Synopses - Master Course List

Master Course List

American Jewish Culture

jazz-singer01:563:332
(cross-listed with 01:050:332)

American Jewish Culture reflects the tension between tradition and acculturation in the American Jewish experience. This course also explores the remarkable influence that Jews have had on American writing, film, and television and on our nation’s social and cultural mores.

American Jewish History

01:563:231

This course traces the dynamics of a religious and ethnic minority in North America from the colonial period to the present. In so doing, it surveys crucial events and developments in the Jews’ encounter with North America and explores what these have meant for both Jewish and American cultures. Topics to be covered include: migration, communal and religious innovation, acculturation, ethnicity, and politics. The course will also explore the ways in which Jews have been represented by popular American cultural forms, including fiction and films.

Ancient Egypt (mini-course)

01:563:266 
(cross-listed with 01:013:302)

Introduction into ancient Egypt. Topics include a historical overview, religion, art, archaeology, interconnections between ancient Egypt and ancient Israel, and Hieroglyphic Egyptian language and literature.

Arab Israeli Conflict

Arab Israeli Conflict01:563:300
(cross-listed with 01:685:300)

This course is an overview of the hundred-year old Arab-Israeli conflict, the controversies it has generated, the attempts to resolve it, and how we as outsiders to the conflict learn about it and experience it. During the first unit of the course, we will work to understand key historical moments of the conflict through multiple perspectives and interpretations. In the second unit, we will evaluate attempts for peace. Throughout these units, we will seek to analyze conflicting claims of truth, justice, history, and ownership. During the third unit, we will examine media coverage of the conflict so as to evaluate how the media shapes our perception of the stakes, the players, and the history. At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to discuss events in the last century that have contributed to the conflict, analyze different narratives among Israelis and Palestinians, evaluate attempts for peace, and engage in sophisticated, critical debates about the conflict both in and outside the classroom. 

Classical Jewish Philosophy

Maimonides01:563:311
(cross-listed as 01:730:311)

Did you know that the first Jewish theology was written in Arabic? That medieval Jewish philosophers wrestled with the same questions about evil, ethics and God’s existence as we do today? In this course, we examine some great works of philosophy in their historical settings. We will do a select reading of four fascinating thinkers: Philo of Alexandria, Saadya Gaon, Judah Halevi, and Moses Maimonides. We will address the “meaning of life,” of the nature of God, and the problems of suffering and injustice. We will also see how Jewish thinkers were in conversation and conflict with the Christian and Islamic cultures of their days, how politics influences philosophy, and how philosophy was used as a practical tool for “virtuous living.” You don’t have to be Jewish—or a philosopher!—to appreciate classical Jewish philosophy.

Culture of Yiddish

Yiddish01:563:245
(cross-listed as 01:470:388:01)

Did you know
•    There were once 11 million Yiddish speakers worldwide?
•    There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn where the ATMs offer a Yiddish option?
•    There are 300-year-old alternate prayers especially for women written in Yiddish?
•    There was a Jewish Autonomous Region, with Yiddish as its official language, established in the Soviet Union
      in the 1930s?
•    There are more than a dozen different words for “Christmas” in Yiddish?
•    You can visit an organic farm in upstate New York where only Yiddish is spoken? 
•    You can watch online videos in Yiddish produced in New York, Montreal, and Stockholm?

Explore the thousand-year history of Yiddish, key to centuries of Jewish folklore and politics, great works of modern literature and traditional spirituality.  Learn how a language thrives in diaspora and endures a genocide, and how it has enriched the lives of fundamentalists, revolutionaries, avant-garde performers, and others—including many people who aren’t Jewish—around the world. 

This course fulfills Core Learning Goal Q:  Understand the nature of human languages and their speakers. No prerequisites.  All readings are in English. 
No prior knowledge of Yiddish or other languages required.

Dead Sea Scrolls

DeadSeaScrolls01:563:340
(cross-listed as 01:840:340)

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls represents one of the most dramatic archaeological finds of the 20th 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 all of the major Dead Sea Scrolls, along with many of the more fragmentary ones, as we attempt to understand their historical context, in addition to their significance for later Jewish and Christian traditions. All readings are in English.

