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B’nai Sholom Course Unlocks Mysteries of “Noah”

When director Darren Aronofsky’s film “Noah” was released in March 2014, it provoked a wide range of reactions from praise to outrage.  Moviegoers were puzzled, and many were offended, by what seemed to be bizarre additions to the story, particularly the digitally created monsters.

For armchair archaeologist Steven Stark-Riemer of Delmar, “Noah” made perfect sense. 

Stark-Riemer will repeat one of his most popular courses at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation that unlocks the mysteries of the movie.

“Unlocking ‘Noah’” will be taught online via Zoom over six Thursdays beginning September 10, 10-11:45 a.m.

The first class will feature a shared-screen viewing of “Noah.”  The next four classes will examine the ancient Jewish apocryphal and midrashic literature that was used by the film’s creators to flesh out the rather spare biblical story.  Contrary to many reviewers, who accused the moviemakers of making up much of the material in their film, the movie actually is carefully researched and well-grounded in Jewish literature written roughly between 200 B.C.E. and 100 C.E. that did not make it into the Hebrew Bible.  The final session will screen “Noah” once again followed by a discussion of any effect the study sessions had on participants’ second viewing.

Stark-Riemer has taught about the scientific study of the biblical world since 2007.  He studied anthropology at City College of New York, where he specialized in archaeology, and received his degree in 1972.  He obtained field work experience 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.

“Unlocking ‘Noah’” is open to the public.  Fee for the six-session course is $45 ($35 for B’nai Sholom members), and registration is required.  Zoom links will be provided upon registration.

For more information, visit  or contact the B’nai Sholom office: 518-482-5283 or

Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region.  Nearly 130 diverse households from eight counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.

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