University at Albany, State University of New York
Contact UAlbany Directories Calendars & Schedules Visitors Site Index Search
Admissions Academics Research IT Services Libraries Athletics
Bulletin Homepage
General Information
Academic Information
Honors College
College of Arts & Sciences
School of Business
College of Computing & Information
School of Criminal Justice
School of Education
International Education
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
Project Renaissance
School of Public Health
Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
School of Social Welfare
University-Wide Programs
Undergraduate Study
Undergraduate Resources & Services
Faculty Awards

Undergraduate Bulletin 2008-2009

Courses in Judaic Studies

A Jst 101 Jewish Civilization I: Biblical and Greco-Roman Periods (2)
Year course offered to high school students for college credit. Survey of the history of ancient Israel with emphasis on the development of classical Jewish religion and culture, and introduction to methods used in the study of this subject. May not be taken by students enrolled in college. Pre- or co-requisite(s): completion of or current enrollment in high school European history course on Regents or AP level.

A Jst 102 Jewish Civilization II: Medieval and Modern Periods (2)
Year course offered to high school students for college credit. Survey of Jewish history from the Middle Ages to the present with emphasis on the varied experiences and cultural expressions of Jews and Judaism; e.g., Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Rabbinic thought and literature, philosophy, mysticism, emancipation, anti-Semitism, Zionism. May not be taken by students enrolled in college. Pre- or co-requisite(s): completion of or current enrollment in high school European history course on Regents or AP level.

A Jst 145 (= A Rel 145) Secular Jewish Identity and Culture (3)
This course is an exploration of the creation of a secularized Judaism. Since the onset of the Enlightenment (if not earlier), many Jews have sought to construct expressions of Judaism that are not contingent upon religious obligations and practices. After an introduction in which we will explore some of the tensions between secular and religious Judaism in contemporary times (via a close reading of Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev), we will explore several ancient and medieval challenges to normative Judaism (Hellenism, messianism, and historical consciousness) that helped to set the foundation for the shaping of modern secular Judaism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We will then look at several “snapshots” of secular Judaism in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first centuries in the regions of Europe, Russia, the United States, and Israel. At the end of the course, we will consider the possibility of a “post-secular” Judaism. Only one of A Jst 145 and A Rel 145 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 150 Survey of Jewish Civilization (3)
An orientation to the field of Jewish studies from the ancient period to the present via a thematic approach, such as through Jewish languages, cities, migrations, or religious denominations. Required for Judaic studies majors and recommended preparation for other A Jst courses.

A Jst 155 (= A Rel 155) Judaism: Traditions and Practices (3)
Examines the development of Jewish traditions and practices from the Rabbinic period to the present. Addresses Jewish law and custom related to the cycle of Jewish holidays throughtout the year, and life cycle events from cradle to grave. Differentiates among beliefs and practices of various Jewish denominations. For those not already familiar with this subject matter, recommended preparation for other JST courses. Only one of A Jst 155 and A Rel 155 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 165 (= A Lcs 165) Jews and Conversos in Latin America (3)
This course aims to document how Jews and their descendants succeeded in preserving their culture (including their religious culture) as well as their secular identities (however they preferred to identify themselves) in a world in Latin America that promised to be new but that maintained many familiar prejudices of the Old World. The course is divided into three chronological sections, and it proceeds geographically by region in each section from Central America to South America through the islands of the Caribbean. Section one examines the Colonial Period (from 1492 to the beginning of Independence in 1810). Section two covers the period of Early Independence (from 1810 to the beginning of World War I). Section three deals with the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The readings for the course provide a cultural history of all periods, while the course lectures place emphasis on individual biographies that typify the main characteristics of each period. Only one of A Jst 165 and A Lcs 165 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 215 (= A Mus 225) Music of the Jewish People (3)
A survey of significant features and trends emerging from the evolving history, musical literature, and aesthetics of Jewish musical expression. Explores the musical implications of the multi-national, multi-ethnic nature of Jewish peoplehood, the complex interplay between Jewish identity and musical expression, and the dynamic interaction between Jewish communities and surrounding host cultures. Prerequisite(s): One 100-level Music course or any one of A Jst 150, 155, or 254, or permission of instructor.

