Jewish Studies Program (JWST)

JWST 026 Jews and China: Views from Two Perspectives

Jews in China??? Who knew??? The history of the Jews in China, both modern and medieval, is an unexpected and fascinating case of cultural exchange. Even earlier than the 10th century. Jewish trader from India or Persia on the Silk Road, settled in Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, and established a Jewish community that lasted through the nineteenth century. In the mid-nineteenth century, Jewish merchants, mainly from Iraq, often via India, arrived in China and played a major role in the building of modern Shanghei. After 1898, Jews from Russia settled in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, first as traders and later as refugees from the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War. In the first decades of the twentieth century, a few Jews from Poland and Russia visited China as tourists, drawn by a combination of curiosity about the cultural exoticism of a truly foreign culture and an affinity that Polish Jewish socialists and communists felt as these political movements began to emerge in China. During World War II, Shanghai served as a port of refuge for Jews from Central Europe. In this freshman seminar, we will explore how these Jewish traders, travelers, and refugees responded to and represented China in their writings. We will also read works by their Chinese contemporaries and others to see the responses to and perceptions of these Jews. We will ask questions about cultural translation: How do exchanges between languages, religions, and cultures affect the identities of individuals and communities? What commonalities and differences between these people emerge?

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: GRMN 026

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 031 Beginning Yiddish I

Yiddish is a 1000-year-old language with a rich cultural heritage. YDSH 101, the first in the Beginning Yiddish language series, introduces the student who has no previous knowledge of the language to the skills of reading, writing, and speaking Yiddish. Starting with the alphabet, students study grammar, enriched by cultural materials such as song, literature, folklore, and film, as well as the course s on-line Blackboard site, to acquire basic competency. By the end of the first semester, students will be able to engage in simple conversations in the present tense, know common greetings and expressions, and read simple texts, including literature, newspapers, songs, and letters. Students are encouraged to continue with YDSH 102/ JWST 032/ YDSH 501 in the Spring. Four semesters of Yiddish fulfill the Penn Language Requirement.

For BA Students: Language Course

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: YDSH 101, YDSH 501

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 032 Beginning Yiddish II

In this course, you can continue to develop basic reading, writing and speaking skills. Discover treasures of Yiddish culture: songs, literature, folklore, and films.

For BA Students: Language Course

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: YDSH 102, YDSH 502

Prerequisite: JWST 031

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 033 Intermediate Yiddish I

A continuation of JWST 032/ YDSH 102, Beginning Yiddish II, this course develops the skills of reading, writing, and speaking Yiddish on the intermediate level through the study of grammar and cultural materials, such as literature, newspapers, films, songs, radio programs.

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: YDSH 103, YDSH 503

Prerequisite: GRMN 402

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 034 Intermediate Yiddish II

Continuation of JWST 033; emphases in reading texts and conversation.

For BA Students: Last Language Course

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: YDSH 104, YDSH 504

Prerequisite: GRMN 403

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 041 Israel in Middle East

Also Offered As: NELC 034

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 051 Elementary Modern Hebrew I

An introduction to the skills of reading, writing, and conversing in modern Hebrew. This course assumes no previous knowledge of Hebrew.

For BA Students: Language Course

Two terms. student may enter either term.

Also Offered As: HEBR 051, HEBR 651

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 052 Elementary Modern Hebrew II

A continuation of HEBR 051, First Year Modern Hebrew, which assumes basic skills of reading and speaking and the use of the present tense. Open to all students who have completed one semester of Hebrew at Penn with a grade of B- or above and new students with equivalent competency.

For BA Students: Language Course

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: HEBR 052, HEBR 652

Prerequisite: HEBR 051

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 053 Intermediate Modern Hebrew III

Development of the skills of reading, writing, and conversing in modern Hebre on an intermediate level. Open to all students who have completed two semesters of Hebrew at Penn with a grade of B- or above and new students with equivalent competency.

For BA Students: Language Course

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: HEBR 053, HEBR 653

Prerequisite: HEBR 052

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 054 Intermediate Modern Hebrew IV

This course constitutes the final semester of Intermediate Modern Hebrew. Hence, one of the main goals of the course is to prepare the students for the proficiency exam in Hebrew. Emphasis will be placed on grammar skills and ability to read literary texts. Open to all students who have completed three semesters of Hebrew at Penn with a grade of B- or above and new students with equivalent competency.

For BA Students: Last Language Course

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: HEBR 054, HEBR 654

Prerequisite: HEBR 053

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 059 Advanced Modern Hebrew: Conversation & Writing

After four semesters of language study, it's time to enter the vibrant world of contemporary Israeli culture. In this course students read some of the best plays, poems, short stories, and journalism published in Israel today. They also watch and analyze some of Israel's most popular films, TV programs, and videos. Themes include Jewish-Arab relations, the founding of the State, family ties and intergenerational conflict, war and society, and the recent dynamic changes in Israel society. HEBR 054 or permission of instructor. Since the content of this course may change from year to year, students may take it more than once (but only once for credit).

For BA Students: Advanced Language Course

Taught by: Engel

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: HEBR 059, HEBR 552

Prerequisite: HEBR 054

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 100 Themes Jewish Tradition: Iberian Conversos: Jew-Christian?

