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Judaic Studies Course Offerings

A listing of offered courses follows with prerequisites.  Please note that some courses do have additional fees associated with them.  The credit value of each course is represented by the number in brackets.

Language Course Offerings
General Course Offerings

Language Courses


ARA 110 Elementary Arabic I [3]

This course introduces Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) language and cultures of the Arabic-speaking world. Course includes the five basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural knowledge.

ARA 111 Elementary Arabic II [3]

This course continues the study of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) language and cultures of the Arabic-speaking world. Course includes the five basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural knowledge. Prerequisite: ARA 110.

HBR 113-114 Hebrew Language I and II: Elementary Conversational Hebrew [3-3]

Development of basic language skills, reading, writing, and speaking. This course also covers cultural material of Israel and Jewish civilization.

HBR 115-116 Hebrew Language III and IV: Intermediate Conversational Hebrew [3-3]

This course emphasizes Hebrew conversation, comprehension, and composition. Students will master the reading of short Hebrew literary material.

HBR 117-118 Advanced Hebrew Conversation and Selected Readings [3-3]

An intensive course aimed at improving students’ facility in Hebrew conversation, reading of current literature, and composition.

JS 110-111 Yiddish Language I and II [3-3]

These courses are designed to instruct the Yiddish language and to acquaint the students with its roots—the Eastern European world where Yiddish was an integral part of life. The students will be introduced to basic grammar, vocabulary, and reading excerpts from Yiddish literature, poetry, prose, and folklore.

General Courses


JS 190, 191, 290, 291, 390, 391 Special Topics in Judaic Studies [all 3]

Selected topics in Judaic studies, varying from year to year in accordance with the needs of the curriculum and the availability of specialists in such topics.

JS 205/HIS 205/REL 205/SOC 205 Israel: History and Society [3]

This course examines some of the key issues in the development of Israeli history, culture, society, and the arts. In seeking to create a radical new society, Israelis have created a unique culture that blends traditional Jewish culture in its Middle Eastern, Western European, and Eastern European forms. We study major themes in Zionist and Israeli history and the development of Israeli culture through a focus on the central questions that have both unified and divided Israeli society.

JS 214/HIS 214/REL 214 Jewish History from the Exile to the Enlightenment [3]

The development and diversity of Jewish life from the destruction of the Second Commonwealth to the French Revolution: the social and spiritual problems of dispersion; the evolution of Je] wish society and culture in the Near East and Europe; the historical roots of anti-Semitism; the rise of the ghetto; and relations between the historical experience of the Jews and spiritual currents within their religion, such as Kabbala and Hasidism. Prerequisite: HIS 101 or permission of instructor.

JS 215/HIS 215/REL 215 Introduction to World Religions [3]

A historical study of major modern religions of the West (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and East (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto). This course also examines (1) the methodologies of religious studies (2) the characteristics that religions share, and (3) the classic questions that religions address.

JS 216/HIS 216/REL 216 Modern Jewish History [3]

The reciprocal effects of Jewish emancipation and Western history in the modern era, from the French Revolution to the present. Particular emphasis on the Zionist movement and the rise of the “Third Jewish Commonwealth,” the modern state of Israel, viewed both as products of post-Enlightenment nationalism and in their unique aspects.

218W/REL 218W Jewish, Christian and Islamic Ethics [3]

Students will explore religious ethics from the ancient through the modern periods, with emphasis on Jewish, Christian, and Islamic perspectives. Students will also study how comparative religious ethics can foster inter-religious discourse and interaction, as well as the understanding of contemporary moral issues and controversies. The course fulfills the writing intensive guidelines for the Judaic Studies major.

JS 228/HIS 228/REL 228 American-Jewish History [3]

The experience of American Jews from the Colonial period to the present, with the examination of their social, political, religious, and economic development. Episodes in the Jewish experience include the Colonial period, the early Republic, the Civil War, the eras of German and East European Jewish immigration to the United States, the Holocaust years, and the post–World War II era.

