Hebrew and Judaic Studies (2022 - 2024)
Hebrew Language Courses: General Information
The College Core Curriculum foreign language requirement is fulfilled by completion of the standard four-semester sequence of Elementary and Intermediate Hebrew (HBRJD-UA 1 through HBRJD-UA 4).
All students wishing to enroll in a Hebrew language course who possess any exposure to or knowledge of the language must take a placement examination, whether they have formally studied Hebrew previously or not. Placement of students in Hebrew language courses is explained in the academic policies section of this Bulletin under the heading “placement examinations.” Under no circumstances may students decide on their own in which level of Hebrew they belong.
Introductory Language Courses
Elementary Hebrew I
HBRJD-UA 1 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Active introduction to modern Hebrew as it is spoken and written in Israel today. Presents the essentials of Hebrew grammar, combining the oral-aural approach with formal grammatical concepts. Reinforces learning by reading of graded texts. Emphasizes the acquisition of idiomatic conversational vocabulary and language patterns.
Elementary Hebrew II
HBRJD-UA 2 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Continuation of Elementary Hebrew I (HBRJD-UA 1). Open to students who have completed HBRJD-UA 1 or who have been placed at this level through the placement examination.
Intermediate Hebrew I
HBRJD-UA 3 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Open to students who have completed Elementary Hebrew II (HBRJD-UA 2) or those who have been placed at this level through the placement examination. Builds on skills acquired at the elementary level and develops a deepening command of all linguistic skills. Modern literary and expository texts expand vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, with conversation and composition exercises built around the texts. Introduces selections from Israeli media. Addresses the relationship between classical and modern Hebrew.
Intermediate Hebrew II
HBRJD-UA 4 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Continuation of Intermediate Hebrew I (HBRJD-UA 3). Open to students who have completed HBRJD-UA 3 or who have been placed at this level through the placement examination.
Advanced Language Courses
The prerequisite for all advanced language courses is Intermediate Hebrew II (HBRJD-UA 4) or the equivalent.
Hebrew Language through Film
HBRJD-UA 10 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Aspects of Israeli society as portrayed in primarily 21st century Israeli films and television: immigration and immigrants, ethnic groups within Israeli society, religious communities and their relationship to the secular world, the kibbutz, periphery vs. center, the Israeli-Arab conflict, and military service. Focus on the Hebrew language’s various registers and their manifestation in different social contexts and genres.
Advanced Hebrew I
HBRJD-UA 11 Offered periodically. 4 points.
Trains students in exact and idiomatic Hebrew usage and encourages facility of expression in both conversation and writing. Reading and discussion of selections from Hebrew prose, poetry, and current periodical literature.
Advanced Hebrew: Israeli Communications
HBRJD-UA 73 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Extensive selections from a representative range of Israeli media, including newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting. Stresses study of various approaches in the different media, as well as practical exercises in comprehending Israeli press styles.
Jewish History and Civilization
CORE-UA 514 Offered every semester. Fleming, Jassen, Schiffman. 4 points.
See description under Foundations of Contemporary Culture in this Bulletin.
CORE-UA 537 Offered every semester. Engel, Zweig. 4 points.
See description under Foundations of Contemporary Culture in this Bulletin.
The Bible as Literature
HBRJD-UA 23 Identical to RELST-UA 23. Lecture. Offered every year. 4 points.
Approaches the Bible as a “full-fledged kindred spirit” of modernism through a broadly literary approach. The focus is on narrative—the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy), the Former Prophets (Joshua to Kings), and the shorter narrative books (Ruth, Jonah, and Esther)—but also studies Ecclesiastes and Job as ancient precursors to modern skepticism. Examines one modernist engagement with the Bible: Kafka’s Amerika.
Israeli Music: Contesting National Culture
HBRJD-UA 29 Seminar. Offered periodically. 4 points.