A Jst 221 The American Jewish Experience (3)
A general overview of the American Jewish experience from colonial times to the present. Examines historical developments in such areas of American Jewish life as religious expression, political activity, education, demographics, socio-economics, and secular intellectual and cultural activity. Assesses the impact on American Jewry of immigration from Europe and elsewhere, and such pivotal events as World War I and II, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. Addresses the relationship between diverse segments of American Jewry and between Jewish and non-Jewish Americans. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 225 (= A Arh 225 & A His 225) American Cinema and the Jews (3)
An examination of the history of Hollywood and the Jewish relationship to the American motion picture industry. Investigates a representative sample of films and movies and explores the impact of the fictionalized landscape of the Jewish mind on American culture and values. Only one of A Arh, A Jst 225, or A His 225 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 240 (= A Cla 240) Archaeology and Ancient Israel I: Archaeology and the Bible (2)
Important discoveries related to biblical history and literature. Examination of sites, artifacts, texts and scripts from the Bronze Age to the Babylonian exile. Only one of A Jst 240 and A Cla 240 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 241 (= A Cla 241) Archaeology and Ancient Israel II: Greco-Roman Period (2)
Important discoveries related to postbiblical Jewish life and history. Examination of relevant papyri, the Dead Sea Scrolls, coins, Masada, Jerusalem, burial caves, synagogue art and other topics. Only one of A Jst 241 and A Cla 241 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 242 (= A Eng 221 & A Rel 221) The Bible as Literature (3)
Literary genres of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the cultures from which they emerged. Attention to parallel developments in other literatures and to the influence of the Hebrew Bible on Western life and letters. Only one of A Eng 221, A Jst 242 & A Rel 221 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 244 (=A His 244) Zionism, Palestine, and Israel in Historical Perspective (3)
A study of nineteenth-century Jewish and European history resulting in the formation of Jewish nationalism. Covers the development of various Zionist ideologies and organizations as well as their challengers within and outside the Jewish community. Examines the history of settlement in Palestine, the founding of the state of Israel, and the country’s subsequent development. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 245 Imagining the Jewish Nation:  Jews in the Modern World (3)
With the onset of the modern age, many European Jews began to understand both Judaism and their own Jewish identities in ways other than as the adherence to Jewish law (Halakhah). One of the most successful and enduring efforts to re-conceive the Jewish people was via the (mostly secular) ideology of nationalism. Today, Jewish nationalism is typically understood as the ideology of Zionism, which in turn is equated with the State of Israel. However, in the years leading up to the founding of the Jewish state (1948), the meaning and direction of Jewish nationalism was hotly contested and debated by Jewish thinkers and activists. Indeed, even as late as World War II, the course of Jewish nationalism was far from certain as Jewish moderates, radicals, revisionists, and the religiously orthodox sought to dominate the movement, while others, out of political and/or religious convictions, resisted ideologies of Jewish nationalism altogether.

A Jst 248 (= A Wss 248) Women in Jewish Life and Literature (3)
Examines the various roles of women and the diverse ways they have been represented in Jewish life and literature from the biblical period through the 20th century. Texts will include biblical passages, Talmudic legislation and interpretation, medieval documents, early modern memoirs, and modern letters, poetry and fiction. Only one of A Jst 248 & A Wss 248 may be taken for credit. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 250 (= A His 250) The Holocaust in History (3)
Begins with an overview of European Jewish life on the eve of the attempt at its destruction, examines the cultural, social, and intellectual roots of Nazism, and discusses the efforts to isolate and marginalize those marked as “a-socials” in German society. Explores the radicalization of the Nazi program and investigates the variety of ways targeted groups responded to the crisis. Covers a number of survivor accounts and the memorialization and politicization of the Nazi Holocaust in the United States and Israel. Only one of A His 250 & A Jst 250 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 251 (=A His 252) Early Israel and Biblical Civilization (3)
The history and culture of ancient Israel from its beginnings to the Persian Empire. A survey of the Hebrew Bible (in English) as the major source for the study of early Judaic religious and social forms in the context of the Near East. Only one of A Jst 251, 341, 341Z and AHIS252 may be taken for credit. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 252 (= A Rel 252) Jews, Hellenism, and Early Christianity (3)
History of the Jewish people from Alexander the Great to the decline of the ancient world. Topics include examination of cultural conflict in Judaea and the diaspora, confrontation with Greco-Roman Hellenism and early Christianity, sectarianism, and the beginnings of Rabbinic institutions. Only one of A Jst 252 & A Rel 252 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 253 (= A His 253 & A Rel 253) Medieval Jews among Muslims and Christians (3)
Explores the course of Jewish history from the development of Christianity until the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648. Investigates the experience of Jews between and within the major religious and cultural systems that dominated medieval Europe; Islam and Christianity. The course charts the history of Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewry, noting the important social, religious, cultural, and political characteristics of each community, as well as their interaction with two great world civilizations. Only one of A His 253, A Jst 253, & A Rel 253 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 254 (= A His 254 & A Rel 254) The Jews in the Modern World (3)
Beginning with the end of the late Middle Ages and the emergence of the Enlightenment, this class explores how Jewish communities responded to the demands of an ever-expanding modern world. Examines the ways in which Jews and Jewish communities sought to create modern expressions of Judaism and the response of rabbinic Judaism to these challenges. Explores the rise of Hasidism, the aims of “Enlightened” Jewry, nationalism, the creation of secular Jewish cultures, the World Wars, modern antisemitism and the Nazi Holocaust, and the emergence of new Jewish centers in the United States and Israel. Only one of A Jst 254 and A Rel 254 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 256 (= A Rel 256) World Jewry since the Holocaust (3)
Examines the historical, cultural, societal, and demographic changes in world Jewry since the Holocaust. Investigates the decline of European Jewish communities and the development of the United States and Israel as postwar centers of modern Jewish life.