JS 229/HIS 229/POL 209 The Holocaust [3]

Interdisciplinary lectures, readings, and discussions of the roots, details, and consequences of the Holocaust. Historical, intellectual, moral, political, legal, and psychological dimensions of the Holocaust as a phenomenon of its own and as an aspect of genocide. Prerequisite: HIS 100 or POL 105 or 106.

JS 306/HIS 306/POL 376/SOC 306 Archaeology of the Land of Israel [3]

This course provides students with an overview of the chronological and cultural structure of the archaeological periods from the third millennium through the Byzantine period, with emphasis on the Roman and Byzantine eras. The course includes fieldwork in Israel, lectures, workshops on material culture, museum tours, and field trips. Daily field-school instruction is from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (total: 15 days of excavation). Lectures and workshops take place each afternoon. Beyond these required activities, a primary objective of the course is a research paper to be completed during the spring or summer following the return to the United States. This course is linked to an integrated companion course, Archaeological Field Methods and Material Culture. All students will complete field- and class work for both courses. This course is offered as part of the Archaeological Excavations in Israel, a Winterterm/ Summerterm offering.

JS 307/HIS 307/POL 377/SOC 307 Archaeological Field Methods and Material Culture [3]

This course is an introduction to excavation techniques and material culture. It includes principles of excavation and recording, material culture identification/processing, and field-study tours. Early synagogues and church architecture serve as foci for analysis. This course contains a full introduction to the methodology of Near Eastern archaeology from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, practical instruction in ceramic typology and Semitic inscriptions, and a survey of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine society. Daily field-school instruction is from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (total: 15 days of excavation). Lectures and workshops take place each afternoon. This course is linked to an integrated companion course, Archaeology of the Land of Israel. All students will complete field- and class work for both courses. This course is offered as part of the Archaeological Excavations in Israel, a Winterterm/Summerterm offering.

JS 308/HIS 308/REL 308 Bible and Archaeology—Old Testament [3]

A critical introduction to the history and literature of the Hebrew Bible in light of its setting in the ancient Near East, using the discoveries of recent scholarship, including archaeology, literary, and textual criticism.

JS 310/REL 310/ART 310/ Ancient Art [3]

This course provides an in-depth consideration of the art of a specific culture or group of cultures that were part of the ancient world. Topics concentrate on one of the following: Pre-Classical Art, Egyptian Art, Classical Art, Greek Art, or Roman Art. The specific topic is announced in the Schedule of Classes. Prerequisite: Any 200-level art course, or ART 100 with junior/senior standing; or permission of instructor. Visual resources fee.

JS 311/REL 311/ART 311 Medieval Art [3]

This course provides an in-depth consideration of cultures and styles in medieval art and architecture. It may present a survey of the period or concentrate on one of the following areas: Early Christian and Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic, Medieval Manuscripts, Islamic Art and Architecture, Mediterranean Medieval Art, or Northern Medieval Art. The specific topic is announced in the Schedule of Classes. Prerequisite: Any 200-level art course, or ART 100 with junior/senior standing; or permission of the instructor. Visual resources fee.

JS 315/ENG 315/ML 315 Yiddish Literature in Translation I [3]

An introduction to literature written in Yiddish before 1900, concentrating on the three fathers of Yiddish literature, Mendele Mocher Seforim, Y. L. Peretz, and Sholem Aleichem. Included is the 17th-century journal of Gluckel of Hameln, as well as works of the occult. Any 200-level literature course or permission of the instructor.

JS 316/ENG 316/ML 316 Yiddish Literature in Translation II [3]

This course will continue the study of literary forms established by Seforim, Aleichem, and Peretz (The Realistic,The Ironic, The Parodic, etc.), as they appear in the world of such writers as Pinski, Spector, Asch, Reisen, Weissenber, Schneour, Shapiro, Kulback, I. J. Singer, Opatoshu, Bergelson, Glatstein, Grade. Also, we will concentrate on what are called Yenne Velt stories, those of Jewish fantasy and occult. Proverbs, folk tales, songs, poems, will introduce each meeting. Prerequisite: Any 200-level literature course or permission of the instructor.

