The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University banner
Newsletter Faculty & Staff Graduate Undergraduate Alumni Affiliated Programs Events Resources Contact

Undergraduate Program




Course Offerings


Undergraduate Fall 2009 Courses

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Viewing in the Middle East and India

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Hope and Despair in Yiddish Literature
JS 210R: Classic Religious Texts: The Five Books of Moses
JS 250: Archaeology and the Bible

JS 308: Judaism

JS 324: History of the Holocaust

JS 354R: Jewish Ethics

JS 370R: The Akeda: The Binding of Isaac

JS 370R: Anthropology of Modern Religion

JS 475WR: Ancient Israel's Neighbors

JS 490: Latin American Jewish Experiences in Comparative Perspective
JS 495RWR: Honors Thesis
JS 497RWR: Directed Reading
Hebrew and Yiddish



JS 190-000: Freshman Seminar: Viewing in the Middle East and India (same as MESAS 190-001)
Hary, Time: Tu 4:00-6:00 p.m., M 6:00-8:00 p.m. every other week, MAX: 15 (JS 5, MESAS 10), Candler Library 121 & 101

Content: TBA


  • TBA

Assessment: TBA

Back to top


JS 190-001: Hope and Despair in Yiddish Literature (same as GER 190-001)
Udel, Time: MWF 12:50-1:40, MAX: 14, Ignatius Few Bldg. 131

Content: This seminar will look at a broad range of fiction by two authors who are generally assumed to stand at opposite poles of Yiddish literature and culture. Sholem Aleichem, the foundational writer dubbed “the Yiddish Mark Twain,” is widely recognized as a folksy humorist. Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel prize-winning novelist and short story writer, is treated as a bleak anti-modernist obsessed with evil. In fact, an undertow of nihilism tugs at Sholem Aleichem’s work, while Bashevis Singer’s stories are leavened by an outrageous sense of humor. Testing the thesis that Bashevis Singer is the true artistic heir of Sholem Aleichem, we will examine the ever-shifting dynamic between hope and despair in Yiddish literature.

Texts: TBA

Assessment: Grade will be based on attendance, participation, and the completion of two response papers, a mid-term exam, and a final paper.

Back to top


JS 210R-000: Classic Religious Texts: The Five Books of Moses (same as REL 210R-001)
Gilders, Time: MWF 10:40-11:30, MAX: 25 (JS 10, REL 15), Callaway S102

Content: The Five Books of Moses; Torah (“Teaching”); Pentateuch (“Five Scrolls”). These are three designations for the collection of biblical books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—that will be studied in this course. The course will focus on the meaning of these writings in their first setting, ancient Israel, the cultural soil out of which Judaism and Christianity grew. A basic working assumption of the course is that these ancient Israelite writings are open to the normal scholarly methods of literary, historical, social, cultural, rhetorical, and ideological investigation. Thus, we will explore the historical background and social context of the books, asking questions about when, where, why, how, and by whom they came to be written and collected together. We will also investigate their literary forms, structures and themes. Prior study of the Bible is not a requirement for taking this course, and no particular religious commitments or beliefs are assumed or required. What is required is openness to exploring new and different ideas, and a willingness to engage in careful, disciplined reading of the biblical documents.


  • Jewish Publication Society Tanakh translation of the Hebrew Bible
  • Richard Elliot Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (HarperCollins, 1997)

Assessment: Graded course work will consist of three short papers (approx. 1500 words each), a midterm test, a final examination, and several short quizzes (announced and “pop”).

Back to top


JS 250-000: Archaeology and the Bible (same as MESAS 250-000, REL 260-000, BI 650)
Borowski, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 18 (JS 4, REL 4, MESAS 6, BI 4), Callaway S319

Content: 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

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

Back to Top


JS 308-000: Judaism (same as REL 308-000)
Gilders, Time: MWF 12:50-1:40, MAX: 25 (JS 10, REL 15), Callaway S109

Content: Judaism—the religion of the Jews—will be studied from an historical perspective that emphasizes its growth and evolution through time in various social, cultural, and political settings. The course will focus on the development of Judaism's ‘classical,’ pre-Modern expressions from their roots in ancient Israel to the late Middle Ages in the Christian and Islamic worlds, with attention to the history and development of the life and year cycles, ritual practice and liturgy, and major beliefs and theological concepts, including Rabbinic authority, mysticism, pietism, and messianism. Students with a special interest in modern Judaism should take JS/REL309 (Jews and Judaism in Modern Times) instead of or in addition to this course.


  • Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society)
  • The Complete ArtScroll Siddur (Weekday/Sabbath/Festival)
  • an historical survey textbook on Judaism to be announced

Assessment: Regular and punctual attendance, careful preparation, and active participation in class discussion will be essential to success in this course. Graded work will consist of a 'mid-term' essay, a final examination, regular content quizzes (scheduled and 'pop'), and bi-weekly short 'response papers.'

Prerequisites: None.

Back to top


JS 324-000: History of the Holocaust (same as REL 324-000 and HIST 385-002)
Lipstadt, TTH 11:30-12:45, MAX: 85 (30 JS, 30 REL, 25 HIST), White Hall 207

Content: 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: Examining the Evidence of the Holocaust
  • Niewyk, The Holocaust: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation
  • Lipstadt, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier


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

Assessment: 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.

