Jewish Studies Program

Jewish Studies is a multidisciplinary approach to the diversity of Jewish experience. This approach involves studying the creation and reproduction of Jewish culture in multi-ethnic societies in the ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary world as well as such theoretical concerns as Diaspora, Zionism, religion and the construction of Jewish identity.

Requirements for Concentration: 12 units, including: 1) Jewish Studies 201 and 301; 2) 2 units of college-level Hebrew or Yiddish or its equivalent; 3) two additional courses at the 300-level drawn from either Jewish Studies offerings or the list of Approved Courses; 4) six remaining units drawn from Jewish Studies offerings and Approved Courses.

Students are encouraged to explore complementary courses in a variety of disciplines. After consulting with the director, students choosing a concentration are encouraged to explore language, literature, texts, religious traditions, history, society, and culture.

Jewish Studies strongly recommends that students pursue a Junior Year Abroad experience whenever possible. Many different options exist, and students are encouraged to begin discussions about this with the Program director and their professors as soon as declaration of concentration is made. No more than 3 units per semester from study away can be counted toward the concentration.

After declaring a concentration, no required courses may be elected NRO.

No more than 4 units of Hebrew, Yiddish or other study in Jewish languages may be applied toward the concentration. Hebrew 305 may be counted as one of the three 300-level courses required of majors.

Senior-Year Requirements: Jewish Studies 301, if not taken earlier. The Senior Thesis or Project (Jewish Studies 300) is optional, but must be elected by students to be considered for Honors in the Program. If elected, the thesis is taken in addition to the three 300 level courses required. The thesis or project should reflect the multidisciplinary orientation of the Program. It will be graded Distinction, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory.

Requirements for Correlate Sequence: 6 units, including Jewish Studies 201, one 300-level course, and four other courses, only one of which can be a field work credit (Jewish Studies 290). Students electing the correlate sequence are encouraged but not required to take 301, as well as two units of college-level Hebrew or Yiddish or the equivalent. Hebrew 305 may be counted as one of the 300-level courses required for the correlate sequence. After consulting with the director, students should choose a correlate sequence program that complements concentration requirements. No more than 2 units from study abroad can be counted toward the correlate sequence.

I. Introductory

101a. Politics, Story, Law (1)

The course examines the political dimensions of Jewish thought, approaching questions of power and powerlessness through the concept of authority. Drawing on classical Jewish understandings of law and story, this multidisciplinary study takes up a wide range of texts, from Biblical narratives and classical rabbinics, to the modern novel and contemporary critical theory. Mr. Bush.

125b. The Hebrew Bible (1)

(Same as Religion 125) The Bible is one of the most important foundational documents of Western civilization. This course surveys the literature of the Hebrew Bible (Christian ‘Old Testament') within the historical, religious and literary context of ancient Israel and its neighbors. What social and religious forces created these books, and how did they shape the lives of the ancient Israelites, their descendants, and all those they influenced for three thousand years? All texts are read in English translation. Ms. LiDonnici.

150a and b. Jews, Christians, and Muslims (1)

An historical comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course focuses on such themes as origins, development, sacred literature, ritual, legal, mystical, and philosophical traditions, and interactions among the three religions. Mr. Epstein and Ms. Leeming.

Two 75-minute periods.

185a. The Golden Age - Jewish Culture in Muslim Spain (1)

This course will examine the cultural exchanges between Arab-Muslims and Jews of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. A period celebrated for its intellectual, scientific, and artistic accomplishments, the Golden Age was a time of relative religious tolerance when dominant and minority cultures were in a constant dialogue. Looking at a variety of texts that reflect those symbiotic relationships, we will try to understand the communal life, world views and aesthetic tastes of Sefaradi Jews of the time as well as how they are imagined by modern writers. T. Weitzman.

Open to freshman only. Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

II. Intermediate

201b. Jewish Textuality: Sources and Subversions (1)

This course addresses characteristic forms of Jewish texts and related theoretical issues concerning transmission and interpretation. On the one hand, canonical texts--Bible, Midrash, Talmud--will be considered, including some modern (and postmodern) reactivations of these classical modes. On the other hand, special attention will be given to modern problems of transmission in a post-canonical world. Mr. Bush.

Prerequisite: Jewish Studies 101 or permission of the instructor.

205. Topics in Social Psychology (1)

Not offered in 2012/13.

214b. The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict (1)

(Same as History 214) An examination of the deep historical sources of the Palestine-Israel conflict. The course begins some two centuries ago when changes in the world economy and emerging nationalist ideologies altered the political and economic landscapes of the region. It then traces the development of both Jewish and Arab nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before exploring how the Arab and Jewish populations fought—and cooperated—on a variety of economic, political, and ideological fronts. It concludes by considering how this contest led to the development of two separate, hostile national identities. Mr. Schreier.

