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NOTE: the following codes indicate which elective courses fulfill distribution requirements for the Jewish Studies major:

[CT] = Classical Text course   [ML] = Modern Literature course         [SS]= Social Science course

If a course title is linked, click on it to view the class syllabus.


pdf document Hebrew

pdf Elementary Modern Hebrew                                     (AMESALL, 013:152)
563:101:01; Index #53363; MWTh2; Ruben                                MTh Scott 216, W Scott 221
563:101:02; Index #45284; MWTh3; Moshenberg                        Scott 220

Introductory Hebrew: This course develops primary language skills through extensive practice in reading and writing.  Since emphasis is put on the sentence as a unit of language, students are engaged from the very beginning in creative writing and speech as well as in achieving basic competence in grammar. Communication skills are enhanced by engaging in conversations based on everyday situations. No previous knowledge of Hebrew required.

pdf document Hebrew

pdf Hebrew Review and Continuation                           (AMESALL, 013:156)
563:121:01; Index #49056; MWTh 2; Moshenberg                       Scott 220

This course is designed for students with previous exposure to Hebrew (e.g. heritage speakers, Jewish day school students, etc.), who are in need of a thorough review in order to enhance their basic language skills.

Upon completion of this course, students will be placed into Intermediate Hebrew (01:563:131).  The course emphasizes cognitive academic language proficiency as well as communication skills.  Competence in the four areas of language (comprehensive reading, creative writing, grammar, and speech) is acquired through practice of grammar, reading of various Hebrew texts, class discussions, and composition writing.

pdf document Hebrew course

pdf Intermediate Modern Hebrew – Part 1                   (AMESALL, 013:252)    
563:131:01; Index #47174; MWTh3; Bryn Noiman                       Scott 102
Prerequisite: 563:102 or placement test     

The objectives of this course are twofold: development of language skills and preparing students to approach Hebrew literature in an analytical and comprehensive manner. Students develop conversational skills by regular participation in class presentations and discussions of current events and cultural issues. Advanced grammatical forms are integrated into the reading material, based on a variety of modern Israeli literature.

pdf document here

pdf Intermediate Modern Hebrew – Part 2                   (AMESALL, 013:253)     
563:132:01; Index #45192; MWTh2; Bryn-Noiman                       Murray 204
Prerequisite: 563:131 or placement test.

The objectives of this course are twofold: development of language skills and preparing students to read and analyze Hebrew literature. Students develop conversational skills by regular participation in class presentations and discussions of current and cultural events.  Advance grammatical forms are integrated into the discussion of reading material, which is selected from various Hebrew sources.

pdf document Hebrew

pdf Hebrew Literature and Media (In Hebrew)  [ML]   (AMESALL, 013:354)
563:371; Index #53360; MW4; Moshenberg                                 Miller Hall, Rm 210
Prerequisite: 563:211 or placement test

This course is a continuation of the study of comprehension, conversation and composition with readings in Hebrew drawn from popular Israeli literature complemented with magazine and press articles. The course focuses on the acquisition of academic language proficiency skills through the analysis of the cultural themes as they are reflected in the writings. Note: This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.


pdf document here

pdf Jewish Society and Culture I: From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
(History, 506:271; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:208)
563:201; Index #45264; MW4; Tartakoff                                      Murray 210

This course will examine the social, economic, religious, and political experiences of the Jewish people from the crystallization of their national-religious consciousness in the Biblical period until the 15th century C.E.  The religion and culture of the Jews will be discussed within the broader context of their environment.  In the study of the ancient period, the course will survey the people of ancient Israel against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern history and culture, starting with the emergence of the Israel in the land of Canaan c. 1200 B.C.E. through the compilation of the Mishna c. 220 C.E.  Special areas of investigation will include the Babylonian Exile, the Second Temple period, the challenge of Hellenism, the Macabbean dynasty, the Jewish sects of late antiquity (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes), the Dead Sea Scrolls as a new source for Jewish historical and religious inquiry, the rise of Christianity, the Jewish revolts against Rome, and the importance of the Mishna as a code of law.  In the study of the medieval era, the course will explore the consolidation and expansion of Rabbinic Judaism, the rise of Karaism as a challenge to the rabbis, the history of the Jews in both the Christian and Muslim spheres, theological debates between Judaism and Christianity, the joint cultural heritage of Jews and Muslims in the areas of poetry, philosophy, and science, the enterprise of biblical commentary, and the rise of Kabbalah. The course is required for majors and minors in Jewish Studies.

