University of Southern California

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Judaic Studies

Hebrew Union College —Jewish Institute of Religion
3077 University Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 765-2113
FAX: (213) 747-6128,

Chair: Leah Hochman, Ph.D.

Liaison: Carol Sofer


Professors: Reuven Firestone, Ph.D.; Bruce Phillips, Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Sarah Benor, Ph.D; Joshua Garroway, Ph.D.; Sharon Gillerman, Ph.D.; Leah Hochman, Ph.D.; Joshua Holo, Ph.D.; Dvora Weisberg, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor: Lynn Kaye, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor: Yaffa Weisman, Ph.D.

Lecturer: Hagit Arieli-Chai, M.A.Ed.

Judaic Studies is offered by the Louchheim School for Judaic Studies, administrated by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, an independent college adjacent to the USC campus. Students registering for classes in the program do so through the regular USC registration process. They receive regular course credit and their degrees from USC. Hebrew courses may be used to fulfill graduation requirements in a foreign language; courses which meet humanities general education requirements may be used as electives or may be used for major or minor credit with the approval of an adviser.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion with Emphasis in Judaic Studies

A Bachelor of Arts in Religion with an area of emphasis in Judaic Studies is offered cooperatively by the School of Religion and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Program requirements are listed in this catalogue under Religion.

Bachelor of Arts in Middle East Studies

See the Department of Middle East Studies for a complete listing of requirements.

Minor in Judaic Studies

The minor in Judaic Studies provides the opportunity for in-depth study of Jewish history, literature, politics, culture, religion, sociology and gender studies using approaches developed through multidisciplinary approaches. Courses offered cover a broad time span — the ancient Near East to contemporary America — and they challenge and stimulate students to examine and learn about Jewish culture as a topic of scientific interest.

For the minor, 20 units in Judaic Studies and Religion are required. The following courses are required: REL 301 and JS 180. Three additional courses may be chosen from among JS 321, JS 340, JS 361, JS 375, JS 382, JS 383, JS 415 and REL 312. Successful completion of five 4-unit courses or the equivalent in Jewish American Studies is required to qualify for the minor.

Minor in Jewish American Studies

The minor in Jewish American Studies offers the opportunity to study the experiences and cultures of the American Jewish community in relation to those of other American peoples. For the minor, 20 units of American Studies and Judaic Studies are required.

core requirements units
AMST 202 Interethnic Diversity in the West 4
JS 300 American Jewish History 4
Three courses from the following:
AMST 301 America, the Frontier, and the New West 4
AMST 350 Junior Seminar in American Studies and Ethnicity: Theories and Methods 4
JS 330 Jewish Power, Powerlessness, and Politics in the Modern Era 4
JS 381 The Jew in American Society 4
JS 382 Judaism as an American Religion 4
JS 383 Jews in American Popular Culture 4
JS 415 The American Jewish Experience in Film 4
JS 428 Blacks and Jews: Conflicts and Alliances 4

Minor in Middle East Studies

See the Department of Middle East Studies.

Courses of Instruction

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

Hebrew (HEBR)

HEBR 120 Hebrew I (4, FaSpSm) Focuses on the acquisition of proficiency and communicative skills in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension as well as cultural literacy.

HEBR 150 Hebrew II (4, FaSpSm) A continuation of Hebrew I. Offers a higher level of skill development in reading, writing and conversation. Prerequisite: HEBR 120.

HEBR 220 Hebrew III (4, Fa) Continuation of Hebrew II; stress on grammar, composition, and conversation. Prerequisite: HEBR 150.

HEBR 315 Modern Hebrew Language (Hebrew IV) (4, Sp) Examines Hebrew in depth and introduces students to Modern Hebrew literature through major poems, novels and films from the 20th and 21st centuries. Prerequisite: HEBR 220.

Judaic Studies (JS)

JS 100gp Jewish History (4, Fa) Major ideas, personalities, and movements in Jewish history from antiquity to the present in light of the interaction of the Jews with the general culture.

JS 180p Introduction to Judaism (4, Sp) Jewish beliefs, practices, and history from the biblical period to the present; Judaic contributions to Western civilization.

JS 211gw The Holocaust (4, FaSp) Historical background and responses to the Holocaust, with special emphasis on ethical implications.

JS 214 Zionism, Israel, and the Modern World (4, Fa) Ideas about nationalism, Zionism, and society-building; emphasis on self-definition in the Jewish state.

JS 258gp Food, Faith and Conflict (4, Sp) Investigates how food and food traditions create and cross religious and social conflicts between Jews, Christians and Muslims by exploring faith, practice, thought and ethics.

JS 300 American Jewish History (4, Fa) Patterns of immigration, acculturation, religious forms, and ethnic expression in America from the colonial period to the present.

