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Undergraduate Program





Course Offerings


Undergraduate Fall 2005 Courses

JS 100: Survey of Jewish History
JS 125: Introduction to Jewish Literature
JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Middle Eastern Love Poetry
JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Suffering, Healing and Redemption
JS 230: Yiddish Culture: From the Shtetl to the Lower East Side
JS 309: Modernization of Judaism
JS 324: History of the Holocaust
JS 360: History of Modern Israel
JS 370: The Five Books of Moses
JS 370S: Matza and Tortillas: Jewish Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World
JS 371SWR: The Crusades
JS 495: Honors Thesis
JS 497: Directed Reading in Jewish Studies
Hebrew and Yiddish


JS 100-000: Survey of Jewish History (same as HIST 270-000)
Goldstein, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 40 (30 JS, 10 HIST)

Course description: This introductory level course offers an overview of the history of Jews and Judaism. It is appropriate for both Jewish Studies majors as a starting point for further study and for non-specialists who wish a general overview of the field. The course will explore Jewish life from the Biblical period to the present, examining how the Jews have defined themselves socially and politically in a number of historical and geographical settings, how Jewish theology and religious practice have been shaped and transformed, and how Jews have interacted with and responded to the societies in which they have lived. In achieving these goals, special emphasis will be placed on the use of primary texts—original documents that will allow students to develop their skills at hands-on historical analysis. This course satisfies area V.B. of the General Education Requirements (Historical Perspectives on Western Culture).


  • Raymond Scheindlin, A Short History of the Jewish People
  • Eli Barnavi, ed., A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People
  • Jacob R. Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World
  • Jehuda Reinharz and Paul Mendes-Flohr, eds., The Jew in the Modern World
  • TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures (or any Bible)

Particulars: Class sessions will combine lecture and discussion and also include some “breakout sessions” that emphasize the close reading of primary sources. There will be two mid-term tests, a final exam, and regular homework assignments in which students are asked to respond to the readings in a paragraph or two.

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JS 125-000: Introduction to Jewish Literature (same as MES 125-000)
Goldman, TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 25 (20 MES, 5 JS)

Course description: This course is based on readings in major works of Jewish literature from Biblical narrative to Hebrew and Yiddish stories. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the breadth and depth of the Jewish literary traditions. After a grounding in Biblical history and narrative we will move to the Jewish experience in pre-modern Europe and the flowering of Yiddish and Hebrew literature. We will also investigate the relationship between literature and social issues, especially in the realm of family relations.


  • Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures
  • A Treasury of Yiddish Stories
  • The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse
  • Modern Hebrew Literature
  • Legends of the Bible
  • The Oxford Book of Hebrew Short Stories

Particulars: Two-page response due each Tuesday, 3 quizzes, one research paper.

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JS 190-00P: Freshman Seminar: Middle Eastern Love Poetry (same as MES 190-00P)
Yeglin, MW 3:00-4:15, MAX: 18 (9 MES, 9 JS)

Course description: The language of poetry transcends political and cultural differences. In this seminar we will read contemporary love poetry of both Israeli and Palestinian poets: “If raisins grew on you from head to toe/ I’d pluck them off one by one with my teeth” (Wollach), and “If you’ve never seen a Moroccan wedding-/from one end to the other of the village/Arab and Jew we’ll come” (Biton). The course aims to develop textual analysis and writing skills and will be discussion-based.


  • Introduction to Poetry, TBA
  • 50 Poems, TBA

Particulars: Attendance, class participation, 2 papers.

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JS 190-01P: Freshman Seminar: Suffering, Healing and Redemption: A Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary View (same as REL 190-00P)
Seeman, TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 18 (9 REL, 9 JS)

Course description: This Freshman Seminar explores the nature of suffering that underlies the human condition and the different responses to suffering or evil that religious and cultural traditions have tried to offer. We will start by comparing classical Greek, Jewish and Buddhist texts that outline radically different approaches to a problem they all recognize, and then move on to consider literature from the Holocaust, ethnographic accounts of illness, suffering and healing in different cultures, and first hand accounts of contemporary man-made and natural disasters, like the genocide in Rwanda, or the AIDS pandemic. How do human beings find healing or transcendence in the face of implacable fate, and how does our response to suffering stand at the very heart of different choices in contemporary politics, morality and religion? Should suffering be described as sickness or as evil, especially when it is man-made? We will be asking these and other “big questions” while also gaining familiarity with different research disciplines as well as different religious and cultural traditions. Students are requested to bring minds and hearts.

Texts: TBA

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JS 230-000: Yiddish Culture: From the Shtetl to the Lower East Side (same as GER 230-000)
Miller, TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX 25 (20 JS, 5 GER)

Course description: This course will offer a broad introduction to the subject of Yiddish culture. Utilizing both primary and secondary sources, we will examine the scope and depth of this subject from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will examine texts from a host of fields including sociology, anthropology, literature, history, folklore, theater and film. Yiddish has a rich and diverse history, dating back to its inception in the eleventh century. We will analyze the development of this culture and trace its path from its origins in Europe to its various manifestations in countries where Eastern European immigrants settled. All course materials are in English. No knowledge of Yiddish is required.

