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Undergraduate Program




Course Offerings


Undergraduate Spring 2008 Courses

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Using Stamps to Explore Religion and Culture

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Jews in American Popular Media

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Archaeology and the Bible

JS 210R: Classic Religious Texts: The Book of Ecclesiastes

JS 210R: Classic Religious Texts: The Dead Sea Scrolls

JS 242: American Jewish History

JS 308: Judaism

JS 370: The Israeli Economy

JS 370: War in the Hebrew Bible

JS 430R: Modern Hebrew Poetry

JS 475S: Exodus: Egypt and the Settlement of Canaan

JS 495RWR: Honors Thesis
JS 497R: Directed Reading

Hebrew and Yiddish


JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Using Stamps to Explore Religion and Culture (same as REL 190) Blumenthal, Time: TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 10 (JS 5, REL 5)

Course description: Issuing a stamp is a political and cultural statement, not just a utilitarian matter. A state’s attitudes toward religion, women, political justice, non-citizens, etc. are all expressed in the choice of the stamps it issues. Scholarship based on the study of stamps can reveal all these attitudes. This class will study the Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaica, a stunning collection recently acquired by the University. The collection has three parts:(1) a complete set of stamps issued by the state of Israel; (2) a large array of stamps dealing with Jewish topics from countries all over the world; and (3) a fine series of stamps issued for fund-raising purposes. The class will have three goals: (1) to find or to develop a cataloguing system for the topical part of the collection, (2) to write scholarly papers using the collection, and (3) to make recommendations for the development of the collection.


  • Eisenberg, Ronald, The Jewish World in Stamps

Particulars: The students, together with the instructor, will have to design the research plan, identify the methods to be used, and do the work. Graduate students, outside consultants, and research funding will be available but a high standard of performance is expected.

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JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Jews in American Popular Media (same as HIST 190)
Goldstein, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 12 (JS 6, HIST 6)

Course description: This course will examine representations of Jews in American popular media from the birth of the motion picture through the age of television. It will also examine the role Jews themselves played in the entertainment industry and how film and television provided them with an arena in which they could work out important questions of American Jewish identity. Specific topics will include antisemitism in early film shorts, the significance of the Hollywood "moguls," the connection between acculturation and Jewish humor, Jews and blackface minstrelsy, representations of Jewish women, ethnic imagery in the television sitcom, and the presentation of the Holocaust in film and on television.

Texts will include:

  • J. Hoberman and Jeffrey Shandler, Entertaining America
  • excerpts from Neil Gabler, An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood
  • Joyce Antler, ed., Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture
  • Michael Rogin, Blackface/White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot
  • Jeffrey Shandler, While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust
  • other readings on online reserve

Particulars: Student will write four or five short response essays, based on the materials we read and view in class, and a longer paper at the end. Regular attendance and participation are vital to success in the course. We will also view a number of films and television clips, a few of which will be scheduled during evening hours at a time convenient for class members. Most viewing, however, will be in class. This course fulfills General Education Requirement I.C. (Freshman Seminar).

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JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Archaeology and the Bible (same as MESAS 190, REL 190)
Borowski, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 18 (JS 4, MESAS 10, REL 4)

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 210R: Classic Religious Texts: The Book of Ecclesiastes (same as REL 210R)
Blumenthal, Time: TTH 2:30-3:45, MAX: 10 (JS 5, REL 5)

Course description: One of the most perplexing books of the Bible is Ecclesiastes because of its rigorous critique of all human effort. This course will attempt to read the whole book closely and to determine: its main arguments, its main structure, and why it was included in the Bible since it seems almost cynical.


  • a Bible
  • various commentaries to Ecclesiastes available on reserve

Particulars: This course fulfills General Education Requirement IV.A (Humanities).

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JS 210R: Classic Religious Texts: The Dead Sea Scrolls (same as REL 210R)
Lambert, Time: TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 30 (JS 10, REL 20)

Course description: This course aims to introduce students to the Dead Sea Scrolls, their contents and the significance of their discovery. We will examine the various kinds of literature found at Qumran and related works from around the turn of the Common Era. We will also consider the history, practices, and organizational structure of the sect that preserved and produced these documents. Our focus will be on assessing how the discovery of this ancient library has impacted our understanding of early Christianity and ancient Judaism. What light do the beliefs of the sectarians shed on the worldview of other ancient Jews, e.g. Jesus, Paul, and the Rabbis? Emphasis will also be placed on understanding the role of Scripture at the time.


  • The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (trans. Geza Vermes) (Penguin Classics, 2004)
  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible (ed. Michael D. Coogan) (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Cohen, Shaye J.D. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (Westminster John Knox Press, 2006)
  • Schiffman, Lawrence. Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, and the Lost Library of Qumran (Doubleday, 1995)

Particulars: There will be one paper (5-7 pages), a few short writing assignments (1-2 pages), and a final exam. Attendance, careful preparation, and active participation in class discussions will constitute a significant portion of the course grade. This course fulfills General Education Requirement IV.A (Humanities).

