Jewish Studies Courses
For students of history, religion, and culture, Jewish studies courses provide a perspective spanning four millennia, cutting across the boundaries of historical periods and geographies, all seen through the lens of Jewish experience.
Our undergraduate courses allows you to study the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism, the origins and foundational texts of rabbinic Judaism, Jewish history in the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds, Jewish literature, Jewish philosophy, the Holocaust, modern Israel, and the Jewish presence in popular culture. The program has links with the Departments of Classical & Near Eastern Studies; Sociology; History; Spanish & Portuguese Studies; French & Italian Studies; English; German, Scandinavian & Dutch; Political Science, and the School of Music. The University's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies also offers courses related to the Nazi Holocaust and its aftermath.
All Jewish studies majors and minors take JWST 1034/3034 "Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures," which is offered every fall, and which you are encouraged to take early in your academic career. This course traces the development of Judaism and Jewish civilizations from their beginnings to the present. With over three millennia as its subject, the course must of necessity be a general survey. In this course we explore the mythic structures, significant documents, historical experiences, narratives, practices, beliefs and worldviews of the Jewish people. Woven throughout this historical survey will be repeated engagements with core questions: “Who is a Jew?” “What do Jews believe?” “What do Jews do?” “What do we mean by ‘religion’?” “How do Jews read texts within their tradition?” And perhaps most importantly, “How many answers are there to a Jewish question?” Students in this course can expect to come away with some knowledge of the Bible in Judaism, rabbinic literature and law, Jewish mysticism and philosophy, the history of antisemitism, Jewish nationalism and Zionism, Jewish cultures, ritual and worship in the synagogue, the home, and the community, and Jewish celebrations of life cycle events and the festivals.