Texts: TBA

Particulars: Students are expected to attend class on a regular basis. There will be two five-page papers (50%) and a final essay (50%).

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JS 309-000: Modernization of Judaism (same as REL 309-000)
Chervin, MW 2:30-3:45, MAX: 20 (15 REL, 5 JS)

Course description: The course will focus on the modernization of Judaism, i.e. the changes in Jewish religious identity and thinking which were caused by Jews' entrance into modern Western society. The aim is to enable students to understand the differences among the four major denominations of contemporary Judaism - Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionism. We will examine what these movements are and how they came about, and then use this knowledge to interpret current events. Because America constitutes the largest Jewish population in the world (larger than the State of Israel), and the fact that Jewish religious diversity is primarily an American phenomenon, our readings and discussions in the second half of the course will focus on the American scene. We will also have guest speakers representing each of the four denominations.


  • Arthur Hertzberg, The Zionist Idea
  • P. Mendes-Flohr and J. Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World
  • Michael Meyer, The Origins of the Modern Jew
  • Marshall Sklare, American Jews: A Reader
  • Jack Wertheimer, A People Divided

Particulars: 1. Active class attendance and participation; 2. Short written exercises; 3. Site visits to two houses of worship and two-page reports for each; 4. Midterm Exam and Final Exam.

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JS 324-000: History of the Holocaust (same as REL 324-000, HIST 385-000)
Lipstadt, TTh 11:30-12:45, MAX: 90 (40 JS, 40 REL, 10 HIST)

Course description: This course will examine the history of the annihilation of European Jewry by the Nazis. We will trace the roots of European antisemitism; the rise of Nazism and Hitler’s seizure of power; the evolution of Nazi policy toward the Jews; the Nazi policy towards the disabled, mentally handicapped, and carriers of genetic diseases; Germany policy towards the Roma and Sinti; the response of the German Jewish community to the policy of persecution; the reaction of the nations of the world to Nazi antisemitism; resistance by Jews to persecution; the experience of those in the concentration and death camps; and the attempts—however feeble—to rescue Jews.


  • Dwork and van Pelt, Holocaust: A History
  • Wiesel, Night
  • Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Volumes I and II)
  • Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
  • Mahoney, In Pursuit of Justice
  • Niewyk, The Holocaust


  • Triumph of the Will
  • Healing by Killing
  • Designers of Death
  • America and the Holocaust
  • Partisans of Vilna
  • Weapons of the Spirit

Particulars: There will be two in-class exams and a final. Students will write three short reaction papers. Class participation will be taken into account in determining the final grade. You are expected to come to class fully prepared to participate in class discussion which will be based on the assigned readings.

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JS 360-000: History of Modern Israel (same as HIST 370-000)
Tal, MWF 11:45-12:35, MAX 40 (20 HIST, 20 JS)

Course description: This survey will discuss thematically issues pertaining to the history of Israel from 1948: David Ben Gurion, the father of the nation; security problems and the Arab-Israeli conflict; Israel political system from Labor dominancy to the Likud Governments; the ethnic tensions (Sephardim and Ashkenazim); the transition from socialist to free market economy; the ghosts of the Holocaust; the limits of the nation-state: Israel and its Arab citizens and Israel and the Religious and non-Religious identity; Israel and the Palestinian problem; Israel in the aftermath of the 1967 war.


  • Asher Arian, The Second Republic: Politics in Israel
  • Martin Gilbert, Israel: A History
  • Dan Horowitz and Moshe Lissak, Trouble in Utopia: the Overburdened Polity of Israel
  • Ian Lustick, Arabs in the Jewish State
  • Avishai Margalit, Views in Review: Politics and Culture in the State of the Jews
  • Aviezer Ravitzky, Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism, trans. By Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman
  • Ehud Sprinzak, The Ascendance of Israel's Radical Right

Particulars: None

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JS 370-001: The Five Books of Moses (same as REL 210-001)
Gilders, M 2-3:40 and W 2-2:50, MAX 20 (10 REL, 10 JS)

Course description: Torah (“Teaching”); Pentateuch (“Five Scrolls”); Five Books of Moses. These are three of the designations for the collection of five books that stands at the beginning of the Bible. These five books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—are foundational and central scriptures in both Judaism and Christianity. This course will provide a focused introduction to the collection and will emphasize skills, techniques and habits of careful reading and interpretation of classic religious texts. It will include attention to historical questions about when and how the books came to be written, how their earliest readers in ancient Israel may have understood them, and how Jews and Christians, in a variety of times and places, have interpreted them as scripture. Special consideration will also be given to the ways in which interpretation has been expressed in the visual arts, literature, and film. Prior study of the Bible is not a requirement for taking this course, and no particular religious
commitments or beliefs about the Bible are assumed or required. What is required is openness to exploring new and different ideas, and a willingness to engage in disciplined reading of the biblical documents.


