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Department of Jewish Studies
Fall 2011 Courses

 See Summer 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
– Part 1                        (AMESALL, 013:152)
563:101:01; Index #24482; MWTh2; TBA                                                                  Murray 208
563:101:02; Index #24494 ;MWTh3; Moshenberg                                                      Scott 205
Prerequisite: Placement test.

This course develops primary language skills through reading and writing. Emphasis is put on the sentence as a unit of language and students are engaged from the very beginning in creative writing and speech. Basic competence in grammar and comprehensive reading is achieved as well. Communication skills are enhanced by engaging in conversations based on everyday situations covering a variety of cultural topics. No previous knowledge of Hebrew required.

Elementary Modern Hebrew – Part 2                       (AMESALL, 013:153)
563:102:01; Index #26381; MWTh2;Moshenberg                                                        MTh Scott 101/ Murray 207
Prerequisite: 563:101 or placement test.

A continuation of Elementary Modern Hebrew 101, this course further develops the primary language skills introduced in the previous semester. Basic competence in the four areas of language (reading, writing, grammar and speech) is acquired through extensive practice of grammar, reading various Hebrew and Israeli texts, and writing. Communication skills are enhanced through conversations based on everyday situations.

Elementary Modern Yiddish
563:103; Index #24483; MWTh3; Portnoy                                                                    Miller Hall 210
Prerequisite: 563:103

An introduction to speaking, reading, and writing Yiddish, focusing on acquiring the fundamentals of grammar and basic vocabulary. Class activities also include Yiddish songs and Yiddish films. No previous knowledge of Yiddish required.

Intermediate Modern Hebrew – Part 1                  (AMESALL, 013:252)    
563:131:01; Index #45888; MWTh2; Bryn Noiman                                                                      Scott 220
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.

Advanced Modern Hebrew – Part 1                                  (AMESALL, 013:352)
563:210:01; Index #35956; MW4; Bryn-Noiman                                                              12 College Avenue, Room 206
Prerequisite: 563:132 or placement test

This course is designed to develop fluency and increase proficiency in reading and writing skills. The course provides an intensive training in Hebrew Grammar and syntax through the reading and analysis of short essays, and newspaper and magazine articles. Reading and writing assignments as well as creative writing and oral presentations are part of the course work.

Love and Desire in Hebrew Prose and Poetry (in Hebrew) [ML]           (AMESALL, 013:454)
563:484:01; Index #35969; MTh3; Bryn-Noiman                                                            12 College Avenue, Room 206
Prerequisite: 563:372 or placement test

This advanced course explores the theme of love in Hebrew prose, poetry and film. Students read selected texts from the Biblical period to the 20th century, paying particular attention to their articulation of relationships, passion, and desire. Films in Hebrew relevant to the texts discussed in class are viewed throughout the semester. Note: This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.


Jewish Society and Culture I: From Antiquity to the Middle Ages  (required course) 
(History, 506:271; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:208)           
563:201:01; Index # 24485; TTh7; Rendsburg                                                                Murray 211

This course examines 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 Maccabean 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.

History of the Modern Middle East               (History, 508:205:03; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:203:03)
563:205:03; Index #38089; Sat 1-4; Anderson                                                               Murray 111

This course is designed to introduce the students to the modern Near/Middle East. We will survey the major historical and political developments in the region from roughly 1700 to the present. The course is divided into two sections. The first section will cover broad historical themes such as the development and political influence of the Ottoman Empire and the impact of European imperialism in the region. Significant attention will be given to the Ottoman Empire—as both an introduction for students to this important historical entity as well as understanding its legacy in the post-WWI era. The crucial watershed of WWI and its impact on the region, heralding the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of a new imperial order, is a very important part of this section. The course will examine Palestine and study the emergence of the Zionist movement and creation of Israel. Students will study the Arab-Israeli conflict and related political issues that affected the region, such as the Cold War, new ideologies, and intra-state rivalries. With these previously discussed issues serving as a backdrop, students will analyze important historical events and political movements in a select group of Middle Eastern countries.

Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) [CT]                       (Religion, 840:201)                
563:220:01; Index #31966; MTh 9:15-10:35; Wallace                                                       Hickman 211
563:220:02; Index #31967; MTh 12:35-1:55; Wallace                                                       RAB 204   
563:220:03; Index #31968; MW, 5:00-6:20; Wiggins                                                         Beck, 219       

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 #31956; MTh 10:55-12:15; Kolbaba                                                       Hickman 205
563:223:02; Index #32831;MW 5:00-6:20; Darden                                                              LSH B112
563:223:03; Index #32832; MW 5:35-6:55; Eyl                                                                   Thompson 206

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

Modern Jewish Literature  [ML]                            (Comparative Literature, 195:395:01)
563:243:01; Index #35955; MW5; Portnoy                                                                         Frelinghuysen A4

The Jewish experience in modernity and the conflicts and challenges it has precipitated have been the subject of a significant body of literature.  In this course, we will read and discuss representative works of fiction by Jewish writers from the late 19th century to the present, working in various languages and literary traditions:  Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and German.  Foreign-language works will be read in translation.

Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah: From the Bible to Madonna  [CT]        (Religion, 840:250)
563:250; Index #35953; MW4; Yadin                                                                          12 College Ave, Rm 107

Rabbis speak of it in hushed tones, movie stars flaunt it, and websites promise ancient wisdom and power. But what exactly is Kabbalah? 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 periods, including its surprising prominence in current popular culture. The course is open to students of all backgrounds. All texts are in English.

History of the Holocaust                                    (History, 510:261:01)
563:261:01; Index #29023; MTh 12:30-1:55; Hanebrink                                           Loree Building 022

This course is a detailed examination of the programs of persecution and mass murder carried out by the Nazi German regime between 1933 and 1945. Several themes will be prominent throughout the semester. First, we will examine when and how policies of exclusion can be transformed into a systematic program of murder. In this regard, we will examine not only the development of Nazi Germany as a "racial state," but also the role of ideologies, such as anti-Semitism, nationalism, and racism, in shaping policies of exclusion in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Second, we will focus on the place of the Holocaust in European, and not only German, history. The events we associate with the Holocaust took place across the continent of Europe and were shaped by local histories; throughout the course we will pay close attention to the interaction between Germans, Jews, and non-German native populations. The mass murder of European Jews will be the central focus of this course. We will, however, also discuss programs of discrimination and murder carried out against other groups (e.g. Roma, the disabled, homosexuals, and Poles) and attempt to place these phenomena within the context of Nazi German racial policy.

Topics: Jews and the Movies [SS]                       
563:293:01; Index #35006; MTh3; Manchin                                                               12 College Ave, Rm 107

This course will examine Jewish comedy films and Jewish identity from the 1920s to the present, in the European, U.S. and Israeli contexts.  From the very beginning, Jewish involvement in film production has attracted a lot of attention, both positive and negative, because of the films' perceived cultural influence.  Students will explore why it is that at particular moments Jewish film was most closely associated with Jewish comedy.    Throughout the course, they will analyze films to understand how Jewish identity was constructed through film in various settings and how the films reflected the specific concerns of Jews in different times and places. The course will investigate to what extent and how Jewish comedy films have offered competing narratives and visions of community, nation and ethnicity.

Arab-Israeli Conflict                                          (History, 508:300, Middle Eastern Studies, 685:300)
563:300:01; Index #35952; TTh4; Gribetz                                                                  Murray 115

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.

Topics: Jews in the Islamic World                   (History, 508:391:01; Middle Eastern Studies, 685:395:03)
563:308:01; Index #35966; MTh2; Gribetz                                                     12 College Avenue, Room 107

This course offers students an introduction to the cultural, religious, and political history of Jews in the lands of Islam.  Jews have lived among Muslims since the days of Muhammad in the seventh century; indeed, the Jews and their traditions are central in the Qur’an itself.  Because the course covers more than thirteen centuries of interaction, cohabitation, and (at times) conflict, it necessarily paints in broad strokes, but it pauses along the way to consider a number of important case studies.  The end of the course explores the impact of Zionism and the Arab-Israeli conflict on the Jews of the Middle East.