Examines the musical construction of Israeli national identity. Students think critically about the political and cultural aspects of music and other expressive forms; become acquainted with Israeli society, culture, and identity politics; develop a sophisticated understanding of contemporary Israeli music; enhance their understanding of the theoretical literature on nationalism, postnationalism, and globalization; and learn the fundamentals of performance and discourse analysis.
Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation
HBRJD-UA 76 Formerly From Hebrew to Israeli Literature. Identical to MEIS-UA 713. Conducted in English. Lecture. Offered every third year. Feldman. 4 points.
Representative works of modern Hebrew literature from the writers of the Hebrew national renaissance of the late 19th century to the present. Focuses on thematic and structural analysis of texts in light of social and intellectual movements of the period. Readings include selections from Peretz, Berdichevsky, Ahad Ha’am, Gnessin, Brenner, Agnon, Hazaz, Yehoshua, and Appelfeld.
Introduction to Judaism
HBRJD-UA 102 Lecture. Offered every January term. Jassen. 4 points.
Introduces a historical narrative of the Jewish people and the beliefs and practices of the Jewish religion. Topics: Bible in Judaism; rabbinic literature; theology; Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) and philosophy; Jewish law; Jewish nationalism; anti-Semitism; messianism; culture and identity; the synagogue; ritual and worship; life cycle; festivals and calendar. Visits to the Jewish Museum, The Center for Jewish History, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Lower East Side, and the second cemetery (1805-29) of the Spanish and Portuguese community.
Modern Jewish History
HBRJD-UA 103 Identical to HIST-UA 99. Lecture. Offered every year. Engel. 4 points.
Major developments in the history and culture of the Jews from the 16th to the 20th centuries, emphasizing the meanings of modernity in the Jewish context, differing paths to modern Jewish identity, and internal Jewish debates over the relative merits of modern and traditional Jewish values.
Ancient Near Eastern Mythology
HBRJD-UA 125 Identical to MEIS-UA 607, RELST-UA 125. Lecture. Offered every other year. Fleming. 4 points.
Students read myths from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ugarit, Anatolia, and Israel, studying them as literary works and exploring the ideas and broader issues that shaped them. These myths, including both extensive literary masterpieces such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and shorter works such as the Flight of Etana to Heaven, offer a window into the religious mentality of the ancient Near East.
Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)
HBRJD-UA 126 Identical to MEIS-UA 809, RELST-UA 809. Lecture. Offered every other year. Fleming. 4 points.
Introduces students to the modern study of the Bible from historical, literary, and archaeological points of view. Reading and analysis of texts in translation.
Jews and Christians in the Ancient World
HBRJD-UA 128 Identical to RELST-UA 611. Lecture. Offered every other year. Reed. 4 points.
Explores the early history of Judaism and Christianity. Key questions: are we to use self-definition, typology, or both in formulating religious categories? How do certain categories help or hinder our understanding of religious and other social phenomena? What is the relationship between ideology and the social world? How do we learn about the real world from literary evidence?
The Dead Sea Scrolls, Judaism, and Christianity
HBRJD-UA 131 Identical to RELST-UA 807, MEIS-UA 807. Lecture. Offered every year. Jassen, Schiffman. 4 points.
Survey of the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the history of early Judaism and Christianity. Reading and discussion of English translations of the major texts.
Anti-Semitism: Then and Now
HBRJD-UA 137 Lecture. Offered periodically. Russ-Fishbane. 4 points.
The roots of anti-Jewish animosity begin in antiquity, taking on many forms throughout the history of Christian Europe. Anti-Semitism takes a new racial and political turn in the modern period, both in Christian and Muslim societies, on the far right and the far left of the political spectrum. Lectures and discussion address the long history of anti-Semitism.
Conceptions of Gender in Ancient Egypt
HBRJD-UA 138 Lecture. Offered periodically. Roth. 4 points.
Examines archaeological remains, artistic representations, and texts throughout the pharaonic period. Topics include: gender relations in Egyptian myths (and whether they reflect Egyptian society generally); roles of royal women; conventions of masculinity in Egyptian art; representations of gender in adults and children; gender-based misunderstandings in international relations with the Levant, Mesopotamia, and classical Greece and Rome; and the problem of female political power.