  • The Jewish Study Bible (Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation) (Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Richard Elliot Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (HarperCollins, 1997)

Particulars: Students will submit three short papers (approx. 1500 words each) and will also prepare a variety of study exercises in the course LearnLink conference. Attendance, careful preparation, and active participation in class discussions (including on-line discussions in the course LearnLink conference) will constitute a significant portion of the course grade. This course fulfills General Education Requirement
IV.A (Humanities).

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JS 370S-001: Matza and Tortillas: Jewish Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World (same as SPAN 412S-000)
Gold, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX 15 (12 SPAN, 3 JS)

Course description: This course will introduce students to the cultural contributions of Spanish and Latin American Jewry, focusing on both early and modern Spain and contemporary Latin America, with particular attention to Jewish participation in the national life of Argentina, Mexico, and Cuba. Beginning with medieval Spain and moving to the present, we will contrast the self-representations of Hispano-Jewish writers with their depiction by non-Jewish authors as a means of understanding how diasporic Jewish subjects in the Hispanic world have historically framed their identity while negotiating the pressures of exile and immigration, antisemitism, and political violence. By looking at examples as diverse as Spain's marranos and the Jewish gauchos of Argentina, the course will focus on the conflicts of Jews who frequently have defined themselves as "living on the hyphen," that is to say, torn between the process of assimilation and the preservation of differences. Readings—both historical and creative—will highlight the role of memory in the construction of symbolic representations by Hispano/Latino-Jewish authors that offer possibilities for cultural resistance and survival. 

Texts: Readings will be interdisciplinary and will be drawn from a wide variety of discourses: narrative fiction, poetry, essays, drama, autobiographical memoirs, film, cookbooks, historical documents (for
instance, trials of the Inquisition), legal codes, newspaper accounts, and musical recordings. Representative authors/texts may include:

  • Riera, En el último azul
  • Gerchunoff, Los gauchos judíos
  • Shúa, El libro de las memorias
  • Rozenbacher, Réquiem para una noche del sábado
  • Glantz, Las genealogías
  • Behar, The Vulnerable Observer
  • Obejas, Days of Awe  

Additional primary and critical readings available on e-reserves. Film screenings will include Novia que te vea; Un beso a esta tierra; O Judeo; Havana Nagila, among others.

Evaluation: The final grade will be based on active class participation; short written assignments; research paper; 2 partial exams.

Particulars: Prior knowledge of Jewish religious life and customs is not required; necessary background information will be imparted throughout the course.  Most readings will be in Spanish, with occasional readings in English and Ladino (the Judeo-Spanish language used in the Sephardic diaspora). 

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JS 371SWR-000: The Crusades (same as HIST 489SWR-001)
Rustow, T 4:30-6:30, MAX 12 (9 HIST, 3 JS)

Course description: The twelfth and thirteenth centuries saw a shift in power from the southern and eastern sides of the Mediterranean northward to Europe. One important arena in which this drama unfolded was the Holy Land. The Levant, sandwiched between Fatimid caliphs, Selcuk sultans, and Byzantine emperors, suddenly became the possession of Norman crusaders, and with that the first major confrontation between European Christian and Near Eastern Islamic cultures was set in motion. This course will study medieval chronicles of the Crusades in English translation from Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek to answer the following questions: When and how did the Holy Land become important to European Christians? How did Muslims, Christians, and Jews respond to each other’s renewed religious fervor? How did medieval historians represent the Crusades for later generations? Particular emphasis will be placed on the Arab and Turkish responses to the Crusades.

Texts: Primary sources include twelfth-century Latin chronicles; memoirs of the twelfth-century Syrian noble Usama ibn Munqidh; the Hebrew chronicles of Solomon bar Samson and Eliezer bar Nathan; and others. Secondary readings include landmark studies by Runciman, Tyerman, and Hillenbrand, and a documentary by Terry Jones. The class will conclude with Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino .

Particulars: Attendance, reading, and active participation in discussion; one short in-class presentation; map quizzes; final paper. This course fulfills General Education Requirement IC (Advanced Seminar). Upon successful completion of the course with a grade of C or better, this course will fulfill the GER post-freshman writing requirement.

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JS 495RWR-00P: Honors Thesis
, Time TBA

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JS 497R-00P: Directed Reading in Jewish Studies
Faculty, Time TBA

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Hebrew and Yiddish

The following courses are not cross-listed with Jewish Studies, but can count toward the major in Jewish Studies:

Hebrew: HEBR 101, 201, 301 (See Middle Eastern Studies course atlas)

Yiddish: YDD 101: Elementary Yiddish I (See German Studies course atlas)


Undergraduates may also take graduate courses.

For information on the Jewish Studies Major & Minor, go to: Undergraduate Programs in JS


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Last updated: August 21, 2008



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