JS 317/HIS 317/REL 317 The Talmud: Its History and Literary Development [3]

This course introduces the student to the history and literature of the Talmud, the central work of Jewish law and lore that evolved from about 200 B.C.E. (= B.C.) to 500 C.E. (= A.D.). By examining the pertinent texts in their historical context, students will concentrate on major issues that also engrossed Greek and Roman thinkers. Such matters as the sanctity of life, theories of democracy and justice, capital punishment, civil and criminal law, and the roles of women and their rights will be analyzed amid the relevant historical events and trends and the larger societies that surrounded the Jews.

JS 318/HIS 318/PHI 318/REL 318 Maimonides in Historical Context [3]

This course introduces the student to the writing, life, and historical context of Moses Maimonides. After a survey of the history of Rabbinic Judaism and Islamic culture, the life and times of Maimonides will be treated. The science, metaphysics, and philosophy shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims will be examined using Maimonides’ life and his philosophical, legal, and medical works as implements of analysis. Prerequisite: HIS 101 or permission of instructor.

JS 324W/ENG 324W/ML 324W/REL 324W Modern European-Jewish Literature [3]

This class explores the relationship between the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and the development of modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature. The readings and class discussions will examine shifting conceptions of Jewish identity; contested notions of Diaspora, Exile, and Home; the relationship between Jewish politics and art; and the tension between the particularity of the national experience and the universality of the Jew. Readings by masters of 19th and 20th century European Jewish fiction will include: S.Y. Abramovitch (Mendele Mocher Seforim), known as the “grandfather” of Yiddish literature; Sholem Aleichem’s humorous tales of Eastern Europe; the folk stories of Y.L. Peretz; Kafka’s modernist parables; Isaac Babel’s passionate narratives of the Russian revolution; I.B. Singer’s tales of demons and sinners; and other. This course fulfills the writing intensive guideline and literature requirements for the Judaic Studies major.

JS 325/ENG 325 American-Jewish Novel [3]

A study of some of the major contributions to American-Jewish literature since the turn of the century by American-Jewish novelists. These will include, among others, Gold’s Jews without Money, Cahan’s The Rise of David Levinsky, Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, and a novel each by Malamud, Bellow, Roth, Potok, Doctorow, Ozick, and Chernin. Prerequisite: Any 200-level literature course or permission of the instructor.

JS 336/HIS 336 The Arabs and Israel [3]

The course traces the intellectual roots and political development of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some of the topics include traditional Muslim-Jewish relations, the development of Arab Nationalism and Zionism, and the factors leading to the creation of the state of Israel. Contemporary topics include the creation of an Israeli nationality, the effects of the four wars fought since 1948, and the ever-continuing search for peace.

JS 341/ENG 341/REL 341 The Bible and Literature [3]

Reading and discussion of the Bible and selected works of literature focusing on recurring themes, forms, imagery, and symbolism. Prerequisite: Any 200-level literature course or permission of instructor.

JS 380, 381 Independent Study in Judaic Studies [1–3, 1–3]

A directed research project, guided by a member of the faculty, designed to give students an opportunity to pursue their own interests in Judaic studies and to gain experience in scholarly research, writing, lecturing, teaching, and criticism. The central effort of the course focuses on the preparation and criticism of individual projects, oral and written. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

JS 425 Contemporary Studies in Jewish Civilization [3]

A course to examine a variety of different historical, literary, cultural, legal, and scientific issues in the critical study of Jewish civilization. Students may repeat this course as the topics meet their individual curricular needs. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing, or permission of instructor.

JS 475/HIS 475/REL 475 Senior Seminar: Hebrew Prophets [3]

A critical survey of the messages and roles of the Hebrew prophets in light of their historical, cultural, and theological background in Israel and the ancient Near East. The course will include an examination of prophecy in the Biblical literature. Prerequisite: JS 308 or permission of instructor.
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