Judaic Studies

Program Offerings

Offering type
Certificate

The Program in Judaic Studies provides students the opportunity to explore more than three millennia of Jewish culture, history, religion, thought, politics and literature from the Bible to contemporary Jewish thought and society. A wide variety of courses, lectures, conferences, film series and exhibitions taking advantage of Princeton's rich resources in Judaic studies are offered. There is no "typical" certificate student; we serve students with a wide range of interests and welcome all who are motivated to deepen their knowledge of Judaic studies.

Goals for Student Learning

The Program in Judaic Studies provides foundational and advanced undergraduate courses on the study of Jews and Judaism. Judaic studies courses range over the past three thousand years of Jewish experience throughout the globe. Students can learn about these areas of the world and periods of the past from a variety of different perspectives, including textual, historical, philosophical, philological and literary. Students have the opportunity to pursue independent work in a senior thesis written under the direction of a member of the faculty. Students in the Judaic studies program graduate from Princeton with a sense of the depth and the breadth of the study of Jews and Judaism and with the capacity to express themselves on a range of issues in clear and analytic prose.

Program of Study

In order to receive the certificate, students may choose from the following two options: (1) take a minimum of five courses in Judaic studies, which must include JDS 202 Great Books of the Jewish Tradition and at least one course from the premodern period; or (2) take three courses to include JDS 202 Great Books of the Jewish Tradition and one course from the premodern period, plus write a senior thesis that draws significantly on some aspect of Judaic studies.

A sound program of study will involve both historical range (courses in premodern and modern periods) and disciplinary breadth. While a junior paper in the field is not required, students are encouraged to explore the field of Judaic studies in their junior-year independent work. A first-year seminar may count as one of the required courses. Depending on other coursework, Hebrew language and other cognate courses not officially cross-listed with JDS may count toward the requirements with the approval of the program director.

Each student's course of study must be approved by the program director. The certificate requirements are compatible with a major in any humanities or social sciences department.

Language Requirements

Judaic studies has no specific language requirement apart from what is normally required by the University. However, when appropriate, students are expected to use language skills in their senior thesis research. Students also are strongly urged to develop a competency in Hebrew and may use one advanced (300-level) Hebrew course, if they wish, to fulfill the general course requirements for the certificate.

Study Abroad

The program encourages students to consider studying in Israel, either for a semester or for a summer. Study in Israel provides an excellent opportunity to improve one's knowledge of Hebrew as well as to pursue other topics of interest. There are a number of intensive summer language programs in Hebrew and Yiddish in Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Courses taken abroad, other than elementary language, may count for up to two of the program's required courses.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all the requirements of the program will receive a certificate of proficiency in Judaic studies upon graduation.

Faculty

  • Director

    • Leora F. Batnitzky
    • Yaacob Dweck (acting)
  • Executive Committee

    • Leora F. Batnitzky, Religion
    • Gabriel M. Citron, Religion
    • Yaacob Dweck, History
    • Jonathan M. Gribetz, Near Eastern Studies
    • William C. Jordan, History
    • Eve Krakowski, Near Eastern Studies
    • Lital Levy, Comparative Literature
    • Marina Rustow, Near Eastern Studies
    • Esther H. Schor, English
    • Moulie Vidas, Religion
  • Associated Faculty

    • David M. Bellos, French & Italian
    • Jill S. Dolan, Office of the Dean of College
    • Wendy Heller, Music
    • Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature
    • Thomas Y. Levin, German
    • AnneMarie Luijendijk, Religion
    • Stacy E. Wolf, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Professor

    • Yaacob Dweck
  • Associate Professor

    • Jonathan M. Gribetz
    • Eve Krakowski
    • Moulie Vidas
  • Assistant Professor

    • Liane M. Feldman
  • Lecturer

    • Ra'anan S. Boustan

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Courses

JDS 201 - Introduction to Judaism: Religion, History, Ethics (also REL 223) HA

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. Staff

JDS 202 - Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (also REL 202) Spring HA

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. Staff

JDS 203 - Introduction to Jewish Cultures (also COM 202/REL 203) Spring EM

JDS 214 - Masterworks of Hebrew Literature in Translation (also NES 214) Not offered this year LA

JDS 220 - Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages (also HIS 220/MED 220/NES 220) Not offered this year HA

JDS 223 - Jerusalem Contested: A City's History from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (also NES 221) CDHA

JDS 230 - Who Wrote the Bible (also REL 230) Fall HA

JDS 242 - Jewish Thought and Modern Society (also REL 242) Not offered this year EM

JDS 245 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (also MED 246/NES 244/REL 244) Fall EMHA

JDS 246 - The Lost World of Ancient Judaism (also CLA 248/NES 246/REL 246) Fall HA

JDS 301 - Topics in Judaic Studies (also GSS 309) LA

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. Staff

JDS 317 - Recent Jewish and Christian Thought (also REL 317) Not offered this year EM

JDS 338 - The Arab-Israeli Conflict (also HIS 349/NES 338) Fall EMHA

JDS 346 - Reason and Revelation in Jewish Thought (also REL 346) Not offered this year EC

JDS 347 - Religion and Law (also REL 347) Not offered this year EM

JDS 349 - Texts and Images of the Holocaust (also COM 349/ECS 349/GER 349) Not offered this year EM

JDS 359 - Modern Jewish History: 1750-Present (also HIS 359) Spring HA

JDS 373 - Zionism: Jewish Nationalism Before and Since Statehood (also NES 373) Fall EMHA

JDS 389 - Everyday Writing in Medieval Egypt, 600-1500 (also HIS 289/MED 389/NES 389) CDHA