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JS 242: American Jewish History (same as HIST 242)
Goldstein, Time: TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 52 (28 JS, 24 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 discussions 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 308: Judaism (same as REL 308)
Berger, Time: M 2:00-3:45, W 2:00-2:50, MAX: 18 (12 REL, 6 JS)

Course description: In this course, Judaism—the religion of the Jews—will be studied from an historical perspective that emphasizes the growth and evolution of Judaism through time in various social, cultural, and political settings. We will analyze the history and development of the life and year cycles, ritual practice and liturgy, and major beliefs and theological concepts, including God, Israel, revelation, redemption, suffering, and reward and punishment. The course will focus on the development of ‘classical’ pre-Modern Judaism from its roots in ancient Israel to the late Middle Ages in the Christian and Islamic worlds. However, at the beginning and end of the course, some attention will be given to modern expressions of the Jewish tradition (especially those encountered in the United States and Israel). Students with a special interest in modern Judaism should take JS/REL309 (Modernization of Judaism) instead of or in addition to this course.


  • Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society)
  • The Complete ArtScroll Siddur (Weekday/Sabbath/Festival)
  • Martin Jaffee, Early Judaism (Second Edition)
  • Jacob Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World

Particulars: Regular attendance, careful preparation, and active participation in class discussion are expected. Graded work will consist of a mid-term and final exam, with regular assignments each week.

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JS 370: The Israeli Economy (same as HIST 351, ECON 351R, MESAS 370R)
Rivlin, Time: MWF 10:40-11:30, MAX:50 (JS 5, HIST 30, ECON 10, MESAS 5)

Course description: This course traces the history of the pre-independence and modern economy, examining the role of population growth and immigration; problems of inflation and stabilization; the balance of payments and sectoral developments. It analyses the role of the Histradut, the defense budget; the economics of the peace process of the 1990s and Israel's integration into the world economy. The effects of the second Intifada and the current rapid growth of the economy are also examined.


  • TBA

Particulars: TBA


JS 370: War in the Hebrew Bible (same as REL 370)
Wright, Time: TTh 11:30-12:45, MAX: 30 (10 JS, 20 REL)

Course description: In what specific ways does war impact society? We will treat this question by looking at the case of ancient Israel. Our point of departure will be the Hebrew Bible and the wide variety of war stories it contains. A major theme of the course will be the relationship between war, memory and identity. But our attention will not be confined to the Hebrew Bible. We also examine a selection of non-biblical texts, archaeological findings, and material evidence relating to the role war played in the societies of ancient Western Asia, Egypt and the Mediterranean. Our approach will be literary, anthropological and sociological. Our primary aim is to examine 1) how war served as a catalyst for social change in Israelite society and 2) how biblical authors created competing memories of war. This course draws on the research from my present book project, War and the Formation of Society in Ancient Israel (forthcoming Oxford Univ. Press).


  • Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1985)
  • J.B. Prichard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, 3rd. ed., 1969)
  • Susan Niditch, War in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford Univ. Press, 1993)
  • Selected articles from scholarly journals

Particulars: Students are expected be thoroughly prepared, actively participate in class discussion and take individual initiative to research. There will be no exams. Instead, students will focus on writing two research papers. I also require that students participate in a “cyber dialogue” that continue class discussions and hand in “entry tickets” (questions related to the reading) before class.

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JS 430R: Modern Hebrew Poetry (same as HEBR 430R)
Yeglin, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 15 (JS 7, HEBR 8)

Course description: "60 to 48" is a disintegration of Israeli history as a myth, a voyage through 60 years of "Independence" in six stages, each associated with the end of a war (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006). This course is based on reading in major documents in Hebrew, from the abstract concepts of nation and nationality, to the concrete and conclusions of several theoretical discussions and events. The Declaration of state, archive, textbook, letter, diary, art, song, fiction and film: All in which the heart of Israel beats loudest; the recollections and revitilization of national memory and commemoration of the foundations of Israeli history.

Particulars: Requirements include reading Hebrew with a dictionary .

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JS 475S: Exodus: Egypt and the Settlement of Canaan (same as MESAS 451S)
Borowski, TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 18 (JS 9, MESAS 9)

Course description: The course deals with two highly important themes, which are repeated in the Bible in many different ways (narratives, prophecies, Psalms) and later became the foundations of Jewish theology. However, the archaeological record of both of these events is not so clear. The course will take a look at the primary descriptions of these events in the Books of Exodus, Joshua and Judges and examine their impact on the Israelites through the continuous references in other books (Prophets, Psalms). The archaeological record will be examined thoroughly to see whether it supports the biblical narratives. Furthermore, records from the surrounding cultures will be examined to determine whether there is any evidence for these occurrences in extra-biblical materials.


  • Currid, John D., Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997)
  • Dever, William G., Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman's, 2003)
  • Frerichs, Ernest S. & Leonard H. Lesko, eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1997)
  • Sarna, Hahum M., Exploring the Exodus (New York: Schocken Books, 1987)
  • Suggs, M.J., K.D. Sakenfeld, and J.R. Mueller, The Oxford Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)
  • Course packet

Particulars: Students will write a final paper dealing with a topic related to the subject matter of the course. Book review (15%); final paper (35%); midterm exam (25%); oral reports (25%).


JS 495RWR: Honors Thesis
, Time TBA

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JS 497R: Directed Reading in Jewish Studies
, 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 102, 202, 302 (See Middle Eastern Studies course atlas)

Yiddish: YDD 102: Elementary Yiddish II (See German Studies course atlas)


Undergraduates may also take graduate courses.


College Course Atlas—Spring 2008

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Last updated: January 11, 2010



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