Courses: Jewish Studies, Hebrew, and Crosslistings
Please note that courses listed here may not be offered during a given semester and new courses are regularly added to the curriculum. Please check here for the most current schedule of course offerings.
JWST 101 Introduction to Jewish Civilization (3)
This course will introduce the student to the variety of
religious expression and understanding in the Jewish tradition. The focus of the
course is the biblical texts and their interpretations which are relevant to Jewish
understandings of issues such as creation, revelation, redemption and community.
We will also study the social, literary, historical and cultural influences that
helped shape the varieties of Jewish traditions throughout the ages.
JWST 125 Building Jewish Identity: Secular Judaism in Historical Perspective (3)
The starting point for our investigation of a
distinctively secular Jewish conception of the world will be the fact that roughly
on behalf of the American Jewish population possesses a secular non-religious
orientation (American Jewish Identity Survey, 2001). How did this non-religious
orientation arise amongst what many people consider to be a religious
community? We will explore how certain non-religious features, such as shared
culture, language, custom, dress, and education played an integral part in the
definition of Jews and Judaism from their inception, and the role played by these
features in the constitution of variant secular forms of Judaism and secular Jewish
orientations in the modern period.
JWST 210 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible – Old Testament (3)
In this course we will attempt to understand the Hebrew Bible better by
examining samples of each of the major genres represented while at the same time
placing each within its historical context. We will also focus upon questions of
interpretation. By taking a general survey of the ways in which the Hebrew Bible
has been read and interpreted in the past we will begin to understand how these
ancient texts continue to live and speak to so many. Same as CLAS 210.
JWST 220 Modern Jewish History (3)
Analysis and interpretation of Judaism in modern times. The
meanings of religiosity and secularity are explored through analysis of several
Jewish responses to modernity: religious reform, Jewish socialism, political and
cultural Zionism, assimilationism. Integration of these diverse responses produces
a coherent picture of how a religion is transformed through interaction with
JWST 310 Select Topics in Jewish Studies (3)
This course will cover special offerings in Jewish history, religious thought
and literature. It will be taught by various permanent and visiting Jewish Studies
JWST 312 Modern Hebrew Literature and the Bible
This course will introduce students to the ongoing dialogue
between the Jewish People and the Hebrew Bible, their defining text. Through the
reading of the Biblical text alongside Rabbinic texts composed in the first
millennium of the Common Era and Hebrew Poetry of the twentieth century, students will learn how later Jewish readers employed gaps in the text to make the
Bible relevant to them.
JWST 314 Select Readings in the Hebrew Bible (3)
In this course we will read specific books from the Hebrew Bible (in
translation). The books read will rotate within three topics: Genesis; The Five
Scrolls: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther; The
Prophets. The aim of this course is to provide the student with the opportunity to
read portions of the Hebrew Bible in detail and how they have been read,
interpreted, and explained throughout the centuries. The student will also learn to
read the texts critically and begin to form his/her own understanding of the text.
Same as CLAS 314.
JWST 315 Second Temple Judaisms (3)
Starting with the return from Babylonia up until the destruction of the
Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E., Judaism was transformed from a local ethnic
religious cult to a broad-based, diverse, and often fragmented sectarian religion.
Many outside cultures and civilizations, from the ancient Persians to the Imperial
Romans, influenced the Jews and Judaism through language, culture, and political
contacts. We will study these cultural contracts and conflicts that caused Jews in
the Second Commonwealth to develop competing understandings of Judaism.
Same as CLAS 315.
JWST 321 American Judaism (3)
The course examines the nature of religion in modern and contemporary
times, using Judaism in America as an example. How did the American Jewish
community come into being? What is American about it? What is Judaic, that is,
carrying forward aspects of classical Judaism? What is the meaning of the ethnic,
social, and cultural traits emergent in contemporary Jewish life? Answers to these
questions provide a picture of the character of American Judaism and of the
complexities of contemporary religious life.
JWST 322 The Arab-Israeli Conflict (3)
This seminar traces the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict from
the rise of Zionism, through the various Arab-Israeli wars, and up to the recent
peace negotiations. Emphasis is on presenting the perspectives of all the parties to
the Arab-Israeli conflict, and placing it in the context of the history of the Middle
East as a whole. Same as HISM 322.
JWST 333 Jewish Music (3)
Survey of Jewish liturgical music from Biblical times to the present,
and of Jewish popular, theatre, and folk music. Emphasis on European, Israeli,
Sephardic, and American traditions. Same as MUSC 333.
