Jewish Studies Program

The Jewish Studies Program creates transformational learning opportunities for students of all backgrounds by cultivating hands-on collaboration, mutual respect, concern for marginalized voices, and the dignity of high expectations. Through the study of Jewish traditions and experiences past and present, students gain a deeper understanding of how people construct and maintain communities, balance acculturation with the preservation of distinctiveness, and navigate challenges associated with prejudice, privilege, oppression, inequality, and injustice. Students also explore the evolution of cultural, ethnic, and religious identities as well as the interpretation of shared texts and practices. Jewish Studies courses develop broadly applicable skills associated with critical reading, reflective thinking, and effective communication. The program emphasizes personal mentorship and courses with civic engagement or global travel components.

Inspired by the rabbinic dictum, “learning leads to action,” the Jewish Studies Program works closely with the Center for Small Town Jewish Life to create teaching and leadership development opportunities for students as well as public programs for the Colby community and the people of Maine. Students and faculty members participate in interdisciplinary, campus, and public conversations, applying insights from Jewish Studies scholarship to contemporary challenges. Though a major in Jewish studies is not offered, interested students are encouraged to consult the director about an independent major.


Director, Professor David Freidenreich
Program Steering Committee: Professors David Freidenreich (Religious Studies), Véronique Plesch (Art), Raffael Scheck (History), and Robert Weisbrot (History); Associate Professors Damon Mayrl (Sociology) and John Turner (History); Assistant Professor Rachel Isaacs (Jewish Studies); Visiting Assistant Professor Kerry Sonia (Religious Studies)

Requirements +

Requirements for the Minor in Jewish Studies

A minimum of six Jewish studies courses, including the two core courses (Religious Studies 181 and 182) and one three- or four-credit course at the 300 or 400 level. Minors may count two two-credit courses or independent studies as the equivalent of a single course toward the requirement of six Jewish studies courses. Jewish Studies 125 does not count toward the minor. Minors may petition to receive credit toward the Jewish studies minor for up to three courses taken at other colleges and universities.

Successful completion of the minor requires a 2.00 average for all requirements above.

Courses listed below are described in the appropriate department sections of this catalogue.

Other Applicable Courses +

Courses from Other Departments Approved for the Minor in Jewish Studies


  • 251 Israelis and Palestinians: Conflict and Accommodation
  • 252 Introduction to Politics of the Middle East


  • 421 Research Seminar: Debating the Nazi Past

Religious Studies

  • 143 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • 144 Introduction to the New Testament
  • 181 Conceptions of Jews and Judaism
  • 182 Jews, Judaism, and the Modern World
  • 221 The Jews of Maine
  • 223 Religion in the Modern State of Israel
  • 285 Faith, Class, and Community
  • 322 Food and Religious Identity
  • 346 Jews of Germany, Past and Present
  • 387 Anti-Judaism and Islamophobia in Christian/Western Thought