217b. Film, Fiction and the Construction of Identity -- Israeli and Palestinian Voices (1)

(Same as Hebrew and Religion 217) This course explores the emergence and consolidation of collective identities in modern Israel and Palestine. Through a close examination of Israeli and Palestinian literary texts in translation and select movies students are introduced to an array of competing and complementing narratives that Israelis and Palestinians have relied on to understand themselves and their relationship to the other. Special attention is given to issues related to class, gender, ethnicity, religion and ideology. Ms. Weitzman.

220b. Texts and Traditions (1)

(Same as Religion 220) Topic for 2012/13b: The Historical Jesus. There may be no other figure in Western history who has consumed the minds, hearts and imaginations of so many as Jesus - fascinating believers and unbelievers alike. Christian communities have always differed greatly from each other in their theologies of Christ, but today historians attempt to side-step theology and discover the Jesus of first-century Palestine. Can history tell us what the historical Jesus was actually like? Was he an itinerant, charismatic teacher, a healer and a miracle-worker, or a social revolutionary? In this course, we will examine the techniques and claims of the modern "Quests for the Historical Jesus" and try to determine what can and can't be known about him, given the limits of the evidence that survives. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: Religion 127, 225, 227, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

221. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Hebrew and Religion 221) An examination of modern and postmodern Hebrew literature in English translation. The course focuses on Israeli voices of men, women, Jews, Arabs, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim to investigate such topics as memory, identity, alienation, community, exile. Authors may include Yizhar, Yehoshua, Oz, Grossman, Kanafani, Almog, Katzir, Liebrecht, Ravikovitch, Zelda, Zach, Amichai, Darwish and el-Kassim. Ms. Weitzman.

Not offered in 2012/13.

222a. Psychological Perspectives on the Holocaust (1)

(Same as Psychology 222) The Holocaust has spawned several now classic programs of psychological research. This course considers topics such as: anti-Semitism and stereotypes of Jews; the authoritarian and altruistic personalities; conformity, obedience, and dissent; humanistic and existential psychology; and individual differences in stress, coping and resiliency. The broader implications of Holocaust-inspired research is explored in terms of traditional debates within psychology such as those on the role of the individual versus the situation in producing behavior and the essence of human nature. The ethical and logical constraints involved in translating human experiences and historical events into measurable/quantifiable scientific terms are also considered. Ms. Zeifman.

Prerequisites: Psychology 105 or 106.

240a. The World of The Rabbis (1)

(Same as Religion 240)

Prerequisites: Jewish Studies 101, 201, Religion 150, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

276b. Diasporas (1)

(Same as Russian 276) As far back as antiquity, Jews have formed alliances, and sometimes rivalries, amongst themselves that have crossed boundaries of hegemonic powers: long-distance legal consultations and commercial relations, shared reading lists and life practices, and mass population movements through exile and immigration. This course maps correspondences, both literal and figurative, between Jews otherwise separated by political geography, and so enables a critical examination of the commonalities and differences that constitute the alternative understandings of Jewish "peoplehood" and Jewish "community."

281b. Diasporas (1)

(Same as International Studies and Political Science 281) Topic for 2012/13b:Borderline Jews. Latin American postcolonial theorist Walter Mignolo tells of delivering a lecture in Tunis on colonialism, only to encounter a fundamental misunderstanding. He thought he was talking about the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the Americas, but when his Tunisian colleagues heard the word “colonial,” they thought instead of nineteenth- and twentieth-century impositions and resistances in North Africa. Mignolo's remarks both did and didn't fit. But the step from misrecognition to lively discussion is the work of hermeneutics, which is the basis of this course, too. We take our point of departure from Mignolo's conception of “border gnosis” or “border thinking,” but we overhear his word “border” with a Jewish difference. Jews have sometimes created geo-political borders in Mignolo's sense, but more often have found themselves on both sides of any border (e.g., Europe and its boundaries) as internal Others within larger host communities, and also along fractures within Jewish communities themselves. This study in political theory proceeds toward an understanding of what we will call “borderline Jews” by attending carefully to stories told from, in relation to, and across those many and varied borders. Texts (all either written in English or in English translation) will include theoretical readings by Mignolo and Benjamin, autobiographical writings by Cixous and Derrida, traditional tales and diverse modern fiction. Mr. Bush, Mr. Davison.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

300a or b. Senior Thesis or Project (1)

Optional for students concentrating in the program. Must be elected for student to be considered for Honors in the program.

Permission required.

315. Jews, Jewish Identity, and the Arts (1)

This course examines the relationship of Jews with the arts from ancient times through the postmodern period.

