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Core Courses

Program in Jewish Studies

P.O. Box 400126
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4162
Phone: (434) 924-6722

Overview Jewish Studies allows students to focus on the history, languages, and literature of the Jewish people; the beliefs and practices of Judaism; and the enduring contributions of Jewish wisdom to human civilization. These contributions range from Biblical monotheism and ethics; to Rabbinic traditions of text study and interpretation; to Jewish literary responses to marginality, oppression, and suffering in modern times; and to monuments of the twentieth-century Jewish experience, including the revival of Hebrew as a living language, the establishment of Israel as an independent political state, and the thriving of diverse forms of Jewish community throughout the world. Students can take courses in Biblical and Modern Hebrew, Yiddish, Bible, Rabbinic literature, Jewish ancient and modern history, Jewish literature and culture, Holocaust studies, Jewish theology, and Jewish communities and cultures worldwide. Jewish Studies students are encouraged to study abroad in Israel or in other centers of Jewry beyond America. The U.Va program in Jewish Studies also reflects the unique strengths and interests of the U.Va faculty, generating such areas of interdisciplinary inquiry as "Community Insiders and Outsiders in Jewish Tradition," "Local Jewish Community in Virginia," "Interpretive Practices in Jewish Tradition," "Language, Ethics and Suffering," and "European Twentieth-Century Jewish History and Culture." Additional information may be found on the web site, www.virginia.edu/jewishstudies/

Faculty The interdisciplinary program includes faculty members drawn from many academic departments: The ever-growing list of faculty members who offer courses that count for the Jewish Studies major and minor or who serve as advising members of the Jewish Studies faculty include: Alon Confino, Gabriel Finder, Phyllis Leffler (Department of History); Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, Harry Gamble, Jennifer Geddes, Judith Kovacs Peter Ochs, Vanessa Ochs, Donald Polasky Robert Wilken (Department of Religious Studies); Jeffrey Grossman (Department of German); Jeffrey Hantman, Daniel Lefkowitz, Rachel Most (Department of Anthropology); William Quandt (Department of Politics); Allison Booth, Eleanor Kaufman, Victor Luftig, James Nohrnberg Caroline Rody (Department of English); Judith Shatin (Department of Music); Johanna Drucker (New Media); Elissa Rosenberg (Landscape Architecture); and Hanna Maschler (Hebrew).

Students Students who major and minor in Jewish Studies go un to a variety of careers, becoming educators, writers, community leaders, family-educators, healthcare professionals, chaplains, ethicists, rabbis, cantors, clergy, lawyers; some go into media, non-profit organizations, urban planning, museum work, foreign affairs, publishing and social services.

Requirements for the Major U.Va. undergraduates with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 are welcome to declare a Jewish Studies major. The major shall consist of 10 courses plus a minimum of two semesters of Modern or Biblical Hebrew.


The two semesters of Hebrew shall be taken as follows:

If the student has fulfilled the College's foreign language requirement with Hebrew or places out of HEBR 202 no additional Hebrew language is needed.

If the above does not hold, the student must take two semesters of Hebrew. Placement will be assessed by the Hebrew Language faculty. The following sequences are possibilities:
HEBR 101 and 102 OR RELJ 111 and RELJ 112
HEBR 102 and 201 OR RELJ 112 and RELJ 201
HEBR 201 and 202 OR RELJ 201 and RELJ 202
HEBR 202 OR RELJ 202 (only one semester needed if student places into a 202-level course)


  • RELJ 203: The Judaic Tradition (3 credits)
  • JWST 495: Senior Research Seminar (3 credits)

One (1) course from each of the following three (3) categories as approved by the major advisor:

  1. Language and Literature (Departments of English, German, Hebrew) Note: You can count Biblical Hebrew toward your "Language and Literature" requirement if you have fulfilled your Hebrew requirement with Modern Hebrew. If can count a 300 level Hebrew course toward your "Language and Literature" requirement if you have fulfilled your Hebrew requirement with Biblical Hebrew.
  2. History and Society (Departments of Anthropology, Government and History)
  3. Belief and Thought (Department of Religious Studies)

Five (5) additional courses selected as electives in conjunction with the major advisor.

Note: No more than 4 courses toward the major at the 200 level; all others at the 300-level or above.

The Minor in Jewish Studies The minor shall consist of 6 courses totaling 18 credits. CORE COURSES (1) RELJ 203: The Judaic Tradition (3 credits)

One course from two of the following three categories: as approved by the minor advisor:

  • Language and Literature (Departments of English, German, Hebrew)
  • History and Society (Departments of Anthropology, Government and History)
  • Belief and Thought (Department of Religious Studies)

Three additional courses selected as electives in conjunction with the major advisor. No more than 3 courses toward the minor at the 200 level; all others at the 300-level or above.

Distinguished Majors Program in Jewish Studies The Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in Jewish Studies affords qualified students the opportunity to do advanced research, and to receive, at graduation, the honor of distinction, high distinction or highest distinction.

Entry Into the Program Students who meet the following criteria are eligible to participate in the Distinguished Majors Program.

  1. Students qualify for the program if they have achieved an average of 3.4 in all university coursework as well as in all major course work prior to application for the program.
  2. Application should be made to the Director of the Jewish Studies Distinguished Majors Program
  3. Admission into the program will be considered by the program's Committee on Curricular Issues, and the Director of the Distinguished Majors Program.

