Fall 2008 Courses





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


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, Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar (the central work of Kabbalah), Moses Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem, Salomon Maimon’s Autobiography, Leo Baeck’s The Essence of Judaism, and Gershon Scholem’s The Messianic Idea in Judaism.  As we read, we will consider what these works tell us about creation, revelation, and salvation in Jewish tradition and how they come to define that tradition.
Professor: Peter Schäfer


JDS 301/COM 304
Class  C01:  1:30-2:50 MW


Topics in Judaic Studies: The Art of Jewish Storytelling from the Bible to the Modern Period
Jewish narrative creativity ranges over three millennia and encompasses many languages and genres. This course will explore a rich selection of stories from the Bible, rabbinic Midrash, medieval allegories, Hasidic tales, and modern and postmodern writing. The texts will come from the Hebrew, Yiddish, European, Latin-American, and Anglo-American literary traditions and will be read in translation. Students from all backgrounds are welcome.
Professor:  James Diamond

HIS 359/JDS 359
Class C01:  1:30-2:50 TTh


Modern Jewish History: 1750-Present
This course surveys the breadth of Jewish experience from the era of the Enlightenment to the contemporary period.  Tracing the development of Jewish communities in Europe and the United States against the background of general history, the lectures focus on themes such as the transformation of Jewish identity, the creation of modern Jewish politics, the impact of anti-semitism, and the founding of the State of Israel.
Professor:  Yaacob Dweck


JDS 458/HIS 458
Seminar S01:  11:00-12:20 TTh


History of Zionism
The course examines the history of Zionism as a diverse political, social and cultural, movement. The course traces the origins of the Jewish national idea in Europe at the period of Jewish emancipation and the rise of modern anti-Semitism.  The course examines the transformation of Zionism into a political and social movement in Palestine, the emergence of the Jewish-Arab conflict, and the 1948 War.  The course explores the impact of Zionist ideology on the early years of Israeli independence, and, lastly, the course surveys the post-Zionist debates and the relevance of the Zionist idea today.
Professor:  Eran Kaplan





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


Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel
Critical introduction to ancient Israel of the First Temple period and the literature of the Hebrew Bible that it produced.  Focus on notions of divinity, justice, and worship; kingship and family; men and women; prophecy.  Draws on archaeology of the Levant; inscriptions and mythology from around the ancient Near East.    
Professor:  Simeon Chavel


NES 330/JDS 330
L01: 11:00-12:20 T
P01: 11:00-12:20 Th


The Ancient Near East: From City-State to Empire
This course will chart the history of the Ancient Near East comprising the civilizations of the Pre-Islamic Middle East, i.e. Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria-Palestine and Anatolia, from the beginning of writing until the Persian Period. Some attention will be given to the history of ancient Israel and the ancient kingdoms and peoples who made up the world of the Bible.  Essential topographical and geographical features will be studied for a better understanding of the rise of civilizations and the formation of city-states and empires.
Professor:  Beate Pongratz-Leisten





NES 220/HIS 220/JDS 220
Class C01:  1:30-2:50 MW


Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages
An introduction to the history and culture of the Jews in the Middle Ages (under Islam and Christendom) covering, comparatively, such topics as the inter-relationship between Judaism and the other two religions, interreligious polemics, political (legal) status, economic role, communal self-government, family life, and cultural developments.
Professor:  Mark Cohen


NES 523
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 Th


Readings in Judeo-Arabic
Introduction to the grammar and syntax of Judeo-Arabic. Readings in Biblical translation, response (fatwas), literary texts, and especially documents from the Cairo Geniza, including an introduction to the readings of manuscripts.
Professor:  Mark Cohen