JWST 334 Early American Jewish History (3)
This class focuses on the period from the earliest Jewish settlers in
mid-seventeenth century colonial America through the establishment of viable
Jewish communities and institutions by the latter part of the nineteenth century. It
covers the so-called “Sephardic” and “Germanic” periods of American-Jewish
history, prior to the wave of Eastern European immigration. Among the themes
explored are the tension between Jewish identity and the pressures of
assimilation; the transformation of the synagogue; the emergence of Jewish social
and cultural institutions; changing religious practices and the rise of Reform
Judaism. Events and themes are placed within the broader context of American
history. Same as HISU 334.
JWST 344 Representing the Holocaust: Literary and Filmic Depictions of the Undepictable (3)
This course examines the Holocaust from various perspectives, disciplines,
and media (including history, literature, and film) to investigate the conditions
and limitations of representations of the Holocaust. May be counted toward a
major in German only with departmental approval and provided all reading is
done in German. Same as GERM 344.
JWST 350 The Golden Age of Spanish Jewry I: Moslem Spain (3)
An examination of the cultural, political, and intellectual history
of Spanish Jewry from the beginnings of Jewish settlement through the early
reconquest. Special attention is given to the contributions of Hasdai ibn Shaprut
and Samuel Ha-Nagid.
JWST 352 The Golden Age of Spanish Jewry II: Christian Spain (3)
A study of the transition of Spanish Jewry from Moslem rule to
Christian rule. The course includes an analysis of the several disputations of this
period as well as the impact of the inquisition and expulsion. Special attention is
given to the literature and philosophy of Maimonides, Crescas, and Solomon ibn
JWST 353 Jewish Life and Thought in the High Middle Ages (3)
The medieval period was perhaps the most prolific age for Jewish
exploration and interpretation of Jewish religious texts and sources. We will
examine a number of these—philosophical, mystical, poetic, liturgic, and
juridical—in order to better appreciate the context and content of medieval
concerns and solutions.
JWST 354 Jewish Life and Thought from the Renaissance to the Age of Reason (3)
The world of Jewish martyrs, mystics, dreamers, and heretics, as
seen through an analysis of selected sources, including Zohar, the correspondence
of Menasseh ben Israel, and various Hasidic legends. Attention will be given to
the rise of centers of Jewish culture, such as Cromwell’s England, Florence,
Vilna, Prague, and Spinoza’s Amsterdam.
JWST 359 Greek Philosophy and Jewish Thought (3)
Western culture has a double source, the Bible and Greek
philosophy, or Jerusalem and Athens. Are the two traditions harmonious or do
they stand in some essential tension with each other? While this was an especially
vital challenge to thinkers of the Medieval period, it expresses a fundamental
question about the relation between revelation and reason. This course will
approach that question by examining the response of some important Jewish
thinkers in the encounter with the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. Same as PHIL
JWST 360 Women in the Hebrew Bible (3)
Women play a significant role in the Bible, one that is often at best
misunderstood and at worst ignored. In this class we will examine the biblical
stories and their historical context in order to understand the role of women in the
biblical period as well as the role of the figures within the biblical text. We will
also examine modern interpretations of these tests (including feminist readings
and creative fiction based upon the biblical text) to see how modern scholars have
understood these ancient texts in modern times. Same as CLAS 360.
JWST 375 Jewish Identity in Modern Literature (3)
In this course we will examine novels, short stories, essays, and
other literary works by European Jewish authors and study their literary, cultural
and political context. We trace the development of literary forms that provide the
basis for a modern Jewish self-consciousness and a sense of cultural identity. We
compare the concepts of community and individualism, religious reform, and
cultural notions of identity in the writings of authors from Eastern European and
Western Europe. We also examine the differences of Jews in Europe in the period
before the Holocaust. Same as RUSS 375.
JWST 388 Writing Practicum (1)
Corequisite: three-credit departmental course. Prerequisite: successful
completion of the First-Year Writing Requirement. Fulfills the college intensive writing
JWST 411 Rabbinic Judaism (3)
Recommended prerequisite: JWST 315. This course will focus on the
literature and culture of the Rabbinic period (c. 200-600 C.E.). We will
concentrate on reading and analyzing primary texts (Midrash, Mishnah and
Talmud) as well as studying the historical context and methodological issues. This
course will discuss the various literatures’ styles, methods and contents as well as
their internal and external cultural influences. Same as CLAS 411.
JWST 415 Women, Judaism, and Jewish Culture (3)
Women’s roles in Judaism and Jewish life have been defined by
the religious precepts and civil laws described in the Bible and interpreted by the
rabbis in a patriarchal age. Nevertheless, throughout the ages, women have carved
out areas for themselves within the Jewish religious, social, and political systems
as well as fulfilled the roles prescribed to them. This course will study the women
of Jewish history and how they have participated in, developed and shaped Jewish
religious, social, and cultural life.
