UMass Logo2002/03 Undergraduate Course Catalog Banner
[Home][Courses & Programs][Academic Information][Undergraduate Admissions][General Information][Site Index] [APPLY NOW]

Department & Program Listings
[Program Listings: A-D]
[Program Listings: E-L]
[Program Listings: M-R]
[Program Listings: S-Z]
[Program Listings: Show All]



Judaic Studies Courses

Judaic Studies | Courses | Judaic & Near Eastern Studies Faculty

Hebrew & Yiddish also on this page.

(All courses carry 3 credits unless
otherwise noted.)

101 The Jewish People I (AT) (both sem)

A survey of the literature and culture of the Jewish people in the formative years of its history. Emphasis on the development of Judaism in the biblical, Graeco-Roman, and rabbinic periods. Final unit treats the Jewish life-cycle and the system of religious practices.

102 The Jewish People II (HSG) (both sem)

The life and history of the Jews in the medieval and modern worlds. Topics include Jewish-Christian relations; development of Jewish philosophy and mysticism; Jewish life in Eastern Europe; the Holocaust; State of Israel; Jews and Judaism in North America.

101/H01; 102/H02 Honors Colloquia for The Jewish People I/II (both sem) 1 cr

Weekly meetings to discuss supplemental readingsóprimary historical and literary documents of various kinds. In-depth research paper concerning topic agreed upon with instructor.

191, 192 Seminars (both sem) 1 cr

Offered through either Hillel Foundation or Chabad House. Topics vary. Consult the department Course Description Guide each semester.

195A Anti-Semitism and Racism in Western Civilization

Anti-Semitism and racism as part of human nature, or as products of history. How Jews and Blacks define themselves. How they were defined by others throughout Western history. Concepts of anti-Semitism and race from ancient Egypt through Greek and Roman civilizations, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment to the present. Changes in these concepts examined in the literature, drama, historical writings, and art from the various historical periods.

301 The Bible and Archaeology

The history and contents of the Hebrew Bible in the light of Near Eastern archaeology. Chronological approach; topics include ancient Near Eastern creation and flood stories, the patriarchal period, conquest of Canaan, the cities and kingdoms of Israel and Judah through the Hellenistic period.

305 Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World (HS)

First two-thirds: Jewish history and intellectual life from Alexander the Great to end of rabbinic period. Topics include meeting of Judaism and Hellenism, Jewish Hellenism in Alexandria, confrontation with Rome, formation of rabbinic Judaism. Last third: early Christianity: its origins, essential documents, and spread in first four centuries of Common Era.

325 Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Medieval World (HSG) (both sem)

Jewish life, literature and thought in the Middle Ages. Social and intellectual life of Jewish communities in Muslim Spain and North Africa, as well as Christian Europe. Topics include Jewish-Gentile relations; everyday life; philosophy and ethics; mysticism and messianic movements.

333 Jewish Philosophers of the 20th Century

Examination of major philosophical problems of contemporary Jewish existence in the modern world, including thought as seen through the writings of Buber, Rosenzweig, Heschel, Soloveitchik, Fackenheim, and others.

345 The Making of Modern Jewry (HSG) (2nd sem)

The emergence of modern Jewish identity and culture, focusing on the socio-economic, political, and intellectual forces which led to improved treatment of Jews. Topics include: Hasidim, Enlightenment, and the impact of the French Revolution. Analysis of the implications of modernity for the Jewish community and family, the synagogue, secular Judaism, and Jewish-Gentile relations.

350 Jewish Law and Society (SBG)
(2nd sem)

Introduction to major issues in Jewish legal thought. Historical development of Jewish law and the interplay of religious, social, and moral considerations. Reading selected Talmudic texts in translation; focus on various ethical dilemmas. Students with sufficient Hebrew background, or desiring credit toward the Hebrew minor, may arrange to read texts in Hebrew.

360 Biblical Tales and Legends (1st sem)

Examines such Biblical figures as Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Joseph, and others through the study of traditional midrashim as well as contemporary ones by Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Marc Geller, and others.

365 Antisemitism in Historical Perspective (HSG) (1st sem)

Survey of antisemitism through its various stages of historical development, from ancient times to the present. Primary focus on the intellectual, religious, political, and social roots of Jew-hatred. Special attention to its impact on Jewish life and thought, and to the range of Jewish re-sponses to anti-semitism. Topics include: the Jews in Graeco-Roman society; medieval Christendom and Islam; the emergence of modern political and racial anti-semitism.

