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Next Semester’s Jewish Studies and Hebrew Courses

Jewish Studies Courses Fall 2019

Introductory and Gen-Ed classes

JST 4 -   Jewish and Christian Foundations

MoWeFr  1:25PM – 2:15PM
Kimberly Rubin

This course seeks to help students better understand the Bible and appreciate its role as an authoritative collection of sacred texts for Jews and Christians. In order to read the Bible, it is important to understand the historical and cultural backgrounds of the biblical writings. Also important is the willingness to read the Bible closely and critically, with a view toward larger questions raised by biblical texts: how is God to be known and understood? What is the purpose of human life in the world? What moral obligations ought to structure our common life? Does human history have direction and purpose? What is the good and how do we follow it? The Bible takes up these questions and many more. In this course, we will examine them and consider the ways that the Bible has shaped, informed, and guided Jewish and Christian ways of life.

JST 10 - Jewish Civilization                                                  

TuTh 3:05PM – 4:20PM
Eric Fleisch

This course is an introduction to the study of the Jewish people, an ancient religious community that has lasted through the millennia. It will study the historical development of Jewish civilization, culture, and place in the world through a variety of case studies of Jewish civilizations living throughout varied regions of the world, at different times, and experiencing different challenges and opportunities unique to their moment in history. The main focus will be an exploration of how have Jewish leaders, communities, and individuals have reconciled their interests/agendas both as Jews and as members of a larger society with changing circumstances within and without their communities.

JST 12 - Lands of the Bible from Adam and Eve to Muhammed  

Ann Killebrew

Who, what, and where were the ancient peoples, cultures and places that played key roles in the shaping of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), New Testament and Quran? When do they appear in history and how do we reconstruct their past and legacy? Why do these ancient cultures and writings continue to influence our contemporary world? Utilizing methodologies and approaches from historical geography, archaeology, contemporary historical documents, epigraphy and anthropology, we will investigate the civilizations and peoples of the lands associated with the biblical texts. This course examines the cultural traditions that developed in these regions and contextualize the world out of which the Bible emerged. Thousands of years later, their beliefs, customs and practices continue to resonate in our lives today.

JST/SOC/ANTH/PS 60 - Society and Cultures in Modern Israel

TuTh 12:05PM – 1:20PM
Eric Fleisch

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.

JST/RLST 106 - Mysticism and Kabbalah

TuTh 1:35PM – 2:50PM
David Ostrich

Mystics are said to have the deepest and most profound spiritual experiences. How do they do it? What techniques or practices help one achieve transcendental states of mind? In this course, while studying the Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism, we shall look at mysticism in general and learn of the mind expanding sensibilities that can transform human life to mystical awareness.

JST/RLST/CAMS 110 - Hebrew Bible: Old Testament

MoWeFr 10:10AM – 11:00AM
Aaron Rubin

This course introduces the texts that make up the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament), along with the main literary and historical approaches that form the basis of modern biblical study. It is not assumed that you have any familiarity with the text of the Bible. Prior familiarity is certainly an asset, but as you will have ample opportunity to read the texts throughout the semester, it is not a necessity.

JST 111 - Early Judaism                                                         

MoWeFr 11:15AM – 12:05PM
Kimberly Rubin

Early Judaism will introduce students to the history of Judaism as reflected in Jewish literature from the period of the Babylonian exile (587/6 BCE) to the closure of the Babylonian Talmud (ca. 600 CE). This course will analyze the development of Judaism from its emergence out of the ancient Israelite religion through the formative period of rabbinic Judaism. Attention will be given to the diversity of ideas and practices that characterized early Judaism and the influence the larger Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman worlds had on Judaism’s development. We will examine selections from the Hebrew Bible, and from other literature, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, the New Testament, the Mishnah, and the Talmudim.

JST/HIST 115 - The American Jewish Experience

TuTh 10:35AM – 11:50AM
Tobias Brinkmann

Jews have been part of America since the early days of European settlement. We will discuss the history of immigration, the challenges of community building, how Jews “made it” in America, and the obstacles they faced. This course will provide you with a good overview of American and general Jewish history since 1650. It will touch on business history, literature, Hollywood, politics and, last but not least, Jewish humor! American Jewish history on the local level is still not sufficiently researched. You can earn an extra credit over spring break by conducting a small research project about a Jewish community in Pennsylvania.

JST/CAMS/RLST 120 - New Testament

TuTh 4:35PM – 5:50PM
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 Testamen central figures like Jesus and Paul, and the historical contexts that shed light on the early Christian movement.

JST/HIST 121 - History of the Holocaust 1933-1945

TuTh 9:05AM – 10:20AM
Eliyana Adler

This course will provide an in-depth overview of the Holocaust—the persecution and murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators—by examining the origins and evolution of the “Final Solution.” Throughout the semester, we will foreground the experiences and individuals in the Holocaust using diaries, photographs, and oral history testimonies. Students will also engage with ongoing contemporary debates about the Holocaust and its meaning. This course stands on its own but also provides students with a foundation for further study in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies.

JST 112/CAMS 121/ RLST 121 – Jesus the Jew

TuTh 1:35PM – 2:20PM
Daniel Falk

How did a Jewish peasant from an obscure village in Galilee, executed as a threat to Roman peace, come to be worshiped as God by a third of the population of the planet? How did his followers become a new religion that eventually persecuted the religion of their Lord? Jesus left no writings, and had only a small band of followers during his lifetime, yet he is one of the most influential humans to ever live. What can we know about Jesus the first-century Jew, behind the centuries of Christian theology? The course will consider the early evidence for Jesus, including the canonical as well as non-canonical gospels. We will ask how much the historian is able to reconstruct of Jesus using historical method, what the limits of this investigation are, and how relevant the task is. We will consider and evaluate the different scholarly reconstructions of the historical Jesus, and the impact of Jesus throughout history.

