Genesis Courses

Courses at Genesis are unlike any high school classroom learning experience. The courses examine areas of knowledge that begin with an academic discipline as seen through a uniquely Jewish lens. Our faculty lead you through complex, compelling topics that encourage critical thinking and challenge assumptions. Jewish texts, traditions and perspectives infuse your study of subjects ranging from gender to technology to world religions and cultures. 

With intellectual vigor, yet without the stress of grades or papers, Genesis courses prompt questions as much as they provide answers. You will help shape your experience by taking responsibility for parts of the course and getting practical experience in your chosen discipline. Explore the courses listed below to discover more about the intellectual heart of Genesis.

2020 Courses

Climate Justice

Precollege students sitting around a table discussing a course topic.Climate change is inherently an issue of justice.

Rising temperatures are predicted to affect the poorest, yet the benefits of mitigation and adaptation strategies are inequitably distributed. Low-income communities of color not only bear most of the burden of hazardous environments, but also poorer health outcomes.

As the Midrash Rabbah commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:13 teaches us: "When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: 'Look at my works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent! Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.'" 

Building on its award-winning “Being the Change” Public Policy program in 2019, Genesis has created a scholarly examination of the key issues undergirding the Climate Justice effort, using the specific lens of Jewish values and wisdom. As with all our Genesis courses, our Climate Justice course aligns itself with the Brandeis social justice mission, and its efforts to create positive change within the Jewish community and beyond.

Creative Writing

Precollege students sitting around a table and writing.Looking to develop and explore your individual writing voice?

In this course, you’ll translate your experiences, emotions, and imaginations into literary form; take risks in both content and form; and provide thoughtful, constructive, and supportive feedback to your peers. Together with your course instructor and a vibrant community of fellow teen writers, you’ll learn how to integrate Jewish experience and imagination into your work and find authentic expression. Participants will learn from local guest speakers and visit local sites. Previous site visits included the National Yiddish Book Center, the DeCordova Museum, Grub Street Writers Collaborative, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Rose Art Museum.

The written expression of the Jewish experience throughout millenia has formed a foundation from which our newest writers are grounded and thrive. Come join a passionate community of new writers and make it your journey, too.

Culinary Arts and Anthropology

Precollege faculty instruct students during a culinary class.Discover the Art and Anthropology of Jewish Food

Food is one of the most important sources of connection and meaning in all of our lives. It raises controversies and questions about identity, culture, religion and justice. In this course, you will explore our relationship to food through a Jewish lens-- past, present and future-- as you get hands-on in the kitchen to delve deeply into recipes, stories and ingredients. Throughout this exploration, you will ponder key questions, such as:

  • What makes Jewish food Jewish?
  • What is the role of food in Jewish culture and identity?
  • What is happening in Jewish food now?
  • How do we envision the future of Jewish food?

You will develop your experience and understanding of food through cooking, writing short stories based on family recipes, researching individual dishes, and working in groups to follow the development of a single recipe across time, cultures and continents. As you cook your way to understanding, you will

  • Develop an understanding of Jewish cuisines from around the world
  • Get hands on experience in the kitchen while exploring recipes from your own family and from a wide swath of Jewish communities
  • Develop your own culinary skills and techniques
  • Design and execute a meal for the entire Genesis community
  • Meet with leaders in the food justice community based in Boston
  • Visit and volunteer at an urban farm
  • Meet with food professionals (butchers, bakers, grocers) in the Jewish world to better understand the food industry

VIDEO: culinary arts and Anthropology

Global Religions

Precollege students sit on the floor while listening to a lecture at a religious institution.Nearly sixty years ago, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Clark wrote, “It might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion.”

In the Global Religions course, you’ll take Justice Clark’s words to heart and engage in an academic study of several major world religions. Through engaging classroom lectures and discussions, as well as visits to religious institutions throughout the greater Boston area, you’ll develop a new appreciation for both your own Judaism and the values, traditions, practices and leaders of other faiths. This course grows from the scholarly desire to understand the world’s inhabitants and cultures and will provide context for how global affairs are influenced and affected by various faith traditions.

Theater Arts

Precollege students practice their performance during rehearsal.Spend your summer with us and experience a Theater Arts program that goes beyond the expected!

Together with a community of fellow teen actors, you’ll refine your technique, develop creative skills and leave with an improved sense of your own process. This course combines technique classes, master classes with guest artists, outings to regional performances in the greater Boston area, and the development, rehearsal and performance of a collaborative original work. Past years included exploration of Viewpoints, Stanislavski, Meisner, Hagen, Laban Effort Actions and Tectonic Theater Project’s Moment Work.

Notes acclaimed Jewish-American-Iraqi director Jeremy Aluma: “In Judaism, there is a belief that empathy stirs us to great acts of kindness and generosity, and that those actions can repair the pain and suffering in the world.” With this in mind, our students spend the summer honing their skills and bringing about creative Jewish theatrical experiences within the context of a caring and compassionate community.