Course topics will vary; they have included The Binding of Isaac, Responses to Catastrophes in Jewish History, Holy Men & Women (Ben-Amos); Rewriting the Bible (Dohrmann); Performing Judaism (Fishman); Jewish Political Thought (Fishman); Jewish Esotericism (Lorberbaum) Democratic culture assumes the democracy of knowledge - the accessibility of of knowledge and its transparency. Should this always be the case? What of harmful knowledge? When are secrets necessary? In traditional Jewish thought, approaching the divine has often assumed an aura of danger. Theological knowledge was thought of as restricted. This seminar will explore the "open" and "closed" in theological knowledge, as presented in central texts of the rabbinic tradition: the Mishnah, Maimonides and the Kabbalah. Primary sources will be available in both Hebrew and English.

For BA Students: History and Tradition Sector

Taught by: Ben-Amos/Dohrmann/Fishman

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: FOLK 252, NELC 252, NELC 552, RELS 129

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 102 Jewish Humor

In modern American popular culture Jewish humor is considered by Jews and non-Jews as a recognizable and distinct form of humor. Focusing upon folk-humor, in this course we will examine the history of this perception, and study different manifestation of Jewish humor as a particular case study of ethnic in general. Specific topics for analysis will be: humor in the Hebrew Bible, Jewish humor in Europe and in America, JAP and JAM jokes, Jewish tricksters and pranksters, Jewish humor in the Holocaust and Jewish humor in Israel. The term paper will be collecting project of Jewish jokes.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Ben Amos

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 259, FOLK 296, NELC 254

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 103 The Messianic Impulse in Jewish History

Taught by: Ruderman

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: HIST 101

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 122 Religions of the West

This course surveys the intertwined histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will focus on the shared stories which connect these three traditions, and the ways in which communities distinguished themselves in such shared spaces. We will mostly survey literature, but will also address material culture and ritual practice, to seek answers to the following questions: How do myths emerge? What do stories do? What is the relationship between religion and myth-making? What is scripture, and what is its function in creating religious communities? How do communities remember and forget the past? Through which lenses and with which tools do we define "the West"?

For BA Students: History and Tradition Sector

Taught by: Durmaz

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: RELS 002

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 126 Jewish Mysticism

Survey of major periods of development of mystical speculation and experience within Judaism. Mystical symbolism as a basis for theosophical interpretations of Torah, Immanentist theologies, mystical ethics. Types of experiences and practices which were cultivated by Jewish mystics in order to achieve intimate communion with the Divine and to facilitate a sacred transformation of themselves and the world. Includes "Riders of the Chariot", The Zohar (Book of Splendor), Lurianic Kabbalah, Hasidism.

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: NELC 186, RELS 126

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 128 Spirituality in Contemporary Israel

This course maps out spiritual and religious life in Israel today, ranging from state-supported orthodox communities to groups that practice alternative forms of spirituality. What role do tradition, custom and ritual practice play in the construction of contemporary Israeli identity? How does the State shape religious and spiritual life? What forms of spiritual life are emerging beyond orthodoxy? The course will explore these and other questions through the examination of various media including newspapers, movies, and online conversations with Israeli religious leaders and important figures in popular culture.

Taught by: Ben Lulu

Course offered fall; even-numbered years

Also Offered As: RELS 128

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 130 American Jewish Experience

This course offers a comprehensive survey of American Jewish history from the colonial period to the present. It will cover the different waves of Jewish immigration to the United States and examine the construction of Jewish political, cultural, and religious life in America. Topics will include: American Judaism, the Jewish labor movement, Jewish politics and popular culture, and the responses of American Jews to the Holocaust and the State of Israel.

Taught by: Wenger

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HIST 150, RELS 124

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 131 How to Read the Bible

The aim of this course is to explore what the Bible means, and why it means such different things to different people. Why do people find different kinds of meaning in the Bible. Who is right in the struggle over its meaning, and how does one go about deciphering that meaning in the first place? Focusing on the book of Genesis, this seminar seeks to help students answer these questions by introducing some of the many ways in which the Bible has been read over the ages. exploring its meaning as understood by ancient Jews and Christians, modern secular scholars, contemporary fiction writers, feminist activists, philosophers and other kinds of interpreter.

Taught by: WEITZMAN

Also Offered As: NELC 153, RELS 130

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 132 The History of God

This course introduces the history of God as understood by modern scholars of religion. Why do people believe in gods in the first place? How did so many people come to believe that there was only one god, and how is that god different from earlier gods? How is the God of Judaism different from that venerated by Christians and Muslims. And what is the future of God in a world shaped by secularism, capitalism, and climate-change? This course will address these and other questions in light of anthropology, psychology, intellectual history, and other approaches that scholars uses to illumine religion.

Taught by: Weitzman

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: ANCH 133, RELS 132

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 136 Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Judaism and Christianity

This course surveys the development of concepts about death and the afterlife in Judaism and Christianity, exploring the cultural and socio-historical contexts of the formation of beliefs about heaven and hell, the end of the world, martyrdom, immortality, resurrection, and the problem of evil. Readings cover a broad range of ancient sources, including selections from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, as well as other Jewish and Christian writings (e.g., "apocrypha," "pseudepigrapha," Dead Sea Scrolls, classical rabbinc literature, Church Fathers, "gnostic"and "magical" materials). In the process, this course introduces students to formative eras and ideas in the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Western culture.