JST/CAMS 123 - Monotheisms

MoWe 4:00PM – 5:15PM
Tawny Holm

This course examines the early history of God; that is, the concept of the divine as a single supreme being. In particular, it focuses on the origins of monotheism and the development of its three major traditions in the Near East: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, from their respective beginnings to around 1000 C.E.

JST/GER 128 - The Holocaust in Film and Literature

MoWeFr 11:15AM – 12:05PM
Sabine Doran

This class studies how art, literature, film, and other media can help us to gain a perspective on one of the most horrific events in human history, the Holocaust: the genocidal murder of more than six million men, women, and children (mostly Jewish) under the Nazi regime during World War II. We will also examine the theoretical questions involved in any attempt to capture what appears to be beyond our comprehension, in terms of moral outrage and the sheer scale, inhumanity, and bureaucratic efficiency. To this end we will study literary works, such as Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, films such as Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, Roman Polanski's The Pianist, and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, as well as photographs, poems, installations, and other artifacts. We will also examine questions of memorialization (Holocaust museums and memorials), national guilt, survivor's guilt, stigmatization, and the ethics of historical representation. 

400-Level Classes

JST/CAMS/RLST 425 - Books of the Bible: Readings and Interpretation

TuTh 3:05PM – 4:20PM
Michael Legaspi

Wisdom is an important topic in biblical literature. This course will examine wisdom and the ways that it is presented in biblical books such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the book of Job. The course will look at wisdom in a wider ancient context by considering presentations of wisdom in ancient Greek and Near Eastern texts as well.

JST 434 – Movies, Media, and the Jewish American Experience

Tu 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Lisa Sternlieb

The great Hollywood studios (MGM, Warners, Paramount, Universal, Columbia) were created by Jewish immigrants from Europe.  Desperate to assimilate, they created an idealized America on screen.   In this course we will consider how a group of Jewish immigrants created the American dream. We will study how Hollywood invented the ideal American family and how it depicted the Jewish experience in America.  We will learn how Jewish directors depicted the Holocaust.  And we will examine how Jewish screenwriters worked with and around the Production Code and the Blacklist.  Films will include works by Lubitsch, Wilder, Donen, Allen, Lumet, Spielberg, Kaufman, and the Coen brothers. Readings will include Neal Gabler’s An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, J. Hoberman’s An Army of Phantoms, Tim Cole’s Selling the Holocaust, and Peter Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life.

JST/HIST 439 – Women and the Holocaust

TuTh 12:05PM – 1:20PM
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

JST/HIST/AS 474 - Hiroshima & the Holocaust in History and Memory

MoWe 2:30PM – 3:45PM
Ran Zwigenberg

The twentieth century was one of the most violent and destructive in human history. Two events stand above all others in their traumatic impact on the history and memory of the last century: The Holocaust and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In one way or another these events touched all human societies.  This course aims to examine the impact of these ruptures through the various ways different societies remembered, understood and commemorated these.  Using the extensive literature on the history of memory, trauma, dark tourism, and architecture this course further suggests ways in which these memories and histories affected and were entangled by each other’s.  The course would focus on, first, how these events were understood differently through postwar history; second, what are the new competing interpretations that emerged in the last couple of decades, and third, how can we affirm both diversity of narratives and unity of purpose in communal commemoration of these events and others. And, indeed, throughout we will consider what is worth remembering and what, if any, should be forgotten by our communities.

Hebrew and Language Classes

HEBR 1 - Basic Modern Hebrew I

MoTuWeTh 9:05AM – 9:55AM
Ruth Edelstein

This course is an introduction to Basic Modern Hebrew Language. No prior knowledge is assumed. This course first acquaints students with the fundamental principles of the Hebrew language introducing learners to the Hebrew alphabet, reading, and writing skills. Students will be introduced to basic grammatical forms such as nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and basic verbs. Writing skills will be developed through homework and written assignments.

HEBR 3 - Intermediate Modern Hebrew

MoTuWeTh 12:20PM – 1:10PM
Ruth Edelstein

Intermediate Modern Hebrew is the third course in the sequence of Basic Modern Hebrew after Hebrew 01, and Hebrew 02. In this course, reading, writing and speaking skills are further developed. Acquisition of new vocabulary, and new grammatical forms will be exercised in class enabling students to improve their writing and speaking skills.  Comprehension and communicative competence in Hebrew are exercised by means of class discussions, oral presentations and Hebrew games.

JST/HBR 151 – Introductory Biblical Hebrew

MoWeFr 9:05AM – 9:55AM
Aaron Rubin

In this course we will learn the fundamentals of Biblical Hebrew, i.e., the language of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The course will emphasize grammar and focus on the ability to read—and, to a lesser degree, write—the language. No background in Hebrew is necessary to take this course.

HEBR 402 - Advanced Hebrew--Conversation Emphasis

TuTh 1:35PM – 2:50PM
Ruth Edelstein

This Advanced level of Hebrew is a continuation of Hebrew 401 and provides students who have already acquired fundamental Hebrew language skills the opportunity to strengthen and exercise the language through a variety of activities. We will analyze poetry, read short stories in Hebrew that reflect cultural material, and discuss current events. The course will also provide students with the opportunity to practice reading comprehension and writing.


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