The Jewish Studies Department is dedicated to the study of the broad spectrum of Jewish life and culture on a serious academic level. It is designed to introduce students to all aspects of Jewish Studies, across a variety of disciplines, historical periods, and intellectual traditions.
This department offers the following major and minor:
As a field, Jewish Studies covers a wide number of time periods and can be approached through many different academic disciplines, including history, literary analysis, philosophy, and the social sciences. Jewish Studies students take advantage of the rich resources of the university, as well as the spiritual environment provided by the concentration of important scholars in the university community.
The department provides for the needs of students interested in the rabbinate, Jewish education, cantorial studies, and higher academic study, as well as open-minded "spiritual seekers."
We have the rare pleasure of seeing many of our graduates in Jewish Studies assume leadership positions in the Jewish community. Hence, the Jewish Studies major can be used both as a preparation for a career and as enrichment in cultural awareness and participation in the Jewish community.
JST 105 - JUDAISM AS A FAITH AND CIVILIZATION - 3 CREDITS
This course introduces history and traditions of classical Judaism, examining the continuities and changes in Jewish society, institutions, concepts and traditions through the ages. It includes a survey of the theological and institutional structures of Judaism as they developed through history. Judaism will be portrayed in all of its facets: historical, national, literary, theological, and cultural
COURSES FOR UPPER DIVISION UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
COR 200 - INTRODUCTION TO JEWISH THOUGHT - 3 CREDITS
An introduction to the intellectual traditions of classical Judaism, examining the successive traditions, continuities and changes in Jewish society, institutions, concepts and traditions through the ages. The course will survey the theological and institutional structures of Judaism as they developed through history. Judaism will be portrayed in all of its facets: historical, national, literary, theological and cultural.
JST 201 - INTRODUCTION TO THE HEBREW BIBLE - 3 CREDITS
An introduction to the political and religious history of the Near East as the background of the Bible. Includes readings in the biblical text, as well as an introduction to textual, source, form, and canonical criticism.
JST 202 - BIBLICAL ARCHEOLOGY - 3 CREDITS
This course will analyze the methods and objectives of archeology in general and Syro-Palestinian archeology in particular. It will survey how archeological investigations in Israel and related countries over the last 150 years have shed light on the life and culture of ancient Israel during the first Temple period. Prerequisite: JST 200, its equivalent or permission of the instructor.
JST 203 - READINGS IN BIBLICAL NARRATIVE - 3 CREDITS
Introduces the reading of simple biblical texts in Hebrew, with emphasis on biblical grammar and vocabulary, and on reading biblical verse.
JST 204 - PENTATEUCH - 3 CREDITS
A second course in reading biblical texts focusing on extended selections from the Pentateuch. In addition to beginning work in the commentary of Rashi and other classical and modern commentators, students are expected to survey the Pentateuchal narrative.
JST 205 - TRADITIONAL JEWISH EXEGESIS OF THE BIBLE - 3 CREDITS
Readings and analysis of selected original biblical texts and the important classical Jewish biblical commentators. The primary objectives of this class is for students to gain facility in reading Rashi and other medieval commentaries in translation and prepare them for reading the original text. They will learn to recognize the types of questions asked by biblical exegetes and to learn to ask those same questions for themselves. Each class begins with a close reading of the text, identifying the difficulties and fractures. The class turns to select medieval exegetes (primarily Rashi with select excerpts from Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, and other commentators) examining how they dealt with these problems, and on what sources they drew. The focus of the class is the uncovering Rashi's exegetical technique, why Rashi chose to comment on some verses and not others, what Rashi found difficult, how he used midrash, and what his relationship was to other commentators. An overview of Medieval Commentators, their lives, and historical milieus will be a leit motif of this class.
