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Spertus Institute


Chicago, USA

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Full time, Part time

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Sep 2023

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Distance Learning, On-Campus


At Spertus Institute, we embrace the idea that the wisdom of Jewish thought and the richness of Jewish experiences inform Jewish society and Judaism today. Our programs encourage personal reflection. Students grapple with Jewish ideas in the service of their personal, professional, and communal advancement.

Spertus Institute's Doctor of Hebrew Letters (DHL) is designed specifically for in-service Jewish professionals, primarily rabbis, but may also be of interest to educators and communal service workers with extremely high facility-level classical Hebrew texts. It serves those seeking career enhancement, career change, and personal edification. Unlike traditional degree programs, each student in the program undertakes an individualized process of learning. The program demands academic excellence balanced with skill-based knowledge directly applicable to those who desire to make a significant contribution to Jewish life. Applicants must have a master's degree in Jewish Studies (or equivalent) and significant facility with classical Hebrew texts to be considered for admission.

Learning Outcomes

Students in the DHL program learn to:

Demonstrate skills in a variety of methodologies and approaches by conceptualizing and critically analyzing key ideas, practices, and issues;

Demonstrate skills in studying classical and modern Jewish literature, including Talmud, Midrash, Biblical and Talmudic commentaries, codes, and responsa, kabbalistic and Hasidic works, medieval Jewish ethical literature and pietica, and liturgies;

Trace historically, conceptually, and analytically a variety of issues, ideas, and practices through the corpus of classical Jewish literature;

Draw upon the resources of Jewish literature and historical experience to address issues and problems challenging contemporary Jewish life.

Course Requirements (54 quarter-hour credits)

Spertus Institute's Jewish Studies degree programs are offered on a quarter-term system, which allows for flexible and asynchronous registration and starts dates. As a result, course credit is granted in quarter hours (as opposed to semester hours).

Reading Courses (7 courses, three credits each)

Independent Study or Seminar Text-Based Courses (7 courses, three credits each)

Research and writing related to the Project Demonstrating Excellence (4 courses, three credits each)

Project Demonstrating Excellence

The Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE) is not a traditional thesis but an applied, practical project grounded in traditional Jewish sources and intended to address current, setting-based issues. It is unique for each participant in the program and is primarily completed offsite, under faculty advisement.

Reading Course Titles

Jewish Thought

Jewish Ethics

Jewish Law (Halakhah)

Key Issues in Contemporary Jewry

Jewish Community: Historical and Sociological Developments

Elective Core Reading Course (for example, Spirituality, Mysticism, Prayer, "Great Books")

Additional work specifically related to the PDE

About the School