Elementary Modern Yiddish

Yiddish01:563:103

Big Ten Academic Alliance
Distance Learning Course

Course Goals

By the end of the course, students should have Yiddish skills to do the following:

  • Understand and participate in a simple conversation on everyday topics.
  • Read edited texts on familiar topics, understand the main ideas, and pick out important information from more complex texts with the aid of a dictionary.
  • Write short compositions on a variety of everyday topics; answer interpretive questions related to class readings.
  • Use basic grammatical forms, including the present, past and conditional tenses, periphrastic verbs, articles, and adjectives, pronouns, the negative, and word order.

The course will also introduce students to the history of the Yiddish language and the breadth of Yiddish.

For more information on options to study Yiddish, please contact Prof. Jeffrey Shandler (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Evolution of the English Language

01:563:362English Course

For many of us, a native language is both intimately familiar and profoundly foreign. We can speak it, but we do not know how it came to be. This course offers a survey of the one thousand years of English and its development. The focus of the class is on the ways in which encounters with other languages have shaped and enriched the English language, ultimately creating the language we know today. No prior knowledge is required or assumed.

Exile under Nazism and Communism

01:563:270(cross-listed with 01:510:263 and 01:360:292)

This course will explore the experience of Poles and Polish Jews under Nazi and Communist rule in the 20th century through history, travel writing, memoir, poetry, and film. Jews lived in Polish lands for a millennium and by the eighteenth century comprised 10% of Poland’s urban population. However, the almost total destruction of Polish Jewry in World War II made the Jews a ‘phantom limb,’ a shadowy non-presence, in the post-war period. Post-war Poles also experienced devastating dislocations due to the war and to the Communist takeover. Both peoples have produced a wealth of memoir literature that explores the meanings of home, exile, longing, and the human need for connection to place that is shared, in this case study, by Poles and Jews. The paradox of this literature is that both nations appear unaware of the similar themes that their memoirs employ and evoke.

In order to understand the experience of belonging and exile, this course will introduce students to the history of Poland, beginning in its “Golden Age,” which saw the expansion of Jewish settlement, continuing to the effects of the partitions in the late eighteenth century, in which Poland and its peoples became subjects of the Russian, Habsburg, and Austrian Empires which stimulated the development of both Polish and Jewish nationalism in the nineteenth century. We will continue by investigating the dislocations caused by World War I, the exhilaration of the reestablishment of Polish statehood in the interwar period, and then focus on the catastrophic invasion and occupation by the Nazi Third Reich and the subsuming of Polish sovereignty under Communism in 1946.

After laying the historical groundwork, the course will focus on places (e.g,. Wilno/Vilna/Vilnius; Warsaw; Lwów/Lemberg/L’viv) and individuals (e.g., Czesław Miłosz, Adam Zagajewski, Shimon Redlich, Eva Hoffman, Wisława Szymborska), among others.

Students are required to read the materials in advance of our sessions. We will pay careful attention to the primary sources—all of which are available on Sakai—in class. Additional readings, in the form of articles and book chapters, have been uploaded on Sakai. The secondary sources will allow you to a) deepen your understanding of the history we’re engaging and b) enter into the contemporary scholarly conversation about the meaning of that history. Films, and two poetry readings—one by a Polish poet, the other by a Ukrainian poet—will enhance students’ experience of personal exile and its artistic expression.

Global Field Experience, “A Tale of Two Uprisings”:  In connection with this 3-credit course, but distinct from it, Professor Sinkoff will be leading a 1-credit Global Field Experience to Poland on May 10-19 for fifteen students. Participants will include high-achieving students taking “Exile under Nazism and Communism” as well as students in the Honors Program and in the SAS Honors College. Applications, costs—including grants—and the itinerary will be posted on Sakai by early February.

Learning Goals:
Acquire an overview of the major issues related to Nazi and Communist rule in Central Europe—particularly Poland—in the twentieth century.

Encounter the interconnected history of Poles and Jews: their shared pasts, their dissonant pasts, and their complicated memories of both.

Engage in the craft of history by studying a variety of primary sources, such as autobiographies, legal charters, poetry, and testimonies, and through reading secondary interpretations, including scholarly articles and textbook readings.

