Jewish Studies Requirements
Jewish Studies explores experiences, expressions, and conceptions of Jewishness past and present in their diversity and complexity. Students of all backgrounds learn how to critically assess competing ideas and how to analyze intersecting identities within their social contexts. They develop leadership and social entrepreneurship skills, along with an appreciation for communal engagement, through hands-on collaboration. Jewish Studies courses foster the values of intellectual rigor, mutual respect, ongoing self-reflection, and concern for marginalized voices. The department’s faculty members devote particular attention to personal mentorship.
Chair, Professor David Freidenreich
Professor David Freidenreich; Assistant Professors Rachel Isaacs and Kerry Sonia; Lecturer Lauren Cohen Fisher
Advisory Board: Professors Véronique Plesch (Art), Raffael Scheck (History), and Robert Weisbrot (History); Associate Professors Damon Mayrl (Sociology) and John Turner (History)
Requirements for the Major in Jewish Studies
A minimum of nine three- or four-credit courses to include JS181 and JS182, at least one course on each of the department’s primary themes (Ideas & Texts, Lived Jewishness, and Community Impact), at least two research seminars (300-level courses), and JS423 (“Capstone: Designing the Jewish Ideas Lab”) for the entire senior year (two credits per term, graded credit/no credit). In addition, majors must take at least one semester of JS123, “Beit Midrash—Jewish Ideas Lab,” a one-credit course graded credit/no credit, prior to their senior year.
A single course may count simultaneously toward the thematic requirement and the research seminar requirement. Majors may count up to three approved off-campus study courses as electives or, when appropriate, toward fulfillment of a thematic requirement. Majors may count as electives up to threeHebrew language courses and may count two two-credit courses or independent studies as the equivalent of a single elective course. The year-long capstone likewise counts as a single course toward the nine-course requirement. Successful completion of the major requires a 2.00 grade point average for all requirements above.
Honors Program in Jewish Studies
Majors who enter their senior year with a GPA of 3.65 or higher within the major are eligible to enroll in a four-credit independent study (either in a single term or spread over both fall and spring) in addition to the capstone sequence. Upon satisfactory completion of an honors thesis with retention of the required GPA within the major, students will graduate with “Honors in Jewish Studies.”
Requirements for the Minor in Jewish Studies
A minimum of six three- or four-credit courses, to include JS181, JS182, and at least one research seminar (300-level course). In addition, minors must take at least one semester of JS123, “Beit Midrash—Jewish Ideas Lab,” a one-credit course graded credit/no credit.
Minors may count as electives up to two approved off-campus study courses and up to two Hebrew language courses. Minors may count two two-credit courses or independent studies as the equivalent of a single elective course. Successful completion of the minor requires a 2.00 grade point average for all requirements above.
Courses by Primary Theme
Ideas and Texts: אלו ואלו — Elu v’elu, “Both these [ideas] and these”
Courses that critically examine competing responses to core Jewish questions and divergent interpretations of canonical sources
- 143: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
- 144: Introduction to the New Testament
- 248: Gender, Sexuality, and the Bible
- 387: Anti-Judaism and Islamophobia in Christian/Western Thought
Lived Jewishness: מנהג המקום — Minhag hamakom, “Local customary practices”
Courses that explore how members of specific communities past and present adapt and express their Jewish identities, with particular attention to the influence of the surrounding culture
- 148: Inclusion and Exclusion: Dilemmas in Israeli Society
- 221: Jews of Maine
- 283: Golden Diaspora: Modern American Jewish History
- 228: Arab Jews (Mizrachim) in Israel: Navigating Oppositional Identities
- 322: Food and Religious Identity
- 344: Power, Politics, and Identity in the West Bank
- 346: Jews of Germany, Past and Present
Community Impact: תיקון עולם — Tikkun olam, “Improving the world”
Courses that provide hands-on training in leadership and social entrepreneurship
- 131: Purpose and Practice in Nonprofit Organizations
- 226: Community Organizing and Social Justice
- 285: Faith, Class, and Community