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 

Fall 2023

For questions about whether any other course counts toward the minor please check with Professor Yael Aronoff at

ENG 356: Readings in Jewish Literature Section 001 (3 credits), Mon Wed 4:10 PM-5:30 PM Wells Hall A224, S Rachman

  • Extensive readings in a range of genres by Jewish writers, including fiction, poetry, drama, memoir, and/or film.

GRM 864: Cultural Norms and Values (3 credits), Wed 3:00-5:50 PM Wells Hall A222, L Wolff

  • Literary and non-literary texts as affirmation, subversion, or critique of aesthetic and social norms in selected historical periods. Role of the artist or intellectual in society. “High” versus “low” culture. Consumerism.

HEB 101 Elementary Hebrew (4 credits), Sec. 001: Mon Tue Wed Thu 9:10 AM-10:00 AM Wells Hall A132, Y Kedem. Sec. 002: Mon Tue Wed Thu 12:40 PM-1:30 PM, Y Kedem Wells Hall A234, Y Kedem

HEB 201: Second Year Hebrew (4 credits), Mon Tue Wed Thu 10:20 AM-11:10 AM Wells Hall A234, Y Kedeem

HST 481: Spartan Mystique Sec. 001: Seminar in Ancient History (3 credits), Mon Wed 3:00 PM-4:20 PM Tentative Berkey Hall 218A, N Kaye

  • 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, Seleucids, and Hasmoneans, including the millennialism of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran) and the sometimes violent sectarianism of Roman Judaea.

IAH 209-004: Art, the Visual, and Culture (D) (4 credits), Mon Wed 8:00 AM -9:50 AM, Snyder Hall C204
Multi-Sensory Performance, Carmel Beer / Michal Evyatar – Mela Studio.

  • This course explores the components of food and eating experience and channels it through the five senses. During the semester we will unpack personal and communal experiences through food and eating and their environments, thereby invoking both past and present. By creating immersive experiences the students will deconstruct the mechanism of eating and to expose the cultural and personal norms involved. From the dawn of civilization, cultural costumes evolved around food, its production and consumption. Many rituals in diverse parts of the globe were created to gather people around the table. We will explore the various rituals of the Jewish tradition. Deconstructing the ritual into its unique objects, set up and special recipes. The course will culminate with a communal event, wherein the students will present their research outcomes and insights as installations or live performance. The students will practice creating multi sensory performance through the prism of the five senses: Sight- Food representation in visual arts focusing on Israeli food art. Taste- Our tongue as a cultural detector. Israeli cuisine as a sociopolitical reflector. Hearing- What are the surrounding/ supporting elements for a work of art. How does sound affect our bodies and perception? Touch- The choreography of eating and preparing food. Smell- How to evoke personal and communal memories through aroma molecules? The role of smell in secular religious ceremonies. The course is taught by Israeli visiting artists and the course will include also food related to Jewish culture and count towards the JS minor for the general track to the JS minor.

IAH 210-001: Middle East and the World (I) (4 credits), Tue Thu 9:10 AM-11:00 AM Brody Hall 134, V 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 Sec. 003: Area Studies and Multicultural Civilizations: The Americas: Introduction to American Jewish Culture: Beyond Seinfeld and Sandler (4 credits), Mon Wed 12:40 PM-2:30 PM Wilson Hall C2, K Fermaglich

  • 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. 

IAH 241G-003: Creative Arts and Humanities: Film and Culture (D) (4 credits), Tue Thu 12:40 PM-2:30 PM, Wonders Hall C211, V Weiss

  • 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 335: Israeli Politics, Cultures, and Society (4 credits), Tue Thu 9:10 AM-12:00 PM (Ends Oct 5), A Tal

  • 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 national-ism and political contestations.

MC 387: Jews and Antisemitism (4 credits), Tue Thu 10:20 AM-11:40 AM Case Hall 340, A Simon

  • 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 450: International Environmental Policy (3 credits), Tue Thu 12:40 PM-3:30 PM (ends Oct 5), A Tal

  • The environment in the Middle East reflects the impacts of millennia of continued human activities, with degraded soils, biodiversity loss and contaminated water resources. In a trial and error process since its inception, Israel has pursued an ambitious program of ecological restoration through afforestation, aggressive water management and environmental conservation.  Yet, the country’s population has grown by over 800% creating health hazards and damage to natural resources. This course evaluates the effectiveness of different environmental policies in Israel and involving its neighbor from a variety of perspectives. It also assesses potential regional ecological cooperation as part of a Middle Eastern peace process. 

