JDS 201 / REL 223

Introduction to Judaism: Religion, History, Ethics


Starting with ancient Israel's radically new conceptions of the divine, morality, and history, this course explores the complex nature of Judaism and its development as a religion and culture over millennia--a development marked by internal debates and external challenges to continuity and survival. Emphasis is on the traditional bases of Judaism, such as religious beliefs and practices, interpretations of sacred texts, and shared communal values. Attention also to the variety of Jewish encounters with modernity, philosophy, secularism, and non-Jewish cultures. Two classes, one preceptorial.

JDS 202 / REL 202

Great Books of the Jewish Tradition


Martha Himmelfarb

Introduces students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Bible, rabbinic midrash, the Talmud, Rashi's commentary on the Torah (probably the most influential Bible commentary among Jews ever), the Zohar (the central work of Kabbalah), and the Guide for the Perplexed (Maimonides's great philosophical work). Students will consider what these works say about the relationship between revelation and interpretation in Jewish tradition and how they come to define that tradition. Two 90-minute classes.

COM 202 / JDS 203 / REL 203

Introduction to Jewish Cultures


Lital Levy

This introductory course focuses on the cultural syncretism and the global diversity of Jewish experience. It provides a comparative understanding of Jewish culture from antiquity to the present, examining how Jewish culture has emerged through the interaction of Jews and non-Jews, engaging a wide spectrum of cultures throughout the Jewish world, and following representations of key issues such as sexuality or the existence of God in different eras. The course's interdisciplinary approach covers Bible and Talmud, Jewish mysticism, Zionism, Jewish cinema, music, food, modern literature, and graphic arts. All readings and films are in English.

NES 214 / JDS 214

Masterworks of Hebrew Literature in Translation


An introduction to modern Hebrew literature, represented by selected translations from major works of the last hundred years, in prose (Agnon, Almog, Izhar, Kahana-Carmon, Mendele, Oz, and Yehoshua) and in poetry (Alterman, Amichai, Bialik, Rabikovitch, Zach, and others). Two 90-minute classes.

NES 220 / HIS 220 / JDS 220 / MED 220

Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages


An introduction to the history and culture of the Jews in the Middle Ages (under Islam and Christendom) covering, comparatively, such topics as the interrelationship between Judaism and the other two religions, interreligious polemics, political (legal) status, economic role, communal self-government, family life, and cultural developments. Two 90-minute classes.

REL 230 / JDS 230

Who Wrote the Bible


The course will introduce students to the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") in its ancient Near Eastern setting. Key concepts often associated with the Hebrew Bible, such as God, damnation, sin, and history, will be scrutinized through a careful reading of a selection of Biblical texts including the Creation and Garden of Eden narratives in Genesis, the laws of Leviticus, the prophecies of Ezekiel and the poetry of Song of Songs. Particular attention will be paid to the transformations that the texts underwent through a continuous process of transmission and interpretation. Two 90-minute classes.

REL 242 / JDS 242

Jewish Thought and Modern Society


Leora Faye Batnitzky

What is the relation of Judaism and the individual Jew to the modern world? Is Judaism a religion, a nationality, an ethnicity, or a combination of these? This course explores various answers to these questions by examining various historical and cultural formations of Jewish identity in Europe, America, and Israel from the 18th century to the present, and by engaging particular issues, such as Judaism's relation to technology, the environment, biomedical ethics, feminism, and democracy. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

REL 246 / JDS 246

Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam


Martha Himmelfarb

This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium plus from the establishment of the Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE--an event that some have seen as marking the transition from biblical religion to Judaism--to the completion of the other great canonical Jewish document, the Babylonian Talmud, in perhaps the sixth century BCE. The weekly lecture and assigned readings will provide historical context, but the focus of the course will be on primary texts that reflect the major developments in ancient Judaism, to be treated during a two-hour precept.

JDS 301 / GSS 309

Topics in Judaic Studies


The seminar, normally taken in the junior year, explores in depth a theme, issue, or problem in Jewish studies, often from a comparative perspective. Possible topics include gender and the family, comparative diasporas, messianic ideas and movements, Jewish history, anti-Semitism, authority, leadership, and conflict in Judaism, Jewish literature, Jewish popular culture. One three-hour seminar.

