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Undergraduate Program




Course Offerings


Undergraduate Spring 2009 Courses

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Suffering, Healing and Redemption

JS 190: Freshman Seminar: Modern Israel

JS 205: Biblical Literature

JS 210RS: Classic Religious Texts:Exodus and Its Interpreters

JS 230: The Yiddish Culture of the City
JS 252WR: The Archaeology of Jerusalem

JS 326WR: History of Jewish Languages

JS 340: Rabbinic Judaism: The Liturgy

JS 370: History of Modern Israel

JS 370: Caught in the Act: Jews & the Formation of the American Dream in Narrative Cinema

JS 370:The Great Kvetch: Contemporary Jewish Humor in Film and Television

JS 370: Moving Pictures: The Holocaust in Film

JS 370: Religion and Healing: Medical Ethics & Technology

JS 370S: Love in Ancient Times

JS 375WR: The Hero in Modern Jewish Literature

JS 435R: Hebrew of the Israeli Media

JS 490SWR: Contemporary Issues in Israeli Politics

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

Hebrew and Yiddish


JS 190-000: Freshman Seminar: Suffering, Healing and Redemption: A Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary View (same as REL 190-001)
, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 18 (JS 9, REL 9), Candler Library 123

Course description: This Freshman Seminar explores the nature of suffering that underlies the human condition and the different responses to suffering or evil that religious and cultural traditions have tried to offer. We will start by comparing classical Greek, Jewish and Buddhist texts that outline radically different approaches to a problem they all recognize, and then move on to consider literature from the Holocaust, ethnographic accounts of illness, suffering and healing in different cultures, and first hand accounts of contemporary man-made and natural disasters, like the genocide in Rwanda, or the AIDS pandemic. How do human beings find healing or transcendence in the face of implacable fate, and how does our response to suffering stand at the very heart of different choices in contemporary politics, morality and religion? Should suffering be described as sickness or as evil, especially when it is man-made? We will be asking these and other “big questions” while also gaining familiarity with different research disciplines as well as different religious and cultural traditions. Students are requested to bring minds and hearts.


  • TBA

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JS 190-001: Modern Israel (same as HIST 190-001, MESAS 190-000; POLS 190-000)
Stein, Time: Tuesday 2:30-5:00, MAX: 18 (JS 2, HIST 4, MESAS 2, POLS 4), Ignatius Few Bldg. 129

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 successes of sovereignty (to 1977) and the quest for identity and normalization (to the present). Issues to be discussed will include the new and old Yishuv, great power diplomacy, immigrations, sociological associations and cleavages, Israel-Diaspora relations, political and economic systems, Arab-Israeli wars, American-Israeli relations, the negotiating process, and quest for recognition from Arab neighbors.


  • Dowty, Alan, The Jewish State: A Century Later
  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace

Particulars: There will be a one hour examination and a final examination. Students may write a 10-page paper to satisfy the writing requirement. 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)
Lambert, Time: MWF 9:35-10:25 a.m., MAX: 30 (JS 10, REL 20), Anthropology Bldg. 105

Course description: The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel set against the backdrop of its cultural and historical setting in the Ancient Near East.  A wide range of critical and literary approaches to the study of the Bible will be introduced. Additional attention will be paid to the way the Bible came to be read in subsequent Judaism and Christianity.


  • TBA

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JS 210RS-000: Classic Religious Texts: Exodus and Its Interpreters (same as REL 210RS-001)
Gilders, Time: TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 18 (JS 3, REL 15), Ignatius Few Bldg. 131

Course description: The story of the exodus, the liberation of the children of Israel from enslavement in Egypt and the establishment of their unique relationship with God at Mount Sinai, is a “master story,” which provides “both a model for understanding the world and a guide for acting in it” (Michael Goldenberg). This seminar class will explore this master story and the book of the Jewish Scriptures/Old Testament that tells the story, Exodus, which has been described as “the seminal book of the Hebrew Scriptures in that it features the pivotal events of Israel’s history and the fundamental institutions of its culture and religion” (Nahum Sarna). The course will look at Exodus from many different angles and will focus on understanding how the book has been interpreted and understood in a variety of historical and cultural contexts—by ancient Israelites, by ancient and medieval rabbis, by Christian preachers, by Renaissance artists, by slaves in Georgia cotton fields, by film-makers such as Cecil B. DeMille (“The Ten Commandments”), and by Emory students gathered around tables for the Passover Seder. Given the time period during which the course is being offered, special attention will be given to the place of the exodus tradition in the Jewish celebration of Passover and the Christian observance of Easter/Pascha.


