Guide to Adult Education Curriculum


Guide to Adult Education Curriculum

Congratulations on your acquisition of the IISHJ Adult Education Curriculum: Introduction to Secular Humanistic Judaism. This letter is a guide to the course facilitator to help them teach the course. The basic pattern followed throughout the course is: do the assigned reading beforehand, read and discuss the survey essays as a class, and go through the discussion questions. However, other models may work well, so course facilitators are encouraged to make this course their own by varying format or additional content.

Included with this letter are the following, which may be duplicated and distributed to the students of the course as a packet for each section (Jewish History, Jewish Culture, Philosophy).

  • Overview of the entire course: session topics, assigned readings, recommended reading
  • List of Readings for each unit
  • Introductory essays for each session
  • Occasional additional readings or information sheets
  • Discussion questions for each section
    (double-siding for the packet is recommended: costs the same, uses less paper, weighs less)

You are receiving two copies of this curriculum, a bound copy for the facilitator and individual pages for photocopying. This letter serves as legal permission for the purchaser to duplicate the contents of this course for instructional purposes.

The readings are keyed to a few textbooks, which students are strongly encouraged to purchase as they will be thoroughly used and are good reference material for the future. They are:

  • Barnavi, Eli. A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People (NY: Schocken Books, 1992 – there is also a 2003 edition). Widely available in bookstores, conventional and online.
  • The Guide to Humanistic Judaism (Farmington Hills, MI: Society for Humanistic Judaism, 1993). Available through SHJ office, 248-478-7610 or
  • Kogel, Renee and Katz, Zev, ed. Judaism in a Secular Age: an Anthology of Secular Humanistic Jewish Thought (IISHJ & Milan Press, 1995). Available through IISHJ office, 847-383-6330 or
  • Goldfinger, Eva. Basic Ideas of Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ) Available through IISHJ office, 847-383-6330 or

To reduce the cost of this curriculum, there is no printed course packet of readings to accompany these volumes. For each class session, any assigned reading not included in one of the aforementioned books is listed with a website. For both copyright and cost considerations, this was the least expensive and most efficient alternative. If individual students so choose, they may go to a library and look up the reading, or they may go online and find it there. A third option is for the course facilitator to go online and print out the relevant material, and then photocopy and distribute it.

In addition to the material to be copied and distributed to the students, the course facilitator also receives an answer key to the discussion questions, which should not be distributed to the students (at least until the discussion is over). It is hoped that this answer key will help the facilitator direct the discussion and be sure to hit the key points. Correct answers are not limited to what is on the page, however; the point of asking the discussion questions without providing the desired responses is to encourage the students to think for themselves and to come to their own conclusions.

Good luck! I hope that you find this Adult Education curriculum successful, interesting, and educational. As a teacher, that is my highest aspiration.

Rabbi Adam Chalom
Dean, North America – IISHJ
Rabbi, Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation