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Undergraduate Program





Course Offerings


Undergraduate Spring 2006 Courses

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Current Issues in Israeli Politics and Society
JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Representations of the Holocaust
JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Torah and Testament
JS 190: Freshman Seminar: History of Modern Israel
JS 205: Biblical Literature
JS 242: American Jewish History
JS 258: Anthropology of the Jews
JS 326WR: History of Judaic Languages
JS 370: Jewish Law
JS 370S: Readings in Judeo-Arabic: Geniza Letters
JS 375: Topics in Jewish Literature: The Holocaust in Yiddish Literature
JS 375: Topics in Jewish Literature: Franz Kafka
JS 490SWR: History of Israeli Foreign Policy
JS 495RWR: Honors Thesis
JS 497R: Directed Reading in Jewish Studies
Hebrew and Yiddish


JS 190-000: Freshman Seminar: Current Issues in Israeli Politics and Society (same as MES 190-000)
Hary, TTh 4:00-5:15, MAX: 10 (5 MES, 5 JS)

Course description: Israel has been facing continuous turmoil in the last two years. This situation has caused rapid changes in Israeli politics and society. This course examines in depth current issues facing Israeli society from the center to the margin. Topics range from divisions in Israeli society, consensus in the society, Arabs in Israel, Mizrahim in Israeli society, the Arab/Israeli conflict, foreign workers in Tel Aviv, women in Israel, current state and local politics, and more. Students will read scholarly materials but will also regularly read printed Israeli press in English and will keep a journal. Classes will be devoted to specific topics, however, current issues will be dealt with regularly. Class discussions are the main mode of instruction. Several films will be shown followed by discussions.


  • Arian, Asher, The Second Republic: Politics in Israel
  • Reich, Bernard and Kieval, Gershon, Israel, Land of Tradition and Conflict
  • Rogan, Eugene and Shlaim, Avi, The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948
  • Swirski, Barbara and Safir, Marilyn P. [eds.], Calling the Equality Bluff

Particulars: No knowledge of any specific language is required, and no knowledge of Israeli society is expected. All students are expected to attend class regularly and participate in class discussions and activities. Requirements include assignments, quizzes, journal keeping and fieldwork project. The course can fulfill one of the elective requirements for the Major in Middle Eastern Studies and the Major and Minor in Jewish Studies.

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JS 190-003: Freshman Seminar: Representations of the Holocaust (same as GER 190-000)
Schaumann, MWF 11:45-12:35, MAX: 15 (10 GER, 5 JS)

Course description: The Nazi Holocaust against European Jews has been a defining moment of the twentieth century and has become one of the most extensively documented and researched events in world history. Though historians, sociologists, and psychologists have gathered the facts of the Holocaust and tried to come up with possible causes and explanations, there are still many questions left unanswered. Indeed, the mass murder of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others has been called inconceivable and thus unrepresentable. In this course, we will explore how survivors’ testimonies, novels, poetry, film, art, and architecture respond to the challenge of Holocaust representation. We will examine the depiction of violence, the so-called “limits of representation,” aesthetic criteria, the role of humor, the controversies about Holocaust fiction and melodrama, and the political and ideological function of Holocaust memorials in different cultural contexts. Finally, we will investigate how the post-Holocaust generations have expressed the memories handed down from parents and grandparents and continue to shape our understanding of the Holocaust’s aftermath.

 Texts: Readings will include:

  • Levi, Primo, Survival in Auschwitz
  • Delbo, Charlotte, Auschwitz and After
  • Kluger, Ruth, Still Alive
  • Spiegelman, Art, Maus
  • Foer, Jonathan Safran, Everything is Illuminated
  • Other sources (poetry, photographs, paintings, and film), as well as secondary works on Holocaust representation

Particulars: Grading will be based on attendance and participation, a short presentation, a midterm, and three papers of increasing length.

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JS 190-001: Freshman Seminar: Torah and Testamant (same as REL 190-000)
Gilders, TTh 4:00-5:15, MAX: 18 (5 JS, 13 REL)

Course description: The Bible both unites and divides Judaism and Christianity. It is at once the focus of shared religious devotion and a center of conflict. This freshman seminar will introduce students to the sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity, to the modern academic study of these texts, and to the history of their interpretation in the two religious traditions. Two biblical books will provide a focus for our study: Exodus in the Jewish Bible (Christian “Old Testament”) and the gospel according to Matthew in the Christian “New Testament.” We will consider how these books came to be written, how they were read and understood by their earliest readers, how Jews and Christians have interpreted them in various times and places, and how modern biblical scholars analyze and explain them. We will also look at how the founding stories of Judaism and Christianity are relived and experienced in the rituals of Passover and Easter by studying texts, viewing films, and making visits to churches and synagogues. This course will bring together students from a variety of backgrounds to explore the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity. No prior study of the Bible is required, and no particular religious beliefs or attitudes towards the Bible are assumed. What is required is a desire to learn and openness to new and different ideas and experiences.


  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha (3d ed.; Oxford University Press, 2001)
  • Riches, John, The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav, Whose Bible is It? A History of the Scriptures through the Ages (Viking Penguin, 2005)

Particulars: This course meets General Education Requirement I.C (first-year seminar). Careful preparation, regular attendance, and active participation in class discussions will be essential to success in this course. Graded written work will consist of regular submissions to an on-line “learning journal,” a short book review, a “site visit” report, and a final research paper. There will be some short quizzes, but no major tests or examinations. Two feature-length films will be shown and there will be two required “field trips” outside of regular class time.

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JS 190-002: Freshman Seminar: History of Modern Israel (same as HIST 190-002, MES 190-001)
Stein, M 2:00-4:00, MAX: 18 (4 JS, 10 HIST, 4 MES)

Course description: This undergraduate freshman seminar will review the history of modern Israel from the inception of Zionism to the present. The four periods of study will be the ideological formations (to 1917), Zionist autonomy in Palestine and nation-building (to 1949), the problems and succsesses of sovereignty (to 1977) and the quest for identity and normalization (to the present). Issues to be discussed will include the structure of the old and new Yishuv, immigrations to Eretz Israel, British rule in Palestine, relationships with the great powers, sociological associations and cleavages, Israel-Diaspora relations, American Jewry and Israel, religion and state policy interaction, the political and economic systems, constitutional issues, Arab-Israeli wars and the negotiating process and quest for recognition from Arab neighbors. Several guest speakers will participate in the class.


  • Laquer, Walter, A History of Zionism, New York: Schocken, 1989.
  • Dowty, Alan, The Jewish State: A Century Later, Univ. of California Press, 2001.
  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader, New York : Jewish Publication Society, 1997.
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, New York: Routledge, 1991.
  • Sternhell, Zev, The Founding Myths of Israel, Princeton University Press, 1999.

Particulars: There will be one hour examination and a final examination. Students may write a 10-page paper to satisfy the writing requirement. The papers are due the last day of class. If students opt to write a paper, then the hour examination and paper will count for two-thirds of the final grade, the final examination, one third. If students choose only to take the examinations, grading will be one-half for the hour examination and half for the final examination.

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JS 205-000: Biblical Literature (same as REL 205-000)
Buss, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 30 (18 REL, 12 JS)

Course description: In this course, we will seek to understand the dynamics of various parts of the Jewish Bible, called "Old Testament" by Christians. This will involve questions such as the following: What is said? How is it said? What appears to be the aim? Insofar as there can be disagreement in regard to these questions, we will look at different answers, both as they have been given by others and as they are presented by members of the class.


  • JPS, Tanakh
  • Sandmel, S., The Enjoyment of Scripture
  • Frymer-Kensky, T., Reading the Women of the Bible
  • Buss, Martin, Manuscript

Particulars: Students will bring to each class an analysis of the text studied and will be ready to discuss their analyses orally in class. Students who have to miss class more than occasionally can turn their analyses into short papers and discuss them in an individual conference (which will normally cover two or three such papers covering the topics of two or three missed classes). There will be a midterm and a final. The course fulfills General Education Requirement IV.A (Humanities).

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JS 242-000: American Jewish History (same as HIST 242-000)
Goldstein, MWF 10:40-11:30, MAX 50 (25 JS, 25 HIST)

Course description: This course is a survey of the Jewish experience in America, examining the religious, cultural, political and economic activities of American Jews from the colonial period to the present. Students will explore how Jewish tradition has adapted to and been challenged by the American setting, how patterns of communal life have been reshaped, what the relationship of Jews has been to other Americans and to the international Jewish community, and how American Jewish identities have been created from Jews' dual impulses for integration and distinctiveness.


  • Sarna, Jonathan D. [ed.], The American Jewish Experience
  • Cohen, Rose, Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side
  • Heilman, Samuel, Portrait of American Jews: Last Half of the Twentieth Century
  • Schiffman, Lisa, Generation J
  • A number of articles on reserve

Particulars: Class sections will combine lecture and discussion and also include some "breakout sessions" that emphasize the close reading of primary sources. There will be a mid-term, a final, regular short homework assignments and one longer writing assignment (5-7 pages) in which students will analyze a primary source of their choice. This course satisfies area V.A of the General Education Requirements (United States History).

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JS 258-000: Anthropology of the Jews (same as ANT 150-000)
Konner, TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 35 (25 ANT, 10 JS) Requests for overload will be considered.

Course description: This course will introduce the major Jewish populations and cultures through the four fields of anthropology: biological anthropology, archeology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. It will define the Jewish populations in space and time and then take up their origins and major movements using the evidence of demography, genetics, archeology, history, and ethnology. Jewish cultures considered include the tribal and Temple periods, the Jewish context of the life of Jesus, the Talmudic and medieval eras, the Central European Diaspora (especially the shtetl), the Jews of Spain and Islam, the modern Yiddishists, the Jews of the United States, the kibbutz, and Jewish communities of Ethiopia, India, and China. The primary Jewish languages will be briefly examined and placed in context among the languages of the world. Use of these languages for Biblical exegesis and troubadour poetry, prophetic declamation and modern comic fiction, prayer, curse, contract, song, and magic, will be touched upon. Please note: Religious students may find some material objectionable.


  • Konner, Melvin, Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews
  • Goldberg, Harvey E., Jewish Life in Muslim Libya: Rivals and Relatives
  • Myerhoff, Barbara, Number Our Days
  • Harris, Lis, Holy Days: The World of a Hasidic Family

Particulars: Two hour examinations and a final examination. This course may be used to satisfy the requirement for a world culture area course for anthropology majors.

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JS 326WR-000: History of Judaic Languages (MES 326WR-000, LING 326WR-000)
Hary, TTH 1:00-2:15, MAX: 20 (10 MES, 5 JS, 5 LING)

Course description: A Jewish Language is a linguistic variety that arises in a certain place and is used by Jewish speakers and writers. It is customary for these varieties to use the Hebrew script, to incorporate Hebrew and Aramaic elements into the language and to make use of a special literary genre, verbatim translations of sacred Hebrew texts (such as the Bible) into the Jewish variety. These languages rose in central and Eastern Europe (Yiddish), in the Arab world (Judeo-Arabic), in Spain (Judeo-Spanish or Ladino), in Iran (Judeo-Persian), in Italy (Judeo-Italian), in North Africa (Judeo-Berber) in Kurdistan (Judeo-Neo-Aramaic) and in other places. This course explores the following issues: How have such languages arisen in different places in the world? How are they different from the related non-Jewish languages, and in what ways are they bearers of Jewish culture? How are they associated with Hebrew/Aramaic? Special emphasis will be placed on typological study of the various languages in the different places, i.e., comparative study of the phenomenon of a Jewish language.

Required Texts:

  • Course packet with various articles on reserve
  • Paper, Herbert [ed.], Jewish Languages: Theme and Variations (out of print, on reserve)
  • Yule, George, The Study of Language

Recommended Texts:

  • Hary, Benjamin, Multiglossia in Judeo-Arabic, with an Edition, Translation and Grammatical Study of the Cairene Purim Scroll
  • Fishman, Joshua [ed.], Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages

Particulars: No knowledge of any specific language is required. All students are expected to attend class regularly and participate in class discussions and activities. Requirements include assignments, quizzes and fieldwork project. The course can fulfill one of the elective requirements for the Major in Middle Eastern Studies, the Major and Minor in Jewish Studies, the Minor in Linguistics. The course also fulfills the new GER V.C.: Comparative and International Studies and the Writing Requirement.

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JS 370-000: Jewish Law (same as REL 472R-001, LAW 664-02A)
Broyde, MW 2:00-3:30, MAX: TBA (2 JS, 3 REL, LAW TBA)

Course description: 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.

Particulars: No prerequisites. Grading criteria: paper or take-home exam. Law school classes begin the week of January 9th.

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JS 370S-001: Readings in Judeo-Arabic: Geniza Letters (same as MES 370S-000)
Rustow, M 4:00-7:00, MAX: 10 (5 JS, 5 MES)

Course description: This course is designed to introduce students to Judeo-Arabic, the dialect of Arabic spoken and written by the majority of the world’s Jews during the Middle Ages, through letters preserved in the Cairo Geniza. We will read personal letters written by people from every echelon of medieval society – beggars, prisoners of war, merchants, scholars, and courtiers – ranging geographically from Baghdad to the Iberian peninsula. These texts are a rare window on the history of Arabic and its spoken dialects, since they preserve distinctive features of usage and pronunciation not found classical Arabic texts. They are also a major source for the history of the Jews during the central Middle Ages, and cast light into hitherto shadowy corners of the social history of the Near 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). We will also read short selections of secondary works on Judeo-Arabic literature, the history of the medieval Mediterranean, and the history of paper, letter-writing, and the mail system.

Particulars: Requirements include weekly preparation of texts and one research paper consisting of a scholarly edition of an unpublished Geniza text. This course is recommended for anyone with a strong interest in Arabic and the history of the Middle East. Undergraduates and graduate students are welcome.

Prerequisite: five semesters of Arabic. (Familiarity with the Hebrew alphabet is not a prerequisite.)

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JS 375-001: Topics in Jewish Literature: The Holocaust in Yiddish Literature (same as GER 460-000)
Miller, TTh 11:30-12:45, MAX 50 (35 JS, 15 GER)

Course description: In 1939, approximately three out of every four Jews could claim Yiddish as their mother tongue. By 1945, a full half of this population had been killed. Since Yiddish was the primary language of the vast majority of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, there exist many materials in the Eastern European Jewish vernacular which represent this event. This course will analyze these materials as they appear in various modes of expression. In examining the different genres of the representation of the Holocaust in Yiddish, including novels, short stories, poems, folk songs, jokes and memoirs, we will discuss the appropriateness and responsibility of each mode. We will also examine literature written in Yiddish by authors who did not personally survive the Holocaust, and we will address questions such as whether works created by non-survivors are as valid as those created by those who lived through the experience themselves. This course will aim to address these questions, as well as others, within the context of written work and classroom discussion.

Texts: None. All readings will be available from Reserves Direct.

Particulars: All materials will be read in English translation and no knowledge of Yiddish is necessary. Two reaction papers count 50%, final term paper 50%.

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JS 375-000: Topics in Jewish Literature: Franz Kafka (same as GER 480-000, CPLT 389-000)
Waniek, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 12 (4 JS, 4 GER, CPLIT 4)

Course description: A Czech Jew writing in German who wanted all his writings destroyed - this is the easily stated part of the richly bewildering experience of encountering Kafka. We will read most of his stories, perhaps one of his novels, some of his letters and excerpts from his diaries, and we will try to understand, in detail, his style and substance, his exemplary uniqueness, and his place in the tangled tradition of European literature.


  • Kafka, Franz, The Complete Stories

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JS 490SWR-000: History of Israeli Foreign Policy (same as HIST 489SWR-001, MES 370SWR-000)
Tal, Th 4:00-6:00, MAX: 15 (JS 6, HIST 6, 3 MES)

Course description: The course will concentrate on Israel's diplomatic history. It will discuss Israel international orientation in the 1950s', the role of the diplomats in the pursuit of security alliance with a great power, first with France and later with the United States; the search for peace and the diplomats role in the preparation to war, before and after the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars; and the role of diplomacy throughout the Israeli- Palestinian rapprochement and conflict.


  • Bialer, U., Between East and West : Israel's foreign policy orientation, 1948-1956, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.
  • Cohen , A., Israel and the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  • Klieman, A., Israel & the World After 40 Years . Washington: Pergamon-Brassey's International Defense Publ., 1990.
  • Shlaim , A., The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World . New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.
  • Morris, B., Righteous Victims. New York, A. A. Knoph, 1999.
  • Stein, K., Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace. Routledge, 1999.
  • Zach, L., Israel and the Western Powers, 1952-1960 . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.


JS 490SWR-001: 20th Century Mid-East History (same as HIST 489SWR-002, MES 370SWR-001)
Stein, TU 2:30-4:30, MAX: 16 (JS 4, HIST 8, MES 4)

Course description: 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.


  • Bill, James A. and Robert Springborg, Politics in the Middle East, Addison and Wesley Longman, 1999.
  • Bates, Daniel G. and Amal Rassam, People and Cultures of the Middle East, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Second Edition, 2001.
  • Gibb, Hamilton, Mohammedanism, Oxford, 1969.
  • Goldsmith, Arthur, A Concise History of the Modern Middle East, (Seventh Edition), 2001.
  • Humphries, R. Stephen. Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Trouble Age, University of California Press, 1999.
  • Kepel, Gilles, Jihad: The Trial of Political Islam, Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • 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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JS 495RWR-000: Honors Thesis
Faculty, Time TBA

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JS 497R-000: 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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