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: RELS 136

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 141 The Israeli Soul: Religion and Psychology in Modern Israel

This course aims to introduce what it means to be an Israeli today by exploring how Israeli identity relates to politics, religion, violence and trauma. Taught by an anthropologist, the course is focused on being Israeli not as a national identity but as a psychological experience, and aims to illumine the religious, cultural, social and political forces that are shaping that experience.

Taught by: Friedman-Peleg

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: RELS 141

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 150 Introduction to the Bible (The "Old Testament")

A survey of the major themes and ideas of the Bible, with special attention paid to the contributions of archaeology and modern Biblical scholarship, including Biblical criticism and the response to it in Judaism and Christianity.

For BA Students: Humanities and Social Science S

Taught by: Tigay

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: NELC 150, NELC 450, RELS 150

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 151 Great Books of Judaism (Fall 2018: Lifecycle in the Talmud)

The Babylonian Talmud, known simply as the Bavli, is the foundational legal and ethical document of rabbinic Judaism. It is one of the best read works of world literature, and it is the most widely disseminated and revered rabbinic work. It not only contains legal discussions and rulings but rather it also presents the worldview of the rabbis. This course will analyze and contextualize the perspectives of the Talmud towards the important phases of life. We will examine in-depth several Talmudic passages relating to the various stages of the human lifecycle: birth and naming of the child; circumcision; bar/bat mitzva and adulthood; earning a livelihood and choosing a career; marriage and divorce; procreation and raising children; death, burial, mourning and the belief in the resurrection of the dead among others. We will evaluate these teachings in light of other traditions and in their broader late antiquity and contemporary contexts. All texts will be read in their English translation but originals will also be provided.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Bergmann

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: COML 057, NELC 156, NELC 456, RELS 027

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 153 Jewish Literature in the Middle Ages in Translation

Course explores the cultural history of Jews in the lands of Islam from the time of Mohammed through the late 17th century (end of Ottoman expansion into Europe) --in Iraq, the Middle East, al-Andalus and the Ottoman Empire. Primary source documents (in English translation) illuminate minority-majority relations, internal Jewish tensions (e.g., Qaraism), and developments in scriptural exegesis, rabbinic law, philosophy, poetry, polemics, mysticism and liturgy. Graduate students have additional readings and meetings. Spring 2015

Taught by: Fishman

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: COML 257, NELC 158, NELC 458

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 154 Modern Hebrew Literature and Film in Translation: Autobiography

This course examines cinematic and literary portrayals of childhood. While Israeli works constitute more than half of the course's material, European film and fiction play comparative roles. Many of the works are placed, and therefore discussed, against a backdrop of national or historical conflicts. Nonetheless, private traumas (such as madness, abuse, or loss) or an adult s longing for an idealized time are often the central foci of the stories. These issues and the nature of individual and collective memory will be discussed from a psychological point of view. Additionally, the course analyzes how film, poetry and prose use their respective languages to reconstruct the image of childhood; it discusses the authors and directors struggle to penetrate the psyche of a child and to retrieve fragments of past events.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Gold

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: CIMS 159, COML 282, NELC 159

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 156 Jews and Judaism in Antiquity

A broad introduction to the history of Jewish civilization from its Biblical beginnings to the Middle Ages, with the main focus on the formative period of classical rabbinic Judaism and on the symbiotic relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

For BA Students: History and Tradition Sector

Taught by: Dohrmann

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HIST 139, NELC 051, NELC 451, RELS 120

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 157 Medieval and Early Modern Jewry

Follow the journey of one global diaspora over a millennium of cultural, intellectual, social, and religious change. From the rise of Islam in the seventh century to the separation of church and state in the seventeenth, Jewish people were intimate parts of, and at the same time utterly othered by, the many societies in which they lived. This basic duality is at the heart of this course, exploring how Jewish religion and culture evolved in relationship with Muslim and Christian majorities. Students will develop an understanding of the rich dynamism of premodern Judaism and Jewish life, with an emphasis on global diversity and internal differentiation as well as change over time. We will look for threads of continuity and moments of transformation, decode illustrative texts, images, and documents (in English), and ask how the Judaism that faced modernity had been shaped by a staggering array of different cultural circumstances after antiquity. The course includes attention to anti-Jewish phenomena like expulsion and blood libel, but also at coexistence and creative cultural synthesis, avoiding any simplistic narrative and asking about their legacy in the present day. It will look at the Jewish past from the inside, including less familiar dimensions including philosophy, magic, messianism, and family life.

For BA Students: History and Tradition Sector

Taught by: Oravetz Albert

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HIST 140, NELC 052, RELS 121

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 158 Jews in the Modern World

This course offers an intensive survey of the major currents in Jewish culture and society from the late middle ages to the present. Focusing upon the different societies in which Jews have lived, the course explores Jewish responses to the political, socio-economic, and cultural challenges of modernity. Topics to be covered include the political emancipation of Jews, the creation of new religious movements within Judaism, Jewish socialism, Zionism, the Holocaust, and the emergence of new Jewish communities in Israel and the United States. No prior background in Jewish history is expected.

