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Jewish Studies


The Program in Jewish Studies at Smith College examines Jewish civilization from antiquity until today. Our courses explore the history, literature, arts, politics, philosophy, culture, religion, and languages of the Jewish people from origins in ancient Israel through contact with major world civilizations over the course of a global Diaspora extending more than two millennia. From the Bible to Kafka, from medieval mysticism to varieties of Jewish activism, from Yiddish culture in pre-war Europe to contemporary life Israel and the Americas, our program provides students with the flexibility to pursue their interests and the rigor to emerge as confident thinkers, analysts, and creators of culture.

Jewish Studies draws on the most important disciplines of the humanities and social sciences in order to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of the Jewish contribution to Western civilization. Students from the sciences and engineering often enroll in our program as a way to enrich their liberal arts education. The program offers students opportunities to work closely with committed faculty in special studies at the advanced level, to develop close mentoring relationships, and to expand their knowledge through study abroad. Our students go on to pursue graduate studies in law, medicine, literature, history, religious studies, education, community service, and other professions.

The Program in Jewish Studies was founded in 1985. In its first two decades, the Program offered a minor in Jewish Studies. During this period several students elected to self-design their own major in Jewish Studies with the assistance of faculty advisors. In 2007 Smith began to offer students the option of both a major and a minor in Jewish Studies.