Develop skills of communicating orally and in writing through classroom discussion based on questions posted on the Sakai site, exams, and short papers.

This course is open to senior citizen auditors. Please contact Professor Sinkoff (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) in advance.

German Jewish Culture

German Jews01:563:380
(cross-listed with 01:195:380 and 01:470:380)

The course surveys German-Jewish culture from the eighteenth century to 1935.  A wide range of philosophical, theological, autobiographical, literary, poetic, and dramatic texts will be studied, including works by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn, Rahel Varnhagen, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Moses Hess, Franz Kafka, Hermann Cohen, Else Lasker-Schüler, Sigmund Freud, and Martin Buber. Topics to be covered: Enlightenment and "Bildung"; salon culture; autobiography and romanticism; socialism and assimilation; “Anti-Semitism” and Zionism; theology and redemption.

Taught in English. 

Hebrew Language Courses

hebrew 150pxClick to learn more about the Hebrew Placement Exam

PLACEMENT EXAM


Elementary Modern Hebrew I

01:563:101
(cross-listed with 01:013:152)

Acquire basic competence in reading, writing and speaking Hebrew.

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.


No prerequisites.


Hebrew Review and Continuation

01:563:121
(cross-listed with 01:013:156)

Enhance your basic Hebrew language skills through a review of grammar and by practicing reading, writing and speaking.

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.

Prerequisite: 01:563:101 / 01:013:152 or Hebrew placement test.


Intermediate Modern Hebrew I

01:563:131
(cross-listed with 01:013:252)

Improve your Hebrew conversational skills and start to read texts in classical and modern Hebrew.

The objectives of this course are twofold: development of language skills and preparing the 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.

Prerequisites: 01:563:121 / 01:013:156 or Hebrew placement test.

This course fulfills Core Learning Goal Q.


Intermediate Modern Hebrew II

01:563:132
(cross-listed with 01:013:253)


Achieve proficiency in reading and speaking modern Hebrew.

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.

Prerequisites: 01:563:121 / 01:013:156 or Hebrew placement test.


Advanced Modern Hebrew

01:563:210/211
(cross-listed with 01:013:352/353)

Improve your proficiency in reading and writing skills by reading short essays, newspaper, and magazine articles.

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.

Prerequisites: 01:563:132 / 01:013:253 or Hebrew placement test.


Contemporary Hebrew Literature and Media

01:563:371
(cross-listed with 01:013:354)

Enhance your ability to speak Hebrew and improve your reading comprehension through the analysis of popular Israeli literature and texts from Israeli magazines and newspapers. Note: this course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.

Prerequisites: 01:563:131 / 01:013:252 or 01:563:132 / 01:013:252 or Hebrew placement test.


Introduction to Modern Hebrew Literature

01:563:372
(cross-listed with 01:013:354)

Enhance your ability to speak Hebrew and improve your reading comprehension through the analysis of popular Israeli literature and texts from Israeli magazines and newspapers. Note: this course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.

Prerequisites: 01:563:131 / 01:013:252 or 01:563:132 / 01:013:252 or Hebrew placement test.

History of Jewish Art

JewishArtF1601:563:226
(cross-listed with 01:082:255)

An overview of Jewish engagements with visual art from ancient times to the present in communities around the world, including synagogue architecture, ritual objects, fine art, photography, and public monuments. Topics addressed include the role of art in addressing communal ritual, personal spirituality, modernity, immigrant life, revolution, anti-Semitism, Holocaust remembrance.  

No prerequisites.

History of Jewish Women (mini-course)

History of Jewish Women01:563:382

Gender as a category of analysis has revolutionized the study of history. This course will apply the category of gender to the history of the Jewish people, beginning from the early medieval period until the present. Until recently, Jewish history has largely been told through the experience of Jewish men and the texts they penned and preserved. This course will expand our understanding of Jewish history and self-understanding by studying and analyzing the role of Jewish women in relationship to the development of Judaism, Jewish economic life, Jewish politics, and to Jewish culture broadly defined. What was the relationship between formal religion and daily life, and how has this relationship changed over time? How did Jewish women contribute to the family economy and what was their relationship to the non-Jewish societies in which they lived? What do Jewish traditions teach about the relation of women to God, to prayer and liturgy, and to human relationships? How have the modern phenomena of immigration, assimilation, religious denominationalism, and feminism shaped Jewish women’s thinking and experience? How does the inclusion of women and issues of gender change the understanding of the Jewish past?

