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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Jewish Studies (JWST)

College of Arts and Humanities
4141 Susquehanna Hall, 301-405-4975
Director: C. Manekin (Prof)
Professors: H. Lapin (HIST), C. Manekin (PHIL), Y. Peri (JWST), M. Rozenblit (HIST)
Associate Professors: B. Cooperman (HIST), A. Feuer (JWST; Research Associate Professor), M. Grossman (JWST), S. Jelen (ENGL), R. Manekin (JWST), P. Scham (JWST; Research Associate Professor), E. Zakim (SLLC)
Assistant Professors: M. Suriano (JWST)
Affiliate Professors: J. Glass, R. Igel, A. Karamustafa, F. Keshavarz-Karamustafa, S. Selden, S. Sosnowski, S. Telhami, M. Zilfi
Affiliate Associate Professors: A. Borrut, L. Felbain, J. Freidenberg, S. Khamis, G. Strauch, P. Wien
Professors Emeriti: A. Berlin (Emerita)
Visiting Faculty: A. Mahalel (Visit Assoc Prof), P. Peri (Visit Asst Prof)

The Major

The Major in Jewish Studies provides undergraduates with a framework for the organized and interdisciplinary study of the history, philosophy, and literature of the Jews from antiquity to the present. Jewish Studies draws on a vast literature in a number of languages, especially Hebrew and Aramaic, and includes the Bible, the Talmud, and medieval and modern Hebrew literature. Yiddish language and literature compose an important sub-field. Courses offered by this department may be found under the following acronym(s): JWST, HEBR, ISRL, and RELS.

Program Objectives

The Meyerhoff Center and Program for Jewish Studies encourages research and provides instruction about the rich history and culture of the Jewish people from earliest times to the present day. Dedicated to the highest standards of scholarship, the program offers a wide array of courses in Hebrew Language and Literature, Jewish History, Bible, Rabbinics, Jewish Philosophy, and Yiddish Language and Literature. These courses form one of the largest undergraduate Jewish Studies programs in North America. In addition, the Jewish Studies program supports faculty research projects and organizes frequent academic conferences and lectures in order to bring the fruits of scholarship to a wider public. The Jewish Studies Program seeks to provide undergraduate majors with an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of Jewish Studies, understanding that Jewish literary texts, Jewish history, and Jewish culture and thought are, to a large degree, inseparable. Students are expected to master the Hebrew language and acquire facility in reading, understanding, analyzing, and interpreting texts both in Hebrew and in English translation. In addition, students should be able to pursue independent research and to argue coherently and persuasively in writing.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Jewish Studies Program seeks to provide undergraduate majors with an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of Jewish Studies (understanding that Jewish literary texts, Jewish history, and Jewish culture and thought are to a large degree inseparable). Students who complete the major should acquire the following knowledge and skills:

  1. Mastery of modern Hebrew at the advanced level;
  2. Mastery of the chronological development and major themes of Jewish history and culture;
  3. Ability to read, analyze, and interpret texts in classical (biblical, rabbinic, medieval), and/or modern literary Hebrew; and
  4. Ability to conduct independent research and analysis and represent their results in written form, showing mastery of academic tools and formal conventions.

Academic Programs and Departmental Facilities

Study Abroad

The Jewish Studies program encourages students to study internationally. In addition to programs run by the University, students study at academic programs in Israel, Europe, and elsewhere. In particular, majors studying in Israel gain the opportunity to improve their Hebrew language skills by taking ulpan, the intensive course in Hebrew offered at those universities, and by practicing their Hebrew with Israelis. In addition, students can take courses in Israeli society and politics, Middle East Studies, and other courses not usually offered at College Park. Scholarship funds are available to majors and non-majors. Please see the section on "Scholarships and Financial Assistance" for more information.

The Library

The Jewish Studies program has a large and growing Judaica collection at the University of Maryland Libraries that aims to become a major resource and repository for the entire area. The collection includes materials in Jewish history, Hebrew and Yiddish literature, the Bible, Talmud, medieval philosophy, Jewish women, theater, the Holocaust, and modern Israel. In addition to scholarly books and periodicals written in the English, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Arabic, French, Italian, and Slavic languages, the collection includes rare books, musical scores, video and audio recordings, facsimile copies of historical documents, and manuscripts.  Students may work with Dr. Yelena Luckert, the Judaica Librarian, on their projects and assignments.