Apocalypse and the End of Days
HBRJD-UA 139 Identical to RELST-UA 690. Lecture. Offered periodically. Jassen. 4 points.
Jewish and Christian apocalypses express their authors’ most profound thoughts, anxieties, and hopes about the mysteries of the creation of the world, the relationship between God and humanity, the nature of evil, and, most prominently, expectations about the impending end of the world. Examines ancient Jewish and Christian apocalyptic texts and the ongoing influence of apocalyptic ideas in modern religious movements and contemporary culture.
Yiddish in America
HBRJD-UA 144 Lecture. Offered every other year. Estraikh. 4 points.
Examines the Yiddish press, theatre, cinema, scholarship, and literature from the age of mass migration at the turn of the twentieth century to our days. Discusses the role of Yiddish in education, religion, and other domains of American Jewish life, both historically and in contemporary times.
Jews and Muslims: Perceptions and Polemics
HBRJD-UA 145 Lecture. Offered periodically. Russ-Fishbane. 4 points.
Examines the intricate relations between Jews and Muslims from the formative period of Islam in the Middle Ages to the exodus of Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities in the twentieth century to religious and political tensions in contemporary times. Considers not only the complex dynamics of perceptions and relations in the past, but also the human, cultural, and political ramifications of this vital historical relationship in the present. Examination of religious texts, historical documents, memoir literature, music, and film.
Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion
HBRJD-UA 150 Lecture. Offered periodically. Roth. 4 points.
Focuses on key aspects of Egyptian religion: conceptions of the divine in a polytheistic context, temple ritual, hymns, personal piety, the relationship between religion and magic, mortuary religion and its evolution and material consequences. Questions approached through study of the primary sources in English translation—myths (very broadly conceived), other religious writings (including mortuary texts such as the Book of the Dead and the Underworld books)—and of art and artifacts connected with religious practice, such as amulets and votives.
Jesus and Judaism
HBRJD-UA 158 Identical to RELST-UA 158. Lecture. Offered periodically. Reed. 4 points.
Explores the Jewishness of Jesus and its reception within ancient, medieval, and modern Judaism. Situates Jesus and his first followers in relation to the Jewish religion and culture of their time, considering the place of Judaism in the origins of Christianity. Explores reactions to Jesus' Jewishness within later Jewish literature, art, and philosophy. Surveys the history of Jewish/Christian relations from antiquity to the present.
American Jewish History
HBRJD-UA 172 Formerly Religion, Race and Economics: An Introduction to American Jewish History. Identical to HIST-UA 589. Lecture. Offered every other year. Diner. 4 points.
Study of the major events and personalities in American Jewish history since colonial times: the waves of Jewish immigration and the development of the American Jewish community.
Judaism in America
HBRJD-UA 173 Identical to RELST-UA 689. Lecture. Offered periodically. Gottlieb. 4 points.
Explores the origin, development, and future of American Judaism, with a focus on the development of the major religious denominations, the emergence of secular Judaism and the impact of factors such as immigration, feminism, sub-urbanization, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel on American Jewish life.
Zionism and the State of Israel
HBRJD-UA 180 Lecture. Offered every other year. Engel. 4 points.
Key questions: What were the historical circumstances in which, toward the end of the nineteenth century, an organized movement known as Zionism coalesced around a program aimed at establishing “a home for the Jewish people in Palestine”? What actions did the Zionist movement undertake and what ideas did it advance? What historical conditions aided and impeded the Zionist movement in its efforts and helped shape its activities and ideas? How have ideas fostered by the Zionist movement influenced the political, social, and cultural life of the State of Israel since its establishment?
Jewish Women in Modern History
HBRJD-UA 185 Identical to HIST-UA 541. Seminar. Offered periodically. Diner. 4 points.
