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Current Jewish Studies and Hebrew Courses

Spring 2016

Introductory and Gen-Ed classes

JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN FOUNDATIONS  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 004). 

TR 11:15-12:30.  Instructor: John Betlyon.

Introduction to the perspectives, patterns of worship, morality, historical roots, and institutions of the Judaeo-Christian traditions & their relationship to culture.

JEWISH CIVILIZATION  (J ST 010). 

Web.  Instructor: Paula Wapnish-Hesse.

An overview of Jewish identities across time and place: from ancient times to the present, in the Land of Israel and around the world.

JEWISH CIVILIZATION (J ST 010).

MWF 10:10-11:00.  Instructor: Alan Benjamin.

An overview of Jewish identities across time and place: from ancient times to the present, in the Land of Israel and around the world.

LANDS OF THE BIBLE  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 012). 

Web.  Instructor: Paula Wapnish-Hesse.

Explore the historical geography and history of the Middle East. Using the ethnography of the region as a tool to interpret and situate the record of text and artifact we tack back and forth between past and present, emphasizing the linkages between people, lands and cultures.

SOCIETY AND CULTURES IN MODERN ISRAEL  (J ST/ANTH/PL SC/SOC 060).

Web.  Instructor: Alan Benjamin.

This course will explore the people of the State of Israel (the nation-state established in 1948), their histories, numbers, migrations, institutions, norms, values, and the landscape in which they live.  We will explore collective identities, including those of the Arabs, Bedouin, Christians, Druze, Ethiopians, Israelis, Jews, Muslims, Russians, and Palestinians who are citizens of the State of Israel, as well as the social relations among them.

JERUSALEM: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 090). 

TR 2:30-3:45.  Instructor: Ann Killebrew.

Jerusalem is often depicted as the spiritual and physical center of the world.  This course surveys the archaeology and history of Jerusalem during the past five millennia, with a focus on its significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem’s past and its impact on the politics of the modern Middle East is also examined in light of various interpretations of Jerusalem’s major archaeological discoveries and their presentation to the public. 

EARLY JUDAISM  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 111). 

TR 8:00-9:15.  Instructor: Kimberly Rubin.

We will look closely into key themes and topics relating to the early cultural and religious history of the Jewish people through the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE JEWS  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 113). 

TR 11:15-12:30.  Instructor: Daniel Falk.

Why are the stories of the Bible told and interpreted in so many different ways in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? We will study the rich diversity of these competing interpretations and seek to understand what lies behind them. Why is Noah a righteous hero in Christian tradition, but in Jewish tradition more often portrayed as a profane man who was only the least bad of an evil generation? Why is Moses portrayed with horns in medieval art? Why is Ishmael more important in Islam than Isaac? What are the religious debates played out in the different versions of these stories, and what’s at stake?

MODERN JUDAISM  (J ST/RL ST 114). 

TR 1:00-2:15.  Instructor: David Ostrich.

How has the ancient religion of Judaism entered the Modern World? Can one be both modern and Jewish? What are the challenges to this dual identity? How have Jews and Judaism changed in Modernity? Are all modern Jews authentically Jewish? This course will study the changes Modernity brought and the ways that Jews have responded to them.  We'll look at the Enlightenment and Emancipation, at Industrialization and Urbanization, and at Egalitarianism, Feminism, and Democracy, investigating how an ancient tradition embraced and/or resisted change.

THE AMERICAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE  (J ST/HIST 115). 

MWF 9:05-9:55.  Instructor: Eliyana Adler.

Jews have resided in America for over 350 years. This course will explore the history, culture, politics and religious developments spanning from the arrival of the first Sephardi exiles up to the contemporary period. An optional embedded one-credit course will allow students to spend spring break engaging in hands-on historical research into Jewish history in Pennsylvania.

NEW TESTAMENT  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 120). 

MWF 1:25-2:15.  Instructor: Michael Legaspi.

Whether you are already familiar with the New Testament or simply curious about it, this course will provide you a thorough introduction to the books of the New Testament, central figures like Jesus and Paul, and the historical contexts that shed light on the early Christian movement.

HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST 1933-1945  (J ST/HIST 121). 

MWF 11:15-12:05 OR MWF 12:20-1:10.  Instructor: Jens-Uwe Guettel.

This course offers an historical introduction to the destruction of European Jewry in the middle of the last century. We will begin by addressing questions and issues about the Holocaust's exceptional status within the history of genocides. Then we will focus on life in pre-WWII Europe, study the rise of the Nazi party and ideology, and then turn to the unfolding of the genocide. Our study will seek to combine chronological development with the significant regional variety of experiences, and the historical sweep of the events with the personal experiences of individuals.

THE HOLOCAUST IN FILM AND LITERATURE  (J ST/CMLIT/ENGL/GER 128). 

TR 9:45-11:00.  Instructor: Sabine Doran.

The course will study representations of the Holocaust in documentary and narrative film, literature and painting. Through the exploration of such notions as memory, mourning, trauma, spectatorship, and atrocity, we will attempt to come to terms with different responses to the Holocaust. We will discuss literary works, such as Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, and films such as Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and Roman Polanski's The Pianist.

ETHICS IN JEWISH TRADITION AND THOUGHT  (J ST/PHIL/RL ST 135). 

MWF 2:30-3:20.  Instructor: Michael Legaspi.

Is belief in God relevant today? What does it mean to lead a good life? How does tradition help us to think about the environment and social justice? This new course draws on biblical studies, intellectual history, and philosophy as it explores the rich and influential tradition of Jewish thought.

JEWS AND ARABS IN THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST  (J ST/HIST 140).

