Jewish Studies Minor Courses 2022-23

As you register for courses, keep in mind that these courses below count towards the JS minor for the general track, and some count towards the social science track of the JS minor. There are generous scholarships for the winter and summer study abroad programs to Israel, and scholarships that cover full tuition for Hebrew. If you need guidance in completing your minor, please email Director Professor Aronoff at aronoffy@msu.edu 

Fall 2022

FI 491.003: The Economy and Finance of Innovation, Professor Harry Yuklea, TW 4:10-5:30 (virtual)

  • Aims to complement the EC491 and FI444 courses by adding specific modules like global financing, capacity planning, emerging financing instruments, policy design, etc. The course combines the variety of academic perspectives with practitioners’ views, making it appropriate both for students interested in pure academic research and for those looking to improve their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge base for real practice. Within this context, we will leverage the experience accumulated in Israel, recognized as “The Startup Nation,” by analyzing REAL case studies around the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as startup, growth, and developed high-tech Israeli firms. While analyzing the cases, we will consider their relevance for other economies, focusing on Michigan.

HEB 101.001: Elementary Hebrew I, Professor Yore Kedem,  MTuWTh 9:10-10am

  • Spoken and written Hebrew for conversation, reading, and research. Basic grammatical analysis of modern Hebrew.

HEB 101.002: Elementary Hebrew I, Professor Yore Kedem,  MTuWTh 12:40-1:30pm

  • Spoken and written Hebrew for conversation, reading, and research. Basic grammatical analysis of modern Hebrew.

HEB 201.001: Intermediate Hebrew, Professor Yore Kedem, MTuWTh 10:20-11:10am 

  • Intermediate-level spoken and written Hebrew for conversation, reading, and research. Advanced grammatical analysis of modern Hebrew.

HST 201: European Jewish History, Professor Andreas Bouroutis, TTH 10:20-11:40

  • The nature and discipline of history. Introduction to analytical and interpretive reading and writing, historical research, and historical methodologies. Focus on Romaniote Jewish history, Jews in Greece.

IAH 207.043: Literatures, Cultures, Identities (I) “Monsters in Film and Literature: The Other Within,” Professor Vered Weiss

  • Exploring the universality of monsters, the course also has a section dedicated to monsters and Judaism. We will consider the role of Judaism in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, as well as the relationship between Zionism and Yudl Rosenberg’s twentieth century adaptation of the myth of the golem in The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague. We will read Israel’s “national author” S. Y. Agnon’s “The Lady and the Peddler”, which features the relationship between a Jew and a non-Jewish woman vampire, and will watch Juda, the 2017 Israeli television series, which features a Jewish vampire. Finally, we will discuss the Nazi monsters in “The Sea of Salt” by Elana Gomel, and will have Gomel join us for a guest lecture!

IAH 210.002: Middle East and the World (I) Israel and Jerusalem, Professor Vered Weiss

  • What makes the complexities of Israeli culture unique and universal? How do the tensions between the personal and the political manifest in Jerusalem? In what ways are the connections between place and identities particularly significant in the context of Israel and Jerusalem? The course explores Israel’s unique sociopolitical and cultural tapestry. Focusing on modern Israel and Jerusalem, the course introduces some of the ideas and ideologies at the heart of modern Israel, highlighting various aspects of Israeli culture as well as the complexities of Israeli society. 

IAH 211C: Area Studies and Multicultural Civilizations: The Americas: Introduction to American Jewish Culture:  Beyond Seinfeld and Sandler, Professor Matthew Kaufman, MW 12:40-2:30

  • This class is designed to introduce students to some key issues and debates in modern American Jewish culture.   Rather than examining Jewish culture as one integrated body, we will look at the different ways that different Jewish people throughout the country construct their identities, their heritage, and their religion.  We will also examine the conflicts that have arisen among Jews because of these differences, as well as the unities that make Jews see themselves as one people. 

