Fall 2014 Courses

Great Books of the Jewish Tradition
Martha Himmelfarb

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including Bible, the rabbinic midrash, the Talmud, Rashi's commentary on the Torah, Mishneh Torah, the Zohar, and the Haggadah. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Jewish Thought and Modernity

This course examines Jewish contributions and reactions to the configuration of social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and political factors known as modernity. It explores how these factors challenged traditional Jewish life and how Judaism was variously reinterpreted to adapt and respond to them. It consists of a historical and thematic survey of modern Jewish thought, spanning from the rise of Enlightenment rationalism to the more recent existentialist and postmodern turns. In the process, it probes the nature and continuing relevance of the concept of modernity as well as interrogates the category of "Jewish" thought.

NES 221/JDS 223     NEW
Jerusalem Contested: A City’s History from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives
Jonathan M. Gribetz

Jerusalem is considered a holy city to three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this course, students will learn the history of Jerusalem from its founding in pre-biblical times until the present. Over the course of the semester, we will ask: What makes space sacred and how does a city become holy? What has been at stake - religiously, theologically, politically, nationally - in the many battles over Jerusalem? What is the relationship between Jerusalem as it was and Jerusalem as it was (and is) imagined?

Who Wrote the Bible
Naphtali Meshel

The course will introduce students to the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") in its ancient Near Eastern setting. Key concepts often associated with the Hebrew Bible, such as God, damnation, sin, and history, will be scrutinized through a careful reading of a selection of Biblical texts including the Creation and Garden of Eden narratives in Genesis, the laws of Leviticus, the prophecies of Ezekiel and the poetry of Song of Songs. Particular attention will be paid to the transformations that the texts underwent through a continuous process of transmission and interpretation.

Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
Naphtali Meshel

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read a selection of Biblical passages. The course is designed specifically and exclusively for beginners with little or no previous knowledge of the language. Students with prior experience in the language should contact the instructor about course alternatives.

NES/JDS 373       NEW
Zionism: The Intellectual History of Jewish Nationalism
Jonathan M. Gribetz

This course explores why, since the late 18th century, Jews and non-Jews alike have asked if the Jews are a nation and why people answer differently, inviting students to think about the origins of nationalism and the relationship between nations and other groups - religions, 'races,' ethnicities, and states. Learn about those who insisted that the Jews are not a separate nation and consider the different motivations for rejecting the nationhood of the Jews. We will examine the varieties of Jewish nationalisms that arose at the end of the 19th century, including Diaspora nationalism, territorialism, and especially Zionism.

Of interest:

Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis
Froma Zeitlin

This course examines the gendered experiences of childhood & adolescence under the Nazis in World War II as witnessed, remembered, and represented in texts and images through a variety of genres and different nationalities. We include historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), photos, and film (documentary & feature) of 1st and 2d generations. While we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, who were deliberate targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries. In final projects, students may elect to study other theaters of war.