Centre for Continuing Education

Jewish Culture Course: The Ethics of Jewish Living

Jewish culture. Learn about Jewish culture with us.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

In partnership with the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
Course materials developed by The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning - a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For specific enquiries regarding the program, please contact Hinda Young on 0432 567 917.

Join us to learn about Jewish approaches to ethical dilemmas, and the influences, factors and contexts that inform such approaches.

This course examines Jewish ethics by looking at a variety of Jewish sources. Each lesson begins with a look at your own values and ethics. The curriculum then proceeds to consider values and ethics relating to family, community, and finally, those that relate to the world at large. The objective of this organisational structure is to emphasise the far-reaching interest of the Jewish tradition. The curriculum attempts to convey the sense that there are ethical decisions that need to be faced on all levels, and that the Jewish textual tradition includes a world of stories and legal precedents that can be accessed and considered when doing so.

This course is part of the Melton’s signature core curriculum which provides a sophisticated, comprehensive and pluralistic approach to understanding Judaism. The core curriculum comprises a sequential series of text-based lessons comprised of four courses: The Rhythms of Jewish Living; The Purposes of Jewish Living; Crossroads of Jewish History; and The Ethics of Jewish Living. Each course invites adults to delve into Jewish living, memory and wisdom.

Join our Jewish Culture courses at CCE and acquire Jewish literacy in an open, trans-denominational, intellectually-stimulating learning environment.


We want to teach you uniquely Jewish approaches to ethical dilemmas, which you can use in everyday life. These approaches will provide insight into Jewish culture and experience. Identify core Jewish values, rooted in biblical and rabbinic texts.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • describe how Jewish values represent the inner thoughts and feelings that Jews have traditionally manifested throughout the centuries
  • describe how Jewish values have served to impact on the ethical choices Jews make
  • appreciate the conflicting Jewish values involved in an ethical dilemma and the underlying approaches at work in the decision-making process
  • identify the complexities or subtleties that lie behind most moral concepts (there are few Jewish ethical statements which cannot be supplemented or enriched with some qualification, conflicting opinion, or opposite tendency in the sources)
  • identify six possible approaches that will help you clarify a situation and solve an ethical dilemma. They are:
    • an analytical approach
    • the mitigating circumstances approach
    • the subjective-interpretive approach
    • the contextual approach
    • the Jewish values approach
    • an autonomous approach
  • apply the above six approaches to a variety of scenarios.


Section one: Introductory section

  • Lesson 1 – Equity and justice: moral awareness within Judaism
  • Lesson 2 – Jewish approaches to making ethical decisions (Part 1)
  • Lesson 3 – Jewish approaches to making ethical decisions (Part 2)

Section two: Ethics of the individual

  • Lesson 4 – Power of the spoken word
  • Lesson 5 – Social media ethics
  • Lesson 6 – Organ donation
  • Lesson 7 – The significance of human life
  • Lesson 8 – Suicide
  • Lesson 9 – Personal virtues

Section three: Ethics of family and personal relationships

  • Lesson 10 – Honoring aging parents
  • Lesson 11 – Sexuality and the institution of marriage
  • Lesson 12 – Ethics in marriage
  • Lesson 13 – Ethics in divorce
  • Lesson 14 – Fertility treatment
  • Lesson 15 – Abortion
  • Lesson 16 – Gender fluidity
  • Lesson 17 – Euthanasia and end-of-life decisions

Ethics of community

  • Lesson 18 – Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Lesson 19 – For you, or for me
  • Lesson 20 – Individual or community: all for one, or one for all
  • Lesson 21 – Gemilut Chasadim
  • Lesson 22 – Ransoming captives
  • Lesson 23 – The imitation of god
  • Lesson 24 – Tzedakah priorities

Ethics of the world

  • Lesson 25 – Making an Honest Living
  • Lesson 26 – Jewish Universalism and the Seven Noachide Laws
  • Lesson 27 – Jewish War Ethics
  • Lesson 28 – Environmental Ethics
  • Lesson 29 – Animal Experimentation
  • Lesson 30 – A Code of Jewish Living

Intended audience

Suitable for anyone who is interested in learning about Jewish culture, philosophy and history.

Delivery style

This 15-lesson course is delivered as a series of interactive workshops based on class reading of texts (biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern literature and poetry) and involves discussion between participants and the facilitator.


A course booklet is available in two formats:

  1. Complimentary online booklet (PDF) accessible via an online portal.
  2. Printed booklet (additional fee of $24) available for purchase here. Your booklet will be available to collect at the first or second class, depending on the date of purchase.

Additional information

You are required to bring your own Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) to class. Any version of the Old Testament is acceptable.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

Jewish Culture Course: The Ethics of Jewish Living

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