IBUS (International Business) 211.003: Business and Culture in the Middle East, Professor Harry Yuklea (virtual)

  • As part of the Broad College Global Speakers Series, students are exposed to uncensored perspectives and get to interact firsthand with a variety of prominent industry leaders relevant to the subject. The first two classes are focused on understanding the cultural, business, political, and demographic background of the modern Middle East and its role in the global economic ecosystem. The rest of the semester is organized around lectures by a variety of prominent guest speakers covering specific aspects in their field. A partial list of speakers includes Prof. Eugene Kandel, CEO Startup Nation Centre; Sandrine Fitoussi, former Director of PeaceTech program; Shai Luvshis, Economic Attaché of Israel in Texas; Justice Richard Bernstein, MI Supreme Court; Rey Dai, CEO Quantum China Israel Innovations; Mohammed Al-Khajah, UAE Ambassador in Israel; Scott Hiipakka, CEO Michigan Israel Business Accelerator.

ISS 325: Revolution and War, Professor Andreas Bouroutis, TTH 12:40-2:40

  • Focus on Greek Jews during WWII and the aftermath for them, as well as the Greek revolution and its influence on Jews in Greece.

MC 220: International Relations I: World Politics And International Security, Professor Yael Aronoff, TTH 10:20-11:40

  • We will be examining many of the central concepts, theories, and analytical tools used in contemporary social science to understand and explain international politics, with an emphasis on security. The course will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical approaches in explaining the causes of war and of war termination, just means and ends for war, and the use of force including humanitarian intervention. We will use case studies to illustrate the use of competing theoretical approaches and concepts.. The main emphasis will be on the ability of the theories to explain efforts at cooperation and the difficulties of reaching successful peace negotiations. We will be focusing on the Camp David Negotiations led by President Clinton and the varied reasons for the failure to reach an agreement, and the subsequent peace negotiations at Taba. We will study the Clinton Parameters, Bush Road Map, and Saudi 2002 peace plan. We will not only be looking at issues of power and the relevance of democracy as highlighted by realist and liberal approaches but will also be looking at the importance of culture, ideology, personality, and domestic constraints on efforts at cooperation. Therefore, we will also apply constructivism and political psychology in this case study. A peace agreement will have to entail negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over Jerusalem, refugees, borders, and security. After conducting research concerning the interests, goals, and past negotiating stances of the actor with whom you are least empathetic or knowledgeable, you will represent that actor’s interests and proposed solutions in our simulation of the negotiations. Some of you will also take on the role of mediators in the simulation, after having researched the past mediation efforts of the United States and have proposed your own peace plan. The research papers will also embed the articulation of interests and goals of the actors in the logic and assumptions of international relations theory. After reading and discussing Daniel Kurtzer’s, The Peace Puzzle: America’s  Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989-2011 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013), he will join us in a video-conference to answer your questions regarding his book. He is a professor at Princeton University and former Ambassador to Egypt and to Israel.

MC 335: Israeli Politics, Cultures and Society, Professor Yuval Benziman,  MW 9:10-12

  • Analysis of Israeli politics and society. Relationship between society and: social and ethnic cleavages, culture and politics, political institutions and parties, and democracy and the Jewish nature of the state. Israel’s foreign policy and its influence of foreign policy on shifting nationalism and political contestations.

MC 335: Israeli Politics, Cultures and Society, Professor Yuval Benziman, MW 1-3:50

  • Analysis of Israeli politics and society. Relationship between society and: social and ethnic cleavages, culture and politics, political institutions and parties, and democracy and the Jewish nature of the state. Israel’s foreign policy and its influence of foreign policy on shifting nationalism and political contestations.

MC 387: Jews and Antisemitism, Professor Amy Simon, TTh 12:30-1:50

  • This class serves as both a historical evaluation of antisemitism as well as an analysis of antisemitism in the present day. Throughout the semester, we will explore definitions, forms, and examples of antisemitism, as well as discuss Jewish responses to it. Focusing on a few case studies from early Christianity to today, we will analyze the old forms of antisemitism that focus on images of Jews as parasitic outsiders, and we will examine how that antisemitism has changed, as well as avenues of continuity. Overall, we will seek to understand why antisemitism is, indeed, “the longest hatred” and how we can address this problem moving forward. To this end, students will read both secondary and primary sources. We will contribute to a blog on current antisemitic events started by students in MC 387 several years ago, “Blogging Antisemitism.” Students will also research in the extensive Radicalism collection at MSU’s library.  