366 Zionism and the State of Israel

The struggle to establish the State of Israel, focusing on the forces which have shaped contemporary Israeli society and culture. Emphasis on the ideological foundations of Zionism, its religious and intellectual roots, and its relationship to the rise of modern antisemitism. Topics include: Zionist ideologies; Kibbutz movement; British and U.S. policies in the modern Near East; Arab-Israeli conflict; religion and politics in modern Israel.

375 The Jewish Experience in America (HSU) (both sem)

The development of Jewish identity and social institutions in the United States examined in socio-historical perspective. Topics include immigration patterns, labor movement, Yiddish culture, religious innovations, women's experiences, interaction with American culture.

385 The Jews of Eastern Europe (HSG)

Jewish life in Poland, Russia, and East Central Europe. Origins of Ashkenazic culture, communal institutions and folkways, interaction with the surrounding society, immigration, Jews under communism, destruction of East European Jewish life. Readings from various historical and literary sources.

390B World Jewry Since 1945

A chronological view of the last fifty years of Jewish history. The Jewish experience in the U.S., Israel, and Europe from a political, social, and cultural perspective. The impact of the Holocaust, the founding of the state of Israel, the anti-semitic policies of the Soviet Union, the baby-boom generation, the resurgence of feminism and shifting notion of minority identity. Term paper involves primary source research into a topic in recent Jewish history.

390C Jewish Mysticism

The esoteric dimension of Jewish thought and practice known as `Kabbalah'. The rich symbolic language of kabbalistic consciousness, the mystical longings at the heart of Jewish spiritual devotion,and the esoteric elements of Jewish ritual and ethical practices. The historical development of the Kabbalah. Focus on the spiritual experience that is at the core of kabbalistic teachings. Includes group discussion of classical mystical texts, in English translation, that teach kabbalistic psychology, theology, and praxis.

390D Sephardic Cultures and Literatures of the Spanish Diaspora

The literatures and cultures of Judeo-Spanish peoples from "Golden Age" Spain to contemporary America; "Sephardic" defined as all Jewish or secret-Jewish communities who either dwelled in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) or who do or did self-consciously trace their origins to that peninsula. All readings in English or in English-translation from the Hebrew, Spanish, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), Portuguese, and German, with an option to read texts in the original languages.

390G Women in Patriarchy (HSG) (both sem)

The image and status of women in patriarchal cultures from the perspective of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies. Historical instances of patriarchy rooted in Judaism; the position of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women in ancient, medieval and modern times through a cross-cultural perspective and a social science orientation. The degree of personhood assigned to women by religious law and custom; the impact of the past on the contemporary western quest for equal participation of the sexes in public religious life.

391B Jewish-American Literature

The multiple voices and themes of Jewish-American literature and culture, from the turn of the century to the present. Issues include early immigrant and "Americanization" experiences; Yiddish in America; women and the chains of tradition; the political novel; the Holocaust in the American mind; urbanity and suburbanity; humor; and fracture identities.

391C The Proverb

The folkloric genre that has been characterized as "the minimal poetic utterance." Topics include the use of proverbs in various cultures, the connection between proverbs and other literary and folkloric genres, the poetic and linguistic structure of proverbs, the linguistic status of proverbs and related genres (proverbial comparisions, curses and blessings, taunts, riddles, etc.), and the role of metaphor in language and folklore. Material includes American, Russian, Polish, Yiddish, Yoruba, Maori, and other proverbs. All readings in English; students with a reading knowledge of another language encouraged to explore the relevant literature in that language.

391D Women, Gender, Judaism

The ways in which the categories "woman/man," "feminine/masculine" and "gender" differently construe the character of Judaism as understood in religious, cultural and social terms. Focus on historical constructions of women's gender roles and identities in Judaism and their cultural and social consequences, using three types in literature: 1) primary religious texts about women and gender in Judaism; 2) interpretations and historical accounts of different periods and aspects of women's (and men's) gender roles in Judaism and Jewish culture; 3) current critical, feminist theories of discourse, culture, and politics through which to problematize readings of primary and interpretative texts.