MC 492: Dilemmas of Asymmetric Conflicts (5 credits), Tue Thu 12:40 PM-2:30 PM Case Hall 334A, Y Aronoff

  • This seminar will concentrate on the dilemmas of modern asymmetric warfare and will treat Israel’s conflicts with Hamas in a comparative manner with NATO and U.S. actions in Afghanistan, drone strikes in Pakistan, and attacks against ISIS in Iraq. The focus of the course is the policy choices, and tradeoffs democracies face in these conflicts with non-state actors. This seminar will explore the tensions involved in such conflicts, especially dilemmas faced by democracies who on one hand, rely on traditional tactics of deterrence, while on the other, need to restrain their responses lest they violate the rules of war themselves. This seminar will examine the evolving norms of asymmetric warfare, particularly with regard to state actors and the force of international humanitarian laws, the pressures of accountability to international and national audiences, and the need to project legitimacy in the media wars surrounding these conflicts. Examining the tensions and dilemmas faced by state actors, the seminar will examine both external international and internal domestic pressures in their varied ramifications. The seminar will investigate whether new rules of warfare are needed for asymmetric conflict and how militaries can minimize the cost to civilians. It will also examine the limits of these measures and evaluate diplomatic alternatives.

REL 414 Jewish Identity (3 credits), Mon Wed 12:40 PM-2:00 PM Wells Hall B106, TBA

  • 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 200H 019: Honors Research Seminar Sec. 019: History and Testimony in the Digital Age: Studying the Holocaust , Tue 9:10 AM-10:00 AM Wonders Hall C211, A Simon, L Wolff, D Margolis

  • This Honors College Seminar will offer participants an opportunity for work in a unique digital resource for studying the Holocaust. They will have access to the extraordinary USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive via the MSU Library. Working individually and in small groups with MSU faculty from several departments, and meeting in the seminar format, students will explore these questions: 1) What can be learned about the Holocaust and antisemitism from the perspective of those who survived to tell their stories? 2) What are the best methods for learning from testimony as a form of historical evidence? And 3) How can the evidence of testimony best be incorporated into Holocaust research and presented, including the uses of digital resources? The focus will be on capitalizing on digital resources in doing research in a domain of inquiry with profound historical and personal meanings. All UGS 200H courses meet regularly in the fall AND spring semesters. Spring times will be arranged with the instructor. Students must remain engaged throughout the entire year to receive credit. These courses are graded Pass/No Pass. The results of student projects in each seminar will be presented at the 2021 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum. Enrollment for upperclassmen is limited to rising sophomores in good standing with the Honors College. Rising sophomores wanting to enroll must complete a manual override request through the Honors College at: Requests will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have questions about the override, please reach out to Jennifer Desloover at


REL 412 Section 001: Jewish Mysticism, taught by Professor Morgan Shipley. Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40PM-2:00PM in Wells Hall Room B106.

  • This course addresses the rich and varied traditions of Jewish mysticism, including Kabbalah, a source of endless fascination and renewed popular interest in contemporary society. Our discussion-based class meetings will consider the major historical trends, basic themes, and key concepts of the Judeo-mystical and Kabbalistic worldview through a range of primary and secondary sources.

Spring 2024

SOC 360: Global Migration, Professor S. Gold
TuTh 10:20-11:40

  • This course offers a general review of approaches to contemporary international migration focusing on both the US and Internationally. Students will learn basic concepts, categories and data about various migrant populations and points of settlement. Students will prepare and present a PowerPoint documentary on their own family’s migration history. 

HST 317 : American Jewish History, Professor K. Fermaglich
MW, 12:40-2 pm              

  • 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 Ashkenazic and Sephardic, 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.

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: First- Year Hebrew, Professor Yore Kedem, MTWTh 9:10-10:00 

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

HEB 290: Independent Study, Professor Yore Kedem 

HEB 490: Independent Study, Professor Yore Kedem 

HST 388: World War II: Causes, Conduct and Consequences, Professor Matthew Pauly, TuTh 3:00-4:20

  • This course will broaden our understanding the war, by considering the war in multiple theaters of combat and the perspective of different belligerents.

HST 392: History of the Holocaust, Professor K. Hanshew, TuTh 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

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.

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

  •  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 207-045: Literatures, Cultures, Identities (I) 4 credits, Professor Vered Weiss, TuTh 12:40-2:30

  • This course considers the various ways the filmic medium has portrayed Israel’s complex matrix of cultural identities. 

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.  

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

  • 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

  • Jewish life, thought, and institutions. Jewish calendar. Second Temple and Rabbinic periods. Talmud and Midrash. Jewish life in Europe and America. Hasidic, Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative movements. Anti-Semitism, Zionism, and the Holocaust. Current issues.

Summer 2024 

Study Abroad Israel, 8 credits, Professor Yuval Benziman, Jul. 03, 2024 – Jul. 24, 2024 (3.4 weeks) 

  • This program is located in Jerusalem, an ancient city sacred to three major religions, and the capital of Israel. Students will take two courses, “The Emergence of the Modern State of Israel”, examining contemporary Israeli history, politics and society (MC 290 /IAH 211D / JS 290) and “Israeli Politics, Cultures, and Society”, examining the way Israeli institutions and people deal with the great diversity of its population (ISS 330B / JS 400/ MC 335- or 4 credit MC399 for those who have already taken MC335. Those students will work on an independent research project guided by the professor, but will also attend field trips and classes with outside speakers.)1uval TuTh 1:00-2:20K. Hanshew