Israel Studies

The Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies offers a wide array of lectures, programs, courses, and study abroad opportunities, as well as an academic minor. Jewish Studies majors and minors, as well as other students in the university, can benefit from these programs.

Religious Studies

The Minor in Religious Studies is an 18-credit course of study that provides students with the opportunity to learn about religion in cross-cultural and trans-historical perspectives. A core course introduces students to the study of world religions, while other courses range widely in their focus, allowing students to learn more about sacred texts, traditions, practices, philosophies, and material culture. Courses may focus on a single religious tradition, a region or period of history, or a concentrated approach to the analysis of religion and religious culture. Courses for the minor are drawn from such departments and programs as Anthropology, Art History and Archaeology, Classics, Government and Politics, History, Honors, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, and Women's Studies.

Admission to the Major

Hebrew proficiency through Intermediate Hebrew I is a prerequisite for the major, but students can declare the major prior to fulfilling this prerequisite and can take Jewish Studies courses while building their Hebrew skills.  Many students may choose to prepare for the Hebrew requirement by studying Hebrew on their own or by enrolling in the University's sequence of beginning and intermediate Hebrew courses.

Placement in Courses

The Foreign Language Placement Test in Hebrew is used to determine in which Hebrew course students should enroll.  For more information, contact hebrew-advise@umd.edu.

Requirements for the Major

The undergraduate major requires 48 semester hours (27 hours minimum at the 300-level or above). Students enroll in 39 credits of Jewish Studies courses, and 9 additional credits from a field or fields outside of Jewish Studies. Jewish Studies courses for the major may include courses offered by Jewish Studies or cross-listed with other units.

By satisfying the Hebrew language requirements of the major, Jewish Studies majors will fulfill the Global Engagement Requirement of the College of Arts and Humanities. A minimum "C-" is required in all courses offered toward major requirements. An overall GPA of 2.0 or greater in the major is required for graduation.

1. Language Prerequisites

Please Note:  Students can declare the major at any time and take other Jewish Studies courses while they are working to satisfy these prerequisites.

Hebrew language skills corresponding to the second-year level (HEBR211: Intermediate Hebrew I or the equivalent)

Students may meet the prerequisite through successful completion of the lower-level sequence (HEBR 111, 112, and 211, or the equivalent). Students with a background in Hebrew will be placed into the appropriate course by the Hebrew faculty. Students with a strong background may be deemed to have satisfied the Hebrew prerequisites by the Hebrew faculty.

2. General Requirements (18-21 credits)

Majors in Jewish Studies complete three core courses and fulfill an additional four requirements for a total of 19 to 22 credits in General Requirements (credit hours for Hebrew language are flexible, as discussed below).

  1. History (3 Credits)
  • JWST 233: Why the Jews? Historical and Cultural Investigations
  1. Literature (3 Credits)
  • JWST 272: Introduction to Jewish Literature
  1. Thought, Religion or Culture (3 Credits)

Students may choose from:

  • JWST 250: Fundamental Concepts of Judaism
  • JWST 262: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • JWST 304: Critical Approaches to Israeli Culture
  • JWST 452: Golden Age of Jewish Philosophy
  • JWST 491: Judaism and the Construction of Gender
  • JWST 492: Sex, Gender, and Jewish Identity
  • Others by petition
  1. Hebrew Language (3-6 Credits)
  • HEBR 212 (6 credits) or HEBR313 (3 credits) or an upper-level course that is taught in Hebrew.
  1. Hebrew Text course (3 Credits)
  • Any course in which texts are read in Hebrew. Students who have a sufficient background in other Jewish languages (such as Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, and Yiddish) may fulfill the text course requirement through one of these courses.
  1. Research Seminar (3 Credits)
  • Research seminars are taught on a variety of topics within the field of Jewish Studies; seminars are general and methodological in their perspective, designed to bring together interests across a variety of subfields of Jewish Studies. Whenever possible, students should take a research seminar that aligns with their chosen area of specialization (see below).
  • JWST 409: Research Seminar in Jewish Studies

3. Area of Specialization/Tracks (15 credits)

In consultation with an advisor, majors select an area of specialization in addition to their general Jewish Studies coursework. Up to six credits of this area of specialization may be at the lower or upper levels, while the remaining nine credits must be at the upper level or above. Approved specializations include:

Jewish History and Society (JH)

Jewish Religion and Thought (JR)

Jewish Literature and Culture (JL)

Israeli Society, Politics, and Culture (IS)

Hebrew Language and Texts (HL)

All Jewish Studies courses fall into at least one (and as many as three) of these areas of specializations. Students may petition to have courses count toward a particular area of specialization.

4. Electives (6 credits)

Students take two Jewish Studies courses (6 credits) as electives toward their major. 3 credits must be at the upper level.

5. Supporting Courses (9 credits)

Students take nine (9) credits in courses outside Jewish Studies, of which at least six (6) credits must be at the 300-level or above. Supporting courses are determined in consultation with the advisor. They should provide context for the area of specialization.

Note: A current listing of the Department's courses and assignment of courses to the above categories may be found on the Jewish Studies website. Students are reminded that, if there is a topic that doesn’t figure in the list of courses, they are welcome to propose an independent study.

Mentoring: Students majoring in Jewish Studies will be assigned a faculty mentor from among the faculty specializing in their area of specialization. Students should consult with their faculty mentor as they plan their course of study.

Requirements for the Minor

Minor in Jewish Studies

The Minor in Jewish Studies offers a broad overview of the principal aspects of Jewish Studies as a field. Students are encouraged to take courses in a variety of areas through a combination of required fields and general electives.

Requirements: 15 credits towards the Minor in Jewish Studies are to be distributed as follows:


(3 credits)


(3 credits)

Thought, Religion, or Culture

(3 credits)


(6 credits)

  • A minimum of 9 credits must be at the upper level.
  • All credits must be earned with a grade of "C-" or above.
  • An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.
  • A list of qualifying courses in each category is available from the Director of the Jewish Studies program.
  • Up to 3 credits of lower-level Hebrew or Yiddish language study may be credited toward the minor. In exceptional cases, students may petition to have other languages included.


  • Students enrolled in the Jewish Studies Major are not eligible to enroll in the minor.
  • At least six credits of upper-level credit must be taken at the University of Maryland.
  • No more than six credits may be taken at an institution other than Maryland.
  • In keeping with university policy, no more than six credits may also be applied to a major.

To make an appointment to explore or declare a minor, go to  www.arhu.umd.edu/undergraduate/academics/minors

Minor in Religious Studies

Religious Studies is an interdisciplinary field that enables students to study the texts, culture, history, beliefs, and practices of the religions of the world, present and past. The minor in Religious Studies draws from a wide range of departments and programs (including Anthropology, Art History, Classics, English, History, Jewish Studies, and Philosophy) and offers the opportunity for both in-depth and wide-ranging study. A required core course, RELS216, introduces students to religions of the world and to the academic study of religion (In place of this course, students may take RELS289). In addition to this course, students are required to take three courses at the upper level and another two at any level. Completion of coursework includes fulfillment of a breadth requirement, which demonstrates that students have been exposed to a variety of religious traditions, periods, and geographic regions. Selection of courses in consultation with the advisor will ensure that students complete this breadth requirement.

Many courses are now offered with the RELS prefix. Other regularly-offered courses that may be counted toward the minor are: ARTH200, ARTH201, ARTH250, ARTH290, ARTH314, ARTH376, CHIN316, CLAS170, CLAS470, ENGL262, ENGL263, ENGL277, ENGL477, GERM283, GERM287, HIST111, HIST120, HIST282, HIST284, HIST306, HIST332, HIST480, PHIL236, and many courses in JWST and HONR. Other courses may be taken with the permission of the minor advisor.


  • RELS216 or RELS289I: Introduction to the Study of World Religions.
  • Three courses at the 300-level or above. These courses can be in any of a variety of subjects, chosen in consultation with an advisor. See Breadth requirement below.
  • Two additional courses at any level. Chosen in consultation with an advisor. See Breadth requirement.

Breadth requirement 

The breadth requirement ensures that students are exposed to a diversity of religious phenomena. Most Religious Studies students will complete this requirement simply by selecting from the wide variety of courses available to them. Students with particular interests (in a single approach, like Art History, or a single setting, like contemporary North America) will need to take at least one course that falls outside their particular focus of interest. Students will need to demonstrate:

A. Exposure to a diversity of religious traditions (understood to include African religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, among others) in coursework that extends beyond a single geographic area (such as the Americas, Asia, or the Mediterranean world).

B. Exposure to diverse temporal periods (including antiquity, the medieval and early modern periods, and modernity).

C. Experience of multiple approaches to religious phenomena or the study of religion (for example, art history, philosophy, historical approaches, and comparative methods).

D. Depth: At least one course must incorporate the focused study of a single religious tradition or cluster of traditions (see item A for traditions).