MC 498: The Holocaust in American Memory, Professor Amy Simon, TTh 10:20-12:10

  • This class focuses on a chronological analysis of the United States’ actions during and after the Holocaust. In it, we will address US international and educational policy, official and unofficial memorial culture, and popular culture in the forms of literature, television, and film. During the course of this class, we will discuss questions such as: How does the Holocaust live on in American remembrance? Why should the United States be so invested in the memory of a European genocide? What kinds of stories do Americans tell about the Holocaust? How does the US educational system approach teaching the Holocaust?  What is the role of Holocaust museums and memorials in Holocaust remembrance?  Students will contribute to a blog on the Holocaust in popular culture started by MC 498 students several years ago. Ultimately, students will be guided through a major research project on a topic of their choosing related to the course. 

REL 150: Introduction to Biblical Literature, Professor Christopher Frilingos, MW 1-2:20 

  • A critical survey of biblical texts, including the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and writings found in the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon, that combines historical and literary analysis with attention to the ancient religious context of this literature.

REL 414: Jewish Identity, Professor Laura Yares, MW 3:00-4:20

  • The course investigates the multiple and often contradictory identities of contemporary American Jews. Judaism in America is experienced as, among other things, a religion, as varieties of ethnicity and heritage, a daily way of life, a system of ethics, and a communal memory of the Jewish past. Utilizing narrative theories of identity construction, in this course students will examine different vocabularies that Jews use to talk about the ways that they are Jewish. This course proceeds from two fundamental assumptions: (1) that identities are fluid, dynamic, and constantly in production (2) that discourses on religion, race, secularity, culture, and gender intersect to shape their production. In other words, there is no Jewish identity – but there are many Jewish identities. This course will introduce students to critical readings and primary sources that attest to the ways that varieties of Judaism are constructed and reconstructed in contemporary America. 

UGS 220H / JS390: Cultural Diversity and Immigration in Israel, Three-part study abroad program for 7 credits

  • On Campus Research Seminar Tue 5-6:50pm, October 4 – Dec. 6 , Research experience in Israel 12.18.22 – 1.4.23, On Campus Research Seminar sessions Tue 5-6:50pm, Jan 10 – Feb 28
  • This Honors College Seminar Abroad will introduce Honors College students, Academic Scholars Program students and Jewish Studies minor students (Honors College membership not required) to research through the lens of immigration and cultural diversity in Israel. Immigration, cultural diversity, and inter-cultural relationships present important issues for many countries in the world, and Israel is a unique context to study these topics. Students participating in the program will engage in weekly research seminars during the fall on MSU’s campus, an 18 day field research experience in Israel during winter break, and weekly research seminars during the spring on MSU’s campus. Students will present the results of their research projects at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF).

Winter Break

Startup Nation: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Israel, Professor Ayalla Ruvio

  • How can one of the smallest countries in the world become the world’s center of innovation? With 8.1 million citizens, Israel has more startups per capita than any nation in the world. This program will focus on understanding the business and the cultural contexts of the entrepreneurial activities in Israel. Students who are interested in this program can choose to enroll in one of the following course options:
    • MKT 490 – For marketing major students.           
    • ESHP 202 – For students who are taking a minor in Entrepreneurship and all MSU students.       
    • BUS 491 – For business and non-business students.                     
    • JS400 – For students who are taking a minor in Jewish Studies. 
  • Counts as a 3 credit course included in Spring flat-rate tuition

Spring 2023

GRM 891: Special Topics in German Studies: The Representability of the Holocaust, Professor Lynn Wolff, M 3:00-5:50

  • This seminar will focus on the various ways the Holocaust has been represented and the different responses to these forms, including claims that the Holocaust is incomprehensible, unimaginable, or unrepresentable. Taking a diachronic approach, we will examine a variety of representational modes, from autobiographical accounts and historical documentation to theoretical reflections and fictional stories, as well as films, photographs, graphic novels, memorials, museums, and artworks. Keeping in mind that the representation of the Holocaust is both a complex issue and an international phenomenon, we will approach this topic via aesthetic, ethical, epistemological, and disciplinary questions, while concentrating on works within the German-language context. The course is open to students from all fields, and readings will be available in both English and German.     