pdf document here

pdf Jewish Society Culture II: The Modern Experience    (History, 506:272)                                              
563:202; Index #43941; MW4; Gribetz                                 SCILS, Room 201                                                         

Modernity posed a number of new and difficult questions to the Jews: What are the Jews—a religion, a race, a nation, an ethnicity, a people?  To whom ought the Jews be loyal—to their local community, to their state, to their class, to Jews around the world, to a Jewish state, to all of humanity?  How were Jews to reconcile traditional beliefs with modern values, such as secularization, gender equality, religious tolerance?  How were Jews to respond to new forms of antagonism or hatred against them?  In this course, we will explore these questions through a careful study of the social, economic, political, religious, and cultural history of the Jews from the 17th century to the present.

Throughout the semester, students will learn to read critically and analyze a variety of sources, including philosophical treatises, community petitions, parliamentary debates, religious injunctions, polemics, governmental policy statements, court decisions, folklore, memoirs, diaries, short stories, letters, photographs, and documentary film clips.  The diversity of sources and our classroom discussions about them will give students the opportunity to reconstruct historical moments and movements from different angles and to better understand the motivations and interests of individuals and groups in the course of modern Jewish history.  Some of the topics we will study include: Moses Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment, the emancipation of Jews in Europe, the development of Hasidism, the rise of religious denominations, Jewish communities in the Islamic world, the Holocaust, Jewish nationalism and the establishment of the State of Israel, and American Jewish culture. This course is required for minors and majors in Jewish Studies.

Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) [CT]                       (Religion, 840:201)
563:220:01; Index #48580; MTh3; Wallace                                  Scott 202
563:220:02; Index #49617; MTh 1; Wallace                                 RAB 204
563:220:03; Index #49618; TF 1; Ballentine                                Hickman 214     

Introduction to the literature of the Hebrew Bible and the world of ancient Israel, with an emphasis on literary, historical, and theological issues.  In addition to the Bible, students are introduced to archaeological discoveries from Israel and elsewhere, which shed important light on the biblical text and the history and culture of ancient Israel.  All texts are read in English translation.

pdf document here

pdf Introduction to Ancient Judaism   [CT]                           (Religion, 840:242)
563:222:01; Index #56011; MW 5; Rendsburg                             Murray 213

This course will investigate the historical development of Jewish beliefs and practices in ancient times, spanning the Biblical and post-Biblical periods.  Issues to be studied include Sabbath, festivals, circumcision, dietary laws, sacrifice, prayer, monotheism, covenant, and eschatology.  Our sources will include both classical texts, such as the Bible and the Mishna, and information forthcoming from archaeological discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and excavated synagogues.

New Testament  [CT]                                               (Religion, 840:202)
563:223:01; Index #49290; TTh5; Wasserman                            Hickman 118
563:223:02; Index #49621; MTh2; Elkins                                    Hickman 119

Interpretation of basic Christian scriptures in translation; influence of Jesus and Paul on the early Christian community.

pdf document here

pdf Contemporary Jewish Music: An Ethnographic Approach [SS]
563:225:01; Index #56983; TTh 7; Kligman                                Scott 120

This course will look at contemporary Jewish music, with a focus on Jewish music in America since the 1970s, klezmer music, and Israeli music.  The approach will be ethnographic, and students will engage in fieldwork and observations.  Topics discussed will include Jewish identity, authenticity, and the tension between tradition and innovation.

