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Undergraduate Program




Course Offerings


Undergraduate Fall 2007 Courses


JS 100: Survey of Jewish History (same as HIST 270)
Rustow, TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 40 (20 JS, 20 HIST)

Course description: This course offers an overview of the history of the Jews and Judaism from antiquity to the present, tracing how that history unfolded in varying cultural and geograhical settings. On the basis of primary sources and the interpretations of modern scholars, we will ask how the Jews have responded to the social and political circumstances in which they lived and how they imagined, constructed and renegotiated the boundaries of identity and community. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of original documents in translation, hands-on historical analysis, and the types of questions historians ask of source material.

Required texts:

  • Raymond Scheindlin, A Short History of the Jewish People
  • Eli Barnavi, ed., A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People
  • Yosef Yerushalmi, Zakhor:Jewish History and Jewish Memory
  • TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures (Jewish Publication Society)

Recommended texts:

  • David Biale, ed., Cultures of the Jews: A New History

Particulars: Three exams (two mid-term and one final) and five 2-3 page writing assignments. This course is appropriate for anyone who wishes to pursue further courses in History and Jewish Studies, and for anyone seeking an overview of the subject.

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JS 125: Introduction to Jewish Literature (same as MESAS 125)
Yeglin, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 25 (15 MES, 10 JS)

Course description: This course is based on reading in major works of Jewish literature from Biblical narrative to Hebrew stories and poetry. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the breadth and depth of the Jewish historiographic and literary traditions. After a grounding in Biblical history we will move to the Jewish experience in pre-modern Europe and to the flowering of Yiddish and Hebrew literature.


  • Jewish Study Bible
  • Modern Hebrew Literature
  • The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself

Particulars: Students are required to attend all of the class sessions. Each class will consist of both lecture and discussion. Students will submit in hard copy form a weekly reading response (2 pages). Grading: Responses (50%), final exam (40%), class participation (10%).

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JS 169: The Arab-Israeli Conflict (same as HIST 169, POLS 169)
Stein, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 275 (90 HIST, 45 JS, 140 POLS)

Course description: This is an introductory survey to the history, politics, and diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The first half of the course will deal with the historical, ideological, and social origins of the conflict to 1918-49. Understanding the origins of Zionism, great power imperial interests, Arab responses, local, regional, and international politics are central topics of discussion. The second half of the course focuses on political, social, economic, and diplomatic aspects of the conflict, including, the development of Palestinian national identity, Middle Eastern wars, the Israeli quest for normalization, and the various diplomatic efforts, especially those of the United States, aimed at resolving the conflict. Reading, analyzing, and discussing key documents related to the conflict's 100-year history are central features of the course.


  • Bickerton, Ian, and Klausner, A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Quandt, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967
  • Segev, One Palestine, Complete Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate
  • Stein, Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace
  • Stein and Lewis, Making Peace Among Arabs and Israelis: Lessons from Fifty Years of Negotiating Experience
  • A documents book must be purchased. It will be distributed by the professor at the beginning of the semester.

Particulars: Grading: midterm (30%), discussion (20%), and final (50%).

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JS 205: Biblical Literature (same as REL 205)
Siedlecki, TTH 10:00-11:15, MAX: 30 (JS 15, REL 15)

Course description: This course will introduce the student to the study of the Hebrew Bible, also called the Old Testament by Christians. We will study the historical background and social context of these writings as well as their literary forms, structures and themes. Theological questions emerging from the biblical text will also be addressed and discussed. Prior study of the Bible is not required 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 texts.


  • The Jewish Study Bible (Jewish Publication Society Tanakh translation) (Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Marc Zvi Brettler, How to Read the Bible (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2005)

Particulars: There will be three short (five pages) papers, one midterm and a final examination. This course fulfills General Education Requirement IV.A. (Humanities).

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JS 210R: Classic Religious Texts: Prophetic Literature (same as REL 210R)
Lambert, TTH 2:30-3:45, MAX: 20 (JS 5, REL 15)

Course description: This course aims to introduce students to the corpus of prophetic literature that emerged from ancient Israel. Over the course of the term, we will read in their entirety the most prominent of the prophetic works: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos. Some attention will also be paid to Mosaic and pre-classical prophecy, accounts of which are found in the Pentateuch and historical writings of the Hebrew Bible.

Discussion will be organized around the question of whether the moral amendment of the people was indeed the fundamental aim of ancient Israelite prophecy, as many modern interpreters tacitly assume. Other possible motivations will be explored to broaden our conception of the prophet’s role. Also to be considered is the related question of how prophets understood and conceived of their communication with the divine. What sort of experience did they believe themselves to have undergone? Methodological questions surrounding the attempt of modern students of religion to reconstruct ancient religious experience will be addressed.