  • Carol Meyers, Exodus (The New Cambridge Bible Commentary; Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • Michael Goldenberg, Jews and Christians: Getting Our Stories Straight (Wipf and Stock, 1991)

Particulars: In this is a seminar course, students will be expected to come to all class sessions well prepared to participate actively and productively in discussion; preparation and participation will, therefore, count for 30% of the course grade. Other graded course work will include short “response papers” (of one or two pages), two short essays (approx. 1500 words each), quizzes, and a “late-term” test. There will be no final examination.

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JS 230-000: The Yiddish Culture of the City (same as GER 230-000)
Udel-Lambert, Time: MWF 11:45 a.m.-12:35 p.m., MAX: 20 (JS 10, GER 10), Candler Library 121

Course description: This course will operate as a seminar in which we explore the culture of the Yiddish-speaking city. We will focus closely on the work of a few novelists and poets of the urban experience, including Isaac Bashevis Singer (Lublin, Warsaw, New York); Mani Leib and Moyshe Leib Halpern (New York); and Der Nister (Berdichev).We will fill out our study with historical documents, films, newspaper clippings, and other relevant media. Enthusiastic student participation is a vital component of the course.

Particulars: No prerequisite and no knowledge of Yiddish required.

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JS 252WR-000: The Archaeology of Jerusalem (same as MESAS 252WR-000)
Borowski, TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 15 (JS 5, MESAS 10), Callaway S319

Course description: Jerusalem, the holy city for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was first occupied 5,000 years ago and has been an important site for 4,000 years. The Canaanites and the Jebusites lived in Jerusalem before it was taken over by the Israelites who, under David and Solomon, turned it into their capital city. The course will deal with what is known about Jerusalem from ancient literary sources (Mari, Amarna, Bible, Josephus, etc.) and will compare this evidence with the archaeological record. Some of the topics to be covered are: Jerusalem in the First Temple period; the Return to Zion under Ezra and Nehemiah; Herod's Jerusalem and its magnificent temple; Jerusalem under the Roman and Byzantine rule.


  • The Bible
  • course packet
  • Meir Ben-Dov, Carta's Illustrated History of Jerusalem (2nd edition)

Particulars: Written weekly reports (35%), writing exercise (10%), paper (35%), book review (20%). Graduate students will have additional assignments. This course fulfills the post-Freshman writing requirement.

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JS 326WR-000: History of Judaic Languages (MESAS 326WR-000, LING 326WR-000)
Hary, TTH 1:00-2:15, MAX: 20 (10 MES, 5 JS, 5 LING), Candler Library 124

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. Jewish varieties develop also in modern times and are part of the Jewish linguistic spectrum. For example, Jewish English in the US, the Jewish variety of Spanis in Mexico or Argentina and Jewish Russian. 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. Comparisons will also be made for Christian languages and Muslim languages.

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.

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JS 340-000: Rabbinic Judaism: The Liturgy (same as REL 340-000)
Berger, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 20 (JS 10, REL 10), Math & Science Ctr. W507

Course description: In many respects, the Judaism that most people are familiar with was a product of the Rabbis of the first 5 centuries of the Common Era.  We will explore the context of the Second Temple Period and Late Antiquity, seeing how the Rabbis fashioned a form of Judaism to meet the profound religious, social and existential challenges they perceived Jews faced at that time.  We will also study passages from the vast literature the Rabbis left behind which is still studied today, including Mishnah, Midrash and Talmud.


  • Shaye Cohen, From the Maccabees ot the Mishnah
  • Lawrence Schiffman, From Text to Tradition
  • Jeffrey Rubenstein, Rabbinic Stories

Particulars: class participation, mid-term and final.

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JS 370-000: History of Modern Israel: (same as HIST 370-000)
Stein, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 30 (JS 15, HIST 15), Tarbutton Hall 106

Course description: This upper level course traces the origins and development of modern Zionism and the evolution and growth of modern Israel. From biblical connections of the Jewish people to the land of Israel until the present, the course looks at the themes, causes, ideologies, diplomacy, neighbors, and leaders that shaped the contemporary Jewish state. Five periods of study are addressed: to the 1840s, from then until 1922, the Palestine Mandate or Yishuv until after statehood, and 1949 to the present.


  • Laqueur, Walter, A History of Zionism;
  • Dowty, Alan, The Jewish State: A Century Later;
  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader;
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace;
  • Sternhell, Zev, The Founding Myths of Israel;
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Documentary Reader of Modern Israel (to be purchased from the instructor)

Particulars: There will be a one hour examination and a final examination. Students are expected to write a research paper of no more than 25 pages, using primarily library and archival sources. Graduate students will write an additional ten page paper about a Zionist or Israeli leader. All students will be expected to engage in regular class discussions. Additional readings will be provided on library reserve.

