by Emory University about Dali and his series of drawings, sketches and watercolour paintings titled, Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel. [http://bit.ly/itunesu8] I suggest listening to the lectures while viewing Dali’s works at the Emory website on the exhibition. [http://bit.ly/itunesu9]
New York’s 92nd Street Y is known for the outstanding calibre of it arts programming and guest lecturers. The Y has created a massive mini-site at iTunes U featuring a wide variety of speakers, including the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick and business magnate George Soros. If your tastes run to pop culture, there are talks with Carl Reiner, Richard Dreyfuss and Barbara Walters. [http://bit.ly/itunesu10]
These courses just scratch the surface. There are hundreds of others of about Israel [http://bit.ly/itunesu12] and Judaism [http://bit.ly/itunesu13]
School’s starting – whenever you’re ready.