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Department of Jewish Studies
Spring 2012 Courses

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


Elementary Modern Hebrew                                    (AMESALL, 013:152)
563:101:01; Index #76145; MWTh2; Ruben                         MTh Scott 216, W Scott 221
563:101:02; Index #65688; 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.

Hebrew Review and Continuation                          (AMESALL, 013:156)
563:121:01; Index #69922; 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.

Intermediate Modern Hebrew – Part 1                  (AMESALL, 013:252)    
563:131:01; Index #67790; 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.

Intermediate Modern Hebrew – Part 2                   (AMESALL, 013:253)     
563:132:01; Index #65587; 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.

Introduction to Aramaic                                         (AMESALL, 013:145)
563:145:01; Index #76138; TTh4, Haberl                                  Beck 221

This course aims to introduce students to the Aramaic language through the Imperial Aramaic dialect, which was one of the official languages of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE).  The expansion of the Achaemenid Empire throughout the Middle East placed Aramaic into a privileged position as the lingua franca of the region, a position which it held for over a millennium, until the Islamic conquests of the region in the 7th century CE.  Imperial Aramaic is the dialect in which the Aramaic (or “Chaldean”) portions of the Bible were composed, and also the dialect from which all subsequently attested dialects of Aramaic developed, including those still spoken by certain small communities of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Middle East and in diaspora throughout the world.

Introduction to Modern Hebrew Literature (In Hebrew) [ML]   (AMESALL, 013:355)
563:372; Index #76141; MW4; Moshenberg                                                               Miller Hall, Rm 210
Prerequisite: 563:211 or placement test

Emphasis is on comprehension, conversation and composition, using 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.


Elementary Modern Yiddish 
563:104; Index #69373; MWTh3; Portnoy                                                                  Miller Hall 210
Prerequisite: 563:103

A continuation of Elementary Modern Yiddish 103, this introductory course is designed to teach basic conversational and reading skills.  The origins of Yiddish and its dialectal variants are also discussed.  Class activities also include participation in Yiddish skits and songs, screening Yiddish films and visiting the Yiddish theatre.  Emphasis is placed on the importance of Yiddish language and culture as a tool in the study of Jewish history and literature.


 Jewish Society and Culture I: From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
(History, 506:271; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:208)
563:201; Index #65667; MW4; Milstein                                                                                  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.

Jewish Society and Culture II: The Modern Experience   (History, 506:272)                                              
563:202; Index #64249; TTh7; Gribetz                                                                       Scott 214                                                       

This course surveys the major trends in Jewish life from the ferment caused by the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century until the years between Europe’s two great twentieth-century wars. Lectures will highlight the political, social, religious, and intellectual life of the Jews.  Topics of study include the emergence of Marranism, the rise of mercantilism and the resettlement of the Jews in Europe, the development of Jewish enlightenment (Haskalah), the debates over the political emancipation of the Jews, the emergence of Hasidism, the rise of Reform Judaism, modern anti-Semitism, Zionism, and Jewish life in Eastern Europe from the nineteenth century until the Russian Revolution.  The course concludes with Jewish life in Weimar Germany during the interwar years.  This course is required for minors and majors in Jewish Studies.

Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) [CT]                       (Religion, 840:201)                                                           
563:220:01; Index #69367; MTh3; Wallace                                                                Scott 202
563:220:02; Index #70635; MW 6; Rendsburg                                                            Hardenberg B4
563:220:03; Index #70636; MTh 9:15-10:35; Wallace                                                 RAB 204                       

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.

New Testament  [CT]                                               (Religion, 840:202)
563:223:01; Index #70205; TTh 4; Kolbaba                                                               Murray 204
563:223:02; Index #70639; MW 5:00 – 6:20; Darden                                                LSH A137
563:223:03; Index #70642; TTh 5:35-6:55; Eyl                                                         HSB 204

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

Jerusalem Contested : A City’s History                  (History, 508:392:03, Middle Eastern Studies, 685:396;04)
From Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives

563:309:01; Index #74957; TTh5; Gribetz                                                                  Campbell A5

This course introduces students to the history of one of the world’s most enduringly important and bitterly contested cities.  The Old City of Jerusalem, a miniscule parcel of land spanning less than one square kilometer, has changed hands repeatedly and as recently as 1967.  Never has the conquest of Jerusalem been perceived as a purely political act; conquering and ruling Jerusalem, and no less, losing and departing Jerusalem, have been understood as acts of the deepest religious and theological significance.  This course aims to excavate the causes for and evolution of the profound and sometimes extreme attachment of three faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—to the ‘Holy City.’  The course will follow a chronological trajectory, from antiquity to the present, and concludes with the contemporary debates over the status of Jerusalem in a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.  The course will be of interest not only to students of Middle Eastern history, but to those eager to learn more about the history of religions, the history of conflict, and the relationship between land and faith and between religion and politics.