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JS 370-002: Caught in the Act: Jews and the Formation of the American Dream in Narrative Cinema (same as FILM 373-003)
Gluck, Time: TTh 10:00-11:15, MAX: 18 (JS 9, FILM 9), White Hall 112

Course description: In this course, we will explore quintessentially American media created by Jews, as well as serious representations of Jewish identity in mainstream cinema. Using a historical perspective, we will analyze these cinematic representations in relation to American Jewish history, anti-Semitism, Jewish mobility and immigration through the course of the twentieth century. We will explore the fascinating phenomenon of how Jews have defined themselves and the "American dream" in front of and behind the camera: Various filmmakers, actors, and producers kept their Jewish identity hidden in the celluloid closet, while others used film to express and "ethnic pride." Through weekly screenings, readings, and discussion we will look at the identity continuum of Jews in American media, from Molly Picon to Sarah Silverman, Eddie Cantor to Ali G, and Carl Laemmle to Steven Spielberg.

Films include:

  • East and West
  • The Jazz Singer
  • Cast a Giant Shadow
  • Gentleman's Agreement
  • The Pawnbroker
  • Annie Hall
  • For Your Consideration

Selected readings from:

  • Antler, Joyce, Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in Popular Culture
  • Bartov, Omer, The "Jew" in Cinema
  • Carringer, Robert, The Jazz Singer (Univ. of Wisconsin, 1979)
  • Cohen, Sarah Blacher, From Hester Street to Hollywood (Indiana Univ. Press, 1986)
  • Desser, David & Friedman, Lester, American-Jewish Filmmakers: Traditions and Trends
  • Gabler, Neil, An Empire of Their Own
  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The Jews in America
  • Hoberman, J. & Shandler, Jeffrey, Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting
  • Moor, Deborah, At Home in America
  • Prell, Riv Ellen, Fighting to Become Americans: Assimilation and the Trouble Between Jewish Men and Jewish Women
  • Rivo, Sharon Pucker, Projected Images: Portraits of Jewish Women in Early American Film
  • Sachar, Howard M., The Course of Modern Jewish History
  • Shohat, Ella, Unthinking Eurocentrism
  • Whitfield, Steven J., American Space. Jewish Time.

Particulars: Class participation, an in-class presentation, regular short film reviews, and a final paper.

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JS 370-003: The Great Kvetch: Contemporary Jewish Humor in Film and Television (same as Film 392)
Gluck, Time: TTh 1:00-2:15, Mandatory film screening Tu 6-8 p.m., MAX: 18 (JS 9, FILM 9), White Hall 112

Course description: From Fanny Brice's burlesque comedies in early cinema to today's
twisted sophistications of Sarah Silverman and Sacha Baron Cohen, Jewish American writers, directors and performers have excelled at creating comedies with enormous cultural impact in film and TV.  This course will explore some of the most successful and resonant Jewish comic artists in recent decades.  Classes will focus on the films of Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and Barbara Streisand, and the film and TV work of Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman. There will be an opportunity for students to produce a short video as their final project featuring their own comedic work (from standup to short comedies for YouTube upload). No previous production experience is necessary.

Films and TV Shows include:

  • Play it Again, Sam
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Jesus is Magic
  • Curb Your Enthusaism (the "Survivor" episode)
  • Zelig
  • Da Ali G Show
  • Funny Girl

Selected readings from:

  • Jewish Wry: Essays on Jewish Humor, edited by Sarah Blacher Cohen
  • American Jewish Filmmakers, David Desser and Lester Friedman
  • Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin
  • You Should See Yourself: Jewish Identity in Postmodern American Culture, by Vincent Brook
  • Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation with Stig Bjorkman, by Woody Allen, Stig Bjorkman
  • Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice, by Barbara W. Grossman
  • Something Ain't Kosher Here: The Rise of the "Jewish" Sitcom, by Vincent Brook

Particulars: Requirements for the course include class participation, an in-class presentation, regular short film reviews, and a final paper.

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JS 370-001: Moving Pictures: The Holocaust in Film (same as FILM 373-002)
Gluck, Time: TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 18 (JS 9, FILM 9), White Hall 112

Course description: This course will examine the historical and moral implication of representing the Holocaust in documentary and narrative film using examples of films from the US and abroad. By screening films and reading literary accounts and scholarship, we will explore questions of testimony, witness and creative license. As Annette Insdorf asks, what are the parameters of doing a film that is just and still marketable? Some questions will include: How can Nazi cruelty be depicted without turning violence into pornography; what are considered off-limits topics, if any?; and what makes one film a culprit of what Art Spiegelman calls "Holokitch" and another an appropriate representation and a critically acclaimed gem. Furthermore, the Holocaust, once the forbidden topic in Hollywood, has now become the darling of the Oscars. Ultimately, we will ask: can the Holocaust be represented on film and who has the authority to tell its story?