For BA Students: History and Tradition Sector

Taught by: Wenger

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: HIST 141, NELC 053, RELS 122

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 160 The Making of Scripture: From Revelation to Canon

The Bible as we know it is the product of a lengthy process of development, elaboration, contest, and debate. Rather than a foregone conclusion, the process by which the texts and traditions within the bible, and the status ascribed to them, was turbulent and uncertain. This course examines that process, examining the Bible, traditions and communities from the Second Temple Period - such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and Community - that rewrote, reconsidered, revised, or rejected now well-recognized figures and stories, and constructed distinct ideas of what was considered scripture and how it should be approached. Even as the bible began to resemble the corpus as we now know it, interpretive strategies rendered it entirely different, such as Hellenistic Allegorizers, working from the platonic tradition, rabbinic readers who had an entirely different set of hermeneutics, early Christians, who offered different strategies for reading the "Old" and "New" Testaments alongside one another (and employing categories like "Old" and "New," themselves constituting a new attitude and relationship to and between these texts), and lastly early Muslim readers, who embraced many of the stories in the Bible, altered others, and debated the status of these corpuses under Islam.

Taught by: Gross

Also Offered As: NELC 160, RELS 165

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 171 Elementary Biblical Hebrew I

This course is an introduction to Biblical Hebrew. It assumes no prior knowledge, but students who can begin to acquire a reading knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet before class starts will find it extremely helpful. The course is the 1st of a 4-semester sequence whose purpose is to prepare students to take courses in Bible that demand a familiarity with the original language of the text.

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Carasik

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HEBR 151, HEBR 451, JWST 471

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 172 Elementary Biblical Hebrew II

A continued introduction to the grammar of Biblical Hebrew, focusing on the verbal system, with an emphasis on developing language skills in handling Biblical texts. A suitable entry point for students who have had some modern Hebrew. Prerequisie: If course requirement not met, permission of instructor required.

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Carasik

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: HEBR 152, HEBR 452, JWST 472

Prerequisite: HEBR 151

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 173 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I

This course will focus on using the grammar and vocabulary learned at the introductory level to enable students to read Biblical texts independently and take advanced Bible exegesis courses. We will also work on getting comfortable with the standard dictionaries, concordances, and grammars used by scholars of the Bible. We will concentrate on prose this semester, closely reading Ruth, Jonah, and other prose selections. We will begin to translate from English into Biblical Hebrew, and there will also be a unit on the punctuation marks used in the Bible. This is a suitable entry point for students who already have strong Hebrew skills. Prerequisite: If course requirement not met, permisison of instructor required. Sucessful completion of HEBR 152 or permission of the instructor. This course is the prerequisite for HEBR 154 (no one is "permitted" into that smester; you must take the previous semester course).

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Carasik

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HEBR 153, HEBR 453, JWST 473

Prerequisite: HEBR 152

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 201 Major Seminar in History: Europe Before 1800

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 213 The Religious Other

Course explores attitudes toward monotheists of other faiths, and claims made about these "religious Others" in real and imagined encounters between Jews, Christians and Muslims from antiquity to the present. Strategies of "othering" will be analyzed through an exploration of claims about the Other's body, habits and beliefs, as found in works of scripture, law, theology, polemics, art, literature and reportage. Attention will be paid to myths about the other, inter-group violence, converts, cases of cross-cultural influence, notions of toleration, and perceptions of Others in contemporary life. Primary sources will be provided in English.

Taught by: Fishman

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: NELC 383

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 216 World Post-1800: Bf Sem

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: AFRC 215, HIST 216, URBS 220

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 244 Miracles to Mindfulness

In 1902, the most famous philosopher in America, William James, revolutionized the study of religion by analyzing religion as an experience rather than as a set of doctrines or scriptures. In this course, we will pick up the inquiry that James and scholars such as Sigmund Freud began by exploring new approaches to the science and philosophy of religious experience. We will invite a series of experts from a wide range of fieldsneuroscience, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, psychology, anthropology, to name only a fewto present their cutting-edged research on the nature of religious experience. How can religious experience be studied? What does the research reveal about religious experience? And what can we learn from such experiences about the workings of the human mind and human society? The course has two components: 1) a discussion-centered mini-seminar from 3:30-5:00 will open consideration of the subject with help from relevant readings 2) a guest lecture series every Tuesday from 5:00-6:30, nary angles or in light featuring leading scholars who approach religious experience from different disciplinary angles or in light of different questions.

Taught by: Steve Weitzman, Phil Webster

Also Offered As: RELS 244

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 248 Arab Israeli Relations

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: PSCI 251

Activity: Recitation

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 249 Ultimate Meanings

Does life have some ultimate meaning? In their search for an answer to this question, people tell stories-- stories about the creation of the world, about great human beings confronted with the mysteries of existence, about what happens to people after death. To explore the role of stories in finding meaning in life, we will focus on some of the most meaningful stories ever composed: the biblical stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and his family, the Exodus, Job and his friends, and the life and death of Jesus. One of our goals is to try to retrieve the original meaning of these narratives, what their authors intended, but we will also explore what they have come to mean for readers in our own day for believers and skeptics, scientists and artists, fundamentalists and feminists.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Weitzman

Also Offered As: RELS 259

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 255 The Bible in Translation

This course introduces undergraduates and graduate students to one specific Book of the Hebrew Bible. "The Bible in Translation" involves an in-depth reading of a biblical source against the background of contemporary scholarship. Depending on the book under discussion, this may also involve a contextual reading with other biblical books and the textual sources of the ancient Near East. Although no prerequisites are required, NELC 250 is a perfect follow-up course for NELC 150 "Intro to the Bible."