JS 314gp Holy War And History: Jews, Christians, Muslims (4, Sp) Investigates the engagement in war by Judaism, Christianity and Islam by examining history and theology and looks at religious justifications and condemnations of war.

JS 321 Gender and Judaism (4, FaSp) An investigation into the ways in which gender has structured Jewish religious, social, political and intellectual life from the Biblical period through the present.

JS 330 Jewish Power, Powerlessness, and Politics in the Modern Era (4, FaSp) Explores the relationship between the Jewish people and political powers. Topics include politics in exile, changing relationships to power, and relations with the modern nation-state.

JS 340 Modern Jewish History (4, FaSp) A survey of the major trends and themes of modern Jewish history. Examination of Jewish culture, society and politics from the Spanish Expulsion to the Second World War. Recommended preparation: JS 100.

JS 342 Reading in Two Directions: Connecting Law and Literature in Jewish Tradition (4) Investigates understandings of law, legal interpretation and the integration of law and narrative in Jewish texts by exploring how to examine legal and literary texts.

JS 360m Identity, Community, and Service: Jews and Other Americans (4) Examination of relationships between identity, community and service by investigating ethno-religious organizations’ attempts to serve members of their group and confront issues of injustice in society.

JS 361 Scripture and Polemic in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (4, FaSp) Origins of Scriptures and their polemical environments in earliest Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Scripture as polemic and legitimation, and cross-religious/cross-cultural interpretation and argument based on scriptural themes.

JS 362 Terror and Resistance in Literature and the Media (4, Sp) Investigation of the multiple ways that people experience and represent incidents of terror in literature, film, music, and social media.

JS 374 Messiah: The History of an Idea (4, Sp) Exploration of the history of the idea of a messiah in Judaism from antiquity to today.

JS 375 Issues of American Jewish Literature (4) Issues-oriented study of the human experience in America as expressed in the fiction, poetry, drama, memoirs, and literary criticism of America’s Jews, using a dual approach incorporating both literary history and specific issues.

JS 378 Jewish Magic in the Ancient World (4, Sp) A cross-cultural examination of different kinds of magical literature that describe miraculous practices in Jewish mainstream and marginal life in the ancient and classical periods.

JS 379gm Mixing and Matching: Intermarriage in the 21st Century (4, Sp) An investigation into inter-ethnic, interracial, and inter-religious marriage in the 21st century.

JS 381 The Jew in American Society (4, FaSp) The changing sociological profile of the American Jew and changing organization of the American Jewish community as they developed over the 19th and 20th centuries.

JS 382 Judaism as an American Religion (4) The development of American expressions of Judaism as part of the American religious context, from the perspective of the social scientific study of religion.

JS 383 Jews in American Popular Culture (4, FaSp) Social and cultural history of American Jewish contributions to the arts, science, literature, economics and politics.

JS 389 Culture and Society in Israel: Inventing the Dream (4, Sp) Examination of the social forces that shaped and continue to shape culture and society in contemporary Israel.

JS 390 Special Problems (1–4) Supervised, individual studies. No more than one registration permitted. Enrollment by petition only.

JS 415 The American Jewish Experience in Film (4) A survey of American Jewish history through the medium of film, with particular emphasis on the experience of the post-war generation.

JS 428 Blacks and Jews: Conflicts and Alliances (4, Sp) Examination of the relationship between the American Jewish and African-American communities and what it teaches about race and coalition politics in American society.

JS 467 Modern Jewish Thought (4, Sp) Foundations of modern Jewish thought from the Western European Enlightenment to the present.

JS 490x Directed Research (1–8, max 12) Individual research and readings. Not available for graduate credit.

JS 499 Special Topics (4) Selected topics in Judaic Studies.

JS 501abc Bible Texts (4-4-4, FaSp) a: Advanced grammar and reading. An introduction to principles of form criticism as applied to selected narrative and legal portions of the Pentateuch. b: A critical evaluation of the biblical books of Amos and Hosea with a view to gaining an appreciation of the prophets’ literary skill, their religious motivations, and the originality of their thought. c: Critical readings in each of the biblical books of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Song of Songs, with a view toward gaining an appreciation of their literary and religious values. Knowledge of Hebrew required.

JS 504 Modern Hebrew Literature (3, Fa) Reading of unvocalized texts primarily from modern Hebrew literature. A survey of the development of modern Hebrew literature, with an emphasis on short story and poetry. Knowledge of Hebrew required.

JS 590 Directed Research (1–12) Research leading to the master’s degree. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department. Graded CR/NC.

JS 680 Boundaries of Jewish Normative Behavior (4, Sp) Institutions claiming Jewish authenticity and their treatment of Jews perceived to be deviant.