Fall Term 2020 Courses

Fall scene
Women of the Wall

JST 201 | Introduction to Judaism
TIME/DAY(S): Mon/Wed, 12noon-1:50pm
CRN: 14633

Judaism is a religion of ancient ties to a foundational text, a land, a people, and a way of life. It is also a world civilization that has undergone surprising changes in its more than 3,000 year history. In this course we will explore the religious beliefs and practices of Judaism, from its Biblical origins to the variety of its modern forms.

No prerequisites required. 

Jewish History 1

JST 317U/HST 317U | Jewish History I: From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
INSTRUCTOR: Loren Spielman
TIME/DAY(S): Tues/Thurs, 10-11:50am
CRN: 14631 / 14833

When does the history of the Jews begin? How reliable is the Bible as a source for Jewish origins? What was life like for Jews living under Greek and Roman rule, during the time of Jesus, or under the first Christian and Muslim empires? This course will answer all these questions, covering the Jewish historical experience from its Biblical origins (circa 1000 BCE) through the end of the first millennium (1000 CE). We will examine diverse forms of Jewish life during antiquity and examine the boundaries of pre-modern Jewish cultural and religious identity. Special attention will also be paid to ancient Jewish literature, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, the Jewish Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Talmud.

This class is the first in a two semester introduction to the study of Jewish history, religion and culture. 

No prerequisites required. 

University Studies cluster: Interpreting the Past.


JST 319U/HST 319U | Rabbinic Culture in the Roman World
INSTRUCTOR: Loren Spielman
TIME/DAY(S): Tues/Thurs, 2-3:50pm
CRN: 14635 / 14834

Come and learn about the beginnings of Judaism! After the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Roman Empire, Jews could no longer practice their traditional sacrifices. From the ashes of this destruction, a new form of Judaism emerged--the form of Judaism that has continued to this day. Instead of a temple and animal sacrifice, this Judaism centered around prayer and study of scripture. In Rabbinc Culture in a Roman World, you will learn about this transformation of Jewish life.  How did these early Jewish sages and scholars called "rabbis" interpret their sacred scriptures? How did they describe their God and what did they think this God required of them? How did these early rabbis experience life in the Roman Empire? How did they react and respond to the growth and spread of a new religion, Christianity? And how did they relate to other Jews who may not have shared their views? By reading classical Jewish texts from the Talmud, the Mishnah and rabbinic midrash collections of the third through the sixth century, this course answers some of these compelling questions. No prior experience is necessary. All texts will be studied in translation.

University Studies cluster: Interpreting the Past.

Author Sholem Aleichem

ENG 330U | Jewish and Israeli Literature
INSTRUCTOR: Michael Weingrad
CRN: 11182

This course looks at the Jewish encounter with modernity through literature.  The focus will be on literature produced by East European Jews in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period of great upheaval reflected in the emerging modern Hebrew and Yiddish literatures of the time.  We will read works by such classic modern Jewish authors as Sholem Aleichem, S. Y. Agnon, and H. N. Bialik.  In the second half of the course we will sample literature produced after the 1930s, including Israeli literature and literature produced outside of Eastern Europe.

University Studies clusters: Global Perspectives and Popular Culture

Miss Israel 2013

JST 335U | Sex, Love and Gender in Israel
INSTRUCTOR: Nina Spiegel
TIME/DAY(S): Tuesday and Thursday, 12:00-1:50 p.m.
CRN: 14816

This course examines intersections of gender and nationalism; the role of masculinity in Israeli society; conceptions of femininity, sex, love, beauty, work, and motherhood; and the impact of gender on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In exploring these themes, we will investigate the history and experiences of a diverse array of women in Israel, including Jewish women of European, Middle Eastern, North African, and Ethiopian descent; Christian and Muslim Israeli Arab and Palestinian women; and foreign workers from locations such as Thailand and the Philippines. Topics include the relationship between gender and religion, culture, ethnicity, and politics. 

