Susan L. Braunstein, Henry J. Leir Curator at the Jewish Museum, is featured in a new online course being offered through Yeshiva University and Coursera titled “Arch of Titus: Rome and the Menorah,” providing members of the public with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the cultural impact of the Arch of Titus, a central artifact in both Jewish and Western history. Starting January 4, the free, six-week course, led by Yeshiva University’s Dr. Steven Fine, takes participants on expeditions across New York, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Rome, as he discusses artifacts with museum curators, scholars and artists and even visits the Arch itself — a commemoration of the Roman Emperor Titus depicting his triumphal return to Rome from Jerusalem, where the legions destroyed and looted the Jewish Temple in 70 CE.
Fine’s discussions with guest experts, including Braunstein, give students a multidimensional approach to the Arch. The course focuses on the ways that Romans, Jews and Christians have looked at the Arch and its symbolism from antiquity to the present. Fine’s ultimate goal is to involve students in the continuing life of this monument, especially as its menorah now appears on the state symbol of Israel. He hopes to open students’ eyes to the many references to the Arch of Titus that surround them in their daily lives. It has served as the inspiration for many arches over the last 2,000 years, from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to New York’s own Washington Square Arch.
Created by YU Global, the course is part of a larger roll-out of upcoming classes and certificates that aims to extend the Yeshiva University brand beyond New York City to interested learners worldwide. It is YU’s first project with Coursera, an educational platform boasting more than 15.6 million unique students, and represents one of the first Coursera courses in Jewish history and archaeology.