Back to Top


JS 354R-000: Jewish Ethics (same as REL 354R-001)
Berger, Time: MWF 10:40-11:30, MAX: 30 (JS 15, REL 15), Callaway S103

Content: 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.


  • Sourcebooks of primary texts (in translation)

Assessment: 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 370-000: The Akeda: The Binding of Isaac (same as REL 372-000)
Blumenthal, Time: TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 18 (JS 9, REL 9), Candler Library 212

Content: The Akeda is arguably one of the most important stories in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition. It is the root of God’s promise to the Jewish people of land and of forgiveness of sin, the adumbration of the crucifixion of Jesus, and the story of the chosenness of Ishmael. We will study the basic text carefully and then take a deep look at the rabbinic interpretations. The students will teach the rest of the semester as we study the Akeda in Christianity and Islam, as well as in art, music, literature, and feminist revisionings.


  • Bible, any translation; best: Tanakh, Jewish Publication Society.
  • S. Spiegel, The Last Trial.
  • Packet of midrashim (to be distributed)


  • D. Blumenthal, Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest (theology)
  • E. Wiesel, Messengers of God (69-97) (theology)
  • D. Blumenthal, “Confronting the Character of God” (theology)
  • J. Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son (theology).
  • Review of Levenson, Death and Resurrection, by D. Blumenthal (theology)
  • H. Fisch, Poetry With a Purpose (literature)
  • N. Sarna, “The Binding of Isaac” (historical)
  • D. Levenson, “Child Sacrifice: Deviation or Norm” (historical)
  • P. Trible, Texts of Terror (feminist)
  • S. Heschel, “Jesus as Theological Transvestite” (feminist)
  • E. Umansky, “Re-Visioning Sarah” (feminist)
  • C. Thompson, “Imagining Sarah”(feminist)

Assessment: This is a reflection-intensive class. Very active class participation is expected plus one final paper.

Back to top


JS 370-001: Special Topics: Religion and Culture: Anthropology of Modern Religion (same as REL 370-001/ANT 385-000), Candler Library 101
Seeman, TT 4:00-5:15 pm, Max: 30 (8 JS, 14 REL, 8 ANT)

Content: This course takes an ethnographic and anthropological approach to the study of contemporary religion. We will examine religious communities in the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions plus a few others. Students will also be encouraged to do their own mini-ethnography, and to think comparatively about religion in its social and cultural contexts. We will focus on methodology as well as theory and on great readings. We will consider what makes religion a nearly universal human phenomenon.

Texts: TBA

Assessment: TBA

Pre-requisites: TBA


JS 475-000: Ancient Israel's Neighbors (same as MESAS 453-000, OT 653)
Borowski, Time: TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 15 (JS 5, MESAS 5, OT 5), Callaway S319

Content: 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 peoples 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.

Texts: TBA

Assessment: 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.

Back to top


JS 490R-000: Latin American Jewish Experiences in Comparative Perspective (same as LACS 490R-000, HIST 489R-000)
Rein, Time: M 1:00-3:00, MAX: 15 (JS 5, LACS 5, HIST 5), Candler Library 212

Content: Scholarly interest in Jews as a subject of Latin American studies has grown markedly in the last two decades, especially when compared to research on Latin Americans who trace their ancestry to the Middle East, Asia or Eastern Europe. Still, it seems too early to speak of the "normalization" of Latin American Jewish studies. This seminar focuses on Jewish experiences in 20 th century Latin America, emphasizing the national (that is, the Argentine, Brazilian, Mexican, etc.) paradigm, and not the transnational approach. Therefore, we will not solely make comparisons of Jewish experiences in Latin America with Jewish experiences in other parts of the world. Rather we will broaden our analysis to include the experiences of other non-Catholic ethnic minorities on the continent. We might find, for example, that Arabs and Jews have more in common than is usually assumed, both in terms of dominant stereotypes held about them as well as with regard to the patterns of immigration and integration into their new homelands.

Texts: All available at the university bookstore. Other books and articles will be put on reserve in the library.

  • Jeffrey Lesser & Raanan Rein (eds.), Rethinking Jewish-Latin Americans, University of New Mexico Press, 2008.
  • Erin Graff Zivin, The Wandering Signifier: Rhetoric of Jewishness in the Latin American Imaginary, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.
  • Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico: Middle Eastern Immigrants in Modern Mexico , University of Texas Press 2007.
  • John Karam, Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil , Temple University Press , 2007.
  • Allen Wells, Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sousa, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.

Assessment: Students are expected to fully participate in all seminar meetings via discussion and a 1-page comment on the weekly readings. Each student will deliver an oral presentation during the term. A research paper or a historiographical essay must be handed in a week before the end of the term. 40% active participation in the discussions and weekly written comments; 10% oral Presentation; 50% Research Paper/Historiographical Essay

Back to top


JS 495R-00P: Honors Thesis
Faculty, Time TBA

Back to top


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

Back to top


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)


Graduate Courses

Back to top






Newsletter | Faculty & Staff | Graduate | Undergraduate | Alumni | Affiliated Programs | Events | Resources | Contact

Jewish Studies home | Emory College | Emory University

The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies | 204 Candler Library | 550 Asbury Circle | Emory University | Atlanta, GA 30322 | Campus Mail Stop 1580-002-2AD | Phone: 404-727-6301 | Fax: 404-727-3297 |

Please direct questions or comments to:
Copyright © Emory University
Last updated: July 22, 2009



JS homepage Emory homepage