Examples: A student with an academic focus in religions of the ancient Mediterranean might complete the breadth requirement with a single course on Asian religions. A student concentrating on art historical approaches to religion might take one course in philosophy or literature. A student whose interests run to comparative and cross-cultural coursework might take a course in the focused study of a single tradition.

  • A minimum of 9 credits must be at the upper level.
  • All courses must be passed with a grade of "C-" or above.
  • An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.
  • A list of qualifying courses is available from the advisor to the RELS program.
  • At least six credits of upper-level credit must be taken at the University of Maryland.
  • No more than six credits may be taken at an institution other than Maryland.
  • In keeping with University policy, no more than six credits may also be applied to a major.

To make an appointment to explore or declare a minor, go to  www.arhu.umd.edu/undergraduate/academics/minors

Minor in Israel Studies


Students doing a Minor in Israel Studies will study the history, culture and political structure of Israel and its place in the Middle East.  Students from all majors are encouraged to apply.

Program Requirements

The minor consists of 15 credits, and is organized around the following requirements:

Required Core Courses (9 Credits)



History of Zionism and the State of Israel 


3 credits




Seminar in Israel Studies – seminar topics change each semester


3 credits


Middle East Studies Course**


One course in the area of Middle East Studies
(see following list)


3 credits


To fulfill the Middle East Studies requirement, students must take one of the courses listed below or a comparable course. This list is not complete; other courses may be substituted with the approval of the Advisor. Students may also take one additional course from this list as an elective for credit toward the Minor.


The Arab World Today through Readings in Translation



Islamic Civilization



 Crisis and Change in the Middle East

 prereq: one prior History course


History of the Ottoman Empire



Contemporary Middle Eastern Politics

 prereq: GVPT280 or 282

*A comparable course at another university may substitute for this; consult the Minor Advisor

** Other courses in Middle East Studies at UMD or elsewhere may be substituted for those on this list in consultation with the Advisor.   HIST, COMM, GVPT, and SLLC all regularly offer special topics courses on the Middle East.

Elective Courses (6 Credits)

JWST142 Introduction to Modern Israel

ISRL289I Fundamental Questions of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

ISRL448A: Israeli Politics and Government

ISRL448B: Israeli Society

ISRL449 Advanced Topics in Israel Studies

*HEBR111, 112, 211, 212
*ARAB104, 105, 107, 204, 205, 207, 304, 305
JWST304 Critical Approaches to Israeli Culture
HEBR313 Conversation and Composition I
HEBR314 Conversation and Composition II
HEBR381 Introduction to Hebrew Cultural Studies (taught in Hebrew)
HEBR382 Israeli Media (taught in Hebrew)
JWST478 Readings in Modern Hebrew (if topic appropriate: must be approved)
JWST471 Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation
JWST249 Special Topics in Israel Studies
JWST349 Special Topics in Israel Studies
JWST449 Advanced Special Topics in Israel Studies
JWST488 Independent Study in Israel Studies

* No more than 3 credits of language instruction below the 300 level may be credited toward the Minor.

Special Topics in Israel:  (Topics change on an annual/semester basis, generally taught by distinguished visiting faculty.)

·         ISRL249: Special Topics in Israel Studies

·         ISRL349: Special Topics in Israel Studies

·         ISRL449: Advanced Topics in Israel Studies

     Special Topics in recent years have included:  The Arab-Israeli Conflict through Film; Introduction to Israeli Cinema; Immigration & Ethnicity in Israel; Israel Politics and Society; Women and Gender in Israel; Public Culture in Israel;  Israel Society as Seen Through Literature & Culture; Cultural Diversity and Multiple Identities in Contemporary Israeli Society; Society Politics and Mass Media in Israel; The Theater of Terror: Modern Terrorism and Mass Media; Israeli Politics for Young Leaders, and more.

Other appropriate courses may be taken as electives if approved by the Israel Studies Advisor.


·         Coursework must include at least 9 upper level credits, of which 6 of those credits MUST be taken at University of Maryland.  These include credits earned in UM Study Abroad programs.

·         A student may use a maximum of 6 credits (two courses) to satisfy requirements for both a major and a minor.  Courses completed for one minor, may not be used to satisfy the requirements for another minor.

·         No courses with an earned grade below “C-” may count towards the minor.

·         An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.

·         Up to 2 courses may be taken at another university if the courses are approved by the Israel Studies Advisor. These would include credits earned in non-UM Study Abroad Programs.

To make an appointment to explore or declare a minor go to:  www.arhu.umd.edu/undergraduate/academics/minors

Students should also contact Prof. Paul Scham, Israel Studies Advisor
4141 Susquehanna Hall
College Park, MD 20742
Or visit: www.israelstudies.umd.edu


Majors in Jewish Studies have mandatory advising every semester. They must meet with the advisor before being allowed to register for classes for the next semester. You can reach the Jewish Studies advisor at jwst-advise@umd.edu or 301-405-7640.

(Students with an additional major will have additional advising requirements depending on the major and/or college of the additional major.)

Please note that Jewish Studies majors must also meet with a College of Arts and Humanities advisor:

  • during their first semester
  • when they complete 45-55 credits
  • when they complete 86-100 credits

Students who wish to minor in Jewish Studies must meet with the advisor at least once, mainly to declare the minor.

What to expect from advising

During advising meetings, the advisor will chart a student’s progress through the major or minor. The kinds of questions that the advisor will ask include “what courses are you taking,” “what courses do you intend to take?,” “are you interested in studying abroad?,” and “how are you doing in your classes?”

The advisor will make notes and go through the Major or Minor Advising Form to ensure that the student understands the major’s or minor's requirements, what courses to take, and when to take them. Every student will get a copy of his or her Major or Minor Advising Form at the end of each meeting for his or her own records.

Note that students who have not yet declared Jewish Studies as their major must meet with the Jewish Studies advisor and then meet with an ARHU advisor. During this first meeting with the Jewish Studies advisor, the student will learn about the Four-Year Plan, which is a schedule of classes developed by ARHU and Jewish Studies for the typical Jewish Studies major to follow. It outlines which courses should be taken during which semesters.

What to bring to an advising meeting.

When students come to a meeting with the Jewish Studies advisor, they should bring a list of courses they are thinking about taking, as well as any other requirements they need to fulfill for another major or minor.

Other documents, such as the requirements for another major or minor, descriptions of courses taken abroad, and previous Major or Minor Advising Forms, are also helpful to bring.

Honors Program

The Honors Program in Jewish Studies is designed to encourage Jewish Studies majors with excellent grades and strong academic interests to pursue an individual research project of their own design, in consultation with and under the direction of a faculty advisor. The Program consists of twelve credits taken in a student's Junior and Senior years, culminating in the writing of an honors thesis. Students who complete the Honors Program are deemed to have completed the research seminar requirement for the major, typically completed through JWST409.

Junior Year: Students apply for admission to the Honors Program in the Fall of their Junior year, and, upon admission, enroll in the Honors Seminar (JWST408) (3 credits) in the Spring of their Junior year. During this time students are expected to develop a general research plan to be approved by the prospective thesis advisor. Thesis advisors will generally belong to the regular or affiliate Jewish Studies faculty. Other faculty may serve as thesis advisor with the written permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Senior Year: In the Fall of their Senior year students select an upper-level course (3 credits) closely related to their research agenda in consultation with the advisor. This may include a regularly offered undergraduate course, independent study, in which case students are encouraged to apply for an Honors Option for that particular course. In addition, students may request permission to enroll in a graduate-level course to complete this part of their requirement. Students who enter the Honors Program with a clearly defined research interest may complete this requirement in their Junior year.

In addition, students take 6 credits of JWST418: Honors Thesis Research, under the direction of their thesis advisor. Typically these will be divided between the Fall and Spring semesters. Students are expected to work out with their advisors clear goals that contribute to the thesis as a whole for each semester of thesis research, and will be graded each semester on the basis of having met those goals. In the second semester, the principal goal will be the completed thesis.

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

Undergraduate Jewish Studies Organization

The goal of the Undergraduate Jewish Studies Organization (UJSO) is to provide non-curricular support for Jewish Studies majors and minors.  Such support includes career guidance, cohort development, networking activities, social events, and other programs designed by the UJSO's members.  Led by members, the UJSO responds to students' needs that extend beyond the curricula of the Jewish Studies Program.

All Jewish Studies majors and minors, as well as other students interested in Jewish Studies, are encouraged to attend meetings and get involved.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center and Program for Jewish Studies offers scholarships for study abroad and special domestic study programs that have a clear relationship to Jewish Studies. Students wishing to study in Israel are especially encouraged to apply. Applications for scholarships are accepted once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Specific deadlines, as well as the application form, can be found at www.jewishstudies.umd.edu/scholarships .  For more information, please call the Center at 301-405-4975.

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, visit: www.financialaid.umd.edu .

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