Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University


Jewish Studies Program

The Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University engages in interdisciplinary study of the history, cultures, language(s), identities, and religion of the Jewish people. While our program encompasses the historical and geographic breadth of Jewish experiences, our particular strengths are in five key areas: American Jewish history, culture, and literature; European Jewish History and Holocaust Studies; Hebrew; Israel Studies; and Judaism and Jewish Philosophy.

A hallmark of our program is the close interaction of faculty, students and community members. The Jewish Studies Program offers a 20 credit undergraduate minor in Jewish Studies that allows students to explore, in interdisciplinary and flexible ways, Jewish history, culture, and identity, to learn Hebrew, and to study Judaism and Jewish thought. Students work closely with faculty mentors, who provide guidance both on academic development and professional opportunities. Our students have opportunities to engage in substantive research projects in class or as guided independent studies as well as senior theses, and to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs in Israel. The result is a collegial, supportive community of students and faculty who form lasting relationships.

The Jewish Studies Program also supports the scholarly work of Jewish Studies faculty at MSU, developing a nationally recognized program that fits with the aspirations of a 21st century global university. We have 6 core Jewish Studies faculty and 22 affiliated faculty from ten departments and colleges across the university. The program contributes to and enhances knowledge of Jewish life in the university community, mid-Michigan, and the State of Michigan.

The Undergraduate Jewish Studies Minor
The Jewish Studies Minor offers a rich interdisciplinary program which introduces undergraduates to the history, cultures, language(s), identities, religion, and civilization of the Jewish people. Students can choose from among our varied and flexible course offerings (listed below), for a minimum of twenty (20) credits, which can be taken while fulfilling the requirements for a major in nearly any field at MSU. Our minor centers on our strengths in American Jewish History and Culture, European Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, Hebrew, Israel Studies, and Judaism and Jewish Philosophy. We emphasize close collaboration with and advising from faculty, and offer rich opportunities for undergraduate research. These curricular components are enhanced by our many co-curricular lectures and films designed to enhance classroom experiences and research.


Yael Aronoff - Michigan State Jewish Studies


As events at universities across the country have drawn renewed attention the importance of dialogue about issues of diversity and inclusion on campuses, our Jewish Studies Program continues to stand in support of making all students feel welcome on college campuses, both inside and outside the classroom. We support the special attention needed for issues of race as well as sexual assault on college campuses, and ally ourselves with all on campus seeking to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment, including our Muslim students who face a national environment of renewed Islamophobia. In this context, the many classes, lectures, and films sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program contribute to an environment that fosters education about diversity, the dangers of prejudice, and the contributions of and the challenges faced by Jewish communities across history and geography.

Jewish Studies is also co-sponsoring three events this spring that focus attention on the interaction of African Americans and Jews. Our own Kirsten Fermaglich will co-lead an event titled “Civil Rights Revisited,” in which she will share some of her own research on Jewish contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Edwin Black will speak about African American and Jewish intersections surrounding the Holocaust. Finally, we will sponsor a sculpture exhibit by Tanya Walker that explores areas of historical cooperation between Jews and African-Americans.

Click here for Jewish Studies Courses for 2016-2017



Fall calendar items will be posted soon.



Benjamin Blythe, Jewish Studies Minor and James Madison College senior majoring in International Relations, was awarded the Jewish Studies Student Achievement Award on April 10, 2016. He has taken 7 Jewish Studies classes in three colleges, and did excellent independent research in the MSU Jewish Studies Study Abroad Program at the Hebrew University in Israel and is writing an extensive research paper in his senior seminar on Israeli Foreign Policy.

Bradley Isaakson, Jewish Studies Minor and James Madison College senior double majoring in International Relations and in history, and winner of the Jewish Studies Student Achievement Award in 2015, is being awarded the Irene Steindler Endowment in History Award on May 6, 2016. This award recognizes an undergraduate or graduate student with initiatives to promote diversity programs or activities related to the History Department’s participation in or collaboration with the University’s Jewish Studies Program.



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