Not without justification the term “People of the Book” has been used to describe Jewish civilization. Although the phrase could be used for many text-based civilizations, what makes the term so apt is that it was precisely text-centrality that allowed for the durability and sustainability of Jewish culture throughout 2000 years of global dispersal. Together with the centrality of text, the persistence of the interpretive tradition of those texts account for the interplay of coherence and diversity signatory of Jewish civilization throughout its thousands of years of existence.
The combination of text and interpretive tradition central to Jewish thought provides the rational for the Paideia One Year Jewish Studies Program. Geared toward the direct encounter between the student and the Great Books of Jewish civilization, the program enables comprehensive literacy in the major texts and epochs of the Jewish bookshelf accompanied by study of the appropriate hermeneutic methodologies: Bible, Midrash, Mishnah, Gemarah, Rabbinic Literature, Medieval Jewish Philosophers, the Mystical Tradition, Responsa writings, post-enlightenment philosophers, and Modern Hebrew literature.
Through the One Year Jewish Studies Program with text-centrality as its organizing principal, Paideia is enabling an authentic and academically responsible interchange between one of the rich cultural foundations of Western civilizations, the world of the university, and the agora of cultural discourse.