Classical Jewish Philosophy [CT]                      (Philosophy, 730:311)
563:311:01; Index #24486; TTh6; Mann                                                                  Hardenberg A5

This course provides an introduction to the classical Jewish philosophers - Sa’adia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Maimonides and others – and will briefly touch on philosophical issues surrounding Kabbalah as well.  By focusing on the tension between traditional Jewish faith and rational models of inquiry (Athens vs. Jerusalem), students will gain an appreciation of the intellectual range and diversity that characterized Jewish thought in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, and how classical Jewish philosophy set the stage for modern Jewish thought.  In addition to studying individual thinkers, we will address broad thematic questions about the nature and task of Jewish philosophy and the circumstances that give rise to it.

Jews, Heretics and the Inquisition                    (History, 510:314)
563:314:01; Index #35953; MW4; Tartakoff                                                              Hardenberg A7

A survey of the Medieval, Spanish, and Roman inquisitions focusing on these institutions’ attitudes toward, and treatment of, heretics, Jews, and conversos (Jewish converts to Christianity).  Students will study how these inquisitions operated and examine their legal precedents as well as their relations to the social, political, and religious tensions of their day.  Students will also consider broader historical questions about forms of intolerance and modes of persecution.

Women in the Bible                                          (Women's Studies, 988:314)
563:322:01; Index #37213; TTh4; Milstein                                                               Hardenberg A1

The course will explore and interpret a variety of biblical texts that reflect perceptions of women in ancient Israel. It will work along two major axes. First, the course will examine what the Bible itself has to say about the role of women in society, marriage and motherhood, virginity, prostitution, sexual violence, and the role of women/goddesses in the cult. How does the Bible’s portrayal of women mirror or depart from depictions of women/goddesses in the wider ancient world? Second, it will examine and critique a range of interpretive approaches to these women-centered texts, from ancient to modern (e.g., theological, feminist, psychoanalytical, literary). In what ways do certain approaches illuminate different aspects of the biblical texts? In what ways have biblical texts been used at cross-purposes with the intentions of the ancient authors? Why has it been so tempting (and powerful) to use the Bible to substantiate certain claims about women? All texts will be in translation.

American Jewish History                                  (History, 512:345))
563:345; Index #35655; MW5; Surowitz                                                                   Scott 206

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 Modern Middle East             (Middle Eastern Studies, 685:350)
563:350:01; Index #28064; MTh 10:20-11:40; Bashi                                                  Beck 111
563:350:02; Index #32109; TTh 1:40-3:00; Haghani                                                  Tillett 123

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 through collegial in-class activities.

Israeli Politics [SS]                                    (Middle Eastern Studies, 685:352; Political Science, 790:352)
563:352; Index # 30984; M6&7; Mendilow                                                      12 College Avenue, Room 107

This course surveys the current structure of Israeli politics and the processes that led to its formation. The course begins by examining the ideological premises upon which Israel was established and the state-building strategies that issued from them, followed by an examination of the main features of Israeli politics from 1967 to the present.

Holocaust Media                                          (Comparative Literature, 195:371)
563:366; Index #30712; W 2&3; Manchin                                                      12 College Avenue, Room 107

This course will examine how the Holocaust has been represented from WWII to the present in various media. Our sources will include photography, newsreels, documentaries, television dramas, feature films, and museum exhibits from Europe, North America and Israel. Throughout the course, we will be looking at how individual representations have been shaped by the political and cultural context, the identity of the creators, and the media and genre in which they were created. We will also explore how representations of the Holocaust have shaped our understanding of the meaning of the Holocaust for modern society and what questions they have raised about the limits of representation.