pdf document here

pdf Jewish Mysticism & Kabbalah  [CT]                    (Religion, 840:250)
563:250:01; Index #56727; MW6, Yadin-Israel                            Hardenberg B4

Rabbis speak of it in hushed tones, movie stars flaunt it, and websites promise ancient wisdom and power. But what exactly is Kabblah? The short answer: a particular strand within Jewish mysticism. The longer answer is provided by this course, which surveys the history and evolution of Jewish mystical traditions from the biblical roots of Jewish mysticism (the Creation narrative, the Book of Ezekiel, and more), key rabbinic writings, a number of classical mystical texts (including Sefer Yetzirah, the Bahir, and the Zohar), and discussion of the development of Kabbalah in the early modern and modern period, including its surprising prominence in current popular culture. The course is open to students of all backgrounds. All texts are in English.

Topics: Anthropology of Jews and Judaism [SS]             (Anthropology, 070:292:01)
563:293:01; Index #58151; MTh 9:15-10:35; Kornfeld                    Hickman 132

Does anthropology have a Jewish problem?  For much of the history of anthropology, anthropologists, including many from Jewish backgrounds, have avoided the study of Jewish subjects.  This course begins with an exploration of the prominent role of anthropologists of Jewish origin in the establishment of disciplinary anthropology.  This historical analysis will provide context and background for thinking about recent trends in the anthropology of Jews and Judaism.  The second part of the course will explore subjects ranging from the Jewish body to Jewish Youtube spoofs.  The ultimate objective of this course is to introduce anthropological theory and method in a way that provides students with a powerful analytical tool for thinking about contemporary Jewish life.

Arab-Israeli Conflict           (History, 508:300; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:300)
563:300:01; Index #56620; TTh 5; Gribetz                                 Campbell A5

This course will examine the conflict between Arabs and Jews over Palestine/Israel from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. It will provide an introduction to the origins of the conflict by considering the social, ideological, religious, and political forces that shaped it, including the rise of Israeli, Arab, and Palestinian nationalisms, European anti-Semitism, global war, and imperialism. It will also examine the evolution of the conflict over the course of the 20th century by surveying the impact of local, regional, and global politics.

pdf document here

pdf Modern Jewish Philosophy   [CT]                   (Philosophy, 730:312)
563:312; Index #44732; MW 7; Mann                                        Scott 114

This course examines the ways in which general philosophy and the currents of Jewish life have shaped Jewish thought in the modern period.  Proceeding from the 17th to the 21st centuries, the course will acquaint students with the thought of Baruch Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and several contemporary thinkers. The course will examine how each of these thinkers developed original reformulations of the core outlook of Judaism in ways compatible with the modern intellectual idiom, thus creating a rich and diverse spectrum of options in modern Jewish thought.

Hebrew Prophets  [CT]                                (Religion, 840:303)
563:325; Index #49612; TF3; Ballentine                                    Frelinghuysen A1
Pre-requisite: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, 563:220 or 840:201,202 or permission of instructor; not open to freshmen

Development and diffusion of Israelite prophetic thought from early associations with divination in Near Eastern culture through the Exile and later decline.

pdf document here

pdf American Jewish History                                        (History, 512:345)
563:345:01; Index #56619; TTh4; Surowitz                               Hardenberg B5

This course will explore major events and issues in American Jewish history from the colonial period to the present. Following the successive waves of Jewish immigration to America, the course will focus on the social, cultural, political, and religious transformations of these communities and the ways that they constructed their identities.  We will discuss some of the key figures in American Jewish history and their roles in the development of American Judaism. This course will contextualize American Jewry within the broader frameworks of Jewish history and American history.  Topics to be covered include: immigration, acculturation, religious transformations, secularization, gender, diaspora theory, and community building.

