The Judaic Studies Program offers courses in the main areas of Jewish civilization through the disciplines of history, Bible, literature, Jewish and Hebrew creative endeavors and experience from biblical to modern times. For a list of available courses by term, see the Courses page.
Designed to initiate the student to the major language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing, as well as to constitute an introduction to Israeli culture.
Prerequisite: HBR 1120 or equivalent. Continuation of HBR 1120.
Intermediate Modern Hebrew I is designed to continue the study of modern Hebrew; increase proficiency in conversation, reading and writing skills, and further expose students to Israeli culture. Elementary Modern Hebrew II or equivalent is prerequisite.
Conversational Israeli Hebrew will use current Israeli newspaper articles in order to acquaint the students with contemporary Israeli idiom and practical usage. Radio news broadcasting from Israel will be used, as well as tapes. First year Hebrew or its equivalent is prerequisite.
(See more Hebrew courses below)
A historical, cultural and religious survey of the Jewish people from its inception in the Biblical era through the Greco-Roman and rabbinic periods. The course will examine such topics as the literature of the Bible, Biblical law, prophecy and ethics, Babylonian exile, post-Biblical Judaism, second Commonwealth Judaism, the Oral and Written Law, the Mishnah and the Talmud.
Students will learn of life and history of the Jews in the medieval and modern worlds, including topics such as the Jewish-Christian relations; development of Jewish philosophy and mysticism; Jewish life in Eastern Europe and in the Arab countries; the Holocaust; modern Israel; and Jews and Judaism in North America.
A study of philosophers such as Buber, Rosenzweig, Kaplan, Heschel, Borowitz, Solovechik, within the historical context of European immigration to the U.S.
This course will present a study of the transition from traditional Judaism to modern Judaism in the 18th century as epitomized by Moses Mendelssohn, Solomon Maimon, and their contemporary Hebrew and Jewish writers. The course will examine the views of major Hebrew and Jewish Enlightenment figures and the manifestations of modernism in their writings (in English translation). Special attention will be given to the new trends in modern Judaism such as the introduction of secularism, the ideology of religious reform, the formation of the various branches in Judaism in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the advent of Jewish nationalism.
The course will undertake to trace, explore and understand the cultural, religious, and social processes that led from traditional (Orthodox) Judaism to the beginning of the ‘secular’ age in 18th- and 19th-century European Jewry, and eventually also to modernity in Judaism. The course will examine the introduction of secularism and secular ideas into Judaic thought and life. It will do so by examining the gradual changes in attitudes, practices and outlooks found in the primary source materials of the period, thus setting working criteria for the study of modernism.
This course is a comprehensive study of the Holocaust with an emphasis on the historical roots of anti-Semitism. In addition to the antecedents of the Holocaust, the social, economic, and political unrest which marked post World War I Germany is examined. This study divides the Holocaust years, 1933-1945, into two distinct periods: the first, 1933-1939, encompasses the persecution of German Jews within the context of the prevailing German legal system; and the second, 1939-1945, marks the systematic annihilation of Jews in Europe. The scope and the meaning of this event in human history is discussed and analyzed.
The course will explore the history of Jewish national aspiration as manifested in words and deeds throughout the generations. The development of the Zionist idea in the 19th century and its fruition in the 20th century will be examined. Related national trends in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as historical, cultural and religious trends within world Jewry in the past two hundred years will be studied.
The aim of the course is to read and understand significant sections of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament, in translation) in historical, social, religious, cultural, and literary contexts. This course will be a scholarly (i.e., non-parochial) approach to the most important book of western civilization, which will take into account the latest biblical and archaeological research. Certain biblical books, selected for their topic, genre, or style, will be read, analyzed, and discussed. Topics to be covered include: the nature of biblical prophecy, ethics in the Bible, wisdom, literature, and the concept of God in the Bible.
This course is a study of the Book of Job in translation. It will focus on biblical and post-biblical views of evil, human suffering, divine justice, and religious devotion. The course explores the Book of Job as literature, ethics, and the theology of human protest, faith, and recovery, in face of adversity. How do we reconcile the predominance of evil with the traditional faith in an omnipotent and benevolent God? How do we explain and deal with human suffering -- our own and others?
This course will deal with the dimensions of romantic love in Biblical narrative. The course focuses on Biblical depiction of human feelings of romantic love and relationships, and will examine social norms and historical events which shed light on the role and nature of man-woman interactions in ancient Israel.
This course will provide a broad overview of the manuscript finds of the Judean desert, particularly from the caves in the vicinity known as Khirbet Qumran, from 1947 to the present. This course will examine the literary and historical context of these manuscripts and fragments, which comprise a veritable "library" of ancient texts. The course will also consider the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, within a broad socio-religious framework, dealing with such topics as comparative religion and the "roots" of rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Finally, the course will highlight more recent controversies and debates over the publication and interpretation of the scrolls.
