Fall 2010 Courses


JDS 202/REL 202: Great Books of the Jewish Tradition
This course introduces students to key themes and trends of the classical, medieval, and modern Jewish tradition through a close reading of some of its most influential literature. Our readings will include portions of the Bible, classical rabbinic literature, medieval Jewish poetry, philosophy, and mysticism, and modern Jewish writers from Moses Mendelssohn to Sholem Aleichem and from Abraham Isaac Kook to Abraham Joshua Heschel. We will pay special attention to the multiple approaches to tradition and change over the centuries and to the struggle over the meaning of Judaism in its engagement with an ever-changing world.
Professor: Elisha Russ-Fishbane  Class C01:  11:00-12:20 MW

JDS 301/WOM 309:  Topics in Judaic Studies: Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Judaism: From Biblical Israel to Contemporary America
An exploration of distinctive Jewish approaches to questions of gender, sexuality, and the body, as formulated in their historical, religious, ethical, imaginative, and comical dimensions. Emphasis on received traditions (Bible, Talmud, and Kabbalah), shifting definitions of gender roles and identities in changing social contexts, and contemporary transformations in Jewish thought and practices. Topics include 'body of God,' circumcision, laws of purity, rites of passage, feminist theology, masculine/ feminine stereotypes, Freud & Judaism, and today’s variety of lifestyles. Primary and secondary readings, contemporary films.
Professor: Froma Zeitlin  Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 W; Film  F01 7:30 pm M

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

REL 304:  Jewish and Christian Festivals: Temptation, Competition, and Rejection
The relationship between Judaism and Christianity, their concepts of time and symbols, all are inscribed in and prescribed through their liturgy. The lion's share of these liturgies have been shaped in the long period from the origins of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism to the Middle Ages. We are going to survey various modes of Jewish-Christian interaction in this continuous liturgical discourse, in particular the cycle of liturgical time/year: Purim, Passover-Easter; Shavuot-Pentecost; The Ninth of Av; New Year; Yom Kippur- Encainia; Sukkot-Hanukkah; Hanukkah-Christmas-Sol Invictus; Sabbath-Sunday.
Professor:  Israel Yuval   Class C01:  1:30-4:30 W


REL 230/JDS 230: Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel
A critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible in its historical, ideological and intellectual setting within the ancient Near East will be offered. Central problems in Biblical studies will be addressed, e.g., the historical value of Biblical narrative, the documentary hypothesis, and the process of canonization. A selection of texts from the Hebrew Bible will be read in class (in translation) from a broader, comparative point of view, including the narratives of the Deluge and of Samson and Delilah, the pentateuchal dietary laws, and the poetry of Song of Songs.
Professor: Naphtali S. Meshel  Lecture L01:  10:00-10:50 MW, Precept P01:  TBA

REL 340/JDS 340: 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:  11:00-12:20 MW

REL 504: Studies in Greco-Roman Religions: Hekhalot Literature Reconsidered
This seminar will discuss the present state of research on the literature that constitutes Merkavah
mysticism, the earliest stage of Jewish mysticism. We will read selected passages from all the relevant primary texts, focusing on their distinctive literary character and historical setting. We will invite a few guests from other universities to read certain texts with us, and the seminar will climax in an international conference. Some knowledge of ancient Hebrew is highly recommended. Undergraduates may enroll with the permission of the instructors.
Professors: Martha Himmelfarb and Peter Schäfer  S01: 1:30-4:20 M


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

NES 523: Readings in Judeo-Arabic
An introduction to the reading of Arabic texts written by medieval Jews in the Hebrew script, especially documents from the Cairo Geniza.
Professor: Mark Cohen   Seminar S01:  1:30-4:20 M


JDS 399/NES 399: Modern Israel
This course examines the formation and development of modern Israel. The course will follow the transition in Israel from a conformist society dominated by Zionist ideology to a society seriously questioning its values, ideals, and norms. It will focus on these changes in a wide range of sources: political and diplomatic, cultural, literary, cinematic, and more. The course will focus on the ideological origins of Zionist ideology as well as on the role of the Holocaust; the Arab-Jewish conflict; the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi and secular-religious divide in the development of contemporary Israeli society.
Professor: Eran Kaplan   Seminar S01:  11:00-12:20 TTh

ENG 410 /AMS 393 /THR 368 /JDS 410: Jewish Identity and Performance in the US
What does Jewishness mean? Is it ethnicity or religion? Identity or culture? Belief or practice? How do performance and theater answer or illuminate these questions? We'll consider plays and performances, bodies and texts, performers and spectators, history, memory, and the present.
Professors: Jill S. Dolan and Stacy E. Wolf  Seminar S01:  11:00-12:20 TTh

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


JDS 302/REL 302/NES 302: Elementary Biblical Hebrew
Students will achieve a basic ability to read the prose sections of the Hebrew Bible in their original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read passages from the Bible itself.
Professor: Naphtali Meshel  Class  C01 9:00- 9:50 MWF

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

HEB 105: Intermediate Hebrew I
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  Class C01 : 12:30-1:20 Th and 11:00-11:50 MTWThF

HEB 301: Advanced Hebrew: Language and Style I
This course is one of four courses offered towards the certificate in NES Language and Culture. The course surveys different historical and contemporary aspects of Israeli culture and society integrated with current events, newspaper articles, T.V. clips, etc. HEB 301 explores the history of the Israeli cinema, the evolution of the Israeli popular music and the reflection of socio-cultural-political events. Current events that are relevant are also integrated. All skills of the language are implemented.
Professor: Esther Robbins  Class C01: 7:30-10:20 pm M

HEB 401:  Advanced Hebrew:  Language and Culture
An advanced language and culture course designed to develop proficiency in all skills of the language and cultural issues. This course will examine the evolution of the Israeli theater and its connection to the issues that are dominant in Israel. The theater dealt initially with the problems facing the new state, settling the land, absorbing immigrants, the Kibbutz life, and survivors. These were socially realistic plays.  Later on, the theater dealt with the 67 War plot and topics; change becomes universal and is drawn from other cultures.  The students will read dialogues of entire plays and watch productions for discussions.
Professor: Esther Robbins  Class C01: 1:30-4:20 F

Courses from Previous Semesters