Modern Jewish Philosophy  [CT]                   (Philosophy, 730:312)
563:312; Index #65110; MW5; Mann                                                                Murray 213

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.

Women in Jewish Law  [CT]                       (Religion, 840:394:02, Women’s Studies, 988:396:05)
563:319:01; Index #76149; TTh 5; Schwartz                                                  12 College Avenue, Rm 107

This course attempts to recover and analyze women’s voices in Jewish legal sources from Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.  As rabbinic society was patriarchal in its construction, and all its literary remains are the compositions of men, in large part the course studies the attitudes of a relatively small group of Jewish men toward Jewish women.  The course will also take note, however, of how the legislation and codification of these attitudes shaped women’s roles in later Jewish culture. In addition, it will examine various modern critical approaches to this material.   

Hebrew Prophets  [CT]                                (Religion, 840:303)
563:325; Index #70630; MW 6:40-8:00; Wiggins                                            Lucy Stone Hall, A143
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.

Dead Sea Scrolls  [CT]                                  (Religion, 840:340)
563:340:01; Index #76139; MW4; Rendsburg                                                 Hardenberg A5

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls represents one of the most dramatic archaeological finds of the twentieth century. Since their discovery in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been the subject of intense study and debate, and have profoundly influenced the way in which we understand the Jewish sects of the Second Temple period, the origins of Christianity, and the rise of Rabbinic Judaism. In this class we will examine a number of the Dead Sea Scrolls, attempting to understand them within their original historical context, as well as their significance for later Jewish and Christian traditions. All readings are in English. 

History of Zionism                                                      (History, 510:386, Middle Eastern Studies, 685:343)
563:343:01; Index #76140; TTh4; Bartal                                                                    Hardenberg B5

This course examines the Zionist movement from the precursors of Zionism to the founders of the modern State of Israel.  We will examine the origins of Zionist ideology and enquire into the historical conditions as well as the political strategies that made its success possible. Topics of study will include the thought of Moses Hess, Theodore Herzl, Ahad Ha-am; Zeev Jabotinsky, and David Ben-Gurion. The varieties of Zionist thought (cultural Zionism, socialist Zionism, religious Zionism and their critiques) will also be examined.

Introduction to the Middle East                   (Middle Eastern Studies, 685:350)
563:350; Index #70528; TF 8:40-10:00; Haghani                                                        Lucy Stone Hall, A256

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.

History of Jews in Germany and Austria-Hungary                                     (History, 510:392:03)
563:368:01; Index #76151; TTh6, Hanebrink                                                 Hardenberg A5

This course explores the construction of Jewish identities in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) from the late 1700s until the present day.  For much of the nineteenth century, the history of Jews in this part of Europe reads like a success story. Jewish artists, writers,  entrepreneurs, and professionals, especially those in the great cities of Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, made tremendous contributions to the societies around them out of all proportion to their numbers. However, Central Europe also saw the rise in these years of an ideology – modern political antisemitism – that aimed at the exclusion of Jews from the society around them. In the middle of the twentieth century, this ideology fuelled the near total annihilation of Jewish communities in the region and across Europe. Yet, the history of Central European Jews did not end with the Holocaust. Especially in those parts of the region under Soviet control, the role and status of Jews remained an important social and political issue until 1989. Today – despite the painful past – there has been a remarkable revival of Jewish culture in Central Europe.

MINI COURSE – 7 weeks (3/6 – 4/26)
Sephardic Jewish History & Culture

563:381:01; Index #76142; TTh4, Surowitz                                                    12 College Avenue, Rm 107

This course will explore the history, religion, and culture of Sephardic Jews from the fifteenth century to the present.  Following the development of mercantile networks and colonial expansion, we will examine the development of Sephardic community and identity in Europe and the Americas.   Our study will include a survey of key events and figures, and other topics, such as diaspora, economics, social networks, and religious identity.

