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Courses - Fall 2020

Jewish Studies and Hebrew Courses



JWSH 107 – Jews, Christians, Muslims
TR 1:00-2:15PM, Sam Brody. SMI 100
A basic introduction to the major religious traditions of the Near East, Europe, and the Americas, with an emphasis on their development through the modern period and their expressions in contemporary life. Not open to students who have taken JWSH 109 or REL 109. Same as REL 107.

JWSH 124 – Understanding the Bible
Online - 8/24-10/16 - Paul Mirecki.
An introduction to the literature of the Bible, exploring the relationships among the various types of literature present and the function of each type in the history and religious life of the people who produced and used them. Cannot be taken concurrently with REL 311 or JWSH 321 or REL 315. Not open to students who have taken REL 125 or JWSH 125. Same as REL 124.

JWSH 300 – Special Topics in Jewish Studies: Gendering the Holocaust
Th 4:00-6:30PM, Dr. Shelly Cline, WES 1001
This course will study the Holocaust through the lens of gender, both the historical event and subsequent cultural representations of it.  It will explore gender’s role in shaping the individual’s experience during the Holocaust- how women and men faced different dangers and employed different strategies for survival, and how Nazis’ perpetration was influenced by traditional gender expectations.* Moving beyond the historical event, this course will study film, memoir, and fictional representations to challenge the “universal” narrative of the Holocaust. Major topics include: Memory, identity, gender theory, photographic analysis, agency, and violence. *Note the use of binary terminology reflects historical categorization by those who experienced the Holocaust. The analysis, particularly of the representations of the Holocaust, will move beyond binary constructions of gender. Meets with HIST 389, WGSS 396.

JWSH 320 – The Bible Then and Now
MW, 12:30-1:45PM, Paul Mirecki. SMI 208
An introduction and survey of the history and interpretation of the Jewish and Christian bibles from their first formation to the present day. Students will explore the way the text, interpretation and format of the Bible have adjusted over time to accommodate religious, political, social and technological changes. Class will occasionally meet in the university's rare book collection to study rare bibles. Same as REL 320.

JWSH 325 – Introduction to Judaism
Online, 10/26-12/18, Samuel Brody
Analyzes a selection of the core texts, teachings, and practices of Jewish religious traditions in terms of classical and contemporary understanding. Same as REL 325.

JWSH 326 – The Talmud: Its Origins, Nature, and Evolution
TR 11:00-12:15PM, Rabbi Neal Schuster. SMI 208
This course demystifies the Talmud, arguably the most central yet also the most mysterious text of rabbinic Judaism. Students are introduced to the scope, substance, styles, and major figures of the Talmud, and also learn how the text came into being over the course of several centuries. Same as REL 326. Prerequisite: REL 104, REL 107, or REL 124 or REL 125, or permission of the instructor.

JWSH 327 – Jewish Secular Culture
Online, 10/26-12/18, Dr. Renee Perelmutter.
By examining the modern concept of Yiddishkeit (Jewishness), this course explores Jewish secularism as a set of modern intellectual, literary, and cultural practices that redefined the relationship between the secular and religious in literature, music, theatre, art, humor, and foodways.  This interdisciplinary course draws on theoretical approaches from history, cultural studies, religious studies, folklore, and linguistics to examine the different secularizing cultural practices of the Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in North America.

JWSH 329 – Israeli and Palestinian Conflict
M 2:30-5:00PM, Dr. Rami Zeedan, WES 4040
This course provides an introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including its history from the Ottoman period to the present day, the social and political effects on Israeli and Palestinian life and citizenship, official and unofficial narratives, and international responses. Meets with GIST 503, HIST 390, PCS 555, and POLS 350.

JWSH 341 – HItler and Nazi Germany
T 2:30-5:00PM, Fran Sternberg, SUM 502
An examination of the rise of Hitler and Nazism, beginning with the breakdown of 19th century culture in the First World War and continuing through the failure of democracy under the Weimar Republic. The course will also discuss the impact of Nazism on Germany and how Nazism led to the Second World War and the Holocaust. Same as HIST 341.