JDS 300/NES 300
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 T


Israeli History Through Film
The course provides an introduction to modern Israeli history and culture through the medium of film.  It examines the transitions and changes in Israeli society over the past sixty years and presents students with some of the major themes of the Israeli experience.  The history of Israel is the tale of the conflict between East and West, Arabs and Jews and between the Jewish past and the Zionist ethos.  It is the story of a transformation from a highly mobilized nation to a modern, self-doubting and pluralistic society that openly questions its past and constituting myths.  Israeli cinema reflects these transitions and offers a unique insight into this fascinating culture.
Professor:  Eran Kaplan


GER 306/JDS 304
Seminar S01: 7:30 pm-10:20 T


German Intellectual History: German-Jewish Thought
The course considers the development of German-Jewish philosophy from the 18th to the 20th century, from Mendelssohn to Buber, Rosenzweig, Arendt, Scholem, and Taubes. Beyond the familiar questions of Haskalah and emancipation, zionism and cultural reawakening, and the responses to the Shoah, we will consider the wider significance of the philosophical answers prompted by these historical contexts and problems, with a focus on the relation between the Jewish tradition and political thought.
Professor:  Arnd Wedemeyer


AMS 334/JDS 334
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 M


Growing Up Jewish in America, 1880s-1960s
Ever since the late 19th century, American Jewish children have grappled with the challenges and possibilities of being heir to two traditions.  For some, growing up Jewish in America was a blessing, for others a burden and for still others it was of little consequence.  This seminar explores the nature of American Jewish childhood and adolescence between the 1880s and the 1960s and the personal, literary, religious and institutional responses it generated. Topics include the bar and bat mitzvah, summer camping, college life and romance.
Professor: Jenna Weissman-Joselit


REL 347/JDS 347
Class C01:  1:30-4:20 M


Religion and Law
A critical examination of the relation between concepts of “religion” and “law,” as they figure in modern Christian and Jewish thought, as well as in contemporary legal theory.  If religion gives law its spirit, and law gives religion its structure, then what is their practical relation in both religious and secular life?  This course explores the relation between Jewish and Christian conceptions of law, both in their ancient and modern contexts, and the relation between traditional religious and modern secular views of law.
Professor:  Leora Batnitzky


COM 349/JDS 349
Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 Th
F01-7:30-10:20 M


Texts and Images of the Holocaust
In an effort to encompass the variety of responses to what is arguably the most traumatic event of modern Western experience, we explore the Holocaust as transmitted through documents, testimony, memoirs, creative writing, historiography, and cinema. In our study of works, reflecting diverse languages, cultures, genres, and points of view, we focus on issues of bearing witness, collective vs. individual memory, and the nature of radical evil. Throughout we are mindful of tensions between ethical and aesthetic imperatives, and the perils of representation itself, when faced with the unrepresentable.  Weekly film showings in addition to seminar.
Professor: Froma Zeitlin


FRE 347/JDS 367
L01 8:30 am-9:50 T
P01 8:30 am-9:50 Th
P02 11:00 am-12:20 Th
P03 1:30 pm-2:50 Th


Jewish Identities in France Since 1945
France has the largest Jewish community in Europe as well as a strong tradition of cultural assimilation. This course explores literary and film works that represent or refract the experience of Jews in France in the last sixty years. Problems that arise include the diversity in the cultural backgrounds of the French Jewish community, the conflict between 'Jewish literature' and French republican ideology, and the role of Holocaust narratives in literary and cultural production.
Professor:  David M. Bellos


COM 388/JDS 388
Lecture L01:  1:30-2:50 TTh


Space and Place in Modern Hebrew and Arabic Literature
What are the meanings of space and place for people in a region where geography is overwhelmingly politicized?  This course will explore the fictional and autobiographical poetics of social space as expressed in literature and film from Israel and the Arab world. Although these works focus on dramas of love and loss, friendship ad family, we will also see how political conditions influence personal and collective experiences of space.  Along the way, we will gain additional insights from theoreticians who have explored the meanings of space as a place, as a condition, and as a practice.  All readings are in English translation.   
Professor:  Lital Levy




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


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: Language and Style I
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