ALBANY – A two-part course of B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will look at how Second Temple Judaism gave birth both to early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism and will examine the events that led to their parting of ways. The course, “Siblings: Second Temple Judaism and the Development of Early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism” this spring and fall will be taught by Steven Stark-Riemer.  Part 1 classes will be taught on Tuesdays May 9-June 13, 10-11:45 a.m. via Zoom.


The course will begin with the destruction of the First Temple, the re-establishment of authority, the building of the Second Temple, the coming of Hellenism and the beginnings of sectarian Judaism. It will explore the origins and development of various sects within Second Temple Judaism – Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Dead Sea Scrolls sect, and the Zealot party.

Part 2, to be offered in the fall, will center on the two sects that survived the Roman conquest and the destruction of the Temple. In the aftermath, Second Temple Judaism gave birth to both early Christianity and its somewhat younger sibling, rabbinic Judaism. These sessions will explore the roots of both, their responses to the first and second revolts against Rome, their early development and their “parting of the ways.”

Stark-Riemer, the course instructor, studied anthropology at City College of New York, where he specialized in archaeology, and received his degree in 1972. He conducted fieldwork at the Tel Gezer excavations in Israel under the direction of William G. Dever, director of the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School at the time. Stark-Riemer continues to pursue his interest in the archaeology, history and religion of the ancient Near East.

“Siblings” is open to the public; registration is required. Fee for the six-session Part 1 is $45 ($35 for B’nai Sholom members).

Information and registration may be obtained by contacting the B’nai Sholom office: 518-482-5283 or [email protected].