Explores the social, cultural, and political histories of Jewish women in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution through World War II, focusing on the era of Emancipation, the bourgeois 19th century, both World Wars, and the Holocaust. Examines the options women had, the boundaries against which they pushed, and the roles they created for themselves in public and in private. Students read secondary sources as well as memoirs, diaries, and letters.
Russian Jewish History
HBRJD-UA 191 Lecture. Offered every other year. Estraikh. 4 points.
Jewish history in imperial Russia, from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th, and an overview of the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. Topics: the government’s policies toward Jews; attempts to integrate them into society; establishment and development of Russian Jewish civil society; Jewish participation in the revolutionary movement; aspects of Jewish social, economic, and cultural life in villages, town, and cities; the role of women in family and communal life; anti-Jewish violence; and emigration.
Palestine, Zionism, and Israel
HBRJD-UA 193 Lecture. Offered periodically. 4 points.
Survey of the history of Palestine in the modern period, focusing on the conflict for control of this land from its origins in the late nineteenth century until the present. Examines the evolution of this ongoing struggle in its historical context explores why the various parties to this conflict have thought and acted as they have.
History of the Jews in 20th Century Europe: Comparative Perspectives—Italy, Germany, France
HBRJD-UA 200 Lecture. Offered periodically. Kaplan. 4 points.
Western European Jewish life from Emancipation through the early 20th century, the Holocaust, and the immediate postwar turmoil, with special attention to Germany, Italy, and France. Explores interactions of Jews and other Western Europeans, examines their interlocking histories and memories, and considers how Europeans did or did not come to terms with the Fascist and Nazi past.
Varieties of Mystical Experience
HBRJD-UA 240 Identical to RELST-UA 240. Lecture. Offered periodically. 4 points.
Mysticism occupies a central place in the study of religion as a lived and transcendental experience. Key approaches to the study of mysticism from the lens of comparative religion, religious theory, and neuroscience. Exposes students to classic mystical texts in the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Life in the Tenements: The Public History of the Lower East Side
HBRJD-UA 286 Seminar. Offered periodically. Diner. 4 points.
Explores the world of the Lower East Side from the 1830s through the latter part of the 20th century, using the setting and resources of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Primary and secondary readings that treat the family, work, entrepreneurial, and religious experiences of immigrants.
Issues in Israel's Social History
HBRJD-UA 419 Offered periodically. 4 points.
From the mass arrival of Middle Eastern Jewry in the 1950s to the emergence of the tent protests in 2011, a wide range of issues, conflicts, and dilemmas shaped the historical trajectory of Israeli society. Topics include: historical impact of Zionist and Socialist ideology on society; significance of street art and graffiti in Israel; intra-Jewish ethnic conflicts; influence of Jewish and Arab nationalisms on Israeli Arabs; feminist debates in Israeli society.
Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism
HBRJD-UA 430 Identical to MEDI-UA 430, RELST-UA 104. Lecture. Offered every year. 4 points.
Introduction to the history of the Kabbalah and Hasidism, emphasizing the impact of these ideas on the history of Judaism.
Israeli Cinema: The Changing Uses of the Moving Image
HBRJD-UA 500 Seminar. Offered periodically. Zweig. 2 points.
In the pre-State period (to 1948) the Zionist movement mobilized support through the camera lens, projecting a specific image of Palestine/the Land of Israel and an idealized view of the creation of a new Hebrew nation. Following the creation of Israel, film was an important means of social integration, creating shared images of the dramatic events surrounding the creation of the nation and its early years. Broad consideration of the political and social dimensions of cinema.
Yiddish Literature in Translation
HBRJD-UA 664 Lecture. Offered every year. Estraikh. 4 points.
Literary and cultural activity of Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States from 1890 to 1950. Focuses on the distinct role that Yiddish played in modern Jewish culture during the first half of the 20th century and examines how “Yiddish modernism” took shape in different places and spheres of activity.
The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews
HBRJD-UA 685 Identical to HIST-UA 808. Lecture. Offered every year. Engel. 4 points.