Taught by: Cranz

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: COML 380, NELC 250, NELC 550, RELS 224

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 259 Introduction to Modern Hebrew Literature: Short Story Reinvented

The objective of this course is to develop an artistic appreciation for literature through in-depth class discussions and text analysis. Readings are comprised of Israeli poetry and short stories. Students examine how literary language expresses psychological and cultural realms. The course covers topics such as: the short story reinvented, literature and identity, and others. Because the content of this course changes from year to year, students may take it for credit more than once. This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew.Grading is based primarily on participation and students' literary understanding.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Gold

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: COML 266, NELC 259, NELC 559

Prerequisite: HEBR 05

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 260 Jewish Folklore

The Jews are among the few nations and ethnic groups whose oral tradition occurs in literary and religious texts dating back more than two thousand years. This tradition changed and diversified over the years in terms of the migrations of Jews into different countries and the historical, social, and cultural changes that these countries underwent. The course attempts to capture the historical and ethnic diversity of Jewish folklore in a variety of oral literary forms.

Taught by: Ben-Amos

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: COML 283, FOLK 280, NELC 258

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 261 Topics in Jewish-American Literature

From the 1922 silent film "Hungry Hearts" through the first "talkie," "The Jazz Singer," produced in 1927, and beyond "Schindler's List," Jewish characters have confronted the problems of their Jewishness on the silver screen for a general American audience. Alongside this Hollywood tradition of Jewish film, Yiddish film blossomed from independent producers between 1911 and 1939, and interpreted literary masterpieces, from Shakespeare's "King Lear" to Sholom Aleichem's "Teyve the Dairyman," primarily for an immigrant, urban Jewish audience. In this course, we will study a number of films and their literary sources (in fiction and drama), focusing on English language and Yiddish films within the framework of three dilemmas of interpretation: a) the different ways we "read" literature and film, b) the various ways that the media of fiction, drama, and film "translate" Jewish cultue, and c) how these translations of Jewish culture affect and are affected by their implied audience.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course not offered every year

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 262 Jewish Literature in Translation

The course explores an aspect of 20th-century literature intensively; specific course topics will vary from year to year. Fall 2016 - REPRESENTATION OF THE HOLOCAUST IN LITERATURE AND FILM: This discussion-centered course is about the enormous difficulties faced by those who felt the urgent need to describe their own or others' experiences during the genocide of the European Jews, 1933-1945. We will explore the complex options they have faced as narrators, witnesses, allegorists, memoirists, scholars, teachers, writers and image-makers. Some linguistically (or visually) face the difficulty head on; most evade, avoid, repress, stutter or go silent, and agonize. One purpose of the course is for us to learn how to sympathize with the struggle of those in the latter group. This is not a history course, although the vicissitudes of historiography will be a frequent topic of conversation. Students will write frequent short papers, called position papers, due before class, in order to provide a basis for discussion. Students need not know anything about the Holocaust, although enrollees should consider historical reading over the summer.

Taught by: Filreis

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: CIMS 261, ENGL 261

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 263 Jewish Films and Literature

From the 1922 silent film "Hungry Hearts" through the first "talkie," "The JazzSinger," produced in 1927, and beyond "Schindler's List," Jewish characters have confronted the problems of their Jewishness on the silver screen for a general American audience. Alongside this Hollywood tradition of Jewish film, Yiddish film blossomed from independent producers between 1911 and 1939, and interpreted literary masterpieces, from Shakespeare's "King Lear" to Sholom Aleichem's "Teyve the Dairyman," primarily for an immigrant, urban Jewish audience. In this course, we will study a number of films and their literary sources (in fiction and drama), focusing on English language and Yiddish films within the framework of three dilemmas of interpretation: a) the different ways we "read" literature and film, b) the various ways that the media of fiction, drama, and film "translate" Jewish culture, and c) how these translations of Jewish culture affect and are affected by their implied audience. All readings and lectures in English.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: CIMS 279, COML 265, ENGL 279, GRMN 261

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 266 Jewish Art

Jewish Art provides a survey of art made by and for Jews from antiquity to the present. It will begin with ancient synagogues and their decoration, followed by medieval manuscripts. After a discussion of early modern representation of Jews in Germany and Holland (esp. Rembrandt), it focuses most intently on the past two centuries in Europe, American, and finally Israel and on painting and sculpture as Jewish artists began to pursue artistic careers in the wider culture. No prerequisites or Jewish background assumed.

Taught by: Silver

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: ARTH 260, ARTH 660

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 268 Women in Jewish Literature

"Jewish woman, who knows your life? In darkness you have come, in darkness do you go." J. L. Gordon (1890). This course will bring into the light the long tradition of women as readers, writers, and subjects in Jewish literature. All texts will be in translation from Yiddish and Hebrew, or in English. Through a variety of genres -- devotional literature, memoir, fiction, and poetry -- we will study women's roles and selves, the relations of women and men, and the interaction between Jewish texts and women's lives. The legacy of women in Yiddish devotional literature will serve as background for our reading of modern Jewish fiction and poetry from the past century. The course is divided into five segments. The first presents a case study of the Matriarchs Rachel and Leah, as they are portrayed in the Hebrew Bible, in rabbinic commentary, in pre-modern prayers, and in modern poems. We then examine a modern novel that recasts the story of Dinah, Leah's daughter. Next we turn to the seventeenth century Glikl of Hamel, the first Jewish woman memoirist. The third segment focuses on devotional literature for and by women. In the fourth segment, we read modern women poets in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. The course concludes with a fifth segment on fiction written by women in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. All readings and lectures in English.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: GRMN 262, GSWS 162, NELC 154

