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Spring 2024 Courses

Jewish Studies

JS 1010-01 –Judaism: An Introduction

Taught by Rebecca Epstein-Levi

This course is an introduction to the vast and complex body of Jewish beliefs, practices, and rituals, as understood through three main conduits: Jewish texts and their interpretive tradition, Jewish practices throughout the ritual year, and Jewish people as embodied practitioners. In addition to primary texts and scholarly material, we will read popular literature and personal accounts of individuals’ experience of Jewish practice, in order to explore the similarities and differences between “official” accounts of Judaism (which are, in themselves, diverse) and Judaism as practiced by Jews today, and to paint a picture of Judaism as a complicated, vibrant, living tradition.


JS 1040-01 –Introduction to Modern Jewish History

Taught by Sam Finkelman

Meaning and origins of modern Jewish history from 1492. The diverse experiences of Jewish communities across the globe. Men’s and women’s redefinition of Jewish identity as they confronted modernity. Rise of secular rights for Jews but also of new forms of persecution. No credit for students who have earned credit for JS 1240.


JS 1111-01 –FYS –The Cold War Struggle to Free Soviet Jews

Taught by Shaul Kelner

From the 1950s to 1990s, a worldwide human rights campaign fought state-sponsored antisemitism in the USSR, facilitating the exodus of 1.5 million people. What was the nature of Soviet antisemitism? How did activists organize in the US, Israel and USSR? What strategies and tactics enabled activists to successfully pressure a totalitarian superpower to change policy? This class will examine social movement mobilization cross-culturally, under democratic governments in the US and Western Europe, and under a non-democratic government in the Soviet Union. It will look at how the American Jewish mobilization for Soviet Jews brought together American protest culture of the 1960s, post-Holocaust Jewish religious politics, and Cold War culture. Study of this social movement will introduce students to the many facets of academic Jewish Studies as well as to sociological approaches to the study of social movements. As a First Year Writing Seminar, it will help train students in the craft of college writing. In this class, you will be introduced to the many facets of academic Jewish Studies even as you learn about the sociology of religion, race, ethnicity and culture through the study of a social movement. I am sociologist, and I bring sociological lenses to study the movement to free Soviet Jews. I will teach you to how to use these lenses, so that you cast a sociological eye not only on the Jewish experience, but also on the experience of other ethnic and religious groups as well.


JS 2420W-01/02 –FYWS –American Jewish Songwriters 

Taught by Judy Klass

This course looks at the roles of Jewish Americans in shaping our music, especially musical theater, funny songs and political songs. We’ll look at the uneasy relationship, sometimes celebratory, sometimes collaborative, sometimes exploitative, between Jewish and Black communities in American music. Aaron Copland, the Gershwins, Jerome Hern, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Ellie Greenwich, Leiber and Stoller, Phil Spector, Tom Lehrer, Arlo Guthrie, randy newman, carly simon, billy joel, lenny kravitz, the BEastie Boys, Regina Spektor, Kinky Freidman, Kander and Ebb, Stephen Sondheim, Pink, Adam LEvine…what’s not to like?


JS 2240W-01 –Black-Jewish Relations in Post-War American Literature and Culture

Taught by Adam Meyer

Relations between African Americans and Jewish Americans have been discussed, described, debated, and depicted more often than have those between any other pair of ethnic or minority groups in American history. Partly this is because African Americans and, especially, Jewish Americans have had access to the literary, musical, and cinematic marketplaces that worked together to help create and define post-war American popular culture. By looking at novels written by African American and Jewish American writers, as well as some films that explore Black-Jewish relations, this course will examine the variegated dynamics of the relations between Blacks and Jews – sometimes positive, sometimes negative – that have played such an important role in shaping contemporary American culture.


JS 3100 –The Holocaust

Taught by Ari Joskowicz

The history of the Holocaust: its origins, development, and its legacy in the context of Germany and European history. [3] (INT)


JS 2530-01 –Modern Israeli Culture

Taught by Mazalit Haim

Social and cultural history of modern Israel from the establishment of the State in 1948 to the present. Representations of national identity, collective belonging, and historical memory in public culture. Offered on a graded basis only.



1101 – Elementary Hebrew

Taught by Mazalit Haim

Introduction to alphabet, the basics of grammar, and elementary conversation. Classes meet three times per week with an additional two hours a week required in the language laboratory.


2201 Intermediate Hebrew

Taught by Mazalit Haim

Introduction to modern Hebrew reading, conversation, advanced grammar, and conversation. Classes meet three times a week with an additional three hours a week spent in independent work in the language laboratory.

Eligible for AXLE: Foreign language proficiency and AXLE: International Cultures