Courses: Current and Upcoming

Current Semester Courses

The list includes both courses directly offered through Jewish Studies, with the JWST prefix, and those offered through other departments which students minoring in Jewish Studies can take for credit towards the minor.


JWST/RLST 20300 Judaism         Rebecca Lesses
MWF 10:00-10:50 AM
Judaism introduces the most important aspects of Judaism as a religious civilization. The modern term “Judaism” encompasses much more than just faith and belief, the features that many people think of as the essence of religion. It refers to a worldview (or worldviews), a daily way of life, a system of ethics, and a communal memory of the Jewish past that links Jews living in under very different conditions across the world. Contemporary Judaism is based in a long textual tradition that begins with the Bible and the Talmud and continues to the present day. It is also based in Jewish folk practices that may not be written down but that can be equally powerful in shaping the Jewish way of life (for example, the groom’s smashing a glass with his foot at the end of the Jewish marriage ceremony). The goal of the course is to gain an understanding of the lived tradition of Judaism – both the textual and the folk traditions – as they have developed over time. Note: This course is cross-listed between JWST and RLST – students may register for the course under either the JWST or the RLST number.

JWST 27500 Selected Topics: Israeli Culture through Film             Mirit Hadar
MW 4:00-5:15 PM
This course presents films made in Israel by one of the most dynamic movie industries in the world. The history, culture and art of Israeli society will be revealed in this course. The course is divided into two sections: the first part will deal with historical events in Israeli history through contemporary Israeli film, the second part will deal with cultural and social aspects of the Israeli people as shown in Israeli movies. Artistic aspects will be woven into the course discussions to enhance the students’ understanding and better analysis of cinema. Students will become acquainted with some of the major issues that shape Israeli society, including internal religious tensions, immigration, terror and etc. The use of film in this course will be both as an artistic and as a historical medium that reflects and comments on the history, polities and culture of Israel.

JWST 29400 Contemporary Jewish Identities: Gender, Race, and Power      Rebecca Lesses
TR 4:00-5:15 PM
This course addresses the multiplicity of contemporary Jewish identities, focusing on Jews in the United States and Israel, the two largest contemporary Jewish communities. Questions include: What does it mean to be Jewish? Is this a religious, ethnic, national, or racial identity? Is there a common Jewish identity among Jews of widely varying ethnic origins, religious affiliation, and national allegiances? These questions will be explored through four different topics: 1) Jews and Race; 2) Post-Holocaust Jewish Identity; 3) Jewish identity in Israel; 4) Gender, Feminism, and Queer Identity.

JWST/RLST 33300 Jewish Mysticism           Rebecca Lesses
MWF 1:00-1:50 PM
This course traces the history of Jewish mysticism from its beginnings in the Bible to the 16th century flourishing of Kabbalah in Safed, northern Israel. After a brief introduction to key beliefs and practices of Judaism, the course gives an overview of early Jewish mysticism from the biblical and rabbinic periods. The course then concentrates on the medieval flowering of Kabbalah, and its further development in the 16th-century Kabbalah of Safed and Israel and 18th-century Eastern European Hasidism. We will finish with the revival of Kabbalah among Jews and non-Jews today.  The emphasis will be placed on understanding both the theoretical and experiential aspects of Jewish mysticism and on examining some of the key texts of Jewish mysticism. Note: This course is cross-listed between JWST and RLST – students may register for the course under either the JWST or the RLST number.


HEBR 10200 Elementary Hebrew II              Mirit Hadar
MWF 11:00-11:50 PM
Continuation of Hebrew 10100 Elementary Hebrew I.

POLT 40100  The Political Implications of the Holocaust            Don Beachler
Wednesday 4:00-6:30 pm        
The seminar will explore portions of the voluminous literature on the Holocaust to extract implications for politics. Among the topics to be considered are the conditions that permit people to participate in genocide and the human capacity for self-deception that enables people to rationalize their actions. This section of the seminar will consider the controversy raised by Daniel Goldhagen’s book Hitler’s Willing Executioners. We will also explore the academic politics of Holocaust studies by reading works that both proclaim the uniqueness of the Holocaust and by considering authors who argue that too much attention has been paid the Holocaust to the neglect of other historical instances of genocide. The ethical lessons that can be gleaned from global indifference to the destruction of the European Jews will form another segment of the seminar. The global response to atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia will be included for comparative purposes.

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