Topic for 2012/13a: American Jewish Literature. An exploration of the American Jewish literary imagination from historical, topical, and theoretical perspectives. Texts may include works by Anzia Yezierska, Celia Dropkin, Henry Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Grace Paley, Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz, Adrienne Rich, Art Spiegelman, and Lara Vapnyar. Also included will be films, photographs, and music, and theoretical works by such critics as Walter Benjamin, Daniel Boyarin, and Maeera Schreiber. Topics may include: the development of immigrant modernism and postmodernism, the influence of Jewish interpretive traditions on contemporary literary theory, the (anti-)conventions of Jewish feminist and lesbian literature, the possibilities and limitations of a diaspora poetics, and contemporary representations of the Holocaust. Mr. Antelyes.

320a. Studies in Sacred Texts (1)

Not offered in 2012/13.

340b. Women in the Classical Jewish Tradition (1)

Not offered in 2012/13.

350b. Confronting Modernity (1)

Topic for 2012/13: Memoirs and Modernity: Middle Eastern Jewish Autobiographical Narratives in Context. This course explores the lived worlds of Jewish communities in the Middle East from the nineteenth century to the present through autobiographical narratives, supported by a number of other genres including oral and written histories, ethnographies, and material and visual sources. We study how individual and community identities have been formed and transformed in various locales in the modern period, examining contact with foreign travelers, educators and colonizers; the rise of nationalism; and the development of the mass media. The course concludes with memoirs and ethnographic studies of post-revolutionary Iran. Ms. Goldstein.

399a or b. Advanced Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Prerequisite for all 300-level courses unless otherwise specified: one unit at the 200-level or permission of the instructor.

Hebrew Language and Literature

I. Introductory

105a. Elementary Hebrew (1)

Introduction to the language. Basic phonics and grammatical structures. Stress on development of reading comprehension, simple composition, and conversational skills. For Hebrew 105, no background in the language is assumed; admission to Hebrew 106 is possible with the demonstration of previous work equivalent to Hebrew 105. Ms. Weitzman.

Yearlong course 105-106.

Open to all students.

106b. Elementary Hebrew (1)

Introduction to the language. Basic phonics and grammatical structures. Stress on development of reading comprehension, simple composition, and conversational skills. For Hebrew 105, no background in the language is assumed; admission to Hebrew 106 is possible with the demonstration of previous work equivalent to Hebrew 105. Ms. Weitzman.

Year-long course, 105-106.

Open to all students.

II. Intermediate

205a. Intermediate Hebrew I (1)

Formal study of Hebrew language with emphasis on oral practice and writing skills. Ms. Weitzman.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 105-106, or equivalent of two years in high school.

206b. Intermediate Hebrew II (1)

Formal study of Hebrew language with emphasis on oral practice and writing skills. Ms. Weitzman.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 205 or equivalent of three years in high school.

217. Film, Fiction and the Construction of Identity-- Israeli and Palestinian Voices (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies and Religion 217) This course explores the emergence and consolidation of collective identities in modern Israel and Palestine. Through a close examination of Israeli and Palestinian films and literary texts in translation students are introduced to an array of competing and complementing narratives that Israelis and Palestinians have relied on to understand themselves and their relationship to the other. Special attention is given to issues related to class, gender, ethnicity, religion and ideology. Ms. Weitzman.

221. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies and Religion 221) An examination of modern and postmodern Hebrew literature in English translation. The course focuses on Israeli voices of men, women, Jews, Arabs, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim to investigate such topics as memory, identity, alienation, community, exile. Authors may include Yizhar, Yehoshua, Oz, Grossman, Kanafani, Almog, Katzir, Liebrecht, Ravikovitch, Zelda, Zach, Amichai, Darwish and el-Kassim. Ms. Weitzman.

Not offered in 2012/13.

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

305a. Advanced Readings in Hebrew: Genres and Themes (1)

Expansion of language proficiency through intensified study of culture and literary texts and examination of different Israeli media. Readings are arranged according to thematic topics and course may be repeated for credit if topic changes. Ms. Weitzman.

399a. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Note: A self-instructional introductory course in Yiddish language exists. See Self-Instructional Language Program (SILP).

Approved Courses

American Culture 275 Ethnicity and Race in America (1)

Classics 103 Crosscurrents: History and Culture of the Ancient Mediterranean (1)

English 326 Challenging Ethnicity (1)

Hebrew 105-106 Elementary Hebrew (1)

Hebrew 205 Continuing Hebrew (1)

Hebrew 298 Independent Work in Hebrew (1)

Hebrew 305 Advanced Hebrew (1)

History 214 The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict (1)

History 231 France and its “Others” (1)

History 237 Germany, 1918-1990 (1)

History 337 The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany (1)

History 369 Social Reform and the Evolution of the Welfare State (1)

Religion 150 Jews, Christians, and Muslims (1)

Religion 266 Religion in America (1)