Topics to be covered include: spirituality, marriage, motherhood, the body and sexuality, and women’s activities in work, spirituality, and political and religious leadership. The course materials will cross temporal and geographic boundaries, and we will utilize diverse genres to explore our topic, including primary and secondary historical sources, fiction, poetry, and film. 

History of the Holocaust

Auschwitz gate01:563:261
(crosslisted as 01:510:261)

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.

History of Zionism

01:563:343

This course explores the development of Zionism from nineteenth-century Europe to twenty-first century Israel. An analysis of speeches, personal essays, newspaper articles, and film will reveal the evolution of the Zionist idea across centuries and continents. In examining the work of Zionist precursors, the critiques of non-Zionists and anti-Zionists, the development of Jewish nationalism in the United States, the ideological beliefs of Christian Zionists, and the political determination of the founders of modern Israel, students will interrogate how this movement has shaped modern history. 

Introduction to Ancient Judaism

01:563:222dead-sea-scrolls-300px(cross-listed with 01:840:242)

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.

We will study ancient Judaism against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern and ancient Mediterranean literature, history, religion, mythology, law, and culture. Our view is that no civilization develops in a vacuum, and this is certainly true of Judaism. Thus a basic knowledge of the cultures surrounding ancient Israel will be important for understanding the development of ancient Judaism.

Finally, while our efforts will concentrate on Judaism in its early historical period, we will have occasion to reflect on how the beliefs and practices of ancient times are continued to the present day in modern Judaism.

Introduction to Bible I: Torah and Prose

Dura Europos fresco Jews cross Red Sea01:563:220
(cross-listed with 01:840:201)

This is the first course of a two-semester sequence.  The main goal is to introduce students to the literature of the Bible – by which is meant the Bible as defined by the Jewish canon, what Christians refer to as the Old Testament.  This course focuses on the early biblical books, that is, the Torah or Pentateuch, plus Joshua-Judges-Samuel, covering the period of Israel’s origins through the reign of King David.  Emphasis is placed on literary, historical, and theological matters.  Special use is made of the numerous archaeological discoveries that have advanced our knowledge of ancient Israel.  As such, the Bible is studied against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern literature, history, religion, mythology, and law.

Introduction to Bible II: Prophets and Poetry

swords-into-plough-shares01:563:206
(cross-listed with 01:840:206)

This is the second course of a two-semester sequence.  The main goal is to introduce students to the literature of the Bible – by which is meant the Bible as defined by the Jewish canon, what Christians refer to as the Old Testament. This course focuses on the Prophets, the historical backdrop of the prophetic message as revealed mainly through the book of Kings, and other relevant poetic material (Psalms, Job, etc.), which provide additional theological insights. Emphasis is placed on literary, historical, and theological matters. Special use is made of the numerous archaeological discoveries that have advanced our knowledge of ancient Israel. As such, the Bible is studied against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern literature, history, religion, mythology, and law.

This course is open to senior citizen auditors.

Israeli Film

The Syrian Bride - Israeli film 01:563:393
(cross-listed as 01:175:377, 01:685:393)

Israeli cinema has become increasingly diverse, critical, and multicultural and is often at the cutting edge of the Israeli cultural scene. Films provide an interesting lens to explore questions about Israeli life and identity: What was the experience of growing up in post-independence Israel? How were Holocaust survivors and new immigrants from Arab countries received during that period? What made kibbutz life distinct and how has it changed overtime? How is the impact of war and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict depicted in film? What is the role of gender in the construction of Israeli identity and how has the portrayal of Israeli men, women, and LGBT identities changed overtime? What are the distinct issues facing Orthodox and Ultraorthodox Israelis? How are marginalized groups (Israeli Arabs, Middle Eastern Jews, Russian Jews and Ethiopian Jews) portrayed in film?