Requirements for Completion of the Program

  1. Completion of the Hebrew language requirement (minimum of two semesters) and all major requirements (30 credits).
  2. Students must enroll in JWST 497 (directed reading; 3 credits) in the fall semester and JWST 498 (writing; 3 credits) in the spring semester. These courses are in addition to the 30 required credits and the Hebrew language requirement.
  3. Students are responsible for selecting two members from the Jewish Studies faculty to serve as committee members; one member shall serve as the primary reader and chair.
  4. The thesis shall be thirty to fifty pages in length.

Courses The Jewish Studies Program lists the specific courses being offered each semester on the program's website: www.virginia.edu/jewishstudies/

Additional Information For more information contact Vanessa L. Ochs, Ida and Nathan Kolodiz Director of Jewish Studies, PO BOX 400126, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126; (434) 924-6722; vanessa@virginia.edu.

Core Courses


RELJ 203 - (3)
Introduction to Judaic Traditions

JWST 495 - (3)
Senior Majors Seminar in Jewish Studies

Language and Literature (Departments of Anthropology, English, German, Hebrew and Religious Studies)

Reflections of Exile: Jewish Languages and their Communities

AMTR 311 - (3)
Women and Middle Eastern Literatures

ENTC 481 - (3)
Jewish American Fiction

ENSP 580
The Bible

GETR 347 - (3)
Literary Responses to the Holocaust

GETR 351 - (3)
Topics in Yiddish Literature

RELJ 223 - (3)
Jewish Spiritual Journeys

RELJ 256
Classical Sources in the Jewish Tradition/Judaism in Antiquity

RELG 308
Israeli Fiction in Translation

RELJ 309 - (3)
The Prophets

RELJ 383 - (3)

RELJ 391 - (3)
Women and the Bible

RELJ 513 - (3)

RELJ 522
Literary Approaches to Rabbinic Literature

RELJ 595 - (3)
Midrashic Imagination

History and Society (Departments of Anthropology, Government and History)

ANTH 347/747 - (3)
Language and Culture in the Middle East

ANTH 583 - (3)
Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

JWST 352 - (3)
Southern Jewish History and Culture

PLCP 341 - (3)
Politics of Middle East and North Africa

PLCP 541 - (3)
Islam and Democracy in the Middle East

PLIR 365 - (3)
International Relations of the Middle East

HIEU 210
Modern Jewish History

HIEU 213
The Jews of Poland from 1600 to the Present

HIME 201 - (3)
History of the Middle East & North Africa, ca 570-1500

HIME 202 - (3)
History of the Middle East & North Africa since 1500

MEST 496 - (3)
Middle East Studies Seminar

RELJ 204 - (3)
American Judaism

RELJ 224 - (3)
Jewish Ritual

RELJ 322 - (3)
Jews and the Land of Israel

RELJ 337 - (3)
Contemporary Judaisms

Belief and Thought (Department of Religious Studies)

RELG 101 - (3)
Introduction to Western Religions

RELJ 121 - (3)
Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures

RELC 122
Early Christianity and the New Testament

RELJ 203 - (3)
Judaic Traditions

RELJ 204 - (3)
American Judaism

RELC 205 - (3)
History of Christianity I

RELJ 221 - (3)
Special Topics

RELJ 224 - (3)
Jewish Ritual

RELJ 235 - (3)
Jewish Ethics

RELJ 303 - (3)
Historical Jesus

RELJ 307 - (3)
Belief and Ethics after the Holocaust

RELJ 310
Medieval Jewish Theology

RELJ 322 - (3)
Jews and the Land of Israel

RELJ 330 - (3)
Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality

RELJ 331 - (3)
Jewish Law

RELJ 332 - (3)
Judaism: Medicine and Healing

RELJ 333 - (3)
Women and Judaism: Tradition and Change

RELJ 336 - (3)
Judaism and Christianity

RELJ 337 - (3)
Contemporary Judaisms/Jewish Theology after the Holocaust

RELJ 339
Jewish Feminism

RELJ 343
Women in Classical Jewish Sources

RELJ 352
Responses to the Holocaust

RELJ 505 - (3)
Judaism in Antiquity

RELJ 522 - (3)
The Shaping of Rabbinic Tradition

RELJ 523 - (3)
Mod. Jewish Thought: From Phenomenology to Scripture

RELJ 529 - (3)
Seminar in Hebrew Bible

RELG 537
Feasting, Fasting and Faith: Food in Jewish and Christian Traditions

RELJ 530 - (3)
Early Christianity and Classical Judaism


HEBR 101
Introduction to Modern Hebrew I

HEBR 102
Introduction to Modern Hebrew II

HEBR 201
Intermediate Modern Hebrew I

HEBR 202
Intermediate Modern Hebrew II

RELJ 111
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew I

RELJ 112
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew II

RELJ 201
Advanced Readings in Biblical Hebrew I

RELJ 202
Advanced Readings in Biblical Hebrew II

Distinguished Majors Thesis

JWST 497 - (3)
Supervised Research

JWST 498 - (3)
Supervised Research Additional Information


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