MWF 11:15-12:05.  Instructor: Lior Sternfeld.

Why is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so divisive? In this course we explore the origins of the conflict, the emergences of the Zionist and Palestinian national movements, the events leading to the establishment of Israel in 1948, and those following it. We will analyze changes brought in 1967 and the ensuing shifting Israeli and Palestinian stances. In addition, I hope to organize an embedded trip to Israel over Spring Break.

FRANCE AND THE HOLOCAUST IN FILM AND LITERATURE (J ST 197A/FR 197).

TR 2:30-3:45.  Instructor: Willa Silverman.

This course will examine literary and cinematic representations of the Holocaust in France. We will compare such representations to the historical record to learn what they can and cannot teach us about the French Holocaust history and its remembrance. Are certain genres or media better suited to represent the Holocaust than others?  Can representations of the Holocaust function as historical documents? Finally, we will engage with ethical questions, such as the role of bystanders to genocide, resisting one’s government, rescuers’ motivations, and whether there is an ethical imperative to remember. An optional one-credit embedded study trip to France is tentatively planned for Spring Break.

GLOBAL DIASPORA AND EXILE  (J ST/HIST 220). 

MWF 3:35-4:25.  Instructor: Tobias Brinkmann.

The diaspora course provides an overview of Jewish and global history in the last 2,000 years. We will discuss the meaning of the term diaspora and examine important Jewish communities such as medieval Spain, early modern Poland, the US, and Israel. The course also covers the Chinese, Armenian, and Greek Diasporas.

400-Level Classes

JEWS AND FOOD  (J ST/RL ST 405). 

MWF 10:10-11:00.  Instructor: Paula Wapnish-Hesse.

This course examines Jewish laws, customs and attitudes with regard to food production, agricultural policy and eating from biblical to modern times. These tenets of the Jewish tradition presently underwrite modern movements with regard to land and food sustainability as well as ethical behaviors in food production. The goal of the course is to understand how Jewish tradition can inform and contribute to improvements in the modern food system.

JEWS IN THE MEDIEVAL WORLD  (J ST/HIST/RL ST 410). 

TR 9:45-11:00.  Instructor: John Betlyon.

Jews in the Medieval World follows the Diaspora from Israel into the greater Mediterranean world, and throughout Europe. Jewish communities grew up throughout a wide region, in which the roots of modern Judaism can be seen.  The history and interaction of Jewish communities with their Christian and Muslim (Moorish) neighbors in medieval Spain will be the anchor for understanding the highs and lows of Medieval Jewish life.

BOOKS OF THE BIBLE: READINGS AND INTERPRETATION—Genesis  (J ST/CAMS/RL ST 425W). 

TR 1:00-2:15.  Instructor: Daniel Falk.

GENESIS: this semester we will investigate in depth the book of Genesis and the many different ways it has been interpreted. How does it work as sacred story for Jews, Christians, and Muslims—all of whom embrace this as “their story,” and understand themselves as “children of Abraham.” How does it work as literature? Does it tell us anything about the history and culture of ancient Israel? Beyond the creation-evolution debate, what is the meaning of Genesis in light of current debates about race, gender, environment, colonialism, and social inequality?

TOPICS IN JEWISH AMERICAN LITERATURE—The Jewish American Short Story  (J ST/ENGL 427). 

TR 11:15-12:30.  Instructor: Benjamin Schreier.

Sex! Death! Generational Crisis! Sex! Learn about the REAL Jewish American experience. We’ll try to get a bead on some of the key themes and preoccupations of Jewish American literature and culture though close reading and analysis of a range of this rich and diverse tradition's short stories. Both major writers and lesser known ones will be represented. Critical thinking and evidence-based argumentation will be stressed throughout.

WOMEN IN THE HOLOCAUST  (J ST/HIST/WMNST 439). 

MW 4:40-5:30.  Instructor: Eliyana Adler.

Is it possible to study women’s experience during the Holocaust? If so, how does that knowledge advance our understanding of the larger event? Looking at different environments, such as camps, ghettos, hiding, passing, and the partisans, as well as different sources, including legal, memoiristic, and documentary, will help us to approach these questions. 

THE CONTEMPORARY MIDDLE EAST  (J ST/HIST 473). 

MWF 1:25-2:15.  Instructor: Lior Sternfeld.

This course sets out to explore the elements that have come to constitute the modern “Middle East” as it has developed from late 18th century to the present. The geographical scope includes the territories of the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and North Africa. We will discuss the emergence of Imperialism, Colonialism, Nationalism, Secularism, Postcolonialism, Religious Modernism, and Fundamentalism. We will consider the place of the Ottoman Legacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in shaping the modern Middle East. Other themes will revolve around the significance of the oil economy, Iran, the "Arab Spring," and the so-called Islamic State.

Hebrew and Language Classes

BASIC MODERN HEBREW II  (HEBR 002). 

MTWR 11:15-12:05.  Instructor: Ruth Edelstein.

INTERMEDIATE BIBLICAL HEBREW  (J ST/CAMS/HEBR 152). 

MWF 12:20-1:10.  Instructor: Aaron Rubin.

ADVANCED MODERN HEBREW – CONVERSATION EMPHASIS  (HEBR 401). 

MWF 1:25-2:15.  Instructor: Ruth Edelstein.

CLASSICAL ARABIC (J ST/ARAB/CAMS 497?). 

MWF 10:10-11:00.  Instructor: Aaron Rubin.

An introduction to the grammar of classical and modern written Arabic. No previous experience with Arabic required. Those who know some Hebrew will find it extremely useful.

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