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City University Students to Study Talmud on Two-way Video

City University of New York students will have an unprecedented opportunity to study the Talmud via television next semester as the university further expands its offerings in Judaic studies, according to Dr. Timothy Healy, vice-chancellor for academic affairs. The course in Talmudic literature will be taught via CUMBIN (City University Mutual Benefit Instructional Network) by Dr. Emanuel Rackman, CUNY professor of Judaic studies and consultant to the chancellor on Judaic studies. CUMBIN is the university’s unique closed-circuit television system which offers two-way video and audio classes to CUNY students. Students will be able to take the Talmud course at any one of the campuses where CUMBIN is presently received–City, Hunter, Brooklyn and Queens colleges and the University Graduate Center. Dr. Rackman, who in addition to being the rabbi of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan is also an attorney, expects to relate the study of Talmud to contemporary law for comparative purposes. Some of the topics with which Dr. Rackman expects to deal in the two-semester Talmudic literature course include capital punishment (which was virtually abolished in Jewish law thousands of years ago), right to privacy, property rights, family law, trade regulations and laws of business competition and monopolies.

Rather than studying a single tractate (volume) of the Talmud, Dr. Rackman intends to examine a separate, interesting selection each week. Instruction will be by the traditional Talmudic method of textual analysis and dialectic. Dr. Rackman is anxious to have a good deal of active student participation and discussion. CUMBIN is uniquely suited to this sort of discussion because of its talk-back capability. Although Dr. Rackman will be teaching at the Graduate Center, students in CUMBIN receiving rooms on other campuses can interrupt him at any time by using their telephone handsets. All questions will be heard by all students at the various CUMBIN campuses. From interest already expressed, Dr. Rackman expects the class to be full at all the CUMBIN outlets. Instruction in Talmud has generally been available only at night or on weekends, according to Dr. Rackman.

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