Fall 2009 Courses



AMS 323/JDS 323
Seminar  S01:  1:30-4:20 M


America in Judaism
Although the idea of an “American Judaism” emerged in the early decades of the nineteenth century, scholars have yet to define this concept in precise terms and explain how it differs from a simpler historical understanding of “Judaism in America.”  Our seminar will examine the Americanization of Judaism beginning with the earliest transplanted Iberian concepts of Judaism in the “new world” to the transformation of Jewish religious life in the United States.  Special attention will be paid to Jewish theology, the rabbinate, gender, denominationalism, and the polity of the American synagogue.
Professor:  Lance J. Sussman

ECS 392/POL 414/REL 392
Class S01:  1:30-4:20 T


God and Politics
Focusing on elect primary texts from antiquity to the present, this seminar considers various attempts to delineate God’s relation to politics from within the history of western political thought, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the American Founding.  Prominent politicians, public intellectuals, and religious leaders will also visit and offer lectures outside of the course.
Professor:  Leora Batnitzky

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


Zionism:  From Ideology to Practice
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 340/JDS 340
Class C01: 11:00-12:20 TTh


Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls
This course studies 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. 
Professor: Martha Himmelfarb  Class C01:  3:00-4:20 TTh

REL 510/JDS 510
S01: 1:30-4:20 M


Special Topics in the Study of Religion: Toledot Yeshu
This graduate seminar (undergraduate students will be admitted) will discuss the polemical tract Toledot Yeshu in its narrative and historical context.  We will first survey the evidence about Jesus of Nazareth as it is preserved in the classical rabbinic literature (primarily the Babylonian Talmud) and will then read the most important versions of the Toledot Yeshu, using the manuscript evidence collected in the Princeton Toledot Yeshu project.
Professor:  Peter Schäfer 




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: 1:30 pm-2:50 MW


German Intellectual History: German-Jewish Philosophies of History
The course will investigate the ways in which German Jews of the 19th and 20th centuries adopted and transformed “German” categories of historical thought from the perspective of the Jewish outsider.  Such thinkers raised urgent questions about the politics of history, the history of religion, and the consequences of both for a modern understanding of time.  As we read, we will seriously consider their hybrid, “hyphenated” perspective:  the goal will be to gain insight—on the one hand—into a unique chapter of German-Jewish intellectual thought, and—on the other hand—into the more general question of what it means to do history at all.
Professor:  Sarah Pourciau

COM 362/CHV 362/JDS 362
Seminar  S01: 1:30-4:20 Th,  Films 7:30 pm M


Stolen Years: Youth Under the Nazis in World War II
This course examines the experiences of childhood and adolescence under the Nazis in World War II in Europe as witnessed, remembered, and represented through a variety of means and genres in text and image.  Among these are historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), and film (documentary and feature) of 1st and 2nd generations.  Although we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, who were specific targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries as well as in Germany itself.  In final projects, students may elect to study other theaters of war. 
Professor:  Froma Zeitlin  

REL 393/PHL 393/JDS 393
S01 1:30 am-4:20 W


Spinoza: Philosophy, Religion, and Politics
In this course we will develop a reading of Spinoza’s philosophy by working through his Ethics.  We will consider Spinoza’s conceptions of ontology, focusing on the relation of ontology to human existence, politics, and religion.
Professor:  Oded Schechter





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

Courses from Previous Semesters