Ellen Wurtzel Chair, Associate Professor of History
Laura Heron, Assistant Professor
Sam Berrin Shonkoff, Visiting Assistant Professor
The Program in Jewish Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Jewish history and Judaism over several millennia from antiquity to the present in multiple cultural, religious and political settings in the Middle East, Europe, and the US. It offers courses at various levels to give students an introduction to the field as well as immersion in select areas, with emphasis in all courses on the critical skills needed to understand Jewish experience and Jewish expression through religious and political texts, philosophy, and literature.
The Jewish Studies major consists of 9 full courses of core and elective courses. Majors select four courses from core (required) areas in Hebrew, JWST history and religion, and at least three additional courses in either JWST history or religion.
Majors are required to take (or be exempted from, on the basis of demonstrated proficiency) a two-semester Hebrew language sequence from any listed below, and two additional courses from the six introductory JWST history and religion offerings listed below. Please note that each of these courses is offered regularly, but not necessarily every year.
JWST 101: Elementary Hebrew I and JWST 102: Elementary Hebrew II;
JWST 201: Intermediate Hebrew I and JWST 202 Intermediate Hebrew II;
JWST 131: Jewish History from Biblical Times to 1492;
JWST 132: Jewish History from the Spanish Expulsion to the Present;
JWST 150: Introduction to Judaism;
JWST 151: Modern Jewish Thought;
JWST 152: Medieval Jewish Thought: Law, Mysticism, and Philosophy.
JWST History or Religion Concentration
Majors are urged to complete the required four core courses during their first two years of study. Majors are then required to choose a concentration in either Jewish history or Jewish religion and to take three additional courses in those areas from the program’s offerings or, with the approval of the Program Director, equivalent courses elsewhere, up to the limit listed below.
Majors with a concentration in Jewish history are required to select three additional JWST history courses, including a second semester of the required survey (JWST 131/132), if that was not taken to satisfy the core requirement, and at least one 300-level seminar. Majors with a concentration in Jewish religion are required to select three additional JWST religion courses, including JWST 150 and either JWST 151 or 152, if that was not taken to satisfy the core requirement, and at least one 300-level seminar. The student’s major advisor and the Program Director must approve these three additional courses, insuring that the major attains both breadth and depth of study. Majors may also construct a JWST major by focusing on an era of Jewish history, combining courses in history and religion, with the approval of JWST faculty and the Program Director.
Elective Courses. In addition, majors select three elective JWST courses, in consultation with their JWST advisor, to complete the required 9 full courses.
Normally, admission to 300-level courses will be open only to students who have taken the relevant introductory course (see list, above) or equivalent.
The program recommends that majors live in Johnson House, the Program House for Jewish Studies, where Hebrew language, text study and cultural programming are offered, and which gives priority in housing consideration to students involved in the JWST program.
A minor in Jewish Studies consists of a minimum of four full courses in JWST courses.
All courses in Jewish history and Jewish religion are cross-listed with the departments of History and Religion, respectively, and also count for credit in those majors.
Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major.
Qualified students wishing to do an advanced research project in JWST, working closely with an appropriate faculty member, are invited to apply for admission to the Honors Program for their seventh and eighth semesters. Students wishing to be considered for the Honors Program must consult the Program Director and submit a statement of the proposed topic and its methodology and bibliography (8-10 pages total), by April 15 of the student’s sixth semester; late applications may be considered. Admission to the program and actual award of Honors will be determined by JWST faculty based on the student’s academic record in JWST and overall, the strength of the proposal, and of the completed project. Credit hours earned from the Honors Project should be beyond those required for the major. For further details, see the JWST website and Program Director.
Transfer of Credit
Students may transfer up to four full courses toward the major, or two full courses toward the minor, from accredited institutions at the discretion of the Program Director.