Rabbis, Rebels, and Rationalists: The Jews of Eastern Europe     (History, 510:385)
563:385; Index #35688; MTh 3; Sinkoff                                                         Murray 115

This course will survey the social, economic, political, religious, and cultural history of East European Jewry from the thirteenth century to the post-World War II period. Topics to be covered include: Jewish autonomy, the economic and political relationship between the Jews and non-Jewish authorities, Sabbatianism, Frankism, Hasidism, the partitions of Poland, Jewish life in the Russian and Habsburg Empires in the nineteenth century, the rise of mass politics and new forms of Jewish self-expression (nationalism, socialism, Zionism, Yiddishism), World War I, the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism, the reemergence of independent Poland, Jewish life in Poland and Soviet Russia in the inter-war years, modern anti-Semitism, the destruction of East European Jewry in World War II, and the culture of memory about East European Jewry that has emerged in its aftermath. Primary and secondary readings, as well as novels, short stories and films, will be used.  

Topics: Jewish Communities: Ethnicity, Religion, and Practice [SS]   (Anthropology, 070:320:01)
563:395:01; Index #29028; MW7; Surowitz                                                    Ruth Adams Building, Room 209B

American Jewish communities are remarkably diverse.  Some define themselves racially, others ethnically, and some according to religious practice or even body art.  This course surveys Jewish communities in the Americas. We will explore the historical and cultural experiences that have helped define a number of Jewish communities, such as Cuban Jews, Jews of the American south, and Jews in New York.  We will examine questions of race, ethnicity, community, and religion and the ways in which these constructs shape identity. For examples, how do Cuban Jews in Miami understand and organize themselves vis-à-vis other Cuban and Jewish groups? Similarly, how do Ultra-Orthodox Jews in America define their community and relationship with other Jewish groups and maintain distinction within a diverse social landscape? Among the topics discussed: diversity of Jewish life, religious dynamism, the maintenance and flexibility of social boundaries.

Topics: Contemporary Polish Literature                 (Polish, 787:370:01, Comp. Lit., 195:396:02)
563:396:01; Index #32701;MTh3; Bojanowska                                              Murray Hall, Room 210

This survey course will focus on the last half century of Polish writing, treating such themes as World War II, the Holocaust, the redrawing of post-war Poland’s boundaries, and other historical traumas, including the September 11 attacks in New York City. We will trace recent explorations of non-traditional sexual identities and imaginary reconstructions of Poland’s lost ethnic “others,” such as the Jews, the Germans, and the Ruthenians. Readings will include the classic of Polish Holocaust literature, Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, as well as very recent post-Holocaust fiction. A Polish poet of Jewish origin, Anna Frajlich, will visit the class. Class discussions and readings are in English.

Readings in Biblical Hebrew Prose [CT]                   (AMESALL, 013:401:02)
563:433:01; Index #35967; TTh5; Rendsburg                                                 12 College Avenue, Room 206
Prerequisite: 563:210 or 563:211

An advanced course in reading selected prose texts in the Hebrew Bible, with a special focus on material from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, and Samuel.  The greatest emphasis will be placed on the literary devices utilized by the ancient Israelite prose writers, but we also will pay attention to other issues, such as grammatical and historical concerns.

Jewish Studies Internship
563:460:01; Index #26386; by arrangement; Staff   (special permission required)

Open only to junior and senior Jewish Studies majors and minors. Supervised work in a historical society, archive, museum, communal agency, etc.; 112 hours required. Advisor will supervise and evaluate the student’s project/paper and the sponsor’s assessment.

Independent Study and Research
563:491:01; Index #25028; by arrangement; Staff   (special permission required)

Students (juniors and seniors only) 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, field work, or an internship along with directed reading. A research paper or written report is required for all independent study projects.

Senior Honors
563:496:01; Index #25131; 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 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 project 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 they should submit the formal application to the Department’s office by the end of their junior year. Approval of the honors project is required for admission to the honors program. Honors students enroll in Jewish Studies honors courses 01:563:496 and 01:563:497, and, upon the completion of their honors project, 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.
2 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.m.

Contact Us

Dept of Jewish Studies
12 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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