JST 206 - FORMER PROPHETS - 3 CREDITS
Readings from the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel I and II, and Kings I and II. The text will be studied in Hebrew with the application of historical and literary methods of analysis. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor
JST 207 - LATTER PROPHETS - 3 CREDITS
Analysis of dominant themes in the latter prophets including the prophetic call, religion and social justice, and relations between the king and the cult. The works of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Amos are studied in the original text. May be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor
JST 208 -WISDOM LITERATURE AND THE WRITINGS - 3 CREDITS
The great theologian of Conservative Judaism, Robert Gordis, said that if the Torah and Prophets are "God talking to man" then the Writings are "man talking to God." This course will take that idea to heart. In the Song and Songs and the Wisdom Literature, two whole genres of expression are contained. The first is the erotic tone of Biblical society, as taken from its host cultures and developed separately.
JST 209-MYTHOLOGY OF THE BIBLE - 3 CREDITS
Myths, a specialized genre of narrative, constitute an important component of both ancient and modern civilizations. Comprehending how they function in contemporary society enables us to recognize and appreciate their role in the past. Accordingly, this course begins by studying contemporary myths and contemporary discussions of mythmaking in various disciplines: religiology, bibliology, psychology, anthropology, and folklore. The course continues by investigating myths and mythmaking in ancient Israel within the broader cultural contexts of the ancient Near East and the ancient Mediterranean world through a study of original texts in translation.
JST 210- TOPICS IN FIRST TEMPLE JUDAISM - 3 CREDITS
JST 220 - HISTORY OF THE RABBINIC PERIOD - 3 CREDITS
A study of the Talmudic periods using a variety of historical, literary, and legal sources. Examination of the political history of the Tannaitic and Amoraic periods, including discussion of the various influences upon the Jewish religious experience during that time
JST 221 - SURVEY OF RABBINIC TEXTS - 3 CREDITS
Readings and analysis of texts in some of the basic genres of rabbinical literature. Among the types of texts examined are Mishnah, Midrash (halakhic and aggadic), Talmud, Codes, and Responsa. Some of the readings will be in the original text.
JST 222 - INTRODUCTION TO THE MISHNAH - 3 CREDITS
The purpose of this course is to familiarize the student with the basic text of Rabbinic literature, the Mishnah, in English. The text of the Mishnah is surveyed, as well the history of the period of the composition of the Mishnah, and examine some of the legal and ethical issues with which the early sages dealt, along with their methods of argumentation.
JST 223 - THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD - 3 CREDITS
An introduction to the style and structure of the basic Talmudic sugya. This course will cover an introduction to Babylonian Aramaic, the basic types of Talmudic argumentation and an analysis of the technical skills necessary for the study of Talmudic text through the examination of a selected topic. Topics may include the Jewish holiday cycle, rabbinic attitudes toward jurisprudence, and the legal status of the Jewish woman.
JST 224 - Judaism and Gender - 3 CREDITS
Feminist theory has generated new ways of discussing old texts. By focusing on gender as a mode of analysis, familiar texts appear in unfamiliar and interesting or disturbing new light. This course discusses both the theoretical and the textual aspects of using gender as a category of analysis within Talmudic literature. Using various literary approaches to the Talmudic texts (historicist, legal constructivist, social construction, new historicist), students will analyze a wide range of texts within a variety of these approaches to start answering the question: "What images of women emerge from the legal, religious, sexual, social, and political systems inscribed in Talmudic texts?" Prerequisites: JST 221 or one other Bible or Rabbinic text course.
JST 225-CONTEMPORARY HALAKHIC PROBLEMS - 3 CREDITS
JST 226-TOPICS IN SECOND TEMPLE JUDAISM - 3 CREDITS
JST 231 - MEDIEVAL JEWISH HISTORY - 3 CREDITS
An in-depth analysis of the position of the Jews in Christian Europe between the tenth and fourteenth centuries. Among topics to be discussed are Judeo-Christian relations, internal Jewish self-government, Jewish economic and social life and Jewish intellectual and religious creativity
JST 232 - CLASSICAL JEWISH PHILOSOPHY - 3 CREDITS
An introduction to Jewish philosophy in its Classical period, from the Bible to the rise of Kabbalah. This course will ask whether philosophical ideas have any place in Judaism at all or are merely an expression of hubris and delusion. Particular attention will be paid to the classical exemplars of medieval Jewish philosophy, the mystical attack on philosophy in the 13th and 14th centuries and the ethical tradition of the late Middle Ages.
