Jewish Studies (JWST)

JWST-103 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course provides a critical introduction to the writings contained in the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament). It investigates the social and historical context of the ancient Israelites, examines a range of ancient Near Eastern literature, and introduces the principal methods of biblical studies. Participants will read much of the Hebrew Bible as well as select non-Israelite sources. Examples of recent biblical scholarship will provide additional information for better understanding these writings and will present different methods for approaching and interpreting ancient texts.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-103
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
The department

JWST-104 Introduction to the New Testament

Fall. Credits: 4

Introduction to the New Testament investigates the social and historical context of first- and early second-century Christianity, examines New Testament and select non-canonical documents, and introduces you to the principal methods of New Testament studies. In the course of the semester you will read the works that make up most modern collections of the New Testament, a number of early Christian documents that did not make the final cut, and several ancient non-Christian sources.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-104
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
L. Sal├ęs

JWST-112 Introduction to Judaism

Spring. Credits: 4

Judaism is a 3,500-year-old tradition that has developed over time as Jewish communities all over the world creatively interacted with the different cultural and historical milieus in which they lived. This course explores the ways in which Judaism has sought to transform ordinary life into sacred life. What are the ways in which Judaism conceives of God, and what is the meaning of life? What roles do study, prayer, ethics, sex, marriage, family, rituals of the life cycle, and community play in Judaism? These and other questions will be taken up through study of diverse types of religious literature and historical evidence.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-112
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin

JWST-150 Introduction to Modern Hebrew

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

An introduction to 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 will be able to comprehend short and adapted literary and journalistic texts, describe themselves and their environment, and express their thoughts and opinions. Learning will be amplified by use of online resources (YouTube, Facebook, newspapers) and examples from Hebrew song and television/film. This course will involve regular collaboration with students from the Elementary Modern Hebrew course at Smith College. No previous knowledge of Modern Hebrew is necessary.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
The department

JWST-151 Introduction to Modern Hebrew

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

A year-long introduction to 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 will be able to comprehend short and adapted literary and journalistic texts, describe themselves and their environment, and express their thoughts and opinions. Learning will be amplified by use of online resources (YouTube, Facebook, newspapers) and examples from Hebrew song and television/film. This course will involve regular collaboration with students from the Elementary Modern Hebrew course at Smith College. No previous knowledge of Modern Hebrew is necessary.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
The department
Prereq: JWST-150.

JWST-225 Topics in Judaism

JWST-225LF Topics in Judaism: 'Love, Friendship, and Interpersonal Relations in Judaism'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course explores teachings and practices having to do with interpersonal relations in Jewish religious tradition, including notions of 'spiritual friendship,' relations between parents and children, teachers and disciples, and loving partners. Drawing broadly on the many varieties of Jewish religious literature, with a special interest in the mystical traditions of Judaism, the course also addresses diverse ethical questions such as the nature of forgiveness, responsibility towards the needs of others, and sexual ethics.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-225LF
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
The department

JWST-225TR Topics in Judaism: 'Trauma, Transition, and Memory: The Jewish Literary Imagination in the Twentieth Century'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course maps the range of Jewish literary expression in the Twentieth Century, Beginning with the folktales of Sholem Aleichem and parables and stories by Franz Kafka, we will move on to novels and films that explore Jewish family life across nations and historical eras (Eastern Europe, America, Israel). Among the core themes will be the literary response to the Shoah in works by Primo Levi, Aharon Appelfeld, and Anne Michaels. The course concludes with more recent works that continue to explore the relation among history, memory, and trauma -- core themes of Jewish experience in modern times.

Crosslisted as: ENGL-225TR
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
D. Weber

JWST-232 Contemporary Jewish Ethics

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course will explore issues of contemporary ethics from the point of view of Jewish religious thought and tradition. Topics will include medical and genetic ethics, death and dying, family and sexual ethics, ethics of war, poverty, and the environment. The course will explore these issues in the context of theoretical approaches to questions of religion and ethics.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-232
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
The department
Prereq: 4 credits in religion or Jewish studies.

JWST-234 Women and Gender in Judaism

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines gender as a key category in Jewish thought and practice. We will examine different theoretical models of gender, concepts of gender in a range of Jewish sources, and feminist Jewish responses to those sources.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-234, GNDST-210JD
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin

JWST-240 The Holocaust in History

Fall. Credits: 4

An attempt at understanding the Nazi-led assault on Europe's Jews. Course units include an exploration of origins, both German and European; an analysis of the evolving mechanics of genocide (mobile killing squads, death camps, etc.); comparisons (Germany proper vs. Poland, the Holocaust vs. other instances of state-sponsored mass murder); legal dimensions; and an introduction to the politics of Holocaust remembrance since 1945.

Crosslisted as: HIST-240
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. King

JWST-250 Intermediate Hebrew

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course emphasizes skills necessary for proficiency in reading, writing, and conversational Hebrew. It presents new grammatical concepts and vocabulary through texts about Jewish and Israeli culture and tradition, as well as popular culture and day-to-day life in modern Israel. Course material includes newspapers, films, music, and readings from Hebrew short stories and poetry. Starts a transition from simple/simplified Hebrew to a more literate one, and sharpens the distinction between different registers of the language.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
The department
Prereq: JWST-150 and JWST-151.
Advisory: At least one year of college Hebrew or equivalent or permission of instructor
Notes: Attendance will be required at a weekly Hebrew language table at either Mount Holyoke College or Smith College.

JWST-251 Reading the Hebrew Bible

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the Hebrew Bible in light of Jewish reading practices. Students will read significant sections of the Hebrew Bible in translation and learn to read ancient, medieval and modern Jewish approaches to the biblical text. This course seeks to help students become adept at the interpretation of texts and the practice of close reading.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-251
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin

JWST-256 What Didn't Make It in the Bible

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Hundreds of ancient religious texts did not make it into the Hebrew Scripture (aka the Old Testament). This course examines some of these excluded writings. In particular, we will focus on works found among the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, We will read an ancient Harlequin romance, tour heaven and hell, hear of the adventures of fallen angels who sired giants (and taught humans about cosmetics), and learn how the world will end. In critically examining such texts, we will better appreciate the diversity of Judaism, better understand the historical context of early Christianity, and explore the politics behind what did and did not make it into the bible.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-256
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
The department

JWST-276 Mapping Jewish American Generations

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course sets canonical Jewish American literature in creative dialogue with contemporary Jewish American writers, filmmakers, and performance artists to explore how early twentieth-century figures (Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, and Henry Roth) continue to influence --inspire--a rising generation of authors. The key mediating figure in this generational dialogue is Philip Roth, whose work we will examine as well. Topics to be explored include "immigrant" writing then and now; the uses of nostalgia; genealogies of standup comedy and popular culture in general; the emergence of "hipster" Judaism and its various modes of expression (above all via social media).

Crosslisted as: ENGL-274
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
D. Weber
Prereq: 4 credits in English, religion, Jewish studies, history, sociology, or film studies.

JWST-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

JWST-343 The Sabbath

Spring. Credits: 4

The practice of a weekly sacred day of rest has organized Jewish life for millennia. In this seminar, students will examine the Sabbath using narrative, folk, and legal primary sources from the biblical, Second Temple, rabbinic, medieval, and modern periods. Key themes include sacred time, cultural identity, and the transformation of religious practice. Experiential learning, and critical thinking about your experiential learning, are integral to this seminar.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-343
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

JWST-350 Special Topics in Jewish Studies

JWST-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.