Courses - Spring 2017

Jewish Studies courses, Hebrew courses, Yiddish courses, and relevant courses in other units.



JWSH 107 – Jews, Christians, Muslims (previously Living Religions of the West)
TR 1:00-2:15pm, Zahn. 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 REL 109. Same as REL 107.

JWSH 120 Exploring the Jewish Experience
MAR 20 - MAY 12, Welch. ONLINE (1 credit hour)
This course introduces students to basic aspects of Jewish Studies, including Jewish history, Judaism and theology, philosophy and science, ethnicities and narratives, languages, customs and the arts. Special attention will be given to the various career options available to students of Jewish Studies.

JWSH 124 – Understanding the Bible
MW 11:00-11:50am + Discussion, Mirecki. SMI 100
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. Not open to students who have taken REL 125 or JWSH 125. Same as REL 124.

JWSH 300 – Topics in Jewish Studies: Sacrifice in Ancient Religions
MW 12:30-1:45pm, Welch. MAL 2049
This course examines the theoretical frameworks for understanding sacrifice while exploring its various manifestations in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. We will explore how the ancients described their habits of sacrifice and how those ritual practices are preserved in the archaeological record. This course will elucidate the common elements of sacrifice seen throughout the ancient world and establish context for some of the more idiosyncratic sacrificial practices known from antiquity. Meets with CLSX 375 and REL 404.

JWSH 300 – Topics in Jewish Studies: Archaeology of Ancient Israel
MW 11:00-12:15pm, Welch. WES 1001
An exploration of the archaeology, art, sites, and monuments of ancient Israel from the Neolithic period to the Roman Empire. Special topics will include the cultures of the region, nomadism and urbanization, and political and religious history. Attention will be given to how textual sources such as the Hebrew Bible, Egyptian texts, and the Neo-Assyrian Annals can be used in conjunction with archaeology to reconstruct the region’s history. Meets with CLSX 375.

JWSH 300 – Topics in Jewish Studies: Mystical Tradition in Judaism
TR 1:00-2:15pm, Schuster. SMI 208
Mystical experiences and supernatural encounters in Jewish texts and tradition: Dybbuks and demons, angels and Elijah; from ecstatic enlightenment to succumbing to satan – Jewish texts and tradition are riddled with the arcane, the occult and the mystical. This course will mine the sources for a deep exploration of these aspects of Judaism that are most often obscured by “normative” teachings and practices, yet remain deeply embedded in the customs and beliefs of Jews around the world. Meets with REL 404.

JWSH 300 – Topics in Jewish Studies: Music in Jewish Culture
T 7:00-9:30pm, Matis. EDWARDS
The Jews have been described as "the most musical nation." This course will explore the role of music in traditional Jewish life, its genres and multitude of styles of the two-thousand year old Jewish diaspora. Meets with MUSC 337.

JWSH 315 – The Spanish Inquisition
MW 2:00-2:50pm, Corteguera. STFL 100
A broad historical study of the Spanish Inquisition from 1478 to its afterlife in modern culture, including its use in political debates and its depiction in popular culture. Topics include anti-Semitism, the nature of the inquisitorial investigation, the use of torture, censorship and the relationship between the Inquisition, the Spanish monarchy and other religious and lay authorities. Taught in English. Will not count toward the Spanish major. Same as HIST 325 and SPAN 302.

JWSH 318 – Jews and Slavs in Eastern Europe
TR 1:00-2:15pm, Perelmutter. ST 335
Jews and Slavs have shared territory from the Middle Ages to the present day. The contact between these culturally and linguistically distinct groups have shaped many centuries of Eastern European history - from the extreme violence of the pogroms to long periods of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. "Jews and Slavs" examines the history and cultural geography of Slavic-Jewish contact from the perspectives of both groups. Through literature, film, journalism, and folklore, students learn about the profound influence Jews and Slavs have had on each other, the uneasy feelings that accompanied their interactions, and the creative and fascinating impact their interaction had on both cultures. Same as SLAV 318.