JST 233 - INTRODUCTION TO KABBALAH - 3 CREDITS
Jewish mysticism, commonly referred to as Kabbalah, is the product of thousands of years of esoteric speculation, revelatory experience, scholasticism, pietism and risk. This course will analyze the role of mysticism in Jewish history through analysis of the major theological ideas of classical Kabbalah and Hasidism. The tradition will be examined in terms of its historical development, its relationship to mystical experiences and its sacred literature. Attention will also be paid to the relationship of Kabbalah to other kinds of mysticism, in line with general issues in the study of religious mysticism. A film, Ansky's The Dybbuk, will be shown at a time agreeable to all class members.
JST 234 - INTRODUCTION TO THE ZOHAR - 3 CREDITS
An introduction to the Zohar, the vast classical work of Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah. The class will survey the history of the text and review some of its popular presentations in English. The second half of the semester will be taken up with an in-depth study of a Zohar text, to be determined by the class and the instructor. The course will also stress the development of reading acuity in this seminal part of the Jewish canon.
JST 235 - HASIDISM - 3 CREDITS
This course will examine Hasidism as a historical movement and as a spiritual path, from its origins to the present day, beginning with the kabbalistic underpinnings of the movement and its attribution to the Ba'al Shem Tov. The role of the zaddik, Hasidic prayer and spirituality, and the great spiritual avatars of the movement, such as the schools of Habad, Bratzlav, Psiskhe, Kotzk, Rizhin and others, will be reviewed, as well as the social implication of the movement and its conflict with the Lithuanian rabbinical power structure. Of particular interest will be the reviews of Hasidism and European Consciousness in the writings of Buber and Scholem as well as an examination of contemporary Hasidic communities.
JST 236 - ZEN AND HASIDISM - 3 CREDITS
Zen Buddhism and Hasidism both entered the Western intellectual tradition in the post-war period. Superficially, both traditions represent popular movements devoted to religious spontaneity, mobility and devotionalism. Both Zen and Hasidism are the products of multifaceted civilizations, and blend aspects of faith, culture, ethnicity and nationality. Zen, in particular, evolved as it crossed from nation to nation, incorporating prior religious traditions as well as assuming other characteristics of its new host cultures. Hence a study of Zen must be a study of its host cultures. Hasidism, on the other hand, changed only minutely from area to area, because the alienation of the Jews in Europe remained a constant in all of its host cultures. . In each movement, a special conception of its history is related to its identity as a tradition within its mother religion. Each tradition's basic teachings on the primacy of enlightenment, the role of practice, the nature of the mind, and the limitations of language will be examined and compared, in order to better understand the spiritual commonalities of these two profound spiritual paths.
JST-237-TOPICS IN MEDIEVAL JUDAISM - 3 CREDITS
JST 239 - TOPICS IN JEWISH MYSTICISM - 3 CREDITS
After an introduction to basic characteristics and trends in religious mysticism, this course explores developments in Jewish mysticism from the biblical period through the eighteenth century. Topics vary from year to year, and include: the traditions of the Merkabah in prophetic and rabbinic literature, the Hasidism of medieval Germany, the Kabbalah of Abraham Abulafia, the Zohar of Moses de Leon, Lurianic Kabbalah, Sabbatianism, and eighteenth century Hasidism.
JST 241 - EMANCIPATION AND ASSIMILATION - 3 CREDITS
An in-depth survey of the process of integration of Jews into the society of Western Europe from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, concentrating on developments in Germany and France. Topics include: religious change, national identification changes, urbanization, economic change, Jewish participation in the majority culture, and anti-Semitism and Jewish reactions.
JST 242 - "Yiddishkayt"-JEWS IN EASTERN EUROPE - 3 CREDITS
A study of the origin of Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe, Jewish life in the kingdom of Poland, the partitions of Poland and Jewish life in the successor states, Jewish policies of the Czars, East European Jewish Enlightenment, Modern Jewish ideological movements, Modern Hebrew and Yiddish cultures, the impact of Stalinism, the Holocaust, and Jewish activism and emigration.
