Fall 2007 Courses



JDS 202/REL 202
Class C01:  11:00-12:20 TTh


Great Books of the Jewish Tradition
This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books.  These books include the Bible, rabbinic midrash, the Talmud, Maimonides’ law code, the Mishneh Torah, Rashi’s commentary on the Torah (probably the most influential Bible commentary among Jews ever), and the Zohar (the central work of Kabbalah).  As we read, we will consider what these works tell us about the relationship between revelation and interpretation in Jewish tradition and how they come to define that tradition.
Professor: Martha Himmelfarb


JDS 319/COM 319
Class C01:  10:30-11:50 TTh


The Parable: Evolution of a Genre
An inquiry into how the parable has evolved in Jewish literature.  We will track its development in the Bible and Midrash through the middle ages into modernity and postmodernity and see its evolution from a form that conveyed meaning and moralistic insight to one of indeterminacy and moral ambiguity.
Professor: James Diamond


HIS 444/JDS 444/REL 444
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 T


The Bible in History
The Bible is arguably the most important book ever assembled.  This seminar will explore the changing role of the Bible, both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. We will consider the idea of how a book can be considered holy, the formation of the biblical canons, the role of the Bible in medieval Christian and Jewish culture, the physical evolution of the biblical text, the impact of printing, and the critical re-conception of the Bible as a created rather than divine text.
Professor: Jonathan Elukin 



REL 230/JDS 230
Class C01:  1:30-2:50 TTh


Religion and Literature of the Old Testament: Through the Babylonian Exile
Modern introduction to the literature of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, with a special focus on main religious ideas, institutions and practices in ancient Israel, illuminated by archaeology, against the background of Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt.
Professor:  Simeon Chavel


REL 340/JDS 340
Class C01:  3:00-4:20 TTh


Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls
A study of the history of Judaism in ancient Palestine from the emergence of the Torah as an authoritative document under Persian rule in the middle of the fifth century BCE through the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, with an emphasis on the critical reading of primary sources.  Much of the second half of the course is devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls and their implications for our understanding of ancient Judaism. Other texts to be studied include 1 Enoch, the Wisdom of Ben Sira, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Daniel, Jubilees, and 4 Ezra.
Professor: Martha Himmelfarb 



JDS 232/HIS 232/REL 232
Class C01:  1:30-2:50 MW


Hatred or Tolerance?  Jews and Christians in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Were the European Middle Ages a time of endless suffering and persecution for Jews? How did the Crusades, plague, expulsions, the Renaissance and the Reformation shape relations between Jews and Christians? Did this period lay the groundwork for modern anti-Semitism or for a kind of toleration between Jews and Christians? This course will consider these questions by studying primary source materials (in translation) with readings from current scholarship. Ideally, each class will be divided between short introductory lectures and discussions.
Professor:  Jonathan Elukin



REL 242/JDS 242
Lecture L01:  12:30-1:20 MW, Precept P01: 1:30-2:20 W, Precept P02: TBA


Jewish Thought and Modern Society
What is Judaism’s and the individual Jew’s relation to the modern world?  Is Judaism a religion, a nationality, an ethnicity, or a combination of these?  This course explores various answers to these questions by examining various historical and cultural formations of Jewish identity in Europe, America, and Israel from the eighteenth century to the present, as well as by engaging particular issues, such as Judaism’s relation to technology, the environment, bioethics, feminism, and democracy.
Professor:  Leora Batnitzky


ECS 321/REL 317/JDS 317
Seminar S01: 7:30-10:20 pm W


The Enlightenment and Its Post-Modern Critics
"El sueño de la razón produce monstruos" (Goya) -- Is it the "sleep" or the "dream" of reason that produces monsters? Not even the authors of the Age of Reason were certain about the answer. They asked the same question that is raised with fresh vigor today: What is Enlightenment? What are the implications of science, universalism, tolerance? In order to develop our own approaches, we will explore key texts of the 18th century on the intertwined issues of religion, universalism and colonialism, and we will juxtapose them with the critical inquiries of the 20th century into the -- finished or unfinished?-- project of the Enlightenment. Particular attention will be paid to the voices of Jewish authors in processes of translation in which the Enlightenment has lost its monolithic traces while retaining its power to present challenging questions.
Professor: Andrea Schatz



JDS 302/REL 302/NES 302
Class  C01 11:00- 12:20 MW


Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in its original language.  During the semester, students will learn the script and grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and master standard dictionaries, all the while reading passages from the Bible itself. 
Professor: Simeon Chavel 


HEB 101
Class C01: 10:00-10:50 MWF, Drill D01: 10:00-10:50 TTh


Elementary Hebrew
To develop the skills of reading, speaking, comprehending and writing. The main emphasis is on acquiring communicative proficiency and therefore, Hebrew is progressively employed as the classroom language. A solid grammatical basis and awareness of the idiomatic usage of the language will be emphasized. Classroom activities include conversation, grammar exercises, and reading.  Towards the middle of the semester, an Israeli movie is shown, discussed and criticized through a written assignment. 
Professor: Esther Robbins


HEB 105
Class C01 : 11:00-11:50 MWF,  Drill D01: 11:00-11:50 TTh


Intermediate Hebrew
Reinforcement and expansion of reading, oral, aural, and writing skills through maximum student participation, exclusive use of Hebrew in the classroom, and coverage of remainder of basic grammar.  Readings of graded selections from prose, poetry, and newspapers, and viewing and discussion of Israeli films and television programs open a window on Israel and its culture. 
Professor: Esther Robbins


HEB 301
Class C01: 1:30-2:50 TTh


Advanced Hebrew:  Aspects of Israeli Culture
This course develops an advanced, active command of the written and spoken language through reading and discussion of newspapers, short stories, and poetry. Focus on aspects of contemporary Israeli and Jewish cultures. 
Professor:  Esther Robbins


HEB 401
Class C01: 12:30-3:20 F


Advanced Hebrew:  Language and Culture
An advanced language and culture course designed to develop proficiency in all skills of the language and cultural issues, through class discussions of authentic materials, both text and other media. The objective of the course is to investigate the way playwrights and filmmakers engage and deal with main socio-cultural rifts in Israel.  Students will research, explore, and write on the topics of their choice. 
Professor:  Esther Robbins