Spring 2004 Courses


201/REL 223
Class C01: 1:30-2:50 TTh


Introduction to Judaism: Religion, History, Ethics
This course explores the complex nature of Judaism and its development as a religion and culture over millennia. It is not a history course. The focus is on the various elements that combine to make Judaism a holistic religious system, such as sacred place, rites of passage, sacred writings, worship, and attitudes to nature. Attention will be paid to how these elements are differently understood within the Orthodox and non-Traditional movements in the Jewish community. All students are welcome.
Professor: Burton Visotzky


JDS 325/AMS 325
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 W


Culture Mavens: American Jews and the Arts
This seminar explores the relationship between marginality and creativity by focusing on the way America’s Jews drew on film, radio, television, and the stage to express their identity as full fledged Americans. Venturing behind the scenes, it considers the roles Jews played both as cultural impresarios and performers on Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood while also closely examining the cultural forms they championed - and why. Film screenings, guest lecturers, and field trips.
Professor: Jenna Weissman Joselit


JDS 321/COM 321
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 M


A Literary Tour of the Middle East: Short Stories from Israel and the Arab World
Imaginative literature affords a unique window into the collective mind of a people or a society. That is the perspective this course brings to the diverse peoples and cultures of the Middle East. Whereas these are usually apprehended through the lens of politics, this course will allow us to cross, and hopefully transcend, linguistic, national, and cultural boundaries. Reading and discussing short stories by leading writers from a wide range of Middle Eastern countries offers a valuable opportunity to glimpse the essential humanity that informs and underlies the conflicted surface of lived experience in that region of the world.
Professor: James Diamond


JDS 360/HIS 459
Class C01: 3:00-4:20 MW


The Jewish Enlightenment and Its Critics
This course examines the 18th century emergence of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), and tracks the ways in which the confrontation with modernity motivated the 19th century ideal of reforming Jewish society and religion. We will also examine contemporary experiments in self-fashioning undertaken by Jewish men and women, who encountered the contradictions between European culture and Jewish ethics in their own lives. At the same time, we will explore how the powerful impact of Enlightenment shaped a radical critique of Jewish modernity that crystallized into a variety of 20th century movements (e.g., socialism, nationalism, traditionalism).
Professor: Olga Litvak

REL 341/JDS 341
Class C01: 11:00-12:20 TTh


Christianity and the Rabbis in Late Antiquity
Those first centuries in antiquity during which Christianity took shape was also the time at which classical Judaism (the Judaism of the Talmud and Midrash) was evolving in its own way, according to the ideals of the Rabbis, the masters of the Torah, who composed these works. But did these two worlds remain wholly separate, as has often been supposed? The seminar will look for evidence in the vast corpus of Rabbinic literature for a lively and productive exchange of common ideas between the Rabbis and their Christian counterparts. More precisely, our basic question is: how much Christianity is there in Talmud and Midrash?
Professor: Peter Schäfer and Yisrael Yuval


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


Judaism in the Greco-Roman World
This course seeks to understand the evolution of Judaism during the crucial period from the conquest of Alexander the Great to the destruction of the Second Temple, through a careful reading of primary texts and consideration of such issues as the process of Hellenization, the development of biblical canon, the emergence of sects, and the growth of eschatological expectation. Topics include Palestine in the third century BCE; the Hellenistic reform and the Maccabean revolt; Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes; the Dead Sea Scrolls; Philo and Egyptian Judaism; and apocalyptic literature.
Professor: Martha Himmelfarb


REL 346/JDS 346
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 W


Reason and Revelation in Jewish Thought
A critical introduction to some of the classics of medieval and modern Jewish thought. Among the topics examined are: prophecy, miracles, and the possibility of knowing the divine. Particular attention will be paid to the status and meaning of religious tradition in these debates. The course will also explore Moslem, Christian, and secular philosophical influences on Jewish thought, as well as the relation between modern and pre-modern conceptions of reason.
Professor: Leora Batnitzsky


REL 510
Seminar S01: TBA


Special Topics in the Study of Religion: Rabbinic Cosmology and Its Contexts
This seminar will trace the developments in ancient Jewish cosmology from the Hebrew Bible until the end of the rabbinic period (7th Century CE). It will focus on a close reading of the relevant texts. The course is being taught jointly with Prof. David Stern, and will alternate meetings with the University of Pennsylvania.
Professors: Peter Schäfer & David Stern

NES 306/JDS 306
Class C01: 11:00-12:20 TTh


Land-Identity-Nation: An Introduction to Israeli Literature
Israeli Literature has always been intensely preoccupied with questions of national and collective identity. This course explores the contours of this preoccupation in fiction and poetry from Eretz-Israel/Palestine in the early 20th century through the establishment of a state in 1948 to the present day. We will examine the evolution of Hebrew literary production as it moved out of Europe, encountered the Mediterranean landscape, and developed into a vehicle of vernacular literary expression. Topics include: secularism v. religious tradition; gender and ethnicity; postmodernism and its discontents.
Professor: Barbara Mann


NES 545
Seminar S01: 1:30-4:20 Th


Problems in Near Eastern Jewish History: Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of the Geniza World
The topic this year is poverty and social welfare in the Jewish community of medieval Egypt, with comparative focus on medieval Islam and medieval and early modern Christendom.
Professor: Mark Cohen

HEB 102
Class C01: 10:00-10:50 MWF
Drill D01: 11:00-11:50 TTh


Elementary Hebrew II
Continuation of Hebrew 101 focusing on the structure, grammar, and vocabulary of the Hebrew language. There will be reading of easy texts from Israeli newspapers and from the textbooks. Also, there will be more compositions and presentations about various topics in Hebrew.
Professor: Esther Robbins


HEB 107
Class C01: 11:00-11:50 MWF
Drill D01: 11:00-11:50 TTh


Intermediate Hebrew II
Completion of two-year textbook Ha-Yesod, and reading and discussion of selected additional texts (newspapers, stories, poems, etc.). Extensive practice in conversation, writing, and reading Hebrew literature.
Professor: Esther Robbins


HEB 302
Class C01: 1:30-2:50 TTh


Advanced Hebrew II
This course will continue to develop an advanced, active command of the written and spoken language through reading and discussion of short stories and Hebrew prose. Focus on aspects of contemporary Israeli and Jewish cultures.
Professor: Barbara Mann