No prerequisites are required. 

Note: This course can serve as an elective for the major in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), and is also on the Advisor-approved list for International Studies’ Middle East regional focus.

University Cluster: Gender and Sexualities Studies

Yad Vashem Hall of Names

JST 380U/HST 380U | The Holocaust
INSTRUCTOR: Nichola Farron
CRN: 14634 / 14831

This course will provide you with an introduction and insight into the series of historical events undertaken by Nazi Germany and its Allies that have come to be known as The Holocaust. This will include investigating the origins and background of these events, as well as the methods and processes of discriminating identified victim groups that culminated in organized mass murder. By examining the roots of Nazism and the ideological policies that shaped this period, you will have a broad understanding of the history of the Holocaust. This course will illustrate the social and political actions that shaped the Holocaust, and explore the key individuals and groups that were affected. In addition, lectures will explore the impact that the events of the Holocaust continue to have in terms of memorialization and remembrance. 


University Studies cluster: Global Perspectives.

Bye Bye Braverman

FILM 384U | Topics in American Cinema and Culture: The Jewish American Experience
INSTRUCTOR: Michael Weingrad
CRN: 11305

The Jewish experience in the United States has been reflected, celebrated, and challenged in American cinema since the beginning of the sound era—which began with the release of The Jazz Singer, a blockbuster film about a cantor’s son torn between American success and Jewish tradition. In this course we will examine and critique cinematic representations of the American Jewish story, looking at immigration, Americanization, suburbia, antisemitism, politics, race, faith, and nostalgia. Films include Hester Street, Avalon, The Way We Were, State and Main, Fiddler on the Roof, Bye Bye Braverman, the documentaries Town Bloody Hall and Arguing the World, and Yiddish classics Uncle Moses and Tevye the Dairyman. 

University Studies clusters: American Identities and Examining Popular Culture

This course fulfills the BA Fine and Performing Arts requirement

memorial wall with flower

HST 494/594 | Public History Seminar: Museums and Memory in the U.S. and Israel
INSTRUCTOR: Nina Spiegel
TIME/DAY(S): Mon 2:00-4:50pm
CRN: 15004

How is national memory formed? What is the role of memory in shaping a nation's sense of identity? Incorporating field trips to local museums, this seminar examines the relationship between national history, memory, and museums in Israel and the United States.  We will investigate cultural debates that take place over the presentation of national history at public sites. Providing a comparative approach, we will explore the ethos of national memory and the politics of cultural memory.

No prerequisites are required. 

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Hebrew Language Courses at PSU

Learning the Hebrew language will open you to the complexities of a culture that is as passionate about art, media, and technology as it is about history and archaeology.  Modern Hebrew is a language that is written in the same alphabet as the Hebrew Bible, and uses mostly the same words and grammatical structures, but oftentimes with different meanings.  How does Modern Hebrew maintain continuity with an ancient language and yet stay viable in the realities of the 21st century? By using grammar creatively and coining new vocabulary to express modern concepts. The result is a language that is poetic, multi-layered, dynamic, and expressive.


Israeli fruit stand

HEBREW 201 | Second-Year Hebrew
INSTRUCTOR: Sharon Erez-Shai
TIME/DAY(S):  Mondays and Wednesdays, 10-11:50am

HEB 201 emphasizes modern media Hebrew. Translation and writing. Recommended prerequisite: Heb 103. For non-native speakers of Hebrew only. This is the first course in a sequence of three: HEB 201, HEB 202, HEB 203. 

magazine cover in Hebrew

HEB  301 | Third-Year Hebrew
INSTRUCTOR: Sharon Erez-Shai
TIME/DAY(S): Mondays and Wednesdays, 12-1:50 pm


HEB 301 emphasizes modern media Hebrew. Translation and writing. Recommended prerequisite: Heb 203. For non-native speakers of Hebrew only. This is the first course in a sequence of three: HEB 301, HEB 302, HEB 303.