Knowledge of Hebrew is not a requirement; all films have English subtitles. Films will be viewed at home and in class. Through readings, responses to films, and class discussions we will explore these issues and the way cinema works as an art form and as a medium for social critique.

time of favor-200px           sallah-200px          bands-visit-300px

Israeli Politics

Israeli politics01:563:352
(cross-listed with 01:685:352 and 01:790:352)

Jerusalem Contested

Jerusalem

A City’s History from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives

No prerequisites.01:563:280 
(cross-listed as 01:508:209, 01:685:280)

This course fulfills the following Core Curriculum Goals: A, B, H, L

Learn about the significance of Jerusalem to Muslims, Christians and Jews by exploring the history of this key city, as well as current tensions and controversies.

Jesus the Jew

Jesus the Jew01:563:341
(cross-listed with 01:840:310)

This course explores the historic figure of Jesus within the context of first century Palestinian Judaism. Toward this end, we will study the main groups and institutions of Judaism at the time of Jesus, using them as a backdrop against which to “map” out Jesus and his teachings, thus gaining familiarity with Second Temple, rabbinic, and early Christian traditions. Among the topics to be covered: Jesus and the Law, Jesus and the Temple, the problem of religious authority and types of religious leaders, the Sermon on the Mount, the “Parting of the Ways” and more. 

Jewish Historical Fiction (mini-course)

The World To Come by Dara Horn01:563:381

This course will explore the genre of Jewish historical fiction and its relationship to the historical periods the novels purport to represent, starting from the medieval period and continuing into contemporary times. The course will investigate the differences and similarities between two kinds of writing: historical and fictional narrative. Readings will include primary and secondary historical sources, as well as several novels. Topics to be covered include: Medieval Jewish life--particularly marriage, sexuality, and economics; mysticism and heretical Sabbatianism; revolution and art in the Soviet Union.

Jewish History I: Ancient & Medieval

01:563:201
(cross-listed as 01:506:271, 01:685:208)JSC1

Explore the history of Jews and Judaism from ancient Israel’s earliest origins to the late Middle Ages. Learn about archaeological findings, analyze ancient and medieval texts and works of art, and examine how one of the world’s oldest religious traditions evolved in a global context. 

No prerequisites.

 
This course fulfills the core learning goal HST.

Required of all Jewish Studies majors and minors.

Jewish History II: The Modern Experience

01:563:202

JSC2Explore how modernity shaped Jewish life in Europe and the Americas from the sixteenth century through the mid-1930s. Learn about the consequences of the Spanish Inquisition, Jews’ political emancipation, the birth of Reform Judaism, modern anti-Semitism, the impact of World War I and Jewish life on the eve of World War II. This course will pay special attention to regional diversity and questions of gender.

This course fulfills the core learning goal HST.

Required of all Jewish Studies majors and minors.

Jewish Humor

01:563:293

HumorKnown historically as the “People of the Book,” the Jews are perhaps better known today as the “People of the Joke.” This course explores the development of Jewish humor as a cultural phenomenon during the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing on the history of American Jewish comedic output, but also delving into material from Eastern Europe, the USSR and Israel. Come learn about how Jews and their cultural backgrounds have shaped the American comedy industry and about how humor participates, more generally, in processes of acculturation as well as in the maintenance of cultural distinctiveness.

No prerequisites.

Jewish Messiahs (mini-course)

01:563:361Messiah Course

The course examines the concept of the messiah from its biblical roots through various historical figures identified as Jewish messiahs. These include Jesus of Nazareth, Shimon bar Kokhba, Shabbtai Zevi, and Menahem Mendel Schneerson, as well as messianic elements in Zionism. No prior knowledge is required or assumed.

Jewish Museums

polish-jewish-museum-213pxTOPICS COURSE

This interdisciplinary honors seminar looks at Jewish museums as a case study of the prominent role that museums play in the public culture of ethnic and religious minority communities. 