JST 243 - JEWS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD: 1800-1900 - 3 CREDITS
A survey of Sephardic Jewry in the Modern period, with a focus on: the limited number of contrasting non-Ashkenazic Jewish communities such as the Ladino-speaking Sephardim of Greece and Turkey, Moroccan Jewry, and Yemenite Jewry; differences in cultural and folk traditions; and political conditions, social change, and the impact of modernization and Western influence.
JST 251- AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY - 3 CREDITS
A survey of American Jewish history, covering the various waves of immigration, the creation of basic Jewish institutional and denominational frameworks, and the Americanization process.
JST 252 - HISTORY OF MODERN JEWISH MOVEMENTS - 3 CREDITS
Developments in Germany and the United States including the rise of Reform in Germany, the nature of liturgical reform, the relationship between theory and practice, the difference within German liberal Judaism, the reactions of various Orthodox groups to Reform, the relationship between German and American Reform, the rise of Conservative Judaism, the levels of religious practice today, and contemporary Jewish religious ideologies.
JST 253 - HOLOCAUST - 3 CREDITS
Political and historical analysis of the Holocaust including the development of the anti-Semitic political tradition after 1880, the ideology of Nazism, the decline of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis, early patterns of anti-Jewish discrimination, Jewish reactions and emigration 1933-1939, the formulation and implementation of the Final Solution, attitudes and reactions of the German people, the residents of occupied Europe and the Allies, Jewish life in the ghettos, and the question of resistance.
JST 254 - HISTORY OF ZIONISM AND MODERN ISRAEL: 1881 TO PRESENT. - 3 CREDITS
A discussion of the theoretical formulations of Zionist ideologies, the creation and progress of the Zionist movement, international developments leading to the creation of the State of Israel, and the relationship of the Diaspora and Israel.
JST 255 - TOPICS IN TWENTIETH CENTURY JEWISH THOUGHT - 3 CREDITS
A study of the theological writings of one recent Jewish philosopher such as Kaplan, Buber, Rosenzweig, Rubenstein, Fackenheim, or Soloveitchik. Issues discussed include: arguments for the existence of God, responses to religious skepticism, post-Holocaust theology, and the efficacy of prayer.
JST 256 - TOPICS IN MIDDLE EAST POLITICS - 3 CREDITS
This course examines diverse aspects of Middle East politics. Analysis of nationalism as ideology in both Israel and the Arab world. Particular emphasis given to relationship between Israel and the Arabs. Case studies may vary by year.
JST 257 - JEWISH POLITICAL THOUGHT - 3 CREDITS
Focus on the interplay between the political and the religious in Jewish thought. Topics include the sociopolitical dimension of prophecy (the prophet as lawgiver and as social critic) and of messianism (Zionist and anti-Zionist thought), the religious dimension of political exile (the metaphysical significance of Galut), and of Eretz Yisrael (the holiness of the Land).
JST 261 - SOCIOLOGY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE - 3 CREDITS
A discussion of basic sociological methods and their application to the study of the Jews. Included will be discussions of sociology of religion, patterns of Jewish socialization, varying Jewish value systems, family structure, etc.
JST 262 - MODERN ISRAEL - 3 CREDITS
A survey of some of the sociological issues raised by modern Israeli society: the nature of society on the Kibbutz, relationships between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, religious and nonreligious groups, levels of religious practice, the position of Arabs and other minorities in Israeli society, the nature of Israeli value systems, and the position of women.
JST 263 - CONTEMPORARY JEWISH LIFE IN AMERICA - 3 CREDITS
A sociological study exploring such topics as religious practice, communal structure and governance, surveys of value systems and attitudes, Jewish political behavior, and the social and economic structure of American Jewry.
JST 264- TOPICS IN MODERN JUDAISM - 3 CREDITS
JST 299 - INDEPENDENT STUDY - 3 CREDITS