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Course Offerings


Graduate Fall 2003 Courses


JS 530: Hebrew Bible: The Book of Exodus and Jewish Interpretation
JS 541R: Jewish Mystical Tradition: The Zohar
JS 560: Approaches to Jewish History
JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation


JS 530-000: Hebrew Bible: The Book of Exodus and Jewish Interpretation
Gilders, T 2:30-5:30, MAX: 15

Course Description: In this course we will read the book of Exodus in Hebrew along with examples of classical, pre-modern Jewish interpretation (midrash and medieval commentaries) and some modern exegetical literature. Our approach to Exodus will be historical in focus, giving attention both to the ancient Israelite context in which the book was composed and first read and to its on-going life as a Jewish sacred text .

Texts: All class participants will need a copy of the Hebrew text of Exodus, a biblical Hebrew lexicon (Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon is recommended), and Marcus Jastrow’s Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature

Particulars: Reading knowledge of Hebrew is a prerequisite. Students will be expected to read and translate the Hebrew text of Exodus in class, as well as some selections from works of classical Jewish interpretation (Mekhilta and Rashi). Students will also prepare works of secondary scholarship and will be expected to participate actively in classroom discussions.

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JS 541R-000: Jewish Mystical Tradition: The Zohar
Blumenthal, MW, 3:00-4:15, MAX: 6

Course Description: The Zohar is the most secret and most central of Jewish mystical texts. Traditionally, one may not study it until one is 40 years of age and married. Nonetheless, we shall attempt to probe its depths, devoting an entire semester to this mysterious text. We will cover such topics as: God, the sefirot, the Shekhina, evil, humanity, sin, death, mystical conjugal life, mystical prayer, and repairing the universe.


  • The Wisdom of the Zohar , ed. I Tishby (Littman Library)
  • Mystic Tales from the Zohar, A. Wineman
  • Bible, any translation
  • reading questions (handed out in class)


  • G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
  • D. Blumenthal, Understanding Jewish Mysticism
  • M. Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives
  • D. Matt, Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment

Particulars: We will read this central text closely and consider the nature of religious and mystical beliefs. Students should also consult the books on reserve during the course of the semester, as well as those parts of Tishby that we will not cover in class. Additional material on how to review and how to prepare will be distributed. Class participation is expected. One final paper.

Graduate students: Graduate students will be responsible for Tishby’s Introduction and for any assignments not covered in class for lack of time. Graduate students should do the preparatory readings not assigned to the class in each section. A Hebrew tutorial may be available for qualified students. Graduate students are expected to write a full-length paper which will clearly and fully exegete a zoharic passage. The paper should be publishable. An additional paper on a theme in the Zohar or a creative interpretive piece is advised.

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JS 560-000: Approaches to Jewish History (Same as HIST 585-005)
Goldstein, Th 2:00-5:00, MAX: 10 (5 JS, 5 HIST)

Course Description: This course will explore how traditional understandings of Jewish history in the ancient and medieval periods were transformed with the rise of modern Jewish historiography beginning in the early nineteenth century. Examining some of the classics of Jewish historical writing as well as some innovative new voices, we will explore how Jewish historiography of the last two hundred years has been shaped both by the demands of the secular academy and by the challenges and concerns of modern Jewish life: the quest for Jewish emancipation, the rise of Jewish nationalist consciousness, and the search for a home in the diaspora. We will end with a survey of trends in recent scholarship, focusing particularly on the impact of feminism, postmodernism and postzionism .

Texts: Possible texts include:

  • Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory;
  • Michael A. Meyer, The Ideas of Jewish History;
  • Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism;
  • Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto;
  • Deborah Dash Moore, At Home in America;
  • Karla Goldman, Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism;
  • Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man;
  • Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949

Particulars: The course will require substantial reading (both assigned and individual), participation in weekly discussion, two short oral presentations and two writing assignments, one a 5-7 page review of a set of readings and the second a 10-15 paper which locates a set of readings within their historiographical context.

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JS 597R-000/001: Directed Study
Faculty, Time: TBA

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JS 598R-000: Thesis/Exam Preparation
Faculty, Time: TBA

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View undergraduate offerings

For information on the M.A. in JEWISH STUDIES, go to: Graduate Programs in Jewish Studies

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Last updated: August 21, 2008



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