Historical investigation of the evolution of Nazi policies toward Jews; of Jewish behavior in the face of those policies; and of the attitudes of other countries, both within and outside the Nazi orbit.
Jewish Europe after the Holocaust
HBRJD-UA 689 Identical to HIST-UA 18. Lecture. Offered every year. Estraikh. 4 points.
The social, political, and cultural forces that shaped Jewish life in post-1945 Europe. Topics include reconstruction of Jewish communities, repression and anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet Union and Poland, the impact of Israel, emigration and migration, Jewish-Christian relations, assimilation and acculturation, and reactions to the Holocaust.
Israeli Politics and Society
HBRJD-UA 710 Lecture. Offered every year. 4 points.
The power structure and mechanisms of contemporary Israeli politics beginning with the emergence of the provisional government in 1948. How Israel’s national institutions, the legislation mechanism, and electoral system developed. Key fault lines in Israeli social, political, and economic life, including Jewish-Arab relations; the balance between the welfare state and economic liberalism; and gender relations.
Hebrew Revival Literature: Modernism and Nationalism in the 20th Century
HBRJD-UA 760 Prerequisite: None. Conducted in English. Seminar. Offered every other spring. Henig. 4 points.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, Hebrew literature became a major site of transformation and reform. But how could “modern” literature be written in a non-spoken, holy tongue? Identifying literature as a modern institution entwined with the rise of nationalism, students examine the links between modernist poetics and the nationalist imagination. No prior knowledge of Hebrew is required. All texts are available in English translation.
Modern American Jewish Literature and Culture
HBRJD-UA 779 Identical to COLIT-UA 779. Lecture. Offered periodically. 4 points.
Explores the body of imaginative literature (novels, short stories, poetry, and drama) written by American Jews. Links these literary works to the changing position of Jews within American society.
Israel: Fact through Film and Fiction
HBRJD-UA 780 Identical to MEIS-UA 698. Conducted in English. Lecture. Offered every two years. 4 points.
Israeli cinema’s artistic achievements and gutsy in-depth engagement with political, social, and sex-and-gender borders and boundaries that are local and universal at one and the same time. We explore some of the high points of recent Israeli cinema and ask how its treatment of these issues compares to and differs from analogous literary representations in contemporary Hebrew fiction.
Readings in Talmud (in Hebrew)
HBRJD-UA 784 Seminar. Offered every year. Schiffman. 2 points.
Selections from the Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Babylonian Talmud, utilizing both traditional and academic methods of study. Emphasis is on mastering the themes and concepts while studying the text and its commentaries in depth.
Rabbinic Responses to Modernity
HBRJD-UA 845 Formerly History of Halakhah: Custom in Jewish Law. Prerequisite: reading knowledge of rabbinic literature (Hebrew and Aramaic). Seminar. Offered periodically. Russ-Fishbane. 2 points.
Explores the variety of Orthodox rabbinic responses to the complex challenges of modernity. Key questions posed to rabbinic authorities on urgent topics of the day from the 19th to the 21st century, including the novelty of secular education, the impact of religious reform, the effects of political change and democratic development, and advances in technology and medicine.
Seminar in the Archaeology of Israel
HBRJD-UA 960 Lecture. Offered periodically. 4 points.
The archaeology of Israel has a long and important history for understanding the people and literature connected to its land. Introduces the principal theories and methods of archaeological research and the history of the land, with a focus on the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Studies several significant sites and the material culture of the land.
Jewish Philosophy and Thought
A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise and the Birth of Modern Judaism
HBRJD-UA 107 Formerly Spinoza and Jewish Philosophy. Identical to RELST-UA 107. Lecture. Offered every other year. Gottlieb. 4 points.
Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) has been called the quintessential modern religious critic. We examine Spinoza’s critique of Judaism in the context of his medieval Jewish philosophical predecessors. Topics: Are miracles possible? What is prophecy? Are the Jews the chosen people? Is Jewish law (halakha) obligatory?
Modern Jewish Thought
HBRJD-UA 112 Lecture. Offered periodically. 4 points.
