Associate Chaplain Rabbi
Ira Schiffer is the Associate Chaplain/Rabbi at Middlebury College. He and his family arrived in Middlebury in June 2001 after a five-year adventure living in the north of Israel, where Ira was involved with community building and Arab-Jewish coexistence programs. Prior to that, he served congregations in Newark, Delaware and Baltimore, Maryland for a period of nineteen years.
Ira's rabbinic training was at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; he holds a Master’s degree in the History of Religions from Brown University.
In addition to his work as Hillel Rabbi, Ira works with the students, faculty and staff of the College in supporting religious life on campus and building bridges of understanding among the diverse groups that make up the Middlebury community.
Complementing his work at the College, Ira serves as Director of Education for Havurah: The Addison County Jewish Congregation.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
RELI 1020 - Meaning in Ordinary Time
Giving Meaning to Ordinary Time: Exploring the Cycles of our Lives and our Year from a Jewish and Christian Perspective
Beginning with an overview of historical developments within both Judaism and Christianity, we will examine selected holy days, holidays, and life-cycle rituals of these traditions. Selected celebrations will be studied in terms of their development and practice, and their role in expressing a theology and a system of values. We will explore themes such as: the human condition and its challenges; forgiveness, repentance and atonement; salvation; the tension between historical memory and spiritual reinterpretation; and the function of ritual in society will be explored. These will include contemporary issues around gender, emerging practices, and the portrayal of religious celebrations in pop culture.
Winter 2011, Winter 2012, Winter 2014
RELI 1030 - Jews & Rus Empire in Crisis
Jews and the Russian Empire in Crisis
S. An-sky (1863-1920) was a Russian-Jewish writer, ethnographer, and social activist. A prolific author, he wrote in two languages in every imaginable genre: articles, novels, plays, and songs. His best known work, The Dybbuk, immortalizes the legendary figure of a dead soul that takes possession of a living body to right an injustice suffered during its lifetime. We will study An-sky’s collected “works”: his fiction, play, memoirs, photographs, artifacts, and folk music. Our goal is a greater understanding of the cultural borderland between the two worlds, Russian and Jewish, which An-sky inhabited and portrayed at a time of crisis. (This class counts toward a concentration in Judaism within the religion major or as an elective credit towards the religion major).