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Jewish Studies



As part of the Five College Consortium, Smith's own Jewish studies curriculum is complemented by courses at Amherst, Hampshire, and Mount Holyoke colleges and the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts. The resources of the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst further enhance educational opportunities.

Additional opportunities for the study of language or topics of academic interest to students may be available through Special Studies at Smith or within the Five College consortium. Please see an adviser.

Other courses at Smith that touch on Jewish Studies may count as an elective toward the major with the prior approval of an adviser. Students must write one of their assignments for such courses on an appropriate Jewish Studies topic. For examples of such courses, please see the sample list published under explanation of the major.

Smith College reserves the right to make changes to all announcements and course listings online, including changes in its course offerings, instructors, requirements for the majors and minors, and degree requirements.

Smith College Courses

Fall 2017

JUD 101 Elementary Modern Hebrew I

The first half of a two-semester sequence introducing modern Hebrew language and culture, with a focus on equal development of the four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Learning is amplified by use of online resources (YouTube, Facebook newspapers) and examples from Hebrew song and television/film. No previous knowledge of modern Hebrew is necessary. Enrollment limited to 18.
Joanna Caravita
MWF 9:00-10:20 AM

Advanced Hebrew at UMASS

The Program in Jewish Studies at Smith College partners with the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts to offer Smith students a full complement of courses to bring them to advanced proficiency in modern Hebrew. Normally, students who have completed JUD 100y at Smith College will enter UMass Hebrew 301 in the fall and follow it with Hebrew 302 in the spring. In fall 2016 Hebrew 301 will be taught by Joanna Caravita. Smith students will not have to travel to UMass if they enroll in this course. They will be able to participate in the class through videoconference at Smith. For more information on the Hebrew program, or if you have a question about language placement please contact Joanna Caravita.

JUD 110 Introduction to Yiddish Culture

An introduction to Yiddish, the Jewish language of dreamers, scholars, workers, and rebels for almost 1,000 years in Europe and its diaspora. Explores folktales, short stories, theater, film, and popular culture in historical context. How does Yiddish continue to function today as a site of radical political engagement and cultural disruption? No prerequisites; all readings in translation.{H}{L} Credits: 4
Justin Cammy
MW 2:40-4:00


JUD 255 20th Century European Thought

The intersection of intellectual history and Jewish history, including Hebrew prophets as archetypes for many European public intellectuals. The Dreyfus Affair saw the birth of the intellectual, and over the 20th century, many of Europe’s leading thinkers prominently addressed the so-called Jewish Question. Liberalism, Conservatism, Communism, and Fascism - all were created by intellectuals, and all relied on intellectuals in their ideological struggle over the present and future. What were the roles, responsibility and accountability of public intellectuals in Europe’s Age of Extremes? To what extent was the public intellectual a distinctively 20th-century or distinctively Jewish phenomenon?{H}Credits:4
Adi Gordon
TTH 9:00-10:20am


FYS 186 Israel Texts and Context

What is the role of the writer in constructing a nation's founding myths and interpreting its present realities? How do literature and film about Zionism and Israel navigate and interpret tensions between sacred and secular; exile and homeland; language and identity; indigenous and colonial; war and peace? Intended for students with an interest in the relationships between history, politics, and narrative. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. WI Credits:4
Justin Daniel Cammy
MW 11:00-12:10

REL 112 Introduction to the Bible I

The Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh/Old Testament). A survey of the Hebrew Bible and its historical and cultural context. Critical reading and discussion of its narrative and legal components as well as an introduction to the prophetic corpus and selections from the wisdom literature. {H}{L} Credits: 4
Jason Gaines
MW 1:10-2:30 PM

REL 223 The Modern Jewish Experience

A thematic survey of Jewish history and thought from the 16th century to the present, examining Jews as a minority in modern Europe and in global diaspora. We analyze changing dynamics of integration and exclusion of Jews in various societies as well as diverse forms of Jewish religion, culture and identity among Sefardic, Ashkenazic and Mizrahi Jews. Readings include major philosophic, mystical and political works in addition to primary sources on the lives of Jewish women and men, families and communities, and messianic and popular movements. Throughout the course, we explore tensions between assimilation and cohesion, tradition and renewal, and history and memory.{H} Credits: 4
Lois Dubin
TTH 3-4:20

THE 208 American Musical Theater

The course examines the roots of the American musical as a seminal theatrical form, with its own distinctive venues and styles; we pay particular attention to the socio-cultural factors that made the American musical stage a locus for identity-formation. The history of the American musical is deeply intertwined with the assimilationist project, particularly among Jewish-Americans, who were highly instrumental in its development. The economics of theatrical production in the early 20th century, along with the rise of a burgeoning middle class with time for leisure (a new phenomenon), gave rise to a “popular” form of musical theatre—the musical comedy—that was instrumental in creating what became “show business.”{A}{H}{L} Credits:4
Ellen Kaplan
TTH 10:30-11:50



HST 246 Memory and History

Contemporary debates among European historians, artists and citizens over the place of memory in political and social history. The effectiveness of a range of representational practices from the historical monograph to visual culture, as markers of history, and as creators of meaning. Credits: 4
Darcy Buerkle
TTH 3:00-4:20

SPN 230 Latin American and Peninsular Literature

Topic: Maghribi Jewish Women: Cordoba, Casablanca, Tel Aviv This course examines constructions and representations of Maghribi Jewish women from the western Mediterranean to Israel.  The first part of the course focuses on Jewish women in Andalusi and Maghribi texts.  Students are invited to think critically about concepts such as "tolerance," "convivencia," and "dhimma," as well as what it means to be a woman and a religious minority in Muslim-majority communities.  The second half of the course examines representations and realities of Jewish women of Moroccan descent in Israeli society.  This part centers on questions of immigration, class, demography, gender, diaspora and identity.  Enrollment limited to 19.  Offered Fall 2017 {F} {L} Credits: 4
Ibtissam Bouachrine
TTH 1:00-2:50


