Welcome to Jewish Studies!

Explore our website to learn more about our major and minor in Jewish Studies, the assortment of courses offered by a diversified faculty, and to see the variety of events sponsored by our program. We invite all students, alumni and friends to see what we're up to here at KU as well as in the surrounding communities.

Why major in Jewish Studies? Because Jewish Studies offers a creative environment to learn, think, and reflect about Jewish culture, history,  communities, and religion from both a national and global perspective.


News for Fall 2018

The JS faculty has been working hard to keep Jewish Studies constantly developing.

A lot went on over the past year that will bear fruit starting this Fall! Last Fall we secured the financial support of the Israel Institute of Washington DC, an advocacy group for balanced discussions about Israel. And that support has allowed us to secure a tenure-track faculty position (our first!!) in the politics and history of Israel. After much searching, we lit on just the right candidate, an Israeli from Mt Carmel (the Druze community there) with vast experience in teaching American students (VAP stints at NYU and Berkeley): Dr Rami Zeedan specializes in Israel's national and local politics -- see the box at right.

AND our "Jews in the Midwest" conference last November was such a success (over 100 people in attendance, 5 exciting presentations) that we're planning a second event this October (see box): "Jews in the Midwest 2: Writing Jewish: Midrash, Miracle, and Myth." This will be a more intimate affair: a morning writer's workshop with Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (you must sign up to reserve a seat at the table), and an afternoon symposium with 3 speakers (open to the public): Mirriam-Goldberg, our own Renee Perelmutter, and guest author Rena Rosner. We are also grateful to the Lawrence Jewish Community Center which will provide the venure for this warm and welcoming event and we are grateful to the Jewish Legacy Foundation for their financial support.

AND Jewish Studies has expanded with more office space (gotta give our tenure-track faculty his own office!) with even some student lounge space: come visit our suite on 4th floor Wescoe (rooms 4024, 4027, 4028, 4029).

Obviously a new faculty member means other developments are in the works: a new minor in Israel Studies, a new website for Israel Studies, and new opportunities for study abroad. And to bolster these new academic directions we need to develop new certificates in Jewish Studies and Israel Studies, all leading to some kind of Master's program in the near future.

But I'm definitely getting ahead of myself (as usual), for if plans work out, I shall be retiring at the end of June 2019, after 46 years of continuous teaching.

We will be needing a new Director of JS in 2019-2020. Got any ideas ?!

We're getting better all the time!

John Younger, Professor in Classics and Director of Jewish Studies
jyounger@ku.edu - Email me with your thoughts and suggestions!

On Saturday morning, 27 October 2018, a shooter with a long history of anti-Jewish hate speech on social media entered the Tree of Life Congregation in the Pittsburgh community of Squirrel Hill and shot and killed 11 congregants with an AR-15 assault rifle and several handguns. The assailant, Robert D. Bowers, 46, had recently berated the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for its long mission of helping Jews flee persecution. Bowers was apprehended by police at the Congregation soon after reports began phoning in.

President Trump denounced the attack but also added that if the temple "had some kind of protection" then "it could have been a much different situation." Actually, the Tree of Life Congregation had put in place an active shooter response training program last year, and members of the congregation were following these protocols, thus saving many in the building.

This attack comes in the wake of pipe bombs mailed to critics of Trump, including one sent to George Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates, a Jew and a survivor of the Nazi occupation in Hungary. And last week a Senate campaign sign for Josh Hawley, attorney general of Missouri, was sprayed with a swastika. According to an Anti-Defamation League's report earlier this year, the number of reported anti-Jewish incidents in the US has increased by 57% over the past two years.

The KU Jewish Studies Program is appalled by this massacre and horrified by the alarming increase in hate crimes in the past two years. We are in solidarity with all people targeted by hate crimes and especially with the Jewish communities of KU, Lawrence, and Kansas City.

The Jewish Studies Program remains a supportive space for the KU Jewish community and its allies -- faculty, students, and staff. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any issues or suggestions that you may have.

Much of this text comes from the NY Times report of Oct. 27, 2018, by C. Robertson, C. Mele, and S. Tavernise: https://nytimes.com

Today's Hebrew Date:

Today's Hebrew Date in English:

Calendar of major and minor Jewish holidays

Welcome Professor Zeedan!
The Jewish Studies Program is delighted to welcome Prof. Rami Zeedan as a new faculty member! Prof. Zeedan holds a Ph.D. in Israeli Studies from the University of Haifa in Israel. His research interests include the history of modern Israel, Israeli politics, Middle-Eastern politics, ethnic politics, urban affairs and local governments, and public opinion. This Fall he is teaching courses on Israeli politics and government, and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
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