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Jewish Studies

(For 2013–2014 academic year)

Professors Kepnes, A.S. Nakhimovsky
Associate Professor Cushing (Director)
Senior Lecturer Guez
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Koss

Advisory Committee Cushing (Director), Dauber, Guez, Kepnes, A.S. Nakhimovsky, Nemes

The Jewish Studies Program at Colgate encompasses a wide range of studies in Jewish religion, history, politics, and arts. In recognition of the complex interaction between religion and culture in Jewish life and the diversity of Jewish historical experience, the program in Jewish studies at Colgate is necessarily interdisciplinary. The Jewish studies minor makes use of faculty and course offerings in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and university studies, and encourages students to explore their particular interests, be they religious, literary, or political.

The Saperstein Jewish Center

The center was dedicated in 1993 as a campus home for Jewish studies, as well as for Jewish religious and secular life. The center houses a Jewish book, music, and film library, as well as computer facilities. All students and faculty are encouraged to make use of these resources.

Minor Program

To complete the minor in Jewish studies the student must consult with a member of the advisory committee and/or the director to identify a course of study that includes five courses from the list below, at least one of which must be in Hebrew language. The five courses will normally include an introductory course in Judaism (JWST/RELG 208 or JWST/RELG 283) and a 400-level seminar or independent study. No more than three courses from one department may be counted toward the minor. Only one independent study and one non-Colgate course may be counted.
HEBR 121, 122, Elementary Hebrew
HEBR 201, 202, Intermediate Hebrew
HIST 272, War and Holocaust in Europe
HIST 346, Germany and Eastern Europe, 1848–1989
JWST 204, Jewish Fiction since the Holocaust (in English)
JWST/REST 205, Yiddish Fiction in Translation
JWST/RELG 208, The Hebrew Bible in America
JWST/RELG 213, The Bible as/and Literature
JWST/RELG 251, Faith after the Holocaust
JWST/HIST 274, Jewish History I
JWST/HIST 275, Modern Jewish History
JWST/RELG 283, Experiencing Judaism
JWST 303, Jewish Fiction before the War (in English)
JWST/RELG 339, Modern Jewish Philosophy
JWST/RELG 340, The Land of Israel
JWST/RELG 343, Gender and Judaism
JWST 450, The Jewish Century
JWST/GERM 463, Contemporary Jewish German Literature
ENGL/PCON 368, After Genocide: Memory and Representation
POSC/MIST 215, Comparative Politics: Middle East
POSC/MIST 363, International Relations of the Middle East
RELG 405, Sacred Texts
(when offered on a Jewish text)

Awards

See Honors and Awards: Jewish Studies in Chapter VI.

Course Offerings

204  Jewish Fiction since the Holocaust
A.S. Nakhimovsky
This course covers representative works of fiction by Italian, French, English, Russian, Hungarian, American, Canadian, and Israeli Jewish writers. Not all nationalities are covered in the syllabus for any given year. Discussion centers on a close analysis of the novels, comparing individual and national responses to the Jewish 20th-century experience. By including fiction written across Europe, North America, and Israel, while limiting the time frame to the years following World War II, the question of whether there exists one or more approaches to fiction that are characteristically Jewish is addressed. All readings are in English translation. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

205  Yiddish Fiction in Translation
A.S. Nakhimovsky
As European Jews began to develop a modern culture in the middle of the 19th century, an important set of writers began using Yiddish for fiction and poetry. All these writers were at least trilingual: They chose Yiddish — always the lowest status of the languages they knew — because they loved it and because it was the language their audience could really read. This course looks at Yiddish fiction and poetry written in both Eastern Europe and the United States. Students study these texts both as singular works of art and as ways of mirroring the Jewish experience for Jewish readers. In other words, students examine both texts and the multiple contexts (historical, cultural, religious, linguistic) that give them shape. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement. This course is crosslisted as REST 205.

208  The Hebrew Bible in America
This course is crosslisted as RELG 208. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

213  The Bible as/and Literature
This course is crosslisted as RELG 213. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

251  Faith after the Holocaust
This course is crosslisted as RELG 251. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

274  Jewish History I
This course is crosslisted as HIST 274. For course description, see “History: Course Offerings.”

275  Modern Jewish History
This course is crosslisted as HIST 275. For course description, see “History: Course Offerings.”

283  Experiencing Judaism
S. Kepnes
Judaism is a dynamic religious tradition that has developed many forms during a more than 3000-year history that has spanned nearly the entire globe. Students in this course consider how Jewish communities from the biblical period to the present day have shaped their practices and beliefs within their own specific historical circumstances. To this end, students read primary sources such as the Bible, the Talmud, and the Zohar, midrashim, prayers, and responsa literature, and philosophical and theological discussions. Further, in their effort to understand the ways in which Jews have lived their lives religiously, students explore how Jewish self-identity, textual traditions, and religious practices combine to define “Judaism.” This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement. This course is crosslisted as RELG 283.

303  Jewish Fiction before the War
A.S. Nakhimovsky
The focus of this course is on the great novels and short stories written by European Jews before the Holocaust. All of the writers — even Kafka, whose fictional world is non-Jewish — reflect a Jewish consciousness and a Jewish confrontation with modernity. Modernity in these works takes different and often conflicting forms. In some works it is revolution (the promise of communism as a solution to the Jewish question); in other work, emigration, Zionism, or radical assimilation to the surrounding culture, what that happens to be. Several books — most prominently those of Sholem Aleichem, Agnon, and Kafka — take up the question of God’s justice. Several books deal with the loss of identity. A variety of 20th-century themes (political radicalism, bourgeois desires and bourgeois impurity, a desire to uproot and a search for roots) run through the texts, always in different combinations. All readings are in English translation. (Formerly JWST 203.) This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

339  Modern Jewish Philosophy
This course is crosslisted as RELG 339. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

340  The Land of Israel
S. Kepnes
This course begins with an overview of the religious significance of the land of Israel for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and the history of the presence of the three faiths in the land. It then concentrates on the rise of the modern state of Israel with a focus on the variety of Jewish, Christian, and Arab “ethnic” cultures and the interplay among issues of religion, culture, and politics in contemporary Israel. In some semesters the course ends with a three-week “extended study” tour in Israel in May or December. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement. This course is crosslisted as RELG 340.

343  Gender and Judaism
This course is crosslisted as RELG 343. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

450  The Jewish Century
A.S. Nakhimovsky
In the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Jews moved from a world bound by religious observance to a revolutionary re-imagining of their identities. Some of these revolutionary new belief systems (Marxism, Zionism, Freudianism) were as powerful and demanding as the religion their proponents had abandoned. Some of them had lasting and, in the case of Bolshevism, still controversial effects on modern history. The course examines Jewish patterns of behavior in the 20th century. Readings include Yuri Slezkine’s historical study The Jewish Century in conjunction with excerpts from other histories and works of autobiography and fiction by Sholem Aleichem, Kafka, Mandelstam, Philip Roth, and others. The course is open to upperclass students with one previous course in Jewish studies.

463  Contemporary Jewish German Literature
This course is crosslisted as GERM 363. For course description, see “German: Course Offerings.”

291, 391, 491  Independent Study
Staff