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

101b. Rewriting the Sacred Authority: Community and History in the Ancient Mediterranean (1)

In this class we explore questions of identity, authority and law in the early history of the Jewish tradition. We will be particularly concerned with the intersection of power, knowledge and writing. What, for example, were the historical ramifications of the writing down of oral traditions, especially in an age when few could read? Why and when did elites assign divine authorship to older narratives? How did the canonization of certain texts change the idea of what it meant to be Jewish, or Christian, or Greek? To answer these questions we will read selections from the Torah, the Mishnah, and the Talmud, and will also take a comparative look at Greek texts by authors such as Homer, Hesiod, and Plato, that engage with similar questions. Among the specific issues we will discuss in the Greek context are the writing down of the Homeric poems in the 8th c. BCE and the transition from orality to literacy in the 5th c. In addition to primary sources in English translations, readings will include recent theoretical works that explore orality, literacy, and canonization. Ms. Friedman and Mr. Schreier.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

110b. International Study Travel (1)

Normally the study trip takes place in the spring semester break. Enrollment for the trip is made early in the first semester. The course, which is taught in conjunction with the study trip, provides a systematic multidisciplinary introduction to the social cultural, religious, historical, geographic, political and economic aspects of the place of travel. The precise disciplinary foci of the trip varies depending on the faculty leading the trip and teaching the course. Language instruction is required when appropriate.The department.

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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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

(Same as Religion 150) 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.

180a. God (1)

(Same as Religion 180) Whether we are furious with it, love it, or think it does not exist, the figure that western civilization calls ‘God’ is one of our most powerful root metaphors, an intellectual category that requires interrogation and understanding. As a literary figure, God has a personality, a biography, and a history; and like all of us, a great deal to say about how he has been understood and misunderstood. Through analysis of primary materials - biblical, Ugaritic, Canaanite, and Mesopotamian, we will explore the origin and development of this complicated figure in Biblical literature. Ms. LiDonnici.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar. 

Two 75-minute periods.

II. Intermediate

201. 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. Prerequisites: Jewish Studies 101 or by permission. Mr. Bush.

Prerequisites: Jewish Studies 101 or by permission.

Not offered in 2013/14.

205. Topics in Social Psychology (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

214a and b. 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)

Not offered in 2013/14.

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 2013/14.

222. 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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

240. 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 2013/14.

276. 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."

Not offered in 2013/14.

280b. Queering Judaism: Contemporary Issues (1)

(Same as Religion 280) Jews in postmodernity encounter myriad challenges to traditional religious structures in the areas of sex and gender, family life, social life and political power—to name just a few. We will explore how these challenges were dealt with by a variety of strata of contemporary Jewish society in Europe, Israel and America, charting the various negotiations between religious observance and openness to changing social values among a variety of Jewish groups. Ms. Veto.

Two 75-minute periods.

282b. American Jewish Literature (1)

(Same as English 282) This course is an exploration of the American Jewish literary imagination from historical, topical, and theoretical perspectives. Among the genres we will cover are novels (Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers), plays (Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance), poems and stories (by Celia Dropkin, Isaac Baschevis Singer, Grace Paley, Irena Klepfisz, and Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz, among others), graphic novels (Art Spiegelman’s Maus), comics (Superman and Batman), films (Woody Allen’s Zelig), artists’ books (Tatana Kellner’s Fifty Years of Silence), and theory (essays by Walter Benjamin, for example). Topics include the development of Jewish modernism and postmodernism, the influence of Jewish interpretive traditions on contemporary literary theory, the (anti)conventions of queer Jewish literatures and the intersections of Jewishness and queerness, the possibilities and limitations of a diaspora poetics, and contemporary representations of the Holocaust. Mr. Antelyes.

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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

320a. Studies in Sacred Texts (1)

Examination of selected themes and texts in sacred literature. May be taken more than once when content changes.

Topic for 2013/14a: Satan. (Same as Religion 320) As the personification of our greatest fears, Satan can appear as the ultimate alien monster or as our kindly old neighbor. Satan is a multifaceted symbol, a counter-cultural figure that may represent rebellion against hegemonic power, our feelings about that rebellion, or even sometimes about power itself. But he also has a role in the law, a dimension with devastating consequences for individuals at many periods in history. In the seminar, we will trace the development of the figure of Satan in Western culture through biblical, early Jewish, early Christian, early modern and contemporary sources. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisites: one 200-level course in Religion or Jewish Studies, or permission of the instructor.

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

Not offered in 2013/14.

350a. Confronting Modernity (1)

Topic for 2013/14a: Intersections in American Jewish Thought: Politics, Religion, Culture. (Same as American Studies 350) The course begins with three thinkers from the generations of Jewish immigrants to America. The speeches and writings of anarchist Emma Goldman, including her contributions to the journal Mother Earth, which she founded in 1906, chart the left turn from the Eastern European shtetl to internationalist politics, and eventually, to feminist issues. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan articulates a sociological perspective in propounding a program for Jewish community organization and the reconstruction of ritual observance as a response to the specific conditions of Jewish life in early twentieth-century America. And Rabbi Abraham Heschel, arriving in the US at the outset of World War II, presents what he called a philosophy of Judaism, but what we might now call a renewed spirituality. From that base in distinct experiences, projects and perspectives, and their associated disciplines, the course focuses on an intersection between politics, religion and culture in later twentieth-century Jewish feminism, in such writings as Rabbi Rachel Adler’s work on feminist theology, the activist poetry of Muriel Rukeyser and the art installations of Judy Chicago. Thereafter, recent developments will be considered, such as the Jewish Renewal movement, the Second Diasporist Manifesto of painter R. B. Kitaj, the philosophy of Judith Butler, and the diverse social, political and cultural programs enunciated in contemporary periodicals like Lilith("independent, Jewish and frankly feminist") and Tikkun ("to heal, repair and transform the world") as well as the battles of liberals and new-cons in ongoing, older magazines like Commentary and Dissent. Mr. Bush.

Two 75-minute periods.

366a. Memoirs, Modernities, and Revolutions (1)

(Same as Anthropology 366) Autobiographical narratives of growing up have been a popular way for Jewish and non-Jewish writers of Middle Eastern origin to address central questions of identity and change. How do young adults frame and question their attachments to their families and to their countries of birth? For the authors and subjects of the memoirs, ethnographies and films we consider in this class, growing up and momentous historical events coincide, just as they did for young people during the recent revolutions in the Middle East. In this seminar, the autobiographical narratives-- contextualized with historical, political, and visual material--allow us to see recent events through the eyes of people in their twenties. A major focus of the course will be post-revolutionary Iran (readings include Hakkakian, Journey from the Land of No; Khosravi, Young and Defiant in Tehran, Sofer, The Septembers of Shiraz, and Varzi, Warring Souls). Ms. Goldstein.

Prerequisite: previous coursework in Anthropology or Jewish Studies.

One 2-hour seminar.

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.

206. 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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

217b. 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 2013/14.

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).

Not offered in 2013/14.

Approved Courses

American Studies 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)