A Jst 265 Modern Yiddish Culture (3)
This course traces the course of modern Yiddish culture, from the early modern era to contemporary times. Along with historical texts, readings include works of fiction, poetry, and drama. Other materials, such as films and popular music, will be examined in order to help further illustrate the variety and vitality of modern Yiddish culture as it explores many of the central events and themes of modern Jewish history, such as the tension between tradition and modernity, new modes of religious expression, antisemitism, mass migrations, and assimilation. The course also examines complex and ever-changing attitudes towards the Yiddish language itself, and it places those attitudes in the context of the production of Yiddish arts and letters.

A Jst 272 (formerly A Heb 272 & A Jst 172) Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation (3)
A Jst 272 introduces the students to representative works of Hebrew literature of the last 100 years. The poetry, short stories and novels address universal themes as they reflect the particular period and conflicts that the Hebrew writers experienced. The issues and themes of the literature include the Jewish encounter with modernity, loss of faith, two world wars, the Holocaust, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the several wars Israel has fought with its neighbors. Readings and discussion conducted in English. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 275 (= A His 275) Antisemitism in Historical Perspective (3)
Explores ancient and medieval forms of anti-Jewish hatred, the manifestation of anti-Semitism in the modern period, and several of the current debates on antisemitism. Explores the instrumentalization of anti-Semitic hatred through several case studies and provides the means to assess critically both current antisemitic attacks and charges of antisemitism. Only one of A His 275 & A Jst 275 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 281 (= A Rel 281) The Prophets (3)
Survey of the prophets in general (in English), emphasizing the moral and social role of the individual prophet and his impact upon Judaism and Western civilization. Only one of A Jst 281 and A Rel 281 may be taken for credit. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 281Z (= A Rel 281Z) The Prophets (4)
A Jst 281Z & A Rel 281Z are the writing intensive versions of A Jst 281 & A Rel 281; only one of the four courses may be taken for credit. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 285 (= A Rel 285) Hero and Antihero in Scripture (3)
An examination of different kinds of heroic figures in biblical literature, with questions about literary presentation, religious significance, and historicity. The course looks at ideal and roguish characteristics of heroic individuals in the biblical text and how these are treated in later exegesis and modern scholarship. A wide variety of men and women from the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament are studied, but particular emphasis is placed on Moses, David, and Jesus.

A Jst 286 (= A Rel 286) Jerusalem: the City and the Idea (3)
Now the capital of Israel, Jerusalem has been central to Jewish history and religion, as well as to Christianity and Islam. The course surveys its physical history, its image in religion, nationalism, literature, and the arts, and its various populations and their subgroups. It aims to provide a sophisticated understanding of the demographics and politics of contemporary Jerusalem.  May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 291 (=A His 291 & A Rel 291) Messiah and Messianism in Judaism and Christianity (3)
Origins of Jewish and Christian messianism in the Old and New Testaments and related literature. Topics include the projection of a society’s ultimate values, and the tension caused by the actual attempts to realize those values; i.e., to achieve salvation through messianic movements. Only one of A His 291, A Jst 291, and A Rel 291 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 299 Introductory Topics in Judaic Studies (1—3)
An elementary course in Jewish culture, history, philosophy, literature or the Bible that is devoted to a topic or theme, a particular work or works, or a particular author or authors. May be repeated for up to 6 credits when topic differs.

A Jst 325 (= A Rel 325) Rabbinic Literature (3)
A study of one or more works of rabbinic literature from among Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, commentaries, and codes. Analytical reading of the texts in English translation and discussion of their religious, legal, historical, and literary implications. May be repeated for credit if topic differs. Only one of A Jst 325 and A Rel 325 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A Jst 150 or A Jst 155. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 331 (= A Rel 331) Modern Jewish Thought (3)
A survey of the range of Jewish thought and philosophical movements from the mid-seventeenth century to the present. Focuses on key Jewish thinkers, philosophers, and theologians, exploring questions of Jewish ethics, religion, relationships to God, and moral responsibility in a time of increased secularization. Only one of A Jst 331 and A Rel 331 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 357 West European Jewry in Modern Times (3)
A detailed examination of Jewish history in West and Central Europe that highlights the transformation and politicization of Jewish life in the modern era until World War II. Examines the denominalization of Judaism; the Jewish Enlightenment and its opponents; the campaigns for and against emancipation; the role of Jews in European culture, politics, and industry; and the rise of modern antisemitism. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 358 East European Jewry in Modern Times (3)
A detailed examination of Jewish history and culture in Russia, the U.S.S.R., Poland, and the Baltic States in the period of East European Jewry’s encounter with and participation in the modern world. Explores the conflicts between Hasidism, traditional Rabbinic Judaism, and the Jewish Enlightenment. Investigates the complex legal, economic, political, and demographic status of Jewry under Russian imperial rule and its development in the period between the two World Wars. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 359 (= R Pos 359) Israeli Politics (3)
In-depth study of the political system of Israel: its history, social and political cleavages, governing institutions and persistent problems. Only one of A Jst 359 & R Pos 359 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): R Pos 101 or 101Z and 102, or junior or senior class standing. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 360 Jewish Autobiographies (3)
An exploration of autobiographical writing that addresses the complex interaction between the individual writer’s development and his or her relationship with Jewish tradition, faith, practice, and identity. The literature covered includes traditional autobiographies, memoirs, and diaries, but may also include autobiographical writing in the wider sense, including works of fiction, poetry, and film. The course may offer either an intensive survey of a broad range of modern Jewish literature in one or more genres, or take a thematic, national, chronological, or generic approach to the subject matter. May not be offered in 2008-2009.

A Jst 367 (=A Eng 367) The Jewish Literary Imagination (3)
Readings in literature by modern Jewish writers that addresses themes and issues of importance to modern Jewry. The course may offer either an intensive survey of a broad range of modern Jewish literature in one or more genres, or take a thematic, national, chronological, or generic approach to the subject matter. Prerequisite: a 100-level English literature course or permission of the instructor. Only one of A Jst 367 and A Eng 367 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 450 Judaic Studies Practicum (3)
Advanced Judaic Studies students receive undergraduate credit for assisting with 100- or 200-level Judaic Studies courses under the close supervision of the instructor. Students at this level lead small group discussions several times in the semester; offer one class presentation, which will also be written up as a paper and submitted to the instructor; and may assist in grading quizzes and examinations. Students meet regularly with the instructor, who helps students improve their knowledge of the topic and discusses pedagogical techniques. Course may be repeated once for credit with approval of department chair. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor and department chair.

A Jst 458 (= A Thr 458) Jewish Drama and Theatre (3)
As soon as it came into being in the late 19th century, the modern Jewish theatre became a vital form of self-expression. Yiddish theatre at the turn of the 20th century addressed every major issue confronting the Jewish people, including persecution, economic deprivation, modernization, and mass migration.  Ever since then, Jewish artists working in Yiddish, Hebrew, English, and other languages have used the theatre to explore a vast range of experiences in just as wide a range of styles and forms. Jewish dramatists and performers built theatrical cultures from the ground up in Hebrew and Yiddish in a matter of decades, and have contributed significantly to the drama throughout much of Europe and the Americas.  Written work for the course will consist of several short essays and a longer term paper. Only one of A Jst 458 and A Thr 458 may be taken for credit.

A Jst 490 Judaic Studies Internship (1—6)
Supervised practical experience in an institution of the Jewish community. Students will study the structure and issues of American Jewish communal organization through personal service and directed reading. Course may be repeated once for credit with approval of departmental chair up to a total of 6 credits for both courses. Internships are open only to qualified juniors and seniors who have an overall grade point average of 2.50 or higher. Prerequisite(s): permission of department chair. S/U graded.

A Jst 495 Colloquium in Judaic Studies (3)
Directed readings and conferences involving several members of the faculty for students pursuing undergraduate honors in Judaic studies. To be offered only when requested by students eligible for the honors program. Prerequisite(s): major in Judaic studies and junior or senior class standing.

A Jst 497 Independent Study in Judaic Studies (1—6)
Directed reading and conferences on selected topics in Judaic studies. May be repeated for credit when topics differ. Prerequisite(s): permission of department chair.

A Jst 499 Topics in Judaic Studies (1—3)
In-depth study of selected topics in Jewish history, philosophy, literature or the Bible. May be repeated when topic differs. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.