HEB 102: Elementary Hebrew II, Professor Yore Kedem, MTWTh 9:10-10:00 

HEB 202: Second-Year Hebrew II, Professor Yore Kedem, MTWTh 10:20-11:10 

HEB 290: Independent Study, Professor Yore Kedem 

HEB 490: Independent Study, Professor Yore Kedem 

HST 317: American Jewish History, Professor Matthew Kaufman, MW 12:40-2 

  • This course will trace the development of the American Jewish community from 1654, when 23 Jewish refugees fled Brazil and landed by mistake in the city that would become New York, to the present, when American Jews have become such a successful and well-integrated ethnic and religious community that bagels, schmucks and Seth Rogen have become familiar parts of popular American culture.  Composed of many different groups, including Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Reform, Orthodox and Conservative, Reconstructionist, feminist, atheist, and secular, as well as many different racial and gender identities, including Black, Latino, Asian, gay, lesbian, and transgender, the American Jewish community is not easily typed, and we will devote some of the class to examining battles over what it means to be an American Jew.  Focusing on successive waves of immigration, we will also explore the changing ways in which Jews have been included as integral members of the American nation, as well as the ways that they have been excluded as outsiders.  

HST 388: World War II: Causes, Conduct and Consequences, Professor Matthew Pauly, TTH 3-4:20

  • The Second World War was a defining event of twentieth century. In the United States, popular attention has understandably been paid to the American role in the war and the moral necessity of defeating the Axis powers. This course will broaden our understanding the war, by considering the war in multiple theaters of combat and the perspective of different belligerents. It will give particular attention to the Soviet-German conflict and events in Eastern Europe in order to underscore their importance to the final outcome of the war. The course does not offer a strict account of battlefield movements, but rather seeks to explore how soldiers and civilians alike experienced the war by examining primary accounts of their participation. An overriding theme of the course will be a consideration of moral questions regarding in the war’s prosecution by both sides. Can we speak of absolute evil and absolute good?  How should scholars identify and characterize immoral conduct and criminality or heroism?  Lastly, the course seeks to place the subject of the war within the general context of world history. How might a long view of the war make its outbreak more understandable?  What were the real political, social, and moral consequences of the war?  The course will consider how the politics of memory influence the telling of the historical narrative of the war and its legacy 

HST 392: History of the Holocaust, Professor Amy Simon, TTh 1:00-2:20 

  • Nazi persecution and genocide in Europe, 1933-1945. Jewish experience within broader context. Perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and resistors. Post-Holocaust memory, film, literature, and philosophical implications. 

HST 481 (3 credits): “From Alexander to Bar Kochva: The Holy Land in the Graeco-Roman Period”  Professor Noah Kaye, TTH 12:40-2:00

When did the Judeans become the Jews? What were the Maccabees really fighting for? Was the war with Rome, which resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, an inevitable consequence of the clash between Judaism and Hellenism? Who was the cruel and chameleon Herod the Great? What was everyday life like in the Galilee of Jesus of Nazareth? These are some of the questions explored in our seminar, which tracks the development of Judaism under the Hellenistic regimes of the Ptolemies, Seleukids, and Hasmoneans, including the millennialism of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran) and the sometimes violent sectarianism of Roman Judaea. The course will emphasize the historical and cultural geography of the Holy Land during a period of great change. Another focus will be relations between Judeans/Jews and others, such as Samaritans, Phoenicians, Nabateans, and Edomites/Idumeans. Students can expect a significant archaeological component, as well as visits to the 360 room in the Digital Scholarship Lab (virtual trips to Masada and elsewhere), as well as to Rare Books where we will examine MSU’s Samaritan Pentateuch, a fascinating window on to the making of the Hebrew Bible as we know it today.

