Centre for Continuing Education

Rhythms and Purposes of Jewish Life Course

Jewish Culture. Learn about Jewish Culture with us.

Learn about Jewish culture the smart way with Jewish Culture courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

In partnership with the Department of Hebrew, Biblical & 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 or email.

This course introduces the beliefs and practices that shape the festivals and the lifecycles underpinning Jewish life, while also examining why Jews believe what they believe. This course aims to identify the ultimate purpose of life as found in Jewish texts and the historical Jewish experience.

This course is run in conjunction with the Melton Centre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Interpret the calendar and identify and understand the significance of the major holy days and their origins and contemporary expressions.
  2. Understand the life-cycle rituals in Judaism and recognise and analyse the multiple and varied interpretations of their practice and meaning.
  3. Develop an understanding that Judaism is a way of life, which affects everyday practices that have religious and cultural expressions.
  4. Become familiar with the primary sources of literacy – the Torah, Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible), Rabbinic Literature.
  5. Distinguish between the positions of the major thinkers on selected topics.
  6. Understand key attitudes to major theological and philosophical issues, such as the concept of chosenness; the symbolism of the Exodus from Egypt; commandments in Judaism, attitudes to leadership, revelation, Messianism, suffering and the place of the Land of Israel in thought and belief.


This course covers the following topics:

God and time

  • Jewish Time and the Jewish calendar
  • God, sin, mankind and creation
  • Reminders and symbols
  • The chosen people and what it means to be chosen
  • Mitzvot (commandments)

Festivals and holidays

  • Pesach (Jewish Passover)
  • Purim (a Jewish holiday)
  • Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)
  • Tisha B’Av (an annual fast day)
  • Yom Hazikaron (national Remembrance Day)
  • Yom Ha’atzmaut (independence day)
  • Shabbat
  • Shavuot (Jewish holiday)

Historical contexts

  • The Exodus from Egypt
  • Eretz Israel (The Holy Land)
  • Miracles
  • Revelation at Sinai

Jewish life

  • Beit K’nesset (synagogue)
  • Blessings
  • Prayer and Tzedakah
  • Women – Ancient Paradigms
  • Laws and Customs of Kosher Observance
  • Women – Contemporary Perspectives

Intended Audience

This course is suitable for anyone who is interested in learning about culture and history.

Delivery Style

Delivered as a seminar with group discussion.


Participants will be required to bring their own Bible (Tanach) to each lesson. Any version of the Old Testament is acceptable.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion