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 Spring 2018

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

Our Fall one-day Symposium (Nov 12, Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm) on "Jews in the Midwest" was a great success: over 85 people attended the 4 talks given by our invited speakers. We began the day with Tobias Brinkman (Penn State) speaking on "Western Jews, Becoming American and Embracing Modernity," then Hasia Diner (New York University) on "Immigrant Jewish Peddlers and the Founding of Midwestern Jewish Communities; after lunch, we heard Ava Kahn, an Independent Scholar, speaking about Jewish servicemen in World War I, and Lee Shai Weissbach (emeritus, University of Louisville) detailing the innovative architecture of "Synagogues in the Midwest." Finally, our own David Katzman (emeritus, University of Kansas) gave the keynote address, a summary of his encyclopedic work on "Jews in the Midwest."

As part of a larger development for Jewish Studies (more on that, later!), this semester we will be proposing a new minor: Israel Studies. This program will require 6 courses at the Junior/Senior level, something along the lines of 2 courses in modern Israeli politics, government, and/or history, 2 courses in Israeli culture, and 2 electives (for example, advanced Hebrew, modern Hebrew or Yiddish literature, or modern Jewish thought).

We already offer enough courses to fulfill this minor: for instance, one could easily satisfy a minor in Israel Studies by taking JWSH 329 Politics and Conflict in Israel and Palestine, 340 Modern Jewish Literature, 350 Contemporary Jewish Identities, 361 Jewish Film, 382 Jerusalem through the Ages, and 560 Modern Jewish Thought.

Because of recent changes in the process of developing certificates (3 courses), we are re-designing our proposals for certificates in Jewish Studies and in Holocaust Studies. And we will add a proposal for a graduate certificate in Jewish Studies.

We also continue to sponsor study abroad programs in Israel (Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem) and at Jewish Studies programs in other countries: check out the Office of Study Abroad: http://studyabroad.ku.edu.

This upcoming summer, KU JS continues to excavate in southern Israel at Tell es-Safi, the site of ancient Gath, led by Professors Aren Maeir of Bar Ilan University and our own Eric Welch. As usual, KU students will be excavating too! Check out their video!

The Program has received several donations of books on Jewish subjects; we're beginning to amass quite a library! We and the development staff of KU Libraries have been in negotiation with several prominent donors in the area to receive their libraries on Jewish topics from art to history.

Check out our calendar page for more events.

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!

Statement on recent antisemitic events
The faculty and students of the Jewish Studies Program fully support the Chancellor's strong statement, "Confronting Racism and Hate" (https://chancellor.ku.edu/news/2017/aug14), published soon after the recent events of 14 August in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Jewish Studies Program is also acutely aware that anti-Jewish slogans, signs, and gestures were very much present at the rallies of the white supremacists. Such antisemitism has been on the rise in the United States for some years, but there has been an especially sharp rise in recent months, with some people feeling empowered by the current political climate in the US and elsewhere.
The Jewish Studies Program and its faculty and students are devoted to resisting and calling out racism, antisemitism and all forms of dehumanizing discrimination. We believe that discrimination and bigotry are antithetical to the egalitarian principles of our country, that all people are created equal, deserve equal respect, and should enjoy equal protection of the laws. Bigotry, hatred, and discrimination hurt us all.

voted and accepted by the Jewish Studies Executive Faculty, 28 August 2017
endorsed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 10 September 2017

If you see something, say something!
As members of the Jewish Studies community, if you notice any antisemitic activity or are concerned or threatened by hateful actions and expressions on campus, please reach out to the Kansas University Public Safety Office [785-864-5900 or kupso@ku.edu], and/or to the Jewish Studies Program (jewishstudies.ku.edu); we are committed to address your concerns.

 
Check out the Jewish Studies Facebook page:
 

Upcoming Program Events
Kudos!

The College Monthly Faculty/Staff Newsletter, Dec. 2017: In Jewish studies, a major symposium came together thanks to the efforts of program assistant Carla Aspenberg. She organized the “Jews in the Midwest” conference featuring four speakers from outside campus, as well as KU. She has also assisted the transition of a new director of undergraduate studies and managed other duties amid staff changes. And following the conference in November, she quickly switched gears to organizing a new, unexpected faculty hire in the department. Director John Younger said that without Carla, “Jewish studies would be dead in the water.”

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