JDST 101: Jews and Judaism

This course provides an introduction to Jewish religion, culture, history, and life.  It does not presuppose any previous study of Judaism or experience with Judaism, and it prepares students for additional coursework in Judaic studies, Jewish history, or religious studies with an emphasis on Judaism. Also offered as RLGN 213.

JDST 173: Introducing Judaism

This “topics” course offers an introduction to the academic study of Judaism. Whether approached through a particular theme or as a general historical introduction, each section of this course provides students with a general introduction to the academic study of religion and basic religious literacy in Jewish religious tradition, exploring forms of it in a diversity of cultural contexts around the world. Section topics could include, but are not limited to: Festivals and Holy Days, Women and Gender, Jewish Ethics. Students may repeat the course for credit (up to 6 credits), provided that the two sections are different.  Also offered as RLGN 173.

JDST 218: Jews in Early Modern Europe

This course surveys the history of Jews in Europe and the wider world from the Spanish expulsion through the French Revolution. Tracking peregrinations out of the Iberian Peninsula to the British Isles, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Poland-Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, and the American colonies, it examines the diverse ways Jews organized their communities, interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors, and negotiated their social, economic, and legal status within different states and empires. What role did Jews play and what symbolic place did they occupy during a period of European expansion, technological innovation, artistic experimentation, and religious and political turmoil? What internal and external dynamics affected Jewish experiences in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries? Through a selection of inquisitorial transcripts, government records, memoirs, and historical literature, we will explore topics such as persecution, conversion, messianism, toleration, emancipation, and assimilation. Also offered as HSTY 218 and ETHS 218.

JDST 220: Jewish Art and Architecture

Over the course of their long history, Jews have contended with diaspora, boundary-crossing, minority status and anti-Semitism. Along the way, art and architecture have given shape to Jewish reflections on their complex social positionalities, ethical convictions, and religious longings. This course explores the critical role architects and Jewish artists have played in narrating and giving expression to these experiences. Critically, we will also examine the powerful position that artists of Jewish heritage have had in influencing the course of modern art. Finally, we will study the ways in which Jews have been represented by others, both in anti-Semitic propaganda as well as in more sympathetic portraits, shaping popular ideas and attitudes about Jews and Jewish culture. Offered as ARTH 220, JDST 220, and RLGN 220.

JDST 228: The Jewish Image in Popular Film

This course will explore film as social practice from the flickering silent era, through Hollywood’s Golden Age, to the techno-dazzle of today. Standing at the confluence of society, history, ideology and culture, students will come to understand how popular film is shaped by, and how it actively shapes, the constant reconstruction of Jewish identity in the American mainstream.

JDST 233: Introduction to Jewish Folklore

Exploration of a variety of genres, research methods and interpretations of Jewish folklore, from antiquity to the present. Emphasis on how Jewish folk traditions and culture give us access to the spirit and mentality of the many different generations of the Jewish ethnic group, illuminating its past and informing the direction of its future development. Also offered as ANTH 233 and RLGN 233.

JDST 254: The Holocaust

This class seeks to answer fundamental questions about the Holocaust, the German-led organized mass murder of nearly six million Jews and millions of other ethnic and religious minorities. It will investigate the origins and development of racism in modern European society, the manifestations of that racism, and responses to persecution. An additional focus of the course will be comparisons between different groups, different countries, and different phases during the Nazi era. The class concludes with an examination of the memory of the Holocaust. Also offered as HSTY 254, RLGN 254, and ETHS 254.

JDST 255: Global Judaism: Diversity Across the Jewish World

Scattered across the globe over the course of millennia, Jews’ diverse histories and environments have given rise to a great range of religious, cultural and social forms. Using ethnographies as our primary texts, we will think critically and comparatively about Judaism and Jewishness in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Along our journey, we examine how Jews have navigated their experiences as minorities in their many diaspora homelands, and how they have they adapted their cultural and religious practices to the various environments in which they have found themselves. In addition to exploring their Jewishness vis-à-vis others, we also examine questions of exclusion and belonging that Jews have faced as they have encountered each another in recent decades through tourism, mass migration, globalization, and the internet. How do the world’s varied Jewish groups – who are of different skin colors, who speak different languages, and who carry different historical memories – navigate ethnic divides, race relations, and religious diversity? Should we speak of a single Jewish religion and Jewish people at all?  Also offered as ANTH 255, ETHS 255, and RLGN 255.

JDST 268: Women in the Bible: Ethnographic Approaches to Rite and Ritual, Story, Song, and Art

Examination of women in Jewish and Christian Biblical texts, along with their Jewish, Christian (and occasionally Muslim) interpretations. Discussion of how these traditions have shaped images of, and attitudes toward, women in western civilization.  Also offered as RLGN 268 and WGST 268.

JDST 285: Introduction to Israeli Literature

This course explores Israeli literature from the establishment of the state in 1948 to the present day. We will examine the evolution of Hebrew literary production as it encountered the Mediterranean landscape and developed into a vehicle of vernacular literary expression. Topics include secular cultural expression and religious tradition; gender and ethnicity; political ideology and its discontents.  Also offered as WLIT 285.

JDST 293: Introduction to Modern Jewish Literature, 1880-1945

Survey introduction to main themes and canonical texts from modern Jewish writing (1880-1945). Works will be discussed in relation to the cultural, economic and social conditions in which they were produced, and in light of broad questions regarding genre, history, modernity and identity. Authors include Y. L. Peretz, Franz Kafka, Leah Goldberg and Henry Roth. Also offered as ENGL 293.