Jewish MuseumsThough they have only been around for a little more than a century, Jewish museums have become strategic sites for Jews to present their history and culture to a larger public.  The seminar will begin with background on the history of private collecting, temporary exhibitions, and the advent of museums as public institutions, positioning Jewish museums within this larger history.  The seminar will then examine different kinds of Jewish museums around the world, including art museums, regional history museums, Holocaust museums, and multicultural museums in which Jews figure alongside other peoples. Studying Jewish museums engages a lively intersection of interests:  public history, art, architecture, media, urban studies, ethnic studies, modern culture, and memory practices.  Our examination of Jewish museums will consider what they reveal about how modern public culture engages issues of history, aesthetics, religion, ethnicity, and politics. 

As part of the seminar, students will visit several museums in New York City and meet with people working in these museums. Over the course of the semester, students will be asked to take turns leading class discussions of different museums.  Each student will also prepare a curatorial project on a topic of her/his choosing, in consultation with the professor, and will present this work to the class at the conclusion of the seminar. 

Note:  This seminar does not require any prior experience in Jewish studies.  Students should plan on being available for two Sunday visits to museums in New York City during the semester. These visits will be scheduled in lieu of regular class sessions (dates to be determined).

Open to Honors Students or by Special Permission.  
Please contact Professor Shandler.

Jewish Mysticism

Tree of life bahir Hebrew01:563:250
(cross-listed as 01:
840:250)

Our course offers a historical survey of Jewish mystical traditions from the Bible and early rabbinic traditions through formative works such as Sefer Yetzirah and the Bahir, the classical statement of kabbalistic theology the Zohar. The course emphasizes primary sources, that is, reading the relevant texts (in English) and working together to understand them as fully as possible. In the course of our reading we will cover a number of topics, including: God’s image, the evolution of the doctrine of Sefirot, the erotic dimension of Kabbalah and more. Though the literature in question was composed and often engaged in religious settings, our class will approach these topics from an academic perspective.

Jews and Medicine (mini-course)

01:563:381:02

JewsandMedicineCourse Description: This course will thematically explore the engagement of Jews with medicine, public health, and bioethics. Over the course of the semester we will look at the ways that Jews imagined health, illness, and the body, as well as the way that non-Jews imagined the Jewish body and health. Of particular interest are those moments and places where ideas of Jewishness, and Judaism are relevant to the question of medicine, conceptualizations of health and wellness, nutrition, and the idea of the Jewish body.

Some of the topics to be explored are Jewish folk medicine, Jewish involvement in tenement reform, race science, and Jewish responses to bioethics questions such as abortion and euthanasia.

Jews, Gender, and Sexuality

15563:394:01
(cross-listed as 01:840:394)

Does God have a body? If so, is it feminine or masculine? How do our sexual lives influence our understanding of God? What does the Zionist movement think about the Image of the Jewish Male Body? How does Israeli cinema influence the image of the Israeli soldier? What do different Jewish sects think about Queer life, and do they perceive modesty in Jewish life?

Students will enrich their understanding of both gender theories and sexual theories. They will learn about perceptions of the body and sexuality in Western societies in comparison to those in Eastern societies, gaining a deeper understanding of the key differences. Finally, they will gain the basic tools necessary to explore different Jewish texts and literature from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, and Mystical (Hasidic) texts to Modern Israeli Poetry, literature and Cinema.

Lower East Side, Then and Now (Honors Seminar)

OrchardStTOPICS - Honors Course

New York’s Lower East Side may be the most studied and storied neighborhood in America. Since its emergence as the city’s most densely populated immigrant neighborhood in the mid-19th century, the Lower East Side has been the subject of extensive scrutiny by journalists, reformers, photographers, urban planners, and of creative engagements by visual artists, poets, novelists, and filmmakers. Over the past century and a half the Lower East Side has witnessed waves of demographic shifts and changes to its infrastructure, and its image has been transformed from a locus of poverty, crime, and social turmoil to a site of American heritage tourism and urban gentrification. This seminar will trace the neighborhood’s trajectory through an interdisciplinary approach to an array of materials, including a field visit to the neighborhood.