JWST 425 The Dead Sea Scrolls (3)
Prerequisites: JWST 210 and JWST 315 or approval of instructor. It has
been just over 50 years since a group of Bedouin shepherds found several clay
jars containing ancient scrolls. The documents include copies of the Hebrew
Bible, apocryphal works, and sectarian works written to provide order and
meaning to the readers lives. But who wrote the scrolls and who were they writing
for? This course will investigate these questions and others by focusing on the
texts themselves and the archaeological evidence from the site of Khirbet
Qumran. Secondary sources will also be consulted and read critically. Same as
JWST 430 The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in Culture and Literature (3)
This course will focus on the literary and cultural response to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the beginning of the Zionist settlement to our
time. We will ask questions such as how each culture, the Israeli and Palestinian,
has represented the other? Has each depiction been a unified cultural portraiture
or can we identify multifarious delineations? What constitutes national identity
and what role have national, religious, racial and gender perspectives played in
the construction of the Israeli and Palestinian identities? How has the various
formation of the other contributed to the identity creation of each culture? And
finally, can we point out significant historical changes in these representations?
We will examination of both Palestinian and Israeli experiences as reflected in
various texts including fiction, poetry, philosophical and historical treatises,
editorials, caricatures, film and the like, all in English translation. Last but not
least, we will try to understand both the stable and the changing parameters of
national identity on the background of universal intellectual and political
movements such as nationalism, multiculturalism, and globalization.
JWST 435 Rashi, Halevi, Maimonides: Rabbinical Luminaries of the Middle Ages (3)
An exploration of the lives and major works of Judaism’s most significant
religious writers of the Jewish Middle Ages. Rashi, the prince of Biblical
commentators; Judah Halevi, poet laureate of the Jewish people and author of The
Kuzari; Moses Maimonides, the supreme Jewish thinker of all ages, and author of
The Guide for the Perplexed.
JWST 442 Advanced Topics in Jewish Literature and Historiography (3)
In this course we will study the work of one pathbreaking Jewish
intellectual studying both his/her oeuvre and intellectual context. Of particular
importance is the relationship of the intellectual’s work as part of a dialogue with
the works of Jewish and non-Jewish contemporaries. Among our subjects are
Heinrich Graetz, Simon Dubnov, Israel Zinberg, Jacob Katz, and Salo Baron.
JWST 481 Special Topics in Jewish Studies (3)
This course will cover special offerings in Jewish history, religious thought,
JWST H491, H492 Independent Studies (1-3, 1-3)
JWST H499-H500 Honors Thesis (3, 4)
JWST 642 Readings in the Holocaust (3)
Examines the origins and development of the Nazi “Final Solution”;
the experience of the victims, perpetrators, rescuers, and bystanders; and the
relationship between history and memory. Same as HISE 642.
HBRW 101 Elementary Hebrew I (4)
HBRW 102 Elementary Hebrew II (4)
Prerequisite: HBRW 101 or equivalent.
HBRW 203 Intermediate Hebrew I (4)
Prerequisite: HBRW 102 or equivalent. An introduction to Hebrew prose
and poetry. A continuation of 102 with emphasis on reading and Hebrew
HBRW 213 Intermediate Hebrew II (3)
Prerequisite: HBRW 203 or equivalent. A continuation of Hebrew 203 with
an emphasis of reading and discussion of texts in Hebrew.
HBRW 214 Reading Texts in Hebrew (1)
Prerequisites: one year of Hebrew or equivalent. Corequisite: JWST course
where Hebrew texts are being read in translation. This course allows students with
a background in Hebrew to read texts from their current JWST class in the
original language. Texts read will vary according to the concurrent course. For
example, a student enrolled in JWST 411 Rabbinic Judaism would read selections
from the Mishnah in Hebrew. May be taken two times for credit.
HBRW 223 Biblical Hebrew I (3)
Prerequisite: HBRW 102 or approval of instructor. This course will involve
reading various texts of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the study of
HBRW 310 Advanced Hebrew Literature and Language (3)
Prerequisite: HBRW 213 or approval of instructor. An advanced class for
students interested in pursuing further Hebrew studies. Class will read and discuss
modern Hebrew literature as well as study advanced grammar and syntax. May be
repeated for credit.
HBRW 323 Biblical Hebrew II (3)
Prerequisite: HBRW 223. This course is a continuation of Hebrew 223
Biblical Hebrew I and involves reading various texts from the Hebrew Bible.
Biblical Hebrew grammar will be reviewed as appropriate.
HBRW H491, H492 Independent Studies (1-3, 1-3)