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Graduate Program



Course Offerings


Graduate Spring 2003 Courses


JS 540: Introduction to Rabbinic Judaism and its Literature
JS 561: Methods in Jewish Studies: The Jew and Other / the Jew as Other
JS 597R: Directed Study
JS 598R: Thesis/Exam Preparation
JS 730: The Judeo-Christian Boundary
JS 730: Buber's Philosophy of Dialog
JS 730R: Jewish Law
JS 730R: 20th Century Middle East History


JS 540-00P: Introduction to Rabbinic Judaism and its Literature
Berger, M 9:30-12:30, MAX: 15

Content: Rabbinic Judaism flourished in the waning years of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and the first five centuries of the Common Era. Its rulings, practices, and ideology largely shaped Jewish religious life throughout the diaspora until the 19th century. However, much of the record of that period is the literary legacy of the Rabbis themselves. In this seminar, we will examine the sitz im leben of Rabbinic literature, understanding the emergence and consolidation of Rabbinic Judaism, and then examining various texts from that period. We will read a chapter of the Babylonian Talmud in the original, using it as a springboard for a general overview of the texts from this period and trying to understand the mind of the scholars mentioned in them and of those who redacted them.


  • The Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakhot, chapter 4 (with translations)
  • G. Alon, The Jews in their Land in the Talmudic Age
  • M. Chernick, Essential Papers on the Talmud
  • H. L. Strack and G. Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash
  • E. E. Urbach, The Sages

Particulars: Students must be prepared to read the primary text for each class. Hebrew is a prerequisite, although translations will be available. The final will consist of both written and oral components.

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JS 561-000: Methods in Jewish Studies: The Jew and Other/the Jew as Other
Berger, M 1:30-4:30, MAX: 15

Content: Throughout Jewish history, from its earliest beginnings to the current day, Jews as a group have understood their neighbors through various concepts of "other" while at the same time often being seen and treated as "the other" by the larger society. Against the backdrop of this lengthy and multi-faceted narrative, we will explore how a variety of disciplines, including history, sociology, anthropology, theology, literature, linguistics, and art history look at these issues. For each discipline, we will examine its assumptions and articulate clearly the questions it seeks to answer, looking at examples of its approach each week. The feminist critique of disciplines will also be covered.

Texts: To be announced.

Particulars: Intensive weekly readings, student presentations, final paper.

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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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JS 730-000: The Judeo-Christian Boundary (same as HIST 585-006)
Schorsch, W 9:30-12:30, MAX: 18 (14 JS, 4 HIST)

Content: This course will explore some of the ways in which the boundary between Judaism and Christianity, between Jews and Christians, has determined relations between the two communities. We will investigate: 1) some moments in the Jewish-Christian debate; 2) conversion of Jews as an ideological, sociological and personal process; the place of the convert, as religious seeker, pragmatist, traitor to her former community and possessor of its "hidden transcripts," as translator to her newly-adopted community; 3) Christian Hebraism.

Texts: Texts will include:

  • Jeremy Cohen, The Friars and the Jews: the Evolution of Medieval Anti-Judaism;
  • Johann Reuchlin, Recommendation whether to confiscate, destroy, and burn all Jewish books;
  • Elisheva Carlebach, Divided souls: converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500-1750;
  • Aaron L. Katchen, Christian Hebraists and Dutch Rabbis: Seventeenth Century Apologetics and the Study of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah;
  • Allison Coudert, The Impact of the Kabbalah in the 17th Century : The Life and Thought of Francis Mercury Van Helmot, 1614-1698.

Particulars: Students will be required to write a research paper (15 page minimum).

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JS 730-002: Buber's Philosophy of Dialog (same as REL 372R-002)
Dimitrova, T 1-4, MAX: 10 (5 REL; 5 JS)

Content: Buber's philosophy shows that the principle of dialog is an all embracing perspective of our orientation in the world. In this sense, he presents an original and authentic point of view. Openness of the listener is of crucial importance when I meet Thou and we both get involved in the dialog. According to Buber, the mutual attention is always possible. Buber studies are directed mainly to elucidate how the dialogical principle works even in the modern and contemporary life, where the instrumental reason dominates. The core part of the course is devoted to the reading of Buber's texts. Students are expected to learn to interpret Buber's impact in both Jewish and Christian cultures.

Texts: Texts will include:

  • M. Buber. I and Thou. Charles Scribner's Sons, N.Y, 1970.
  • M. Buber. Between Man and Man. Beacon Press, Boston, 1959
  • M. Buber. The Knowledge of Man. Harper & Row, N.Y., 1965
  • M. Buber. On the Bible. Schoken Books, N.Y., 1968
  • The Library of Living Philosophers. The Philosophy of Martin Buber. Cambridge University Press, Volume.12, 1967
  • Gabriel Marcel: "I and Thou"
  • E. Levinas: "Martin Buber and the Theory of Knowledge"
  • Robert Welttsch: "Buber's Political Philosophy"
  • Jean Wahl: "M. Buber and the philosophies of existence"

Particulars: Class Attendance, 35%; Class Participation, 25%; Paper, 40%.

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JS 730R-000: Jewish Law (same as LAW 664-10A)
Broyde, MW 10:15-11:45, MAX: 5

Content: This course will survey the principles Jewish (or Talmudic) law uses to address difficult legal issues and will compare these principles to those that guide legal discussion in America. In particular, this course will focus on issues raised by advances in medical technology such as surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination, and organ transplant. Through discussion of these difficult topics many areas of Jewish law will be surveyed.

Texts: TBA

Particulars: TBA

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JS 730R-00P: 20th Century Middle East History
Stein, T 2:30-4:30, MAX: 2

Content: Topics will include: Arab political culture, the legacy of Islam, late Ottoman-World War I- and its post war arrangements, establishment of independent Arab states, political economy, Islam, Palestinian nationalism, Zionism and Israel, Arab-Israeli conflict, oil, inter-Arab politics, the cold war, societal and demographic trends, American/European interests and foreign policy toward Middle East, and Iraq's tomorrow today.


  • Andersen, Roy R, Robert F. Seibert, Jon G. Wagner, Politics and Change in the Middle East Sources of Conflict and Accommodation, New Jersey: Prentice Hall (6th Edition), 2000.
  • Humphries, R. Stephen. Between Memory and Desire The Middle East in a Trouble Age, University of California Press, 1999.
  • Kepel, Giles, Jihad The Trial of Political Islam, Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • Makiya, Kana, Cruelty and Silence, London: Jonathan Cape, 1993.
  • Waterbury, John and Alan Richards, A Political Economy of the Middle East, Westview Press, 1996.

Particulars: For each topic on the syllabus, there will be class round table discussion. Class participation is essential. Each student will write two papers, a 25 page research paper and one short, 10 page paper on a particular issue/topic. Students will submit various drafts of each paper for review. The final grade for the course will be determined by the degree of performance in the following areas: research paper - 40%, short paper - 20%, and class participation - 40%. Students may fulfill the history and/or college writing requirement.

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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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