MINI COURSE – 7 weeks (3/6 – 4/26)
American Judaisms

563:382; Index #76143; TTh 6; Surowitz                                                        12 College Avenue, Rm 206

The United States is home to one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse Jewish communities in the world. Bringing together the fields of Jewish history and religion, we will focus on some of the key issues in American Judaisms from 1850-1970. The course will focus on the social, cultural, and religious expressions of Judaism and the ways in which these have informed the development American Jewish identities. Topics such as the intersection of religion and ethnicity, gender, and race will be considered. Throughout this course, we will survey major movements in American Jewish religious life such as the Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements, as well as the role that these movements played in key issues such as Civil Rights and Feminist movements.  Other topics for consideration will include the tensions between defining religious and ethnic communities, and traditionalism and acculturation.

Modern Yiddish Literature  [ML]    (Comparative Lit., 195:398:01; German, 470)
563:386:01; Index #76186; TTh 6; Shandler                                                   12 College Avenue, Rm 107

This course offers an introduction to the literary and cultural activity of Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century. Materials include prose fiction, autobiography, poetry, and drama by major writers (including Sholem Aleichem, Y. L. Peretz, S. Ansky, and Isaac Bashevis Singer), as well as a selection of Yiddish films. Knowledge of Yiddish is not required; all readings are in English.

The course focuses on the distinctive role that Yiddish played in modern Jewish culture during a period when the language was the vernacular of the majority of world Jewry.  The course examines how “Yiddish modernism” took shape in different venues and genres, and it considers larger, overarching issues, especially the role that this traditional vernacular language played as a vehicle for modernist ideas during a period of extraordinary upheaval.

Topics: Transformations of the Book of Genesis [ML]               (Religion, 840:393:03; English 351:320:01)
563:394:01; Index #67761; MTh 2; Milstein                                                   Miller Hall, Room 210

Perhaps more than any other book in the Bible, the Book of Genesis has triggered numerous interpretations and creative retellings since its composition. This is hardly surprising, given the compelling and sometimes outrageous nature of the material: the origins of humanity; narratives of incest, trickery, rape, and revenge; and the accounts of Israel’s first contacts with God. In this course, we will read and analyze Genesis on its own terms, in its own ancient context, and evaluate critically later “transformations” of Genesis, ranging from ancient (e.g., the Book of Jubilees; rabbinic literature; Christian readings) to modern (e.g., novels; short stories; poetry). How do later writers interpret, play with, or manipulate the details of the original texts? What limits do certain writers place on themselves, and what liberties do others take with the material? And what is it about Genesis that later writers still find so compelling? This course will include a major creative component, in that students will produce their own range of literary responses to Genesis throughout the semester. All readings will be in English.

Topics: Judaism and the Problem of Evil                         (Religion, 840:394:03)
563:395:01; Index #64931; MTh3, Steyer                                                       12 College Avenue, Rm 206

 This course offers an introduction to the problem of evil and suffering in Jewish philosophical thought.  In so doing, it aims to clarify the problem and to introduce students to the main approaches to the problem in Jewish thought, with some references to other philosophical and religious approaches.

Topics: Introduction to Semitic Languages (AMESALL, 013:409:01; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:496:02)
563:397:01; Index #67791; TTh 5; Haberl                                                                  Beck 101

This course aims to introduce students to the Semitic language family and the broader Afroasiatic language phylum. The grammar of the subject languages, which include Akkadian, Ethiopic, Ugaritic, Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic, among others, will be examined from both a synchronic and diachronic perspective.  Subjects to be discussed include writing systems; the historical and comparative linguistics of the Semitic language family; classification of individual Semitic languages and proposed divisions/subgroupings within the family; historical reconstruction; and the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the various Semitic languages.

Jewish Studies Internship
563:460; Index #65889; 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.

Jewish Studies Seminar: Jewish Memory   (History, 506:402:02)
563:464; Index #64250; W5&6; Zerubavel                                                     12 College Ave, Rm 206

This seminar is designed to explore the role of memory in Jewish life in the modern period and to allow students to pursue their own research on a related topic, culminating in a major research paper. The seminar will explore how memory shapes the understanding of the past through reinterpreting traditional forms and the creation of new sites of memory in response to key historical processes and events (such as emigration, the Holocaust, the establishment of Israel), and in dialogue with broader social and cultural trends (i.e. nationalism, socialism, feminism, and multiculturalism). Discussions will draw on selected sites of memory which inform the knowledge of the past in contemporary Jewish life, including rituals and holidays, memorials and museums, literary texts, film and the media. Students will choose their own research topic related to the seminar theme early in the semester in consultation the instructor, taking into consideration available sources and secondary literature.

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 #64638; 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 #464929; 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
12 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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