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 270 Middle Eastern Jews in Israel

This undergraduate seminar offers an in-depth look at the history of Middle Eastern and North African Jews, focusing in particular on their place in Israeli society and culture. It will begin with a historical background on the Jewish communities in Ottoman Palestine, and in the larger Ottoman Empire, Iran, and Morocco. We will then proceed to consider the engagement of these Jewish communities with Zionism, and with other conflicting forces, such as European colonialism, Arab nationalism, and Cosmopolitanism. We will learn about Jewish immigration from the region to Palestine/Israel in the period between 1880 to 1948, and about their exodus/expulsion post-1948. We will then explore in depth their settlement in Israel: governmental policies towards Jewish immigrants from the Islamic World, especially between the 1950s and the 1970s; their integration in Israeli society; identity politics in Israel (or: the "invention" of "Mizrahim"); Mizrahi political action; Mizrahi music, film, literature, and food culture; and Mizrahi attitudes towards Arabs, both within and outside Israel. Students will leave the class with a firm grasp of the social and cultural history of Middle Eastern Jews in Israel, and the issues facing third-generation Mizrahim in Israel today. Students will also be introduced to basic methods of inquiry in history, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. Students will engage with a mix of scholarly research, readings in original documents, film, literature, music, and some material and visual artifacts.

Taught by: Alon Tam

Also Offered As: NELC 260

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 277 Jewish American Literature

What makes Jewish American literature Jewish? What makes it American? This course will address these questions about ethnic literature through fiction, poetry, drama, and other writings by Jews in America, from their arrival in 1654 to the present. We will discuss how Jewish identity and ethnicity shape literature and will consider how form and language develop as Jewish writers "immigrate" from Yiddish, Hebrew, and other languages to American English. Our readings, from Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, will include a variety of stellar authors, both famous and less-known, including Isaac Mayer Wise, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Celia Dropkin, Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Allegra Goodman. Students will come away from this course having explored the ways that Jewish culture intertwines with American culture in literature. All readings and lectures in English.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 277, GRMN 263

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 299 Independent Study

An independent study course culminating in a final written project. Prior approval and sponsorship by a member of the Jewish Studies Program faculty is needed to take the course.

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Independent Study

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 303 Power and Peril: The Paradox of Monarchy among Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Jews

We imagine ancient Greece and Rome as the cradles of democracy and republicanism, early Judea as a pious theocracy, but monarchy was the most common and prevalent form of government in antiquity (and the premodern world in general). In this class, we will take a special look at kinship among the Jews, Greeks, and Romans to assess and discuss similarities, differences, and mutual influences. In all these cultures, the king was a polarizing figure in reality and in conception. On the one hand, some revered the monarch as ideal leader, and monarchy provided the language with which to describe and even imagine the very gods. On the other, monarchs were widely reviled in both theory and practice, from the Greek tyrants to biblical Saul. The Emperor Augustus loudly denied his own affinity to the office of king, even as he ruled alone and was revered as a god. In other words, kings stood both for the ideal and the worst form of government. This class confronts the paradox of monarchical rule and will, through the lens of the king, explore ideas of god, government, human frailty, and utopianism.

Taught by: Wilker and Dohrmann

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: ANCH 303, CLST 338, RELS 303

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 305 Jewish Diaspora in the Roman Empire

Under the Roman Empire, Jewish communities developed and flourished especially in the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean, in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Northern Africa, and Italy proper. In many of these cities, the Jews formed a considerable part of the population; they influenced the cultural, social, and political communal life and developed an identity that was distinctively different from that in Judea. In this seminar, we will trace Jewish life in the Diaspora under Roman rule. How did Jews and non-Jews interact? What was the legal status of Jewish communities under the Roman Empire? What caused conflicts and how were they solved? What can the history of Jewish Diaspora communities tell us about minorities in the Roman Empire in general? We will use literary texts, inscriptions, papyri, and archaeological material to answer these questions and many more.

Taught by: Wilker

Also Offered As: ANCH 305

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 320 Spirit and Law

While accepting "the yoke of the commandments", Jewish thinkers from antiquity onward have perennially sought to make the teachings of revelation more meaningful in their own lives. Additional impetus for this quest has come from overtly polemical challenges to the law, such as those leveled by Paul, medieval Aristotelians, Spinoza and Kant. This course explores both the critiques of Jewish Law, and Jewish reflections on the Law's meaning and purpose, by examining a range of primary sources within their intellectual and historical contexts. Texts (in English translation) include selections from Midrash, Talmud, medieval Jewish philosophy and biblical exegesis, kabbalah, Hasidic homilies, Jewish responses to the Enlightenment, and contemporary attempts to re-value and invent Jewish rituals.

