Judaic Studies Program

110 Mather House
Phone: 216-368-2741
Peter J. Haas, Director
E-mail: peter.haas@case.edu

The Judaic Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the history, religion, social experience, and culture of the Jewish people. By bringing a variety of fields and disciplines to bear on its subject, the program intends to convey to students the complex interaction of forces that create and express Jewish ethnic identity. Students completing the program will have broad knowledge of the field along with the tools necessary for continued study of Jewish civilization in all its manifestations.

Program Steering Committee

Peter J. Haas, Ph.D.
Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies, Department of Religious Studies
Director, Judaic Studies Program

William E. Deal, Ph.D.
Severance Professor of the History of Religion, Department of Religious Studies

Ellen G. Landau, Ph.D.
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Department of Art History and Art

Miriam Levin, Ph.D.
Professor of History

Judith Neulander, Ph.D.
Lecturer in Religious Studies

Judith Oster, Ph.D.
Professor of English

Gillian Weiss, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History

Joseph White, Ph.D.
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy, Department of Political Science

Yoram Daon, M.B.A.
Lecturer in Modern Languages and Literatures

Undergraduate Program

(15-20 credit hours)

The minor consists of five or six courses, according to the following scheme, to be taken in consultation with the program director. Only one course may be in the Department of Religious Studies. If the Rosenthal Visiting Professor's course is cross-listed in RLGN, this will count as the one course.

1. Introduction to Judaic Studies (JDST 201)

2. Nine additional credit hours of courses with at least 1/3 Jewish content (no more than one from RLGN)

Currently offered courses that fulfill this requirement include:

3. Two semesters of Hebrew (HBRW 101 and HBRW 102). Students who place out of both semesters of Hebrew must take another course from among those listed above.

Course Descriptions

JDST 201. Introduction to Judaic Studies (3)
An introduction to the academic study of Judaic religion and culture, this course does not presuppose any previous study of, or experience with, Judaism. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to Judaic Studies, drawing on a variety of methods to examine the diverse issues that make up the current field of Judaic Studies. The course will examine the Jewish experience across time and space, and my include some “field” experience, such as a visit to a synagogue or to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Required for the minor in Judaic Studies.

JDST 218. Jews in Early Modern Europe (3)
This course surveys the history of Jews in Europe and the wider world from the Spanish expulsion through the French Revolution. Tracking peregrinations out of the Iberian Peninsula to the British Isles, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Poland-Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire and the American colonies, it examines the diverse ways Jews organized their communities, interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors and negotiated their social, economic and legal status within different states and empires. What role did Jews play and what symbolic place did they occupy during a period of European expansion, technological innovation, artistic experimentation, and religious and political turmoil? What internal and external dynamics affected Jewish experiences in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Through a selection of inquisitorial transcripts, government records, memoirs and historical literature, we will explore topics such as persecution, conversion, messiaen, toleration, emancipation and assimilation.
Offered as HSTY 218 and JDST 218, ETHS 218.

JDST 220. Jewish Traditional Art and Architecture (3)
Tradition and transformation in Jewish artistic expression over time and across space. Course will begin with the biblical period and continue down to the present day in Israel and America. Examination of how concepts such as “Jewish” and “art” undergo change within the Jewish community over this period.
Offered as ARTH 220 and JDST 220.
Global & Cultural Diversity

JDST 228. The Jewish Image in Popular Film (3)
Explores film as social practice for its makers and its audience from the silent era through Hollywood’s Golden Age, to the technological dazzle of the present day. Notes views of the Jews as stereotypical “Racial Other,” not only capable of Jewish self-representation, but also capable of representing any group widely believed to be non-white, non-Christian or otherwise “alien.” By studying select films in historical context, the course will trace changes in this stereotype. By the end of the semester, students will understand how film is shaped by, and how it actively shapes, our constructions of American Selves vs. Ethnic Others.
Global & Cultural Diversity

JDST 231. Jews in the Modern World (3)
Investigation of the impact of modernity on the Jewish community. In particular the course will examine the influence of the Emancipation and Enlightenment on the social situation of the Jews in Europe and America and the corresponding changes in Judaic religion, philosophy, social structure, and culture. Attention will be paid to the creation of a modern Jewish identity in the secular culture of the post-Modern world.
Offered as HSTY 238, JDST 231, and RLGN 231.

JDST 233. Introduction to Jewish Folklore (3)
Exploration of a variety of genres, research methods and interpretations of Jewish folklore, from antiquity to the present. Emphasis on how Jewish folk traditions and culture give us access to the spirit and mentality of the many different generations of the Jewish ethnic group, illuminating its past and informing the direction of its future development.
Offered as ANTH 233 and JDST 233.
Global & Cultural Diversity

JDST 280. Religion and Politics in the Middle East (3)
An in-depth look at the relationship between politics and religion in the Middle East. Students will spend the first week on the Case Western Reserve campus and the last three weeks in Israel, where time will be divided between classroom teaching, guest lectures, and “field trips” to important sites. Students will have the opportunity to interact directly with members of the region’s diverse religious groups within the political, social, and cultural contexts in which they live. A final research paper will be required. Knowledge of Hebrew is not necessary.
Offered as JDST 280 and RLGN 280.
Global & Cultural Diversity

JDST 330. Classical Jewish Religious Thought (3)
The thought of some major biblical and Rabbinic writings and of the classic age of medieval Jewish philosophy. Offered as JDST 330, PHIL 332, and RLGN 330.

JDST 350. Jewish Ethics (3)
An exploration of Jewish moral and ethical discourse. The first half of the course will be devoted to studying the structure and content of classical Jewish ethics on issues including marriage, abortion, euthanasia and social justice. Students will read and react to primary Jewish religious texts. The second half of the course will focus on various modern forms of Judaism and the diversity of moral rhetoric in the Jewish community today. Readings will include such modern thinkers as Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Offered as JDST 350, RLGN 350, and RLGN 450.
SAGES Dept Seminar

JDST 392. Independent Study (1-3)
Up to three semester hours of independent study may be taken in a single semester.