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Courses - Spring 2020

Jewish Studies courses and Hebrew courses.



JWSH 107 – Jews, Christians, Muslims
TR 2:30-3:45pm, Sam Brody. SUM 427 
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
MW 11:00-11:50am + Discussion, Paul 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 or REL 315. Not open to students who have taken REL 125 or JWSH 125. Same as REL 124.

JWSH 125 – Understanding the Bible (Honors)
TR 1:00-2:15pm, Molly Zahn. SMI 107
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. Open only to students in the University Honors Program or by permission of instructor. Not open to students who have taken REL 124 or JWSH 124 (Same as REL 125.)

JWSH 300 – Special Topics in Jewish Studies: Jewish Ritual Art and Folklore
MW 12:30-1:45pm, Renee Perelmutter. WES 4022
Jewish objects of art created for ritual purposes (Judaica) have served an important purpose in Jewish history and culture since the building of the Tabernacle by the Israelites journeying from Egypt through the wilderness. Ritual objects of Jewish art are rich and varied, including menorahs, dreidels, prayer shawls, papercuts, amulets, and so much more. Many contain Hebrew words and animal imagery such as the deer, the lion, the fish; they hold deep symbolism and meaning for the Jewish people, and are often connected to holidays, storytelling, folk belief, and family history. In this course, we will explore the rich history of Judaica from antiquity to the present, in a variety of Jewish cultures around the world. We will consider the ritual and symbolic meanings of Jewish ritual objects through the lens of folklore studies, and discuss Judaica displays in museums and private homes alike.​ Meets with MUSE 480.

JWSH 300 – Special Topics in Jewish Studies: Jewish Ethics
TR 11:00-12:15pm, Rabbi Neal Schuster. WES 4022
In this course we will explore the variety of ways that Judaism and Jewish people have approached ethics, both theoretically and practically. Our investigation will consider the evolution of approaches across time, and variations among different communities, as well as examining how the religious tradition has, times, differed from actual practice among Jewish people. We will look at theological, philosophical, and sociological elements that inform Jewish ethics, as well as delving into specific issues in Jewish ethics, including autonomy vs. communal norms; business and labor practices; saving a life vs. taking a life; the treatment of animals; marriage and family matters; medical ethics; universalism vs. particularism, and more.

JWSH 300 – Special Topics in Jewish Studies: AntiSemitism: A Long History
W 2:30-5:00pm, Fran Sternberg. WES 4022
Judaism from late antiquity through the twentieth century, exploring its connections to religious and secular ideologies and its changing nature over time, place, and culture. Using primary source documents, religious and secular literature, religious and secular art, and the  mass media and popular expression, it examines how this antipathy was articulated and implemented, how Jews and Judaism were perceived and represented, and how Jews and Judaism responded to it in a variety of socio-cultural and socio-political contexts: the late Roman Empire; medieval and early modern Christendom, the Muslim caliphates and the Ottoman Empire; modern west, central, and eastern Europe; Nazi Germany; and the United States. Meets with HIST 389.

JWSH 323 – The Jewish World of Jesus
TR 11:00-12:15pm, Molly Zahn. SMI 208 
An introduction to the figure of Jesus in his ancient Jewish context. What was Jewish life like in Jesus’s time? What did the early Jesus movement share with other forms of Judaism, and how did it differ? Evidence from the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other textual and archaeological sources will be used to explore the first-century Jewish society of which both Jesus and the first Christians were a part.  (Same as REL 323.)

JWSH 325 – Introduction to Judaism
Samuel Brody, ONLINE - Mar 23 - May 15
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 343 – The Holocaust in History
T 2:30-5:00pm, Fran Sternberg. SUM 502
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 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 414 – Israel: The War of 1948
TR 1:00-2:15pm, Rami Zeedan. WES 1007
The war of 1948 shaped the history of the modern Middle East more than any other single event. Issues that will be discussed include the participating parties, the efforts of the international community, the establishment of Israel, the division of Palestine, and the continuing problem of Palestinian refugees. Meets with GIST 503 and HIST 390.

JWSH 681 – Regimes of the Middle-East and North Africa
M 2:30-5:00pm, Rami Zeedan. BL 108
Using governmental case-studies in North Africa and the Middle East, this course will examine basic definitions and behavoriors of liberal democracies, dictatorships, and hybrid regimes, the transitions between them, and the strategies they (and their leaders) use to stay in power.  Prerequisite:  JWSH 440 or permission of instructor. Meets with POLS 661 and GIST 503.

JWSH 601  Senior Seminar in Jewish Studies
By appointment, Rami Zeedan.
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
MTWRF 10:00-10:50am, Shelley Rissien. WES 4022
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 12:00-12:50pm, Shelley Rissien. WES 4051
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, Shelley Rissien. WES 4022
Continued advanced study of modern Hebrew. Not open to native speakers of Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 340 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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