IAH 210: Middle East and the World 4 credits, Professor Vered Weiss, TTH 9:10-11:00 

  • Israel and Jerusalem 
    What makes the complexities of Israeli culture unique and universal? How do the tensions between the personal and the political manifest in Jerusalem? In what ways are the connections between place and identities particularly significant in the context of Israel and Jerusalem? The course explores Israel’s unique sociopolitical and cultural tapestry. Focusing on modern Israel and Jerusalem, the course introduces some of the ideas and ideologies at the heart of modern Israel, highlighting various aspects of Israeli culture as well as the complexities of Israeli society. 

IAH 241G: Creative Arts and Humanities: Film and Culture (D) 4 credits, Professor Vered Weiss, TTh 12:40-2:30 

  • Israeli Cinema and Television 
    This course considers the various ways the filmic medium has portrayed Israel’s complex matrix of cultural identities. The different sessions address some of the major factors shaping Israeli culture (e.g., contemporary immigration; engagements with the Palestinian Other; gender politics; and queer identity). 

MC 202: Narratives of Trauma and Memory, Case Study: The Holocaust, Professor Amy Simon, TTh 10:20-12:10 

  • This class examines Holocaust history and representation, with a focus on the ways in which those representations discuss/reveal important issues relating to trauma and memory.  We will examine immediate reactions to the Holocaust, written during the event, then move to postwar memoirs and oral testimonies and second generation and fictionalized depictions of the events that occurred.  Our goal will be to become familiar with many genres of writing and a variety of potentials for dealing with similar life experiences.  We will examine how different authors constructed their narratives and what trauma meant for each of those authors both during and after the Holocaust.  We will analyze the ways that time and memory change narratives and the ways that distance from the events (temporally and physically) influence the kinds of stories people tell. Weaved together with this content will be an introduction to academic research. Students will be guided through all parts of the research process, from learning how to produce research questions, to writing thesis statements, to researching in the library and archives, to organizing an effective paper. The end result will be a 10-12 page research paper.  

 MC 202: Introduction to the Study of Public Affairs II 4 credits, Professor Sherman Garnett, TTH 3:00-4:50  

  • Continued interdisciplinary exploration of enduring issues and conflicts in American and international public affairs. Historical, social science, and comparative approaches. This section of the course will focus on the city of Vilnius, 1920-1944, concentrating on both Jewish and Polish Communities through the eyes of two of its major writers, Chaim Grade and Czeslaw Miłosz, and other materials. 

MC 332:  Literature and Politics in a Comparative Perspective, Professor Sherman Garnett, TTh 10:20-11:40  

  • Comparative examination of literary representations of politics and political themes involving different national literatures, literary genres and/or other narrative forms. The focus of this course will be the writer and the state in Soviet Russia.  We will read works by Isaac Babel, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Vasily Grossman, and Mikhail Bulgakov, as well as other materials, focusing on how each writer encountered and represented the Soviet state. 

REL 150: Introduction to Biblical Literature, Professor Christopher Frilingos, MW 1-2:20 

  • A critical survey of biblical texts, including the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and writings found in the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon, that combines historical and literary analysis with attention to the ancient religious context of this literature. 

REL 310: Judaism, Professor Laura Yares, MW 3-4:20

SOC 360 Migration and Social Change, Professor Steven Gold, WF 12:40-2 

  • Survey of contemporary theory and research on migration and social change. 30% Jewish Studies content.  

Summer 2023 

Study Abroad Israel, 8 credits, Professor Yore Kedem, Jul. 03, 2023 – Jul. 26, 2023 (3.4 weeks) 

  • “The Emergence of the Modern State of Israel” (MC 290 / IAH 211D / JS 390) examining contemporary Israeli history, politics and society. 
  • “Immigration and Cultural Diversity in Israel” (ISS 330B / MC 390), examining the way Israeli institutions and people deal with the great diversity of its population.