Introduction to the Middle East                   (Middle Eastern Studies, 685:350)
563:350; Index #49525; TTh 4; Haghani                                   SEC 203

This course explores various aspects of the Modern Middle East, including art and architecture, ethnic diversity, literature, modern history, music, religion, and writing systems. It will encourage participants to analyze what they have learned about the region through education, family ties, travel, print and electronic media, etc. The course will strive to foster common understanding and break down stereotypes.

pdf document here

pdf Jewish Power Jewish Politics                        (History, 510:389; Political Science  790:384)
563:389:01; Index #56622; TTh 6; Sinkoff                                Murray 204

This semester-long course will examine the political relationship of the Jewish community to the gentile authorities among whom they lived (and live), to the internal authority structures within the Jewish community, and to the modern Jewish state. We will examine how Jews rebelled against and accommodated to structures of power in varying historical contexts. We will examine select aspects of traditional Jewish politics, such as the concepts of /dina de-malkhuta dina/ (“the law of the gentile hosts is the law”) and the “royal alliance,” as the basis for our study of the continuities and challenges inherent in modern Jewish politics. The ideological assumptions in the words “power” and “powerlessness” will be critiqued throughout the course, which covers discrete topic areas in chronological order. Topics to be discussed include: Roman Rebels; Spanish Inquisitors and Jewish Courtiers; Kings, Nobles and Jewish Administrators in Early Modern Poland; Military Conscription and Communal Responses in Nicholas I’s Russia; Jewish Socialists in late Imperial Russia; Gender Politics of Jewish Women; The Appeal of Communism and Socialism in the Interwar Years; Jewish Liberalism and its Discontents; Zionist Empowerment and the challenge of the Holocaust. Primary and secondary sources, as well as fiction, poetry and films, will be used.

Topics:  pdf The Russian Jewish Experience in Literature and Film [ML]
(Comp Lit, 194:398:02; Russian, 860:320:02)
563:394:01; Index #47148; TTh4; Senderovich                         12 College Ave., Rm 107

This course offers an examination of the experience of Russian Jews from the end of the 19th century to the present, focusing on the late Imperial, the Soviet, and the post-Soviet periods. We will study cultural artifacts pertaining to the challenges of co-existence of Jews and their neighbors in the Russian Empire; we will also consider experiences of and reflections on the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism, the Holocaust, and the post-Stalin period; the place of Jews as individuals and members of a minority group within Russian and Soviet society, ideology, and culture; migration and emigration; everyday life in Russia, the Soviet Union, and among immigrant communities in America and elsewhere at the beginning of the 21st century. We will study fiction, films, diaries, memoirs, political propaganda, transcripts of trials, essays, and contemporary scholarship. This class may include field trips to the Zimmerli Museum of Art at Rutgers and to a number of Jewish cultural institutions in New York City. All readings in English.

pdf document here

Topics:  pdf Christians, Pagans & Jews [CT]   (Religion, 840:394:02)
563:395:01; Index #56740; MW4; Yadin-Israel                          12 College Ave., Rm 107

Though scholars tend to focus on the relations between Jews and Christians—shared background to eventual parting of the ways—the “Old Religion,” also known as Paganism, was a vital component of the religious landscape of the first centuries of the Common Era. This course seeks to address this oversight, by examining rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity as they engage Pagan religious ideas and ideals. The most central of these involves the emergence of a religious model that recognizes a canonic work as the primary (and perhaps sole) source of all knowledge, and considers commentary on this work an important religious enterprise. In this context we will examine the Pagan, Jewish, and Christian traditions of allegorical interpretation of Scripture (with Homer as the Pagan “Scripture”), and some of the remarkable parallels between the assumptions these groups make about their canonic texts. Other topics covered include: Pagan imagery and the problem of art in Jewish synagogues and Christian churches; Jewish membership in Pagan philosophical schools; Pagan support of Jewish religious practices as a tool in the Pagan anti-Christian polemic.

pdf document Jewish Humor

Topics: pdf Jewish Humor
563:396:01; Index #56996; MW5; Portnoy                                12 College Ave., Rm 107

Known historically as the “People of the Book,” the Jews are perhaps better known in the modern era as the “People of the Joke.” With a history of popular humor production that dates from the 19th century onward, Jewish comedy writers contributed heavily to the entertainment world in a variety of locales. The comedy industry, particularly in the United States, would come to be dominated by Jewish writers, whose cultural backgrounds frequently played a role in their comedic products. This course will survey the development of Jewish humor as a cultural phenomenon during the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing mainly on the history of American Jewish comedic output, but also delving into Jewish material from Eastern Europe, the USSR, and Israel.