393J American Jewish History

The history of the Jewish people in America from the first settlement until the present. Includes the development of Judaism in America; the economic, social, and political evolution of American Jewry and its institutions; Jewish immigration to the U.S. and the issues created by this process; American Jewish self-perception and the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in American society. Assignments draw upon secondary historical studies, primary documents, fiction, and film. Students present certain readings to the class and participate actively in classroom discussions as part of their overall evaluation.

394A Major Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture

An examination of major issues in contemporary Jewish life, with focus on the role of the past in the shaping of Jewish identity. Topics include: Israel and the Palestinians; Black-Jewish relations; Jewish life and culture in American society; the Jewish-Christian debate; the Holocaust as icon. Reconsiderations of these topics in the last quarter-century. Guest lectures and panel discussions.

395A Family and Sexuality in Judaism

An examination of transformations in the Jewish family and attitudes toward sexuality in Judaism, from antiquity to the present. Topics include love, sexuality, and desire in the Bible and Talmud; marriage and divorce through the ages; position and treatment of children; sexuality and spirituality in the Kabbalah; sexual stereotypes in American Jewish culture and Israeli society. Interdisciplinary readings draw on biblical and rabbinic literature, comparative Christian and Islamic sources, historical and scientifc research on family and sexuality, and contemporary fiction.

396I Independent StudyóIsrael Trip

Independent study work based on the Intersession study trip to Israel. Typically, 1 credit awarded for a journal, 2 credits for a paper stemming from the trip experience, 3 credits for a major project, or a combination of a journal and a paper. A journal cannot be merely descriptive; it must contain observations on Israeli culture and how it differs from the student's, and on how the study trip affected him or her (academically, socially, spiritually, etc.).

397R Jewish Folklore

Introduction to the study of folklore using Jewish materials and examining such genres as proverbs, folktales, folksongs, jokes, curses and blessings, and folk theater, with most of the material taken from the Yiddish tradition, but also considering examples of Biblical, Sephardic, and Israeli folklore. All readings in English, but students with a knowledge of another language are encouragd to use it.

398R Residential Area Programmers

A practicum course intended to provide training for students planning, initiating, and conducting programming of a Jewish cultural, social, religious, educational, and/or community service nature with and for Jewish students in their residential areas. Student programmers plan events, serve as resources, and are the catalyst for Jewish student life in their residential areas.

398W Junior Year Writing Requirement

Completion of two credits mandatory. Two one-credit courses taken over two semesters or one two-credit course associated with a "writing-intensive" Judaic Studies course at or above the 300 level. Arrange with faculty member, approval by Chair.

497 Special Topics: The Writings of Elie Wiesel (both sem)

The essays and fiction of Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust and Nobel Prize winner. Topics and themes include the Holocaust, Hasidism, Torah study, and the meaning of Jewish existence today. Some knowledge of Jewish history and customs recommended. Open to freshmen and sophomores with consent of instructor.


Twelve credits of Hebrew (HEBREW 110-120-230-240, or 126-246, or 111-121-231-312) fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences language requirement. Judaic Studies majors must take 18 credits of Hebrew to fulfill ma-jor requirements (see above). No more than six degree credits may be earned in courses at the Intermediate level (HEBREW 230/240 and 246).

Note on Elementary and Intermediate Hebrew: No more than six credits may be earn-ed for any combination of courses at the Elementary level (Hebrew 110, 120, 126). No more than six credits may be earned in courses at the Intermediate level (HEBREW 230/240 and 246).

110 Elementary Modern Hebrew I (both sem)

Preparation for basic proficiency in speaking, writing, listening to, and reading Modern Hebrew. Emphasis on speaking. Language lab.

120 Elementary Modern Hebrew II (both sem)

Continuation of HEBREW 110. Further preparation for basic proficiency in all four basic language skills, with emphasis on speaking. Language lab. Prerequisite: HEBREW 110 or consent of instructor.

126 Intensive Elementary Modern Hebrew I (1st sem) 6 cr

Intensive approach to the acquisition of basic Modern Hebrew. Emphasis on oral communication, listening comprehension, reading, and writing, rather than on formal grammar. Language lab.

