Introduction to the historical and contemporary expressions of Jewish culture through film, literature, poetry, and ethnography. Jewish religious texts, practices, and identities are examined within broader cultural and global contexts. Includes in-depth assessment of selected contemporary issues, such as Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jewish diasporas in the Americas, discourse on “Jewishness”, and tensions between Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi Jews.
At the Master’s level, students need a deeper understanding of diverse socio-political factors and contexts that have shaped different forms of contemporary Judaism in various locations. Modern examples include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jewish diasporas in the Americas, discourse on “Jewishness”, and tensions between Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi Jews. Since the major Jewish subcultures and communities experience conflict and negotiation among themselves, as well as with other cultural groups, students need to recognize and interpret the substance behind the current events.
Judaism constitutes a part of Christian heritage and history and, therefore, its knowledge is important for Christian practitioners. With its political power, historical significance, and shared theological references, Judaism represents a religious tradition that helps Christians to better understand their own cultural roots, religious precepts, and foundations of practice.
This course will use Biblical sources as part of its course material.
As Christians we are called to embody Christ in our interactions not only with fellow Christians but also with people of other faiths. Learning about those faiths instills in students the idea that all humanity represents God’s creation and, therefore, is worthy of respect, compassion, and understanding.
Teaching resources used in this course include articles, videos, music, poetry, and other media that illustrate the material and allow students to put it in concrete cultural and historical contexts. Moreover, Jewish traditions are to some degree a part of our cultural heritage and by learning about them students put their own faith and culture in a context as well.
Jewish diasporas represent not only examples of Jewish culture but also encompass traditions of other neighboring groups. Learning about diverse forms of Judaism by definition acquaints students with other cultures as well.
There are two levels of practical engagement fostered in this course: a) exercises and discussions that present students with real case scenarios; b) knowledge gained in this course will allow students to interact with Jewish practitioners in culturally sensitive ways. Practical skills developed by students include the ability to apply their basic knowledge of Judaism in contact with various local Jewish communities, or while traveling abroad (undergraduate level). The upper level course advances the students’ ability to analyze and compare different forms of Judaism in their local contexts as well as to theorize causes of the contemporary divisions within the Jewish communities and the forces behind the Arab-Israeli conflict. Both levels enhance critical thinking skills.
The assignments in this course encourage students to interact with people from a Jewish community and to apply during these interactions knowledge gained in this course.