  • The Jewish Study Bible (eds. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler) ( Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Heschel, Abraham J. The Prophets (HarperCollins, 2001)
  • Petersen, David L. The Prophetic Literature: An Introduction ( Westminster John Knox Press, 2002)

Other readings:

  • Barton, John. Oracles of God: Perceptions of Ancient Prophecy in Israel after the Exile (Darton, Longman and Todd, 1986)
  • Blenkinsopp, Joseph. A History of Prophecy in Israel (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996)
  • Prophecy in its Ancient Near Eastern Context: Mesopotamian, Biblical, and Arabian Perspectives (ed. Martti Nissinen) (Society of Biblicial Literature, 2000)
  • Simon, Uriel. Reading Prophetic Narratives (Indiana University Press, 1997)

Particulars: There will be two short papers (5-7 pages), a few short writing assignments (1-2 pages), and an in-class presentation. Attendance, careful preparation, and active participation in class discussions will constitute a significant portion of the course grade.

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JS 210R: Classic Religious Texts: The Works of Maimonides (same as REL 210R)
Chervin, MW 2:30-3:45, MAX: 20 (JS 5, REL 15)

Course description: Theologian, philosopher, legal codifier, physician, and community leader, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) asked the question: Is traditional Judaism consistent with the dictates of reason and philosophy? His answer: Yes, and I can prove it! In this course, we will explore Maimonides' (also known as Rambam) answer, by studying selections from his vast corpus of writings, including his monumental code of Jewish law, The Mishneh Torah, his philosophical masterpiece, The Guide of the Perplexed, his Commentary on the Mishnah, and his various letters. Maimonides' quest to reconcile the God of the Bible with the God of the philosophers is one of history's greatest intellectual and spiritual achievements .


  • Twersky, Isadore, A Maimonides Reader
  • Seeskin, Kenneth, Maimonides: A Guide for Today's Perplexed
  • Highly recommended, Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, JPS)

Other Readings:

  • Holtz, Barry, Back to the Sources
  • Seltzer, Robert, Jewish People, Jewish Thought
  • Maimonides (translated by Shlomo Pines), The Guide of the Perplexed
  • Davidson, Herbert, Moses Maimonides: The Man and his Works
  • Seeskin, Kenneth, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides
  • Husik, Isaac, A History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy

Particulars: Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions (20%), a short paper (10%), two midterm exams (30%), a final paper and presentation (20%), and final exam (20%).

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JS 250: Archaeology and the Bible (same as MESAS 250, REL 260)
Borowski, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 18 (JS 4, REL 4, MESAS 10)

Course description: An introduction to the field of Biblical Archaeology with careful examination of theory and methodology. The famous discoveries (inscriptions,architecture) and important sites (Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer, Dan) which form the historical background to some of the biblical stories will be examined as well as issues and topics such as the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), Exodus (Moses,) and settlement of Canaan (Joshua), the kings of Israel and Judah, and more. Other topics that will be studied include daily life, religion and ancient art. There will be a few early evening video screenings on related topics.


  • Rast, Walter E., Through the Ages in Palestinian Archaeology (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992)
  • May, H.G., Oxford Bible Atlas (New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 3rd edition)
  • The Bible (recommended Oxford Study Bible)
  • Course packet

Particulars: Weekly reports (35%), 2 papers (25% + 15%), oral reports (25%). Open only to freshmen.

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JS 309: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times (same as REL 309)
Seeman, TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 60 (JS 30, REL 30)

Course description: How have Jewish communities faced the challenges posed by modernity? This class uses literary, historical, philosophical and sociological material to explore this question. What is the origin of the split between different Jewish religious movements (i.e., Orthodoxy and Reform)? What is the relationship between Zionism, good citizenship in America or in Europe and traditional Jewish religion? What are the special challenges facing Israeli Jewry? How has Jewish thought been influenced by the Holocaust? By feminism? This class focuses on Jewish religious and intellectual life, but always tries to relate those to the larger existential dilemmas that Jewish people have faced in modern times.

Texts: TBA

Particulars: Students are expected to attend class each week prepared to discuss that week's readings, and will be evaluated on the basis of attendance and participation (20%). There will be an in-class mid-term exam (30%) and a final essay (50%) in which students write a critical essay analyzing one topic on the basis of class readings and discussions plus related newspaper articles. There will be a mandatory film and discussion night, approximately four times during the semester. May be taken for graduate credit in consultation with the professor.

