. . . a new appreciation
I want to let you know how much I have enjoyed your class this semester. Not only do I have a new appreciation for and understanding of the stories in Genesis, but I am quite sure that the way I read Scripture has been forever changed for the better. I very much appreciate how much of our course was driven by our engagement with the text in class. After years of taking only online classes, it has truly been a pleasure to attend yours in person.
. . . a new perspective
As this class comes to an end, I am thankful for the information and perspectives I experienced. Growing up in church from a young age, I have heard these Genesis stories more times than I can count. Yet as this class progressed, it felt as though I was experiencing the story of Genesis for the first time. I greatly appreciate the work that Rabbi Klein put into this class and his commitment to providing a high-quality analysis of the book. The perspectives and insight that were provided allowed me to see things within the story that were previously unknown to me. The biggest take away for me from this class is to never be content with what I’m told a passage is saying and to not be afraid to question what the text is saying. I will carry on this new perspective long after this class and am thankful for the information I have learned.
. . . never letting us settle
The professor’s passion and ability to keep students engaged through lectures. Always pushing us one step further and never letting us settle with basic answers but dig deeper.
. . . different perspectives
The course was great. Rabbi Klein’s openness to discussions and exploring different perspectives made the class very enjoyable. I cannot offer any suggestions for improvement.
. . . interacting with the information
I really liked that our grades were not based on repeating information we learned, but interacting with the information learned alongside books, articles and other outside content including our own opinions.
. . . encouraged learners
I loved that Rabbi Klein was open to entertaining everyone’s ideas. In classes where I have seen particular students that were in the class get pushed aside or ignored for their radical thinking, Rabbi Klein encouraged it. I loved that we were able to expand on the things we knew in such a way that when people became uncomfortable, we embraced it with open arms and encouraged learners to be okay with being uncomfortable.
Rochester University student evaluations, 2020
. . . lucky enough to have Professor Klein
I was lucky enough to have Professor Klein for my entire last year of [Oakland University] in the Religious Studies Program having a Christianity Studies Minor. Out of all my years and classes in this program I learned the most from Professor Klein. I took Intro to Judaism and The Book of Genesis with him. The way he teaches these classes really shows and teaches students how to study religion. With Professor Klein I felt that I was taking professional seminary classes compared to just basic intro religion classes that most secular schools offer. As a religious studies minor I really appreciated finally being challenged in this area of study and learning. He is one of the only professors who goes beyond teaching from a boring text book and encourages class discussion and looking at credible sources along with his own knowledge and experience. Professor Klein has helped prepare me with these classes and given me knowledge for my minor that I did not have before.
Nomination submission for Oakland University "Order of the Plume"
. . . wonderful
This [Exodus] course was wonderful. Absolutely nothing could be changed, the lectures were my favorite part of the course, and homework was very applicable and interesting. I hope that future RU students will be blessed with the opportunity to take this course as well. Rochester University student evaluation, 2019
. . . this is what college is supposed to be like
This [Genesis] course was the best one of my semester, and easily one of the best college courses I have ever taken. The class is mostly discussion, which allows for the exchange of ideas and learning as a group. Rabbi Klein is extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and very good at his job. He always was prepared for class, had tons of background, historical, and linguistic knowledge about the topic. He assigned us fascinating articles and books to read. I can't rave enough about this class. He presents a variety of point of views, scholarly insight, and more. And Rabbi Klein himself is so personable. I would absolutely love to take an Exodus class like this one! ... [This course] was exactly what I wanted and what I hoped it would be. I wanted a class from a literary/linguistic/historical side of the Bible, and that's exactly what I got. This course changed my life, and I am extremely grateful. This is what college is supposed to be like. I will keep my notes and books from class close to my heart.
Oakland University student evaluation, 2017
. . . a refreshing approach to adult-level learning
For the last two years, Rabbi Klein has hosted scripture study classes at our interfaith peace institute. His classes on Genesis and Exodus drew attendees of both Jewish and varying Christian denominations. He encouraged students to bring their favorite scripture translations so we could discuss at length how slight variations between translations impact our understanding of the texts. While the Jewish attendees may have been familiar with this practice, for most Christians this was a startling and ultimately refreshing approach to adult-level study.
What most impressed us was the great respect Rabbi Klein showed all in attendance - no matter where they were coming from - on their faith journey. Questions - and there were MANY - were handled with genuine appreciation and encouraged further dialog at every turn. This is most important when working in a group of people from various religious traditions and Rabbi Klein was particularly adept at putting all participants at ease.
Brother Al Mascia, OFM Maggid Steve Klaper, Mary Gilhuly Song and Spirit Institute for Peace
. . . carefully structures learning experiences that are entertaining and memorable
In the sixteen years I have known him, Rabbi Joe Klein has been an effective teacher in Torah study, special classes, and pulpit drashes. His approach in helping others discover something exciting and remarkable in the Torah or Jewish history - rather than simply lecturing - is characteristic of his teaching method. He carefully structures learning experiences that are entertaining and memorable. I never come away from one of Rabbi's classes without having learned something new. Even during the rather dry parshas of Leviticus he has helped us discover intriguing aspects of meaning. He has taught me many invaluable lessons about Genesis, biblical archaeology, St. Paul as a Jew, ancient Jewish history, Jewish messianism, Zionism - and more.
Michael Scrivener, Distinguished Professor of English, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
. . . introduced my students to new understandings about religious traditions
Over the years I have brought numerous college level religious studies classes to meet with Rabbi Joseph Klein for a learning experience that enhanced students' knowledge and their world perspectives. Rabbi Klein introduced my students to new understandings about religious traditions, especially Judaism and Christianity. Although they gained much in substantive information, the most important gains were on an affective level that reoriented preexisting attitudes regarding other religious traditions. This, in turn, propelled the students to re-examine their own faith traditions more objectively.
Rabbi Klein has the insight to draw common lines between religious traditions, while maintaining the distinctly valuable qualities of each. His interaction with groups has had a consistently important effect upon them - that is, an increased sense of respect for others who have diverse or unfamiliar backgrounds. In this way, Joe is an ecumenical diplomat. I appreciate what he has done for my students.
Lance Miller, PhD, Central Michigan University, Global Campus