JWSH 343 – The Holocaust in History
W 2:30-5:00PM, Fran Sternberg, WES 4002
The systematic murder of the Jews of Europe by the Nazis during World War II is one of the most important events of modern history. This course studies the Holocaust by asking about its place in history. It compares other attempted genocides with the Holocaust and examines why most historians argue that it is unique. Other topics covered include the reasons the Holocaust occurred in Europe when it did, the changing role of anti-Semitism, and the effects of the Holocaust on civilization. The course also discusses why some people have sought to deny the Holocaust. The course concludes by discussing the questions people have raised about the Holocaust and such issues as support for democracy, the belief in progress, the role of science, and the search for human values which are common to all societies. Same as HIST 343.

JWSH 420 - Government of Israel
TR 1:00-2:15PM, Dr. Rami Zeedan, WES 4025
The course is an introduction to the Israeli system of government and its complexities, from a comparative perspective. The course aims to deal with the processes and critical issues that characterize the Israeli political system, as well as dilemmas and conflicts that are part of it since the early days of statehood until today. Meets with GIST 503 and POLS 350.

JWSH 490 – Directed Study in Jewish Studies
By appt, Dr. Renee Perelmutter
Intensive reading or research under faculty supervision. Course may be repeated for a total of 6 credit hours. Majors and minors in Jewish Studies, not in the University Honors Program, may use this course to satisfy the requirements for departmental honors in Jewish Studies.

JWSH 491 – Directed Study in Jewish Studies, Honors
By appt, Dr. Renee Perelmutter.
Honors version of JWSH 490. Intensive reading or research under faculty supervision. Course may be repeated for a total of 6 credit hours. Majors and minors in Jewish Studies, who are in the University Honors Program, may use this course to satisfy the requirements for departmental and university honors in Jewish Studies.


HEBR 110 – Elementary Israeli Hebrew I
MTWRF 10:00-10:50am, Shelley Rissien. WES 4022
A beginning course in modern Israeli Hebrew. Essentials of grammar, syntax, and conversational practice; Elementary reading and writing. Note: Students with other previous experience in Hebrew must take a placement exam.

HEBR 210 – Intermediate Israeli Hebrew I
MWF 11:00-11:50PM, Shelley Rissien. WES 4022
Further development of language skills: listening comprehension, oral efficiency, intermediate grammar and syntax, reading and writing. Note: Students with other previous experience in Hebrew must take a placement exam. Prerequisite: HEBR 120.

HEBR 490 – Independent Study
By appt, Shelley Rissien.
Intensive reading or research under faculty supervision. Not open to native speakers of Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 220 or permission of the instructor.

Jewish Studies Program statement in solidarity with protests against police brutality

Beloved community,

As an academic program in the University of Kansas, we stand in solidarity with Black Americans -- including Black Jewish people -- and everyone hurting after the senseless, brutal murder of George Floyd and all people targeted by systemic racism and injustice in our country. We continue to be committed to our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This morning, the Association for Jewish Studies sent out an email reminding us that as scholars of Jewish Studies, we are keenly aware of the devastating impact of discrimination and violence against minority groups. Dr. Cécile Accilien, the Chair of the KU Department of African and African-American studies, shared with us the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The Jewish Studies academic community is rich and diverse – it includes scholars and students who are Jewish and non-Jewish, scholars and students of all ethnic and racial backgrounds and from multiple denominations and creeds, people who are immigrants (like myself) and those who are American-born. The Bible commands: צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף tzedek tzedek tirdof, which translates into English as “Only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). In this well-cited verse, the Hebrew word tzedek, or justice, repeats twice. There can be many explanations of the repetition – textual interpretation in all its many forms is a beloved pursuit for many of us. Today, I am going to give you my own interpretation -- though I am sure that it already exists somewhere in the treasury of Jewish exegesis. One tzedek, or justice, you must pursue for yourself and for people like you; that is, perhaps, the justice that is easiest to understand, because we keenly feel injustices committed against ourselves and people like us. The other tzedek is the justice you must pursue for the sake of people who are not like you. It is often a harder lesson, but a necessary one. The justice, or tzedek, which we pursue thus also becomes a gift of chesed, of lovingkindness that enriches all of us.


In solidarity,

Dr. Renee Perelmutter,

Director of the Jewish Studies Program

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