230 Intermediate Modern Hebrew I (1st sem)

Continues study of modern Hebrew; increases proficiency in conversation, listening, and writing skills. Adapted short stories, audiovisual aids. Language lab. Prerequisite: HEBREW 120 or 126, or consent of instructor.

240 Intermediate Modern Hebrew II (2nd sem)

Continuation of HEBREW 230. Further work in Hebrew conversation, listening, reading, and writing. Introduction to Hebrew word-formation. Adapted short stories, videotapes. Language lab. Prerequisite: HEBREW 230 or consent of instructor.

246 Intensive Modern Hebrew II
(2nd sem) 6 cr

Continuation of HEBREW 126. Further intensive work aimed at the acquisition of basic modern Hebrew; emphasis on listening and reading, comprehension, vocabulary study, and oral as well as written expression rather than on formal grammar. Prerequisite: HEBREW 120 or 126 or consent of instructor.

298 Practicum (both sem) 1-12 cr

For advanced students in Hebrew. Application of knowledge of the language to a teaching or tutoring situation. Student submits proposal of project to instructor, and supplies weekly lesson plans and lesson evaluations. Summary report and evaluation of project required. Mandatory Pass/Fail. Consent of instructor required.

301 Advanced Modern Hebrew I (1st sem)

To improve third year students' grammar, vocabulary, and fluency through graded readings to advanced level of reading, listening, oral, and written proficiency. A structured approach to literature. Prerequisite: HEBREW 240 or 246 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

302 Advanced Modern Hebrew II (2nd sem)

For third year students. Grammar, vocabulary, and fluency through graded readings to advanced level of reading, listening, oral, and written proficiency. A structured approach to literature. Prerequisite: HEBREW 301 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

351 Readings in Modern Hebrew I
(1st sem)

Selected short stories, adapted and abridged but maintaining the literary cohesion and flavor of the original pieces, starting from the "Revival" period. Emphasis on the Israeli short story. Prerequisite: HEBREW 240 or 246 or consent of instructor.

352 Readings in Modern Hebrew II
(2nd sem)

Selected short stories, drama and novellas, adapted and abridged but maintaining the literary cohesion and flavor of the original pieces, starting from the "Revival" period. Emphasis on Israeli literature. Prerequisite: HEBREW 240 or 246 or consent of instructor.

361 Modern Hebrew Literature I (1st sem)

Introduction to the modern Hebrew short story and to modern Hebrew poetry starting from the "Revival" period, with a concentration on Israeli short stories. Some Israeli nonfiction (satire, journalistic writing, etc.). Videotapes introducing Hebrew literary works and Israeli culture. Prerequisite: HEBREW 240 or 246 or consent of instructor.

362 Modern Hebrew Literature II (2nd sem)

Gradual introduction to literary forms other than short stories and poems, particularly novels and drama. Some readings from the "Revival" period; mostly more recent Israeli novelists and playwrights. Selected nonfiction pieces (satire, journalistic writing, etc.). Videotapes introducing Hebrew literary works and Israeli culture. Prerequisite: HEBREW 240 or 246 or consent of instructor.

398 Practicum (both sem) 1-12 cr

For advanced students in Hebrew. Application of knowledge of the language to a teaching or tutoring situation. Student submits proposal of project to instructor, and supplies weekly lesson plans and lesson evaluations. Summary report and evaluation of the project required at end of semester. Consent of instructor required.


101 Elementary Yiddish (1st sem)

Students learn to read, write, and speak Yiddish as a step toward understanding the Eastern European Jewish cultural legacy. For beginning students with no prior knowledge of the language.

102 Elementary Yiddish II (2nd sem)

Continuation of YIDDSH 101. Further study of grammar, reading, and writing Yiddish. Greater facility in conversation and reading texts. Audiovisual materials and guest lecturers elucidate the linkage between the Yiddish language and the Eastern European Jewish culture. Prerequisite: YIDDSH 101 or consent of instructor.

397A Readings in Yiddish Literature and Culture

An introduction to Yiddish literature with readings in English of selections from Yiddish prose, poetry, and non-fiction. Focus primarily on cultural analysis and only secondarily on literary analysis. Students with a knowledge of Yiddish may do some of the reading in the original in an associated Independent Study.

Judaic Studies | Courses | Judaic & Near Eastern Studies Faculty