Taught by: Fishman

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: JWST 520, NELC 454, RELS 520

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 337 Jewish Magic: Defense Against the Dark Arts

The Hebrew Bible legislates against magic and witchcraft. But Jewish literature is replete with demons, witches, spells and incantations. This course will examine the phenomenon of Jewish magic in the longue duree. We will explore a wide array of sources describing ancient Jewish magical practices, and attempt to reconstruct the various aspects of ancient Jewish magic. We will start with demonology and exorcism in biblical and Second Temple literature. Then we will examine rabbinic attitudes towards magic and sorcery and rabbinic magical recipes. We then turn to material artifacts: late antique Jewish amulets and magic bowls. Finally we will survey the large corpus of magical texts from the Cairo Geniza and Hebrew manuscripts of magic from the middle ages. During the course we will consider broader questions such as the relationships between magic and religion, the identity of the Jewish magicians and their clients, relationship between Jewish and contemporary non-Jewish magic, and the role of women in magical practice.

Taught by: Gross

Also Offered As: NELC 337

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 359 Seminar in Modern Hebrew Literature

This course introduces students to selections from the best literary works written in Hebrew over the last hundred years in a relaxed seminar environment. The goal of the course is to develop skills in critical reading of literature in general, and to examine how Hebrew authors grapple with crucial questions of human existence and national identity. Topics include: Hebrew classics and their modern "descendents," autobiography in poetry and fiction, the conflict between literary generations, and others. Because the content of this course changes from year to year, students may take it for credit more than once. This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew. Grading is based primarily on participation and students' literary understanding.

For BA Students: Arts and Letters Sector

Taught by: Gold

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: COML 359, JWST 659, NELC 359, NELC 659

Prerequisite: HEBR 059

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 380 Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History

An overview of Jewish intellectual and cultural history from the late 18th century until the present. The course considers the Jewish enlightenment Reform, Conservative and Neo-Orthodox Judaism, Zionist and Jewish Socialis thought, and Jewish thought in the 20th century, particularly in the conte of the Holocaust. Readings of primary sources including Mendelsohn, Geige Hirsch, Herzl, Achad-ha-Am, Baeck, Buber, Kaplan, and others. No previous background is required.

Taught by: Ruderman

One-term course offered either term

Also Offered As: HIST 380, RELS 320

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 390 Senior Research Seminar

JWST 390 is required of all students majoring in the Interdisciplinary Jewish Studies major, but all majors and minors in the various departmental programs are encouraged to take the seminar. Students will conduct independent research and complete a 20-30 page paper.

Course usually offered in spring term

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 399 Senior Honors Thesis

Jewish Studies Honors majors must take JWST 399 in which they will design, with the guidance of an advisor, an individualized directed reading program culminating in the writing of an honors thesis.

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Independent Study

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 438 Readings in Modern Yiddish Literature

This course will survey modern Yiddish literature through readings of Yiddish prose and poetry from the end of the 19th century through the late 20th century. The class will be conducted in both Yiddish and English. Reading knowledge of Yiddish is required, although some texts will be available in English translation. Authors include I.L. Peretz, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, and Kadya Molodowsky.

Taught by: Hellerstein

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: YDSH 108, YDSH 508

Prerequisites: Reading knowledge of Yiddish.

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 471 Elementary Biblical Hebrew I

This course is an introduction to Biblical Hebrew. It assumes no prior knowledge, but students who can begin to acquire a reading knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet before class starts will find it extremely helpful. The course is the 1st of a 4-semester sequence whose purpose is to prepare students to take courses in Bible that demand a familiarity with the original language of the text.

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Carasik

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HEBR 151, HEBR 451, JWST 171

Prerequisite: For the second semester: Completion of the first semester or permission of the instructor

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 472 Elementary Biblical Hebrew II

A continued introduction to the grammar of Biblical Hebrew, focusing on the verbal system, with an emphasis on developing language skills in handling Biblical texts. A suitable entry point for students who have had some modern Hebrew. Prerequisite: If course requirement not met, permission of instructor required.

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Carasik

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: HEBR 152, HEBR 452, JWST 172

Prerequisite: HEBR 151

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 473 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I

This course will focus on using the grammar and vocabulary learned at the introductory level to enable students to read Biblical texts independently and take advanced Bible exegesis courses. We will also work on getting comfortable with the standard dictionaries, concordances, and grammars used by scholars of the Bible. We will concentrate on prose this semester, closely reading Ruth, Jonah, and other prose selections. We will begin to translate from English into Biblical Hebrew, and there will also be a unit on the punctuation marks used in the Bible. This is a suitable entry point for students who already have strong Hebrew skills. Prerequisite: If course requirement not met, permisison of instructor required. Sucessful completion of HEBR 152 or permission of the instructor. This course is the prerequisite for HEBR 154 (no one is "permitted" into that smester; you must take the previous semester course).

For BA Students: Language Course

Taught by: Carasik

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HEBR 153, HEBR 453, JWST 173

Prerequisite: HEBR 152

Activity: Lecture

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 490 Topics in Jewish History

Reading and discussion course on selected topics in Jewish history.

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 509 Modernist Jewish Poetry

One version of this seminar considers works by Jewish women who wrote in Yiddish, Hebrew, English, and other languages in the late 19th through the 20th century. The texts, poetry and prose, will include both belles lettres and popular writings, such as journalism, as well as private works (letters and diaries) and devotional works. The course will attempt to define "Jewish writing, " in terms of language and gender, and will consider each writer in the context of the aesthetic, religious, and national ideologies that prevailed in this period. Because students will come with proficiency in various languages, all primary texts and critical and theoretical materials will be taught in English translation. However, those students who can, will work on the original texts and share with the class their expertise to foster a comparative perspective. Because we will be discussing translated works, a secondary focus of the course will, in fact, be on literary translation's process and products.