Spring 2018


JUD 102 Elementary Modern Hebrew II

The second half of a two-semester sequence introducing modern Hebrew language and culture, with a focus on equal development of the four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. By the end of the year, students are able to comprehend short and adapted literary and journalistic texts, describe themselves and their environment, and express their thoughts and opinions. Learning is amplified by use of online resources (YouTube, Facebook newspapers) and examples from Hebrew song and television/film. Prerequisite: JUD 101 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 18.{F}Credits: 5

JUD 125 The Jewish Tradition

Same as REL 125. Who are the Jews?  What is Judaism?  How have Jews understood core ideas and texts, and put their values into practice, from biblical times until today?  An interdisciplinary introduction to the dramatic story of Jewish civilization and its conversation with different cultures from religious, historical, political, philosophical, literary, and cultural perspectives, organized around different themes; the theme for spring 2018 is Food and Foodways.{H}{L} Credits: 4
Lois Dubin

JUD 215 Heart of the Matter

Explores pressing questions at the heart of Jewish Studies from multiple theoretical, historical, political, cultural and artistic perspectives. Students may take the course as many times as they wish, so long as it is a different topic.
The topic for fall 2017 is George Eliot's novel Daniel Deronda. What are the intersections between Eliot’s critiques of sexism, classism, and anti-Semitism, and how does the novel’s solutions to the Jewish Question continue to inspire and provoke? {L/H} Credits: 1
Justin Cammy
M 7:30-9:30pm

JUD 362 Seminar in Jewish Studies: Yiddishland

Topic for spring 2018: Yiddishland
Explores the relationship between East European Jewish history and post-Holocaust and post-Communist memory through the prism of Yiddishland, the dream of a transnational homeland defined by language and culture rather than borders. The seminar includes a course field trip to Poland over March break. Enrollment by instructor permission. Credits: 4
Justin Cammy
T 1:00- 2:50

CLT 277 Jewish Fiction

What is the relationship between the homeless imagination and imagined homecomings, political upheaval and artistic revolution, the particularity of national experience and the universality of the Jew? Focuses on four masters of the 2oth century short story and novel: Franz Kafka’s enigmatic narratives of modern alienation; Isaac Babel’s bloody tales Revolution; Isaac Bashevis Singer's Yiddish demons and Nobel prize laureate S. Y. Agnon's neo-religious parables of loss and redemption. All readings in translation; open to any student with a love of great literature.{L} Credits: 4
Justin Cammy
M W 2:40-4:00 PM


GOV 248 Arab-Israel Dispute

This course investigates the causes and effects of the Arab-Israeli disputes of the past and present as well as the viability of efforts to resolve them. We consider the influence of Great Power Politics on the relationship between Arab states and Israel, and between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. Our exploration of the conflict touches on issues related to human security, terrorism and political violence as well as broader questions of human rights, national identity and international governance.{S} Credits: 4 
Bozena Welborne
MW 1:10-2:40

REL 213 Social Justice in the Hebrew Bible

An exploration of biblical prophecy with a focus on how the prophets called for social and religious reform in language that continues to resonate today. Credits: 4
Jason Gaines

REL 227 Women and Gender in Jewish History

An exploration of Jewish women’s changing social roles, religious stances and cultural expressions in a variety of historical settings from ancient to modern times. How did Jewish women negotiate religious tradition, gender and cultural norms to fashion lives for themselves as individuals and as family and community members in diverse societies? Readings from a wide range of historical, religious, theoretical and literary works in order to address examples drawn from Biblical and rabbinic Judaism, medieval Islamic and Christian lands, modern Europe, America and the Middle East. {H} {S} Credits: 4
Lois Dubin
TTH 10:30 AM

Five College Courses


The following is a sampling of additional courses in Jewish Studies offered in the Five Colleges in Fall 2017. If a course on a similar topic is also offered at Smith we have not listed the course below. Consult the online catalog for a full listing of available courses and class times.

Amherst College
RELI 263 Beginning the Bible, MWF 11-11:50
RELI 267 Reading the Rabbis, W 2-4:30

Hampshire College
CSI 221 Israel and Palestine, TTh 9-10:20

Mount Holyoke College
JWST 234 Women and Gender in Judaism, TTh 1:15-2:30
JWST 240 The Holocaust in History, MW 1:15-2:30
JWST 251 Reading the Hebrew Bible, TTh 11:30-12:45

University of Massachusetts
COMPLIT 319 Representing the Holocaust, TTh 2:30-3:45
JUDAIC 101 The Jewish People I, TTh 11:30-12:45
JUDAIC 102 The Jewish People II, TTh 10-11:15
JUDAIC 318 Family and Sexuality in Jewish History,
TTh 11:30-12:45
JUDAIC 326 Sustainability in Comparative Religious Perspective, TTh 1-2:15
JUDAIC 383 Women, Gender, Judaism, TTh 2:30-3:45
JUDAIC 375 Jewish Experience in America MW 1:00-2:25
JUDAIC 391B Jewish American Lit and Popular Culture
MW 4:00-5:15
YIDDISH 101 Elementary Yiddish Language, MWF 2:30-3:45
(at the Yiddish Book Center, Hampshire College)
HEBREW 301 Advanced Hebrew Language, TTh 11:30-12:45 (for students who have completed a year of Hebrew at Smith or its equivalent)

* May not be taken for credit towards the minor. If taken for major credit one of the significant assignments for the course must focus on a Jewish studies related topic.