Prerequisite: HBR 1121, its equivalent (or permission of instructor). A study of Biblical Hebrew, its grammatical and syntactical structure and style. Readings from the book of Genesis in Hebrew will provide the analytical tools for the understanding of Biblical Hebrew.
A study of the biblical prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel in their writing against the backdrop of their times. Biblical poetic devices, such as parallelism, as well as social and ethical issues and criticism, to be discussed.
A survey of the creative expressions of Hebrew civilization as found in the Hebrew Bible, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Mishnah, the Talmud, medieval Hebrew poetry and prose in English translation. Special attention will be given to literary genres, themes and devices. Major Biblical stories and figures—such as Abraham, the Binding of Isaac, Moses, David and Bath-Sheba, Ruth, Jonah and Job—will be discussed and analyzed as depicted in the Bible and a perceived and portrayed in post-Biblical literature.
This course is a study of representative literary works (in translation) in a variety of major literary genres which prevailed in the 18th- and 19th-century Hebrew and Jewish literature as related to the intellectual quest for Jewish identity and modernism. The following genres will be examined: satire, epistolary fiction, autobiography, biography, dialogues of the dead, fables, religious disputations, pseudepigrapha (or pseudo-biblical writings), the travelogue, and utopia. They includes genres that prevailed in contemporary European literatures, as well as many inherently Judaic genres which emulate existing genres in the classical Jewish literature such as biblical writings and medieval disputations. Forms, styles and themes related to the emerging Jewish Enlightenment will be examined.
This course is a study of the traumatic experience of the Holocaust in Europe as expressed and depicted in contemporary Jewish and Hebrew literature (in translation). Authors to be studied include: Elie Wiesel, Aharon Appelfeld, Ka'Tzetnik, H. Bartov, G. Gouri,Y. Amichai, and J. Kosinski.
Values, practices, and beliefs that define Judaism.
The course objective is to introduce the classical writings of Judaism, particularly the documents that took shape in the formative age of that religion, from the first through the seventh centuries of the Common Era. The classics of Judaism: the Hebrew Scriptures, the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash, are introduced. This is carried out through a close reading, in English, of selected passages, with systematic attention to the rhetorical, logical, and topical aspects of Judaism as related to the written and oral laws. An overview of these basic texts of Judaism and their development and interpretation in the Middle Ages and modern times will be discussed and analyzed. The course will explore how these books form the tenets of the Jewish religion.
This course will trace and evaluate the development of Jewish Mysticism from its earliest roots in the prophetic age of Israelite history, through the flowing of the movement called "Kabbalah" in medieval Spain and the Land of Israel, down to various expressions of mystical thought in the pietistic movement known as Hasidism.
The aim of the course is to acquaint students with a variety of modern Jewish experience as depicted in literature. This course will involve a survey of the pre-modern traditional life in Eastern Europe, including life in the Ghetto and the Shtetle (small Jewish town) life. As well, this course will deal with the emergence of the Jews into modernity along with the rise of Jewish national movement in the end of the 19th century; the growth of the Zionist movement; immigration to America and to pre-state Israel (Palestine); the pioneers; establishing the state of Israel; war and peace; in gathering of the exiles; the Holocaust; and the current peace trends in the Middle East.
Contemporary Jewish Ethics & Morality is a study of Jewish ethics and morality from antiquity to modern times. Moral insights found in Scriptures and Rabbinic sources will be reviewed against the intellectual and social context of the 21st century. Discussion will also cover such topics as Jewish bio-ethics, sexual & family ethics, ecology, capital punishment, and Jewish political ethics.
This course is designed to teach about the Development of the State of Israel: Political and ideological struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel, with emphasis on forces which shaped contemporary Israeli society and politics.
Examination of archaeological excavations of the Ancient Near East which sheds light on the events and stories recorded in the Bible.
An in-depth analysis of the major symbols of Judaism, its rituals, its beliefs and celebration. Stress will be laid on the dynamic changes that the symbols, rituals and beliefs underwent over a period of 3000 years because of the complex interaction of Judaism with ancient Western Asian, Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic cultures. The course is intended for students of history, anthropogy, religion and folklore.
A study of the Israeli experience as reflected in contemporary short stories. Among themes to be discussed: Judaism - Past and Present; Israeli Reality - Society, Individual & Society, the Kibbutz; War and Peace; Communities; the Holocaust. Short stories in English translation by the following authors will be read and analyzed: Agnon, Hazaz, Meged, Yizhar, Tamuz, Shamir, Appelfeld, and others.
This course will examine the historical and cultural role of women in Judaism from the Biblical age to the present through texts and films. This course will assess women’s role in Jewish life and civilization.