Weekly screenings include:

  • Murderers Among Us
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Enemies, A Love Story
  • The Night Porter
  • Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS
  • Korczak
  • Epstein's Night
  • Downfall

Selected readings include:

  • Insdorf, Annette, Indelible Images: Film and the Holocaust (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989)
  • Bar On, Dan, The Indescribable and the Undiscussable: Reconstructing Human Discourse After Trauma (CEU Press, 1999)
  • Bartov, Omar, Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation

Particulars: Class participation, an in-class presentation, regular short film reviews, and a final paper.

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JS 370-004: Religion and Healing: Medical Ethics & Technology (same as REL 358R-000)
Seeman, Time: Tu 2:30-5:30, MAX: 20 (JS 10, REL 10), Rich Building 107

Course description: This new seminar explores how different religious traditions make sense of new medical technologies and their potential limitations. Case studies include cloning, surrogacy, abortion and heart transplants. Our primary focus will be on comparisons of different Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. We will read medical ethics texts as well as ethnographic accounts of how technologies are used in different religious and cultural settings.

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JS 370S-000: Love in Ancient Times (same as REL 370S-000)
Lambert, TTh 2:30-3:45, MAX: 18 (JS 9, REL 9), Candler Library 123

Course description: An inquiry into the problems of studying ancient religions. One of the thorniest issues surrounds differences between modern and ancient understandings of the emotions, a matter of supreme importance in thinking about the nature of religious experience. We will consider instances from Near Eastern civilizations, especially ancient Israel, ancient Greece, early Christianity, and rabbinic Judaism.


  • TBA

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JS 375WR-000: The Hero in Modern Jewish Literature (same as GER 475WR-000)
Udel-Lambert, Time: MWF 2:00-2:50, MAX: 14 (JS 5; GER 9), Callaway C101

Content: Jewish cultural flourishing in the modern world has been an unlikely success story, and the protagonists of modern Jewish fiction have most often been unlikely heroes. Not only does their Jewish identity place them at the edges of Gentile society, but they often occupy a marginal place even within the Jewish community. Several of these heroes could trace their origins to Spanish tradition of the picaresque novel, where an outsider encounters the institutions of his society in a series of (mis)adventures that get reported as a series of causally disconnected episodes. After some direct exposure to this literary tradition, we will focus on several authors used the picaresque form to explore the peculiar challenges faced by Jews in the modern world.

Texts: Readings will include the following:

  • Lazarillo de Tormes;
  • excerpts of Cervantes’ Don Quixote;
  • Mendele Moykher-Seforim’s Travels of Benjamin III;
  • Sholem Aleichem’s Motl, the Cantor’s Son; Knut Hamsun’s Hunger;
  • Isaac Rabon’s The Street;
  • S.Y. Agnon’s A Guest for the Night;
  • Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March

Particulars: No prerequisite and no foreign language knowledge required.

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JS 435R-000: Hebrew of the Israeli Media (Same as HEBR 435R-000)
, TTh 1:00-2:15, MAX: 15 (JS 5; MESAS 10), Callaway S319

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


  • Rina Padan, Mi Mephahed me-'Iton (Who is Afraid of Newspapers)
  • 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.

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JS 490SWR-000: Contemporary Issues in Israeli Politics (same as HIST 489SWR-002, POLSRSWR-000)
Sulcziner, Time: M 2:00-4:00, MAX: 14 (JS 2; HIST 8; POLS 4), Carlos Hall 212

Course description: This seminar explores new developments and trends in Israeli politics, society and constitutional arrangements beginning at the end of the 1980s. We will explore contemporary issues in view of their historical evolution. The course covers the nature and evolving ideologies of the main contemporary Israeli political parties: Labor, Likud, Ultra-orthodox parties, the National Religious party, and Arab parties. We will also explore issues in the changing composition and nature of Israeli society through the lens of Russian, Ethiopian, and Overseas Workers groups, Mizrahi-Ashkenazi politics, and Gender politics. Finally, new political players in the system are also discussed: the Israeli Supreme Court, the business community, and the growing power of the IDF in shaping public policy from the 1990s onward.


  • Mahler, Gregory S. 2004. Politics and Government in Israel: The Maturation of a Modern State. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Shafir, Gershon and Yoav Peled. 2002. Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press

Particulars: Examination and Grading: Students will write two short papers (maximum 1500 words) during the semester, each constitutes 20% of the final grade. First short paper is due in late February and the second paper is due in early April. A final paper (about 20 pages) will constitute 60% of the final grade. The final paper is early May, 2009. Active class participation is necessary and may count up to an additional 10% bonus to the final grade. The students will send weekly reflection paragraphs on the readings. Students are strongly advised to follow current events on the Israeli daily Haaretz:

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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 2009

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