Emphasizes the effects of modernity on traditional Judaism. Topics include the Enlightenment and the rationalistic identity; the role of ethics in religion; the emergence of Reform, neo-Orthodox, and Conservative Judaism; liberal rationalist theology and the possibility of revelation; religious and secular Zionism; the Holocaust; and the creation of the modern State of Israel.
Early History of God
HBRJD-UA 116 Identical to RELST-UA 220. Lecture. Offered every year. Fleming. 4 points.
Explores evidence concerning the appearance of monotheism in ancient Israel, including the Hebrew Bible, ancient writing from Israel and its neighbors, and a range of other artifacts. Posits that Israel was not alone in ascribing priority of power to a single god, and that Israel’s monotheism is comprehensible only in the context of these wider currents.
HBRJD-UA 117 Identical to RELST-UA 117. Lecture. Offered every year. Rubenstein. 4 points.
Surveys Jewish ethical perspectives on leading moral issues, including capital punishment; business ethics; self-sacrifice, martyrdom, and suicide; truth and lying; the just war; abortion; euthanasia; birth control; and politics. Explores philosophical questions concerning the nature of ethics and methodological issues related to the use of Jewish sources. Examines classical Jewish texts (Bible, Talmud, and medieval codes) pertaining to ethical issues and discusses the range of ethical positions that may be based on the sources.
Living a Good Life: Greek and Jewish Perspectives
HBRJD-UA 422 Identical to PHIL-UA 422 and RELST-UA 422. Lecture. Offered every one to two years. Gottlieb. 4 points.
What makes a life well-lived? Central questions include: Does living well require acquiring knowledge and wisdom? What is the place of moral responsibility in the good life? Is the good life a happy life or does it require sacrificing happiness? Does religion lead to living well or does it hinder it? What is friendship and how does it contribute to the good life? Thinkers may include Aristotle, Seneca, Maimonides, Glikl, Spinoza, and Levinas.
Creating a Good Society: Christian and Jewish Perspectives
HBRJD-UA 428 Identical to PHIL-UA 428 and RELST-UA 428. Recommended prerequisite: Living the Good Life: Greek and Jewish Perspectives (HBRJD-UA 422). Seminar. Offered every one to two years. Gottlieb. 4 points.
Central questions: What is the best form of government? What economic system is ideal? Should government prioritize the freedom, equality, or happiness of its inhabitants? What role should religion and nationhood play in society? What models of education should government promote? Careful analysis of texts by Plato, Maimonides, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Mendelssohn, Marx, and Hess.
Jewish Mysticism: Literature and Legacy of the Kabbalah
HBRJD-UA 435 Identical to MEDI-UA 435. Lecture. Russ-Fishbane. 4 points.
Examines the central teachings and ongoing legacy of Jewish mysticism from its classical origins to modern times, with special emphasis on Kabbalah, Hasidism, and modern movements of Jewish renewal. Students will study core texts of the mystical tradition as the starting point, while paying close attention to alternative forms of creative expression, from poetry and storytelling to music and dance.
Special Courses and Independent Study
Topics in Judaic Studies
HBRJD-UA 177 Lecture. Offered every year. 4 points per term.
Topics vary by semester.
Topics in Archaeology
HBRJD-UA 590 Topics determine prerequisites. Lecture. 2 to 4 points per term.
Various topics in archeology and Ancient Israel, including culture and history, language studies and literature, and Bible and Talmud.
Topics in Israel Studies
HBRJD-UA 948 Lecture. Offered every semester. 2 to 4 points per term.
Topics vary by semester.
Topics in the Bible and Ancient Near East
HBRJD-UA 949 Lecture. Offered every year. 2 to 4 points per term.
Topics vary by semester.
Topics in Modern Jewish History
HBRJD-UA 950 Lecture. Offered every year. 2 to 4 points per term.
Topics vary by semester.
HBRJD-UA 997, 998 Open to both honors and non-honors students. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Offered every semester. 1 to 4 points.