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JS 354SWR: The Ethics of Judaism (same as REL 354SWR)
Berger, MWF 10:40-11:30, MAX: 18 (JS 12, REL 6)

Course description: As a discipline, ethics is the way one analyzes a situation and reaches a conclusion as to what one should do. As such, ethics must be done from within a particular tradition, maintaining certain assumptions and following unique patterns of thought. This course is meant to introduce the student to what ethical discourse is like in the Jewish tradition: what sources are used, how arguments are constructed, and how one weighs competing arguments. Through the analysis done largely in class, students will learn the skills involved in doing Jewish ethics, and actively participate in the process. Topics to be discussed are social ethics, such as lying and self-sacrifice, and sexual ethics, such as pre-marital sex and homosexuality. A final paper on medical ethics is the student's own attempt at writing Jewish responsum.

Texts: Sourcebooks of primary texts (in translation).

Particulars: Two in-class exams, final paper on a topic approved by the instructor. One special project done in groups. Active participation in class is crucial, and is part of the grade.

JS 371: The Near East: 1914 to Present (same as HIST 369, MESAS 370)
Ayalon, MWF 11:45-12:35, MAX: 30 (JS 10, HIST 10, MESAS 10)

Course description: This course aims to explore the historic foundations and current attributes of Middle Eastern society, politics and culture. We will examine the historic roots from the late Ottoman period to World War II, then move on to analyze major themes in the region's contemporary realities. Topics will include social and demographic trends, state-formation, nationalism, liberalism and democracy, Islamic radicalism and revolt, domestic and inter-Arab relations, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and relations between the states of the region and the rest of the world.


  • Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East
  • Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age
  • Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East
  • Kepel, Jihad: The Trial of Political Islam
  • Bickerton and Klausner, A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Particulars: Students will be required to write a short, 8-page paper on a topic of their choice, based on limited-scale research. There will also be a final exam. Grading: paper (40%), final exam (60%).

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JS 371: Israeli Politics: Institutions and Society (same as POLS 385, HIST 385)
Schultziner, Time: MWF 10:40-11:30, MAX: 50 (JS 10, POLS 20, HIST 20)

Course description: This course explores the Israeli political system, its institutional characteristics and components, and its main political dilemmas. The course aims to provide knowledge about Israeli political history and society. Topics included will be the origins and the development of the political system, electoral histories, and government formation. Attention is given to the dynamics between institutional arrangements and social cleavages in Israel and their interrelated effects. The course also discusses some of the main socio-political issues and tensions resulting from the dual definition of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, religion and politics, and the effects of armed conflicts on politics and society. The course requires no previous knowledge about Israel.


  • Dowty, The Jewish State: A Century Later
  • Garfinkle, Politics and Society in Modern Israel
  • Mahler, Politics and Government in Israel: The Maturation of a Modern State
  • Peretz and Doron, The Government and Politics of Israel

Particulars: Students will write a mid-term paper and give a brief presentation (30%) and write a final examination (60%). Class participation will count 10% of the grade.

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JS 371WR: Ancient Israel's Neighbors (same as MESAS 453WR)
Borowski, TTh 1:00-2:15 p.m., MAX: 18 (JS 6, MESAS 12)

Course description: The subject of this course is the neighbors of ancient Israel. Biblical Israel was located centrally in the Levant and was surrounded by related and unrelated peoples such as the Philistines, Phoenicians, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Arameans, and many others. These people were in close contact with ancient Israel and influenced her history, culture, economy, etc. We will study the cultures and histories of these peoples as they appear in biblical and extra-biblical texts, and as they are reflected in the archaeological remains uncovered in recent excavations.


  • TBA

Particulars: Participants will work on assembling a comprehensive bibliography of the topic. Students will investigate and present oral reports on Israel's neighbors. Each student will write a major research paper and a short book review. Regular attendance and active class participation are required.

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JS 375WR: Topics in Jewish Literature: Walnuts, Almonds, Peaches and Pomegranates: Tragedies of the Talmud (same as ENG 379RWR)
Skibell, M 2:00-5:00, MAX: 15 (JS 5, ENG 10)

Course description: The textual foundation of Rabbinic Judaism, the Talmud, is filled with amazing, wonderful, and wild stories. Little known, and underappreciated, these legends, tall tales, and eye-opening spiritual dramas are often as complex and meaningful as the Greek tragedies. In this new class, we will learn and examine the aggaditah, or the narratives of the Talmud, in English translation, reading and confronting them in open, round-table discussions, examining the Biblical tradition upon which they draw and against which they assert themselves, and creating narratives of our own. Students will participate in and eventually lead interpretative discussions and will conclude with a creative project involving the stories in one or more media: for instance, film, drama, painting, drawings, photography, music, poetry or fiction. No prior knowledge or experience with the Talmud is necessary.


