Gerson Cohen, "The Blessing of Assimilation in Jewish History," in Jewish History and Jewish Destiny (Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1997)
Delivered as a commencement address to Jewish educators in 1966, this lecture briefly and elegantly introduces students to a surprising key to Jewish survival: assimilation (as a ceaseless process of cultural absorption and exchange).
Baruch Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise, R. H. M. Elwes, trans. (Cosimo, 2005 )
A foundational text of Jewish modernity published in 1670, the Theologico-Political Treatise productively challenges and confounds students' assumptions about the secular, the religious, and the roots of modern Jewish identity.
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Schocken, 1989)
This seminal book exposes students to a sweeping vista onto the Jewish past, while encouraging them to think about the ways in which historians work and history is constructed.