Modern Israeli Culture

01:563:281

israeli culture

This course looks at Israel from the perspective of the various cultural, religious, ethnic, gender, sexual, and racial identities that live in the state. Drawing on ethnographies of Israel, we will explore the intersections, similarities, and differences among these groups. How do cultures develop in opposition to each other? How do different cultures respond to the Arab-Israeli conflict? How has the conflict created new allegiances? What are the many religious identities in Israel and how do they each find religious meaning in the same space? How do peace-niks interact with a military society? What does women's activism look like? What is it like to be queer in a religious country? And how does music bring different people together?

Modern Jewish Culture: Key Texts and their Afterlives

dybbuk-poster-200px jolson-200pxanne-frank-200px
01:563:230
(cross-listed as 01:195: 230)

This course examines four key texts, written between 1894 and 1944:  Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye the Dairyman” stories, Sh. Ansky’s play “The Dybbuk,” Samson Raphaelson’s short story “The Day of Atonement” (the basis of the 1927 film The Jazz Singer), and Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. These works have become fixtures not only of modern Jewish culture but also of world culture, primarily through adaptations and remediations in stage, film, broadcasting, music, and visual art.  Students will read these four texts, discuss the complex histories of their original composition, and examine their “afterlives,” as these works have been revisited over the years in diverse forms by various communities.

No prerequisites.  All readings in English.

Fulfills Core Curriculum requirement AHq.

Modern Jewish Philosophy

01:563:312 ModPhilosophy
(cross-listed as 01:730:312)

Is modern Reason compatible with biblical Revelation? Is “Jewish philosophy” an oxymoron? Learn about the giants of Jewish thought—religious reformers, philosophers and theologians—and the ways they wrestled with the challenges of modernity, politics and multiculturalism. Topics will include the essence of Judaism, the nature of law, religion and state, God and evil, the status of women and non-Jews and the legacy of the Holocaust. We will read Baruch Spinoza, Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Judith Plaskow, Emmanuel Levinas and others.

No prerequisites.

Modern Jewish Politics (mini course)

01:563:381

Modern Jewish PoliticsThis mini-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. Topics to be discussed include: The Birth of Modern Jewish Politics; The Russian State and the Jews (conscription, revolution, and liberalism); 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.

No prerequisites. 

Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain

13th c Jew and Muslim play chess Al andalus01:563:307
(cross-listed with 01:510:313)

This course examines how Christians, Jews, and Muslims interacted in medieval Latin Christendom, especially focusing on the twelfth through fifteenth centuries. Throughout the course students will engage with the complex views religious groups held about each other and explore how beliefs translated into exchanges on the lay and elite level, as well as between religious and political leaders. Central themes in the course will include otherness, religious conversion, types of cross-cultural influence, religious debate, and power and authority. The course aims to also teach students how to closely read and analyze primary documents.

Rabbinic Literature

01:563:315

rabbinic literature

This course offers an introduction to rabbinic literature. Each part of the rabbinic corpus will be introduced and discussed, along with relevant non-rabbinic sources (the Dead Sea Scrolls, contemporary Christian and Pagan literature, and so on). Readings from the rabbinic sources will focus on the rabbinic conception of the relationship between the human and the animal world. All texts are in English and no prior exposure is required. 

Readings in Biblical Hebrew Poetry

BiblicalHebrew

01:563:434

Prerequisite: a reading knowledge of ancient or modern Hebrew. 

Note: this course is open to undergraduates as well as graduate students.

Readings in Biblical Hebrew Prose

01:563:433 BiblicalHebrew
(cross-listed with 01:840:427)

Prerequisite: a reading knowledge of ancient or modern Hebrew. 

Note: this course is open to undergraduates as well as graduate students.

Remembering the Holocaust

01:563:360

holocaust

This course explores works of Holocaust remembrance produced in the Americas, Europe, and Israel in an array of forms, including documentary and fictional film, radio and television broadcasting, museum displays, tourist practices, monuments, and visual art. As a Contemporary Challenges course, Remembering the Holocaust examines how remembrance of this genocide figures in contemporary social and cultural practices as a paradigm for deriving lessons from the past in order to respond to traumatic losses, address present social injustices, and prevent future acts of intolerance.

This course fulfills Core Learning Goal CC.