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 509, GRMN 509, GSWS 509, YDSH 509

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 520 Spirit and Law

While accepting "the yoke of the commandments", Jewish thinkers from antiquity onward have perennially sought to make the teachings of revelation more meaningful in their own lives. Additional impetus for this quest has come from overtly polemical challenges to the law, such as those leveled by Paul, medieval Aristotelians, Spinoza and Kant. This course explores both the critiques of Jewish Law, and Jewish reflections on the Law's meaning and purpose, by examining a range of primary sources within their intellectual and historical contexts. Texts (in English translation) include selections from Midrash, Talmud, medieval Jewish philosophy and biblical exegesis, kabbalah, Hasidic homilies, Jewish responses to the Enlightenment, and contemporary attempts to re-value and invent Jewish rituals.

Taught by: Fishman

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: JWST 320, NELC 454, RELS 520

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 523 Studies in Medieval Jewish Culture

Course examines features of 9th-16th century Jewish culture within their broader historical, regional and cross-cultural contexts, whether Christian or Islamic. Emphasis is placed on primary sources in Hebrew. Topics vary and have included "Reconstructing Rabbinic Judaism prior to the First Millennium"; "Custom in Medieval Jewish Cultures"; "Jewish Culture in the Islamicate World"; "Nature in Medieval Jewish Culture". Students should be able to read unpointed Hebrew. May be repeated for credit. Reading knowledge of Hebrew.

Taught by: Fishman

Course usually offered in fall term

Also Offered As: HEBR 583, RELS 523

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 537 Translating Literature: Theory and Practice

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 519, GRMN 537

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 553 Seminar in Rabbinic Literature

Most of the foundational writings of rabbinic Judaism corpora of Midrash, Mishna, and the two Talmuds were in existence by the end of the sixth century CE. Yet, for several centuries thereafter, there is little evidence attesting to the lived nature of rabbinic culture and society. Course will focus on writings by Jews and about Jews, produced between the 7th and 10th centuries, complemented by secondary sources. Texts will include selections from archaeological inscriptions; Midrash; liturgical poetry; Targum; Masora; geonic responsa, writings by Muslims and by Church Fathers. While students must be able to read Hebrew, much class time will be devoted to the improvement of reading and comprehension skills. Undergraduates should seek permission of the instructor. Prerequisite: Proficiency in Hebrew and/or Greek recommeneded. Undergraduates need permission to enroll. May be repeated for credit.

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: HEBR 557, NELC 557

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 565 Reading Benjamin Reading Kafka

Readings and discussions in English. Walter Benjamin's study of the works of Franz Kafka is as enlightening as it can be bewildering. Moving from philology to Marxism, metaphysics to messianism, Daoism to Talmud, this densely argued piece elliptically touches on almost all of Kafka's published works in just four short sections. This seminar proposes a line-by-line reading Benjamin's 1934 "Franz Kafka on the Tenth Anniversary of His Death" with an eye to its literary, philosophical and religious contexts as well as to the rich history of its intellectual reception. Reading Kafka's works as the essay evokes them, we will situate this piece with regard to Benjamin's other writings, the essay's interlocutors (Brod, Scholem, Lukacs, Brecht) and its most illustrious interpreters (Adorno, Arendt, Celan, Hamacher).

Taught by: Fleishman

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 565, GRMN 545

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 582 Topics in Aesthetics

Topic title for Spring 2018: Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is a philosopher whose writings on art, literature, and politics have had tremendous influence on many disciplines in the Humanities and Social Studies. He has been variously described as one of the leading German-Jewish thinkers, and a secular Marxist theorist. With the publication of a four-volume collection of this works in English, many more of his writings have been made accessible to a wider public. Our seminar will undertake a survey of his work that begins with his studies on language and allegory, and continues with his autobiographical work, his writings on art and literature, and on the imaginary urban spaces of the nineteenth-century.

Taught by: Weissberg

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: ARTH 560, COML 582, GRMN 580, PHIL 480

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 612 Hannah Arendt

The seminar will consider Hannah Arendt's early Jewish writings. It will then center on Arendt's major work, The Origins of Totalitarianism (in particular, the sections on "Antisemitism" and "Imperialism"). Finally, we will discuss Arendt's controversial study on Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 612, GRMN 612

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 657 Becoming Modern

Course not offered every year

Also Offered As: COML 657, GRMN 657

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 659 Seminar in Modern Hebrew Literature

This course introduces students to selections from the best literary works written in Hebrew over the last hundred years in a relaxed seminar environment. The goal of the course is to develop skills in critical reading of literature in general, and to examine how Hebrew authors grapple with crucial questions of human existence and national identity. Topics include: Hebrew classics and their modern "descendents," autobiography in poetry and fiction, the conflict between literary generations, and others. Because the content of this course changes from year to year, students may take it for credit more than once. This course is conducted in Hebrew and all readings are in Hebrew. Grading is based primarily on participation and students' literary understanding.

Taught by: Gold

Course usually offered in spring term

Also Offered As: COML 359, JWST 359, NELC 359, NELC 659

Prerequisite: HEBR 059

Activity: Seminar

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 699 Independent Study

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Independent Study

1.0 Course Unit

JWST 999 Independent Study

One-term course offered either term

Activity: Independent Study

1.0 Course Unit