JWSH 343 The Holocaust in History
T 2:30-5:00pm, Sternberg. SUM 506
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 344 Modern Jewish History
W 6:00-8:30pm, Sternberg. EDWARDS
This course explores the complex of interactions between Jews, Judaism, and modernity by examining the challenges to Jewish life and thought, community and culture, self-understanding and survival, from the early modern period to the present day. Through the lenses of religious, cultural, intellectual, and political expression, the course examines the social, economic, and demographic changes in Jewish communities in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, the United States, and Israel along with the impact of antisemitism and the Holocaust. Same as HIST 344.

JWSH 350 – Contemporary Jewish Identities
TR 11:00-12:15pm, Kirzane. ST 335
This course explores the variety of ways in which American Jews create Jewish identities as individuals and groups. It traces the emergence of the various current divisions within Judaism: Reform Judaism (which by definition, implies Orthodoxy), then Conservative Judaism, and then the later development of Reconstructionist Judaism. The course also explores other contemporary options for being Jewish: cultural Jews, secular Jews, unaffiliated Jews, religious Jews, and gay or lesbian or transgendered Jews.

JWSH 490 – Directed Study in Jewish Studies
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
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.

JWSH 600 – Advanced Topics in Jewish Studies: Becoming White: Ethnicity in the US
R 2:30-5:00pm, Davidman. WES 1007
This seminar examines the complex process whereby certain immigrants, who had been racialized in the 1800’s, became assimilated into the mainstream white population by the early 1900s in response to the northern migration of African-Americans from the south. Meets with SOC 600.

JWSH 601 Senior Seminar in Jewish Studies
TR 1:00-2:15pm, Perelmutter – see course description under JWSH 318 Jews and Slavs in Eastern Europe.
T 2:30-5:00pm, Sternberg – see course description under JWSH 343 The Holocaust in History.
W 6:00-8:30pm, Sternberg (EDWARDS) – see course description under JWSH 344 Modern Jewish History.
R 2:30-5:00pm, Davidman – see course description under JWSH 600 Advanced Topics in Jewish Studies: Becoming White: Ethnicity in the US.
Investigation of topics related to Jewish studies from an interdisciplinary perspective: Jewish culture, history, and religion. The course focuses on research methods and intensive writing. Open only to Jewish studies majors. Suggested for students with senior standing.



HEBR 120 – Elementary Israeli Hebrew II
MTWTF 10:00-10:50am, Rissien. SMI 206
A continuation of HEBR 110. Note Students with other previous experience in Hebrew must take a placement exam. Prerequisite: HEBR 110.

HEBR 220 – Intermediate Israeli Hebrew II
MWF 9:00-9:50am, Rissien. SMI 206
A continuation of HEBR 210. Note: Students with other previous experience in Hebrew must take a placement exam. Prerequisite: HEBR 210.

HEBR 350 – Advanced Israeli Hebrew II
MWF, 11:00-11:50am, Rissien. SMI 206
Continued advanced study of modern Hebrew. Not open to native speakers of Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 340 or permission of the instructor.

HEBR 420 – Studies in Modern Hebrew
TR, 11:00-12:15pm, Rissien. SMI 206
This course is designed to help students achieve fluency in speaking, listening, and writing Modern Hebrew. Not open to native speakers of Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 220 or equivalent.HEBR 220 or equivalent.

HEBR 490 – Independent Study in Hebrew
Intensive reading or research under faculty supervision. Not open to native speakers of Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 220 or equivalent.

YDSH 490 – Independent Study in Yiddish
Intensive reading or research under faculty supervision.



ANTH 465 – Genocide and Ethnocide
MW 12:30-1:45, Dean. FR 633
Study of the killing of peoples and cultures. Case studies, focusing primarily on tribal South America. Examination of the implications of these studies as regards our definition of culture and our evaluation of aid programs, missionary efforts, and international business expansion.

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

Subscribe to our Newsletter!


* indicates required
Upcoming Program Events
KU Today
Home to 50+ departments, centers, and programs, the School of the Arts, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration
KU offers courses in 40 languages
No. 1 ranking in city management and urban policy —U.S. News and World Report
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Nondiscrimination Policy

In the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at The University of Kansas, we understand that an equitable and safe multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural environment produces innovative thinking, research, and learning. Click here for the University's nondiscrimination policy.