Sephardic Jewish History

Sephardic Jewish History - Rutgers Jewish Studies course01:563:344
(cross-listed as 01:510:391)

Explore the history and culture of the Jews of Spain and Portugal from the fifteenth century to the present. Learn about Sephardi food and music as well as about the development of early modern mercantile networks, colonial expansion, and the evolution of Sephardic community and identity in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Americas.

No prerequisites.

Spanish Jews: History and Culture

01:563:293 Sephardi(HYBRID Course)

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

The Culture of Yiddish: An Introduction

OY01:563:245
(cross-listed as 01:470:280:01)

Did you know
•    There were once 11 million Yiddish speakers worldwide?
•    There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn where the ATMs offer a Yiddish option?
•    There are 300-year-old alternate prayers especially for women written in Yiddish?
•    There was a Jewish Autonomous Region, with Yiddish as its official language, established in the Soviet Union
      in the 1930s?
•    There are more than a dozen different words for “Christmas” in Yiddish?
•    You can visit an organic farm in upstate New York where only Yiddish is spoken? 
•    You can watch online videos in Yiddish produced in New York, Montreal, and Stockholm?

Explore the thousand-year history of Yiddish, key to centuries of Jewish folklore and politics, great works of modern literature and traditional spirituality.  Learn how a language thrives in diaspora and endures a genocide, and how it has enriched the lives of fundamentalists, revolutionaries, avant-garde performers, and others—including many people who aren’t Jewish—around the world. 

This course fulfills Core Learning Goal AHq:  Understand the nature of human languages and their speakers. No prerequisites.  All readings are in English. 
No prior knowledge of Yiddish or other languages required.
 

Women in the Bible (mini-course)

BibleIintro01:563:265

The role of women in the Jewish Bible/Old Testament stories; also addresses the question of the role of women in ancient Israelite society.

Yiddish Language Courses

Elementary Yiddish Language

01:563:103

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.

Elementary Yiddish Language

01:563:104

A continuation of 563:103 (see above). Prerequisite: One semester of Elementary Yiddish or its equivalent.

Intermediate Yiddish Language

01:563:133 and 01:563:134

Develop conversational abilities in Yiddish, read works of Yiddish literature in the original. Class activities also include reading the Yiddish press, singing Yiddish folksongs, screening classic Yiddish films, and trips to the Yiddish theater. Prerequisite: Two semesters of Elementary Yiddish or its equivalent.

Remembering the Shtetl

01:563:260

Discover how the shtetl-the kind of small town in Eastern Europe that was once home to most of the world's Jews-has become a key site of Jewish memory over the past century, through works of Yiddish literature, memoir, film, art, photography, and travel. (All readings in English translation; knowledge of Yiddish not required.) Cross-listed with History.

Modern Yiddish Literature and Culture

01:563:396

Read classic works of Yiddish literature, including Sholem Aleichem's "Tevye" stories, S. Ansky's play "The Dybbuk," works of fiction by I.L. Peretz, Sholem Asch, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, as well as avant-garde poetry and drama from writers in Eastern Europe and America. Learn how "Yiddish modernism" influenced 20th-century Jewish artists (including Marc Chagall), music, theater, cinema, and politics. (All readings in English translation; knowledge of Yiddish not required.)

The Culture of Yiddish:  An Introduction

01:563:245

An overview of Yiddish, the traditional vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, and its various roles in Jewish culture from the Middle Ages to the present.  Topics discussed include: the history and structure of Yiddish; Yiddish as a diaspora language of a minority community in shifting multilingual contexts; the role of Yiddish in religious life, politics, and modern culture; the symbolic value of Yiddish in Jewish ideologies and memory practices, especially after the Holocaust. Through the case of Yiddish, students learn about different notions of the interrelation of language, culture, and peoplehood.

All course readings and materials are in English.  No prior knowledge of Yiddish or any other language, of Jewish history or religion, or of linguistics is required.

Zionist Idea

Zionism

01:563:381

No movement in modern Jewish history has had a greater impact on Jewish life than Zionism. This course examines the origins of Zionism in the mid-19th century and traces its development to the present day. Topics addressed include Zionism's political and social contexts, how other ideologies shaped Zionism, critics of Zionism, and the effect of Zionism on Jews' relationship to each other and to their surrounding societies.