  • The Hebrew/English Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society)
  • Robert A. Johnson, Inner Work: Using Dreams and Creative Imagination for Personal Growth and Integration

Particulars: Students must also fill out a course application. The course application will be available from the Creative Writing department office in N209 Callaway and from the departmental website at Prerequisites include any 200-level creative writing workshop. Juniors and seniors who are not Creative Writing majors may take this class with no prerequisite. Students should budget for photocopying. Students are required to attend on-campus readings and colloquia sponsored by the Creative Writing Program outside of class time.

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JS 420R: Readings in Judeo-Arabic Texts (same as MESAS 420R)
Margariti, T 4:00-7:00, MAX: 10 (5 JS, 5 MESAS)

Course description: This course is designed to introduce students to Judeo-Arabic, the language spoken and written by the vast majority of the world's Jews in Arab lands, through the study of Judeo-Arabic texts from various periods and places. These texts are a rare window on the history of Arabic and its spoken dialects, since they preserve distinctive linguistic features of usage not found in classical Arabic texts. They are also a major source for the history of the Jews from the Middle Ages to the modern period, and cast light into hitherto shadowy corners of the social history of the Middle East - its minorities and majorities alike.

Texts: Students will read the texts in the original language, from the original manuscripts (reproduced digitally or on microfilm). Students will also read short selections of secondary works on Judeo-Arabic literature, and the history of paper, letter-writing, and the mail system.

Particulars: Requirements include weekly preparation of texts and one research paper consisting of scholarly edition of an unpublished Judeo-Arabic text. This course is recommended for anyone with a strong interest in Arabic and the history of the Middle East. May be repeated for credit as the texts will change. Prerequisite: five semesters of Arabic (Familiarity with the Hebrew alphabet is not a preprequisite).

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JS 435R: Hebrew of the Israeli Media (same as HEBR 435R)
Hary, TTh 4:00-5:15, MAX: 20 (8 JS, 12 HEBR)

Course description: This course intends to train students to use the electronic and printed Israeli news media and to master its vocabulary and language structure by readings selections from Israeli newspapers, listening to Israeli radio broadcasts, and viewing Israeli TV excerpts.


  • Charash and Kreisel, Mikra Iton
  • Outside newspaper readings
  • Audio and video recordings from Israel

Particulars: Students are required to actively participate in class activities and discussions. In addition, students are expected to attend several Israeli films. Written and oral assignments will be given regularly. There will also be three or four reports and three short (written and oral) tests in addition to a final exercise. Grading: exams (40%), reports (20%), class participation (20%), homework (20%).

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JS 490SWR: Land of Israel, 1882-1948: Sources, Narratives, Perspectives (same as HIST 489SWR, MESAS 370SWR)
Ayalon, M 2:00-4:00, MAX: 15 (JS 2, HIST 10, MESAS 3)

Course description: This junior/senior seminar will examine the pre-1948 history of the country which for Jews is ancestral Eretz Israel and the Arabs call Palestine. We will review the two parties' divergent outlooks at the point of departure, their views of each other, the dialogue/antagonism between them, and political implications throughout this turbulent period. Students will use secondary as well as primary sources, including (to the extent possible) sources in Arabic and Hebrew. We will conclude by assessing the impact of these disparities on later Jewish-Palestinian relations.


  • Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001
  • Laqueur, The History of Zionism
  • Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism Before World War I
  • Muslih, Palestinian Identity
  • Stein, The Land Question in Palestine, 1917-1939
  • Kimmerling and Migdal, The Palestinian People, a History
  • a core of scholarly articles to be announced and made available at the seminar's outset

Particulars: Active participation in the seminar's discussions is of the essence. Students will be required to make one research-based oral presentation on a limited scope issue, and write two papers, short (6-8 pages, submitted at mid-term) and long (25 pages, submitted on the last day). Grades will be based on participation and presentation (30%), short paper (20%), and long paper (50%).

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JS 490S: Marginality, Memory and Identity (same as LACS 490S, HIST 489S)
Wachtel, W 4:00-6:00, MAX: 9 (JS 3, LACS 3, HIST 3)

Course description: This seminar will concentrate on two case studies of peoples who found themselves culturally and politically marginalized. These groups, the Uru Indians of Bolivia and the Crypto-Jews of Latin America (also sometimes referred to as marranos and conversos), were both dominated during the course of the sixteenth century but managed to endure until today. In addition to examining the strategies used by these two groups to survive, we will analyze how their collective memory served as an essential component of their unique identities. Moreover, both cases permit the scholar to investigate the relationship between anthropological fieldwork and historical investigation. By linking the early modern period to contemporary ethnographic work, this course also allows reflection about the role of history in anthroplogy and anthropology in history.


  • TBA

Particulars: TBA.

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JS 495RWR: Honors Thesis
Faculty, Time TBA

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JS 497R: 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.


College Course Atlas—Fall 2007

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