Jewish Studies

Professor:  Elman, Haus (Director), Monselise, Petrey, Sederberg

The Jewish Studies Concentration at Kalamazoo College immerses students in the history, religion, and culture of the Jewish people.  Exploring these subjects engages students of all backgrounds in important intellectual and ethical issues, such as:

  • majority/minority relations
  • identity formation
  • the relationship between the religious and the secular

Students receive training in textual traditions, teaching them to read beyond the page and to consider the broader impact of the written word. As an interdisciplinary field, Jewish Studies intersects with different areas of the liberal arts. It also enables students to wrestle with ideas of social justice in historical, political, religious, and cultural contexts.  In this way, Jewish Studies concentrators become morally aware and socially engaged scholars.

Requirements for the Concentration in Jewish Studies

Number of Units

Six units are required.

Required Course

HIST/RELG 107, Introduction to Jewish Traditions


5 additional courses from the following list:

  • HEBR 101 Beginning Hebrew
  • HEBR 102 Beginning Hebrew II
  • HEBR 103 Intermediate Hebrew
  • HIST/RELG 218 The American Jewish Experience
  • HIST/RELG 263 Jews in a Changing Europe, 1750-1880
  • HIST/RELG 264 Jewish Revolutions, 1881-1967
  • HIST/RELG 265 Zionism: from Idea to State
  • HIST/RELG 267 Women and Judaism
  • HIST/RELG/SEMN 268 Jews on Film
  • POLS 330 The Politics of the Holocaust
  • POLS 335 The Politics of Contemporary Antisemitism
  • RELG 110 Introduction to the New Testament
  • RELG 111 From Jesus to Christianity
  • RELG 160 Hebrew Bible
  • RELG 210 Sex and the Bible
  • RELG 211 From Alexander to Constantine
  • RELG 214 Race and the Bible

Hebrew studies are recommended, but not required, for the concentration.

Note: New courses related to Jewish Studies may be approved throughout the year that are not on the elective list. Students are encouraged to ask the Program Director for permission to count such courses as electives for the concentration. Additional special topics one-time course offerings may count as electives depending on content (e.g. HIST, RELG); please discuss the suitability of these courses with the Program Director.

Study Abroad

Concentrators are encouraged (but not required) to consider Study Abroad programs that will expand their knowledge in Jewish Studies.  These include programs at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, as well as several European sites.  The Israel programs provide opportunities to study Middle Eastern affairs as well as aspects of Jewish culture that complement the course offerings at the College.  Students are encouraged to discuss their academic plans with the director in advance of studying abroad, as certain courses may count toward the concentration.

Hebrew Language Courses

HEBR 101 Beginning Hebrew First in a three-course sequence of study. This course is an introduction to the Modern Israeli Hebrew language. Hebrew alphabet in both print and script, pronunciation of unique sounds within the language, vocabulary and fundamental grammar structures will be introduced. Beginning reading, writing and speaking skills emphasized. Prerequisite: Placement exam if student has had prior experience with Hebrew. None, or placement exam score if student has had prior experience with Hebrew.
HEBR 102 Beginning Hebrew II Second in a three-course sequence, this course follows Beginning Hebrew I, focusing on the continued development of basic comprehension and communication skills. By the end of this course students should able to respond to simple questions, to understand simple statements and to participate in simple conversations. Students will also be able to write short paragraphs about themselves and some limited topics. Prerequisite: HEBR-101 or language placement exam. HEBR-101 or placement score.
HEBR 103 Beginning Hebrew III Third in a three-course sequence, this course follows HEBR 102, building on the basics already learned as well as improving vocabulary, language nuance and verb conjugation skills. By the end of this course students will have reached the intermediate level and should be able to participate in more complex conversations, be able to read short stories and express themselves more clearly. Prerequisite: HEBR-102 or language placement exam. HEBR-102 or placement score.
HEBR 600 Teaching