By analyzing the development of Jewish humor, we will be able to gain insight into the variety of Jewish cultures and the ways in which they are affected by historical valences, as well as issues such as acculturation, assimilation, and methods employed in matters of cultural maintenance.

Topics: History & Memory in Cinema: France in WW II
(English: 354:392:01; Comp Lit: 195:398:01)
563:397:01; Index #47175, TTh 6; Th 6:10-9:00; Flitterman-Lewis         Murray 301

In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the complex and disturbing period in France known as the “dark years” of World War II.  This course will look at daily life, especially that of women and children, during this period, through the prism of the cinema, using popular films of the time as well as more current films that “return to the scene” to explore issues of memory, identity, trauma, and history. 

Jewish Studies Internship
563:460; Index #45470; By arrangement; open only to Jewish Studies majors and minors in their junior or senior year

This course enables students to pursue an independent research project while working in a Jewish public cultural or social institution as a supervised intern. Students are expected to work 8 hours per week (i.e. 112 hours during the semester, or its equivalent in a summer internship) at a site approved by the Jewish Studies department. Student’s pre-approval by both the department and the hosting agency is required. In addition to their internship hours, students are required to prepare a report, paper, or other project related to the nature of the internship.

pdf document here

Jewish Studies Seminar:  pdf Scroll Down-Jewish Studies on the Web          
563:464; Index #43942; MTh3; Rendsburg                                12 College Ave, Rm 206

Within the 3000-year history of Judaism, Jewish texts have transitioned from scroll to codex to book – and now to the digital age. This seminar will survey the classical Jewish sources, their manuscript traditions, and now their availability on the web (Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, Mishna, Talmud, Haggadah, Maimonides, etc.) – thereby bringing the old-new world of scholarship into contemporary focus.

The Jewish Studies seminar is required for majors in Jewish Studies and is usually taken in the third year. It is open to other students with the instructor’s permission.

Independent Study and Research                       
563:492; Index #44299; By arrangement; Staff

Students can pursue an independent study project beyond the department’s normal offerings with a faculty member who has expertise in the student’s area of interest, subject to the approval of the Department’s Undergraduate Advisor.  An independent study should be the equivalent of a one-semester course and can include guided research, fieldwork, or a directed reading.  A research paper or written report is required for all independent study projects. 

Senior Honors
563:497:H1; Index #44561; By arrangement; Staff  (Prerequisite: Permission of the Department Chair)

The honors program offers qualified students the opportunity to pursue a research project in depth for the entire senior year, culminating in the writing of a thesis, under the supervision of a faculty advisor. To be considered, students must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better, and 3.4 or better in Jewish Studies courses.  Jewish Studies majors who wish to pursue an honors thesis are encouraged to meet with the Department’s Undergraduate Advisor during the second term of their junior year in order to plan their project, and by the end of their junior year they should submit the formal proposal to the Department’s office.  Approval of the honors thesis is required for admission to the honors program.  Honors students enroll in 01:563:496 and 01:563:497 Jewish Studies honors courses, and upon the completion of their honors thesis should pass an oral examination given by the department.

Standard Periods (80 min each):

1                    8:10-9:30 a.m.       3    11:30-12:50 p.m.   5        2:50-4:10 p.m.    7   6:10 – 7:30 p.m.
9:50-11:10 a.m.     4    1:10-2:30 p.m.       6        4:30-5:50 p.m.    8   7:40 – 9:00 p

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Dept of Jewish Studies
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New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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