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Jewish Studies | Courses

For current class offerings, times, and additional information, please visit the Office of the Registrar.

Please see also our Current Course Offerings.



ANTH-337: Anthropology of Genocide (3) 

Examines questions concerning how individuals, groups, and social institutions legitimize the power to repress, coerce, and kill, how victims experience and interpret their suffering, how “ordinary people” come to accept and justify violent regimes, and the possibility of constructing an understanding of genocide that extends across cultures and from individual impulse to global conflict. Case studies include genocide in the Americas, the Nazi Holocaust, and ethnic cleansing in Central Africa and Eastern Europe.



HIST-245: Modern Jewish Civilization (3)

Surveys Jewish responses to the challenges of modernity. Examines the creation of new Jewish communities in America and Israel, shifts on Jewish political status, and innovations in Jewish religious and intellectual history, such as Zionism and Hasidism.

HIST-344: Topics in Jewish History (3) 

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics in Jewish history exploring one theme, or period, or geographical region of the Jewish past, including the history of women in Jewish tradition, East European Jewry, the world of the shtetl, American Jewish women, and anti-Semitism.

HIST-418: Nazi Germany (3)

The political, social, and economic conditions that made it possible for Hitler to take power. The nature of Nazi rule. Emphasis on World War II and the Holocaust.

HIST-419: Holocaust (3)

Traces the history of anti-Semitism and the development of racism that led to the Holocaust. Examines the historical development of the Final Solution. Considers the variety of responses to Jewish persecution by the Nazi perpetrators, the Jews, and the nations of the world.

HIST-443/643: History of Israel (3)

Traces the development of modern political Zionism in nineteenth century Europe; the historical background leading to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948; and the history of Israel since then, including patterns of Jewish immigration and its relationship to the Arab world.

HIST-473: American Jewish History (3)

Today American Jewry constitutes the preeminent Diaspora Jewish community. This course traces its historical development by examining the waves of Jewish immigration to the United States and the institutions that American Jews created to sustain their community.

HIST-496: Israel and Europe (3)

This course deals with the complex relationship between Israel and Europe. It starts with the European roots of Zionism and covers the Holocaust as one of the factors leading to the establishment of Israel. It leads up to present-day relations between Israel and the EU and includes visits to several European embassies with related events.


Jewish Studies

JWST-205: Ancient and Medieval Jewish Civilization, FA2 (3) 

Examines the independent Jewish states that flourished in Palestine, the rise of the most important Jewish communities outside the ancient Jewish homeland, and the foreign influences that shaped not only the political life of the Jews but also their internal organization and their creativity.

JWST-210: Voices of Modern Jewish Literature, FA2 (3)

Explores a variety of literary works analyzing the historical experience of modern Jewish communities in Europe, as well as the United States and Israel, emphasizing how migration, racism, industrialization, and political change affected these Jews and their Judaism.

JWST-320: Topics in Jewish Culture (3)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics on historical and contemporary aspects of the Jewish heritage, such as Judaism and Hellenism; Judaism and Islam; art, dance, and drama as expressions of the Jewish spirit; and Jewish education, its content and method.

JWST-390 or 590: Independent Reading Course in Jewish Studies (1–6)

JWST-481: Senior Thesis in Jewish Studies I (3)

Jewish studies majors prepare a thesis on a topic selected after consultation with the student’s adviser.

JWST-482: Senior Thesis in Jewish Studies II (3)

Completion of senior thesis on a topic selected after consultation with the student’s advisor.


JWST-490 or 690: Independent Study Project in Jewish Studies (1–6)

JWST-491: Internship in Jewish Studies (1–6) 

Provides students an opportunity to enrich organizational skills and gain experience in community relations at religious, Israel-centered, or social welfare agencies. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and director. 


Language and Foreign Studies

In the early twentieth-century bold pioneers determined that Hebrew—not Yiddish—would become the language of the emerging Jewish state. Learn the Hebrew modern Israelis speak by mastering its grammar while building a vocabulary particularly useful to those planning to visit Israel.

HEBR-116: Hebrew, Elementary Modern I (3)

HEBR-117: Hebrew, Elementary Modern II (3)

HEBR-216: Hebrew, Intermediate Modern I (3)

HEBR-217: Hebrew, Intermediate Modern II (3)

HEBR-316: Advanced Hebrew Modern I (3)

HEBR-317: Advanced Hebrew Modern II (3)



LIT-381: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Literature (3) 

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics including literature and sexuality, literature and the city, psychological approaches to literature, the culture of AIDS, the Holocaust, and literature and politics.


Philosophy and Religion

RELG-471: Topics in Jewish Religion (3)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics on the chief religious themes of Judaism, major Jewish religious thinkers of the past, such as Rashi or other rabbinical scholars; or such issues as the role of mysticism in Judaism.

RELG-486/686: Religion and Global Violence (3)

This globally-focused course explores the religious dimensions, both ideological and cultural, of political and military conflict. Themes include sacred geography and literature as grounds for bloodshed, the sanctity of race, martyrdom/terrorism, and pacifism.


School of International Service

SISU-330: U.S.-Israel Relations (3)

This course explores the evolution of U.S. relations with Israel, from the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 to the present day. Along the way, it examines key milestones in U.S.-Israel relations, beginning with President Truman's controversial decision to buck the U.S. foreign policy establishment and formally recognize the state of Israel; the wartime American airlift in 1973; the U.S. role in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy to the two Camp David summits and beyond; and the U.S. role in providing military, economic, and diplomatic aid to the Jewish state. The course analyzes how a combination of sentimental, political, and strategic factors have led to the formation of a wholly unique bilateral relationship characterized at once by both tight bonds and inherent tensions.

SISU-336: Berlin, the Holocaust, and the Nazi Legacy (3) 

Part of the AU Abroad Berlin Semester, this course studies multiple aspects of the Nazi era, particularly its policies of genocide and its legacy in contemporary Germany, with emphasis on the city of Berlin. Taught in English.

SISU-365: Arab-Israeli Relations (3) 

A survey of Arab-Israeli relations from their origins to the present. Includes an account of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, the history of the British mandate, the Arab-Israeli wars, the involvement of external powers, and the quest for peace. The emphasis is on conflict resolution. Prerequisite: SISU 206 and SISU 220.



SOCY-340: Israeli Society (3) 

This course explores the emergence of Israeli society and its changes over time. It reviews Israel’s ideological and political foundations, the centrality of immigration, the emergence of Arab minorities and Jewish ethnic divisions, and assesses political, economic, religious, and family patterns within the broader Jewish and Palestinian communities.

SOCY-396: Israeli Society Through the Arts (3)

This course examines Israeli Society and its transformation over time using theater, film, and other artistic media. It reviews Israel's ideological and political foundations, the centrality of immigration, and Jewish ethnic divisions, as well as the place of its Arab minorities. Taught by a renowned Israeli theater director, actor and screenwriter, the focus will be on the various ways in which artistic media have portrayed Israel's complex matrix of social identities.