REL 317 / JDS 317

Recent Jewish and Christian Thought


Leora Faye Batnitzky

Explores recent Jewish, Christian, and postmodern thought, all of which seek to criticize universalist conceptions of reason and ethics while defending a view of Jewish, Christian, or philosophical particularity. Examines the historical reasons for and philosophical contents of these arguments and also their philosophical, ethical, and political implications. One three-hour seminar.

NES 338 / JDS 338 / HIS 349

The Arab-Israeli Conflict


Jonathan Marc Gribetz

The history of the Arab-Israeli conflict up to 1967. Due to its contentious theme, it stresses historiographic problems and primary sources; also, it looks at Israeli and Palestinian societies as much as at the conflict between them. Questions include the ideological vs. practical roots of, and religious/secular elements in, Zionism and Palestinian nationalism; politico-economic links between the two societies; breaks in their social and/or ethnic composition; the effects of collective traumas and warfare on socio-political structures and gender; and the role of foreign powers and regional states. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

REL 340 / JDS 340

Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls


Martha Himmelfarb

A study of the history of Judaism in ancient Palestine from the emergence of the Torah as an authoritative document under Persian rule in the middle of the fifth century BCE through the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, with an emphasis on the critical reading of primary sources. Much of the second half of the course is devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls and their implications for our understanding of ancient Judaism. Other texts to be studied include 1 Enoch, the Wisdom of Ben Sira, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Daniel, Jubilees, and 4 Ezra. Two 90-minute classes.

REL 346 / JDS 346

Reason and Revelation in Jewish Thought


Leora Faye Batnitzky

A critical introduction to some of the classics of medieval and modern thought. Specific topics include prophecy, miracles, and the possibility of knowing the divine, with particular attention to the relation between modern and premodern conceptions of reason and Moslem, Christian, and secular philosophical influences on Jewish thought. Two 90-minute classes.

REL 347 / JDS 347

Religion and Law


Leora Faye Batnitzky

A critical examination of the relation between the concepts of "religion" and "law" as they figure in the development of Jewish and Christian law, as well as in contemporary legal theory. Particular attention to the ways in which, historically, theological debates play out in contemporary secular legal arguments about the value underlying law. One three-hour seminar.

COM 349 / ECS 349 / GER 349 / JDS 349

Texts and Images of the Holocaust


In an effort to encompass the variety of responses to what is arguably the most traumatic event of modern Western experience, the Holocaust is explored as transmitted through documents, testimony, memoirs, creative writing, historiography, and cinema. In this study of works, reflecting diverse languages, cultures, genres, and points of view, the course focuses on issues of bearing witness, collective vs. individual memory, and the nature of radical evil. One three-hour seminar, plus weekly film showings.

HIS 359 / JDS 359

Modern Jewish History: 1750-Present


Yaacob Dweck

This course surveys the breadth of Jewish experience from the era of the Enlightenment to the contemporary period. Tracing the development of Jewish cultures and communities in Europe and the United States against the background of general history, the course focuses on themes such as the transformation of Jewish identity, the creation of modern Jewish politics, the impact of anti-Semitism, and the founding of the State of Israel. Two 90-minute classes.

ENG 356 / AMS 359 / JDS 377

Topics in American Literature


Esther Helen Schor, Deborah Epstein Nord, Maria A. DiBattista

An investigation of issues outside the scope of traditional surveys of American literature. Topics may include: definitions of "America," literature of the South, contemporary poetry, New Historicism, America on film, the Harlem Renaissance, the Vietnam War, the sentimental novel, colonial encounters, literature of the Americas, fictions of empire, Jewish American writers. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

REL 512 / JDS 513

Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Religions


Laura Elizabeth Quick

This course considers the production, consumption and transmission of written traditions in the ancient Near East. We extrapolate cultural and historical information from primary texts, while accurately placing them in their original historical and cultural context.

NES 545 / MED 545 / REL 548 / JDS 545

Problems in Near Eastern Jewish History: Judaism after the Talmud


Eve Krakowski

A study of a number of central problems, historiographical issues, and primary sources relevant to the history of the Jewish minority under Islam in the Middle Ages.