JDST 310: Tel Aviv-Jaffa-Jerusalem and the Israeli Cultural Imaginary

This course examines the importance of urban space in Israeli culture, focusing on three paradigmatic sites: Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Jerusalem. After an introductory discussion of urban space and the Israeli condition, we examine the depiction of these cities in a variety of texts. We will read primary literary sources in light of recent critical material on space and consider the following questions: how have competing political and cultural claims shaped the Israeli cultural imaginary? How do ideas of sacred space explicit in Jerusalem’s ancient authority compare to Tel Aviv’s claims as a modern city, and Jaffa’s status as a historical center? How are notions of exile and homeland, always central to space and identity, transformed as they are grounded in actual geographic sites? How does Jerusalem’s status as a politically contested site complicate the meaning of competing national, social and religious claims? Students will learn how to think critically about urban space, its literary depiction and cultural meaning. Offered as JDST 310 and WLIT 310.

JDST 314. Mythologies of the Afterlife. 

This course provides a multidisciplinary approach to the idea of an afterlife, and its manifestation in diverse cultures. We will examine the way varying views of the afterlife influence religion, popular culture and palliative care, and how human creativity has shaped the heavens, hells, hauntings and holidays of diverse populations over time and across space. Students will come to see the afterlife as an integral part of human history and experience, not only because it helps people die with better hope, but because it helps them to live more richly. Also offered as RLGN 314

JDST 348: Cosmic Ecologies: Medieval Jewish Art

This course will explore late medieval Jewish art from western Europe and beyond. The first part of the seminar will focus on broad historical and historiographic issues in Jewish visual culture; topics will include, inter alia, issues of word and image, problematics of representation, the iconoclastic argument, and anti-Jewish polemic. In the second part of the course we will look at the great variety of later medieval Hebrew books with a special focus on illuminated Bibles and commentaries, liturgical books, and prayer books produced in both Sephardic and Ashkenazi contexts. In the last part of the class we will study several focused themes in medieval Jewish art, including issues of gender, zoocephalic representations, and the Kabbalah. By way of a coda, we will explore late medieval Yiddish books. Several guest speakers — leading authorities on these woefully understudied topics — will Zoom in during the course of the seminar. You will have a chance to examine three remarkable true facsimiles of Hebrew books in the collections of the Ingalls Library, including the Golden Haggadah, the Worms Mahzor, the Barcelona Haggadah, and the Kennicott Bible. Also offered as ARTH 348/448

JDST 371: Jews Under Islam and Christianity

This course examines the social and political status of Jews under Muslim and Christian rule since the Middle Ages. Themes include interfaith relations, Islamic and Christian beliefs regarding the Jews, Muslim and Christian regulation of Jewry, and the Jewish response.  Also offered as HSTY 371 and RLGN 371.

JDST 389: History of Zionism

This course seeks to elucidate the major strands of Zionism, their origins, how they have interacted, and their impact on contemporary Israeli society. These may include political Zionism, cultural Zionism, socialist (labor) Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, and religious Zionism. This course will also examine the differences in the appeal of Zionism to Jews in different places, such as Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States.  Also offered as HSTY 389.



HBRW 101: Elementary Modern Hebrew I

The course objective is to enable students to develop basic communicative skills in standard Modern Hebrew. Students will become acquainted with the Hebrew alphabet and vowels, and with basic grammar and vocabulary.

HBRW 102: Elementary Modern Hebrew II

The course objective is to continue to develop the students’ basic communicative skills in standard Modern Hebrew. Students will be introduced to more complex grammatical constructs, linguistic forms and vocabulary.

HBRW 201: Intermediate Modern Hebrew I

The course objective is to advance the students’ Hebrew communicative skills by studying the language in its cultural context. The focus will be on speaking, reading, and writing, with an emphasis on the use of the language as reflected in Israeli culture.

HBRW 202: Intermediate Modern Hebrew II

The course objectives are to enhance and strengthen the students’ Hebrew language skills, and to develop the ability to express thoughts, ideas and opinions freely, in both verbal and written forms.

HBRW 301: Advanced Modern Hebrew I

The course objectives are to enhance the students’ language skills and to develop their ability to use an advanced level of Hebrew effectively. Classes will be conducted in Hebrew, and will focus on speaking, reading, and writing with an emphasis on active and creative use of the language.

HBRW 302: Advanced Modern Hebrew II

The course objectives are to enhance the students’ language skills within the domain of Modern Hebrew literature, and to enable them to use their Hebrew skills to perform detailed literary analyses in Hebrew. Classes will be conducted in Hebrew.

HBRW 303: Multicultural Spain: Christian, Jewish and Muslim Coexistence

Why is Medieval Iberia so often depicted as an example of tolerant multiculturalism? What constituted tolerance in the Middle Ages? In what sense can we speak of medieval multiculturalism? Is Americo Castro’s optimistic model of convivencia (coexistence) valid, or is Brian Catlos’ idea of conveniencia (convenience) more accurate? In this course we will study cultural theory, medieval and modern historiography, and literature from medieval Castile to the present to approach an understanding of Medieval Iberian ‘multiculturalism.’
This class will allow students to get in contact with the history of Spain through the study of the presence and influence of the Roman Empire, the Jewish and Muslim cultures and religions in the Peninsula. Through literature, cinema and art students will learn how the Spanish civilization and culture developed through the years.
The class will be offered during a regular semester, with a study abroad component at the end of it. Students will receive a handout about how to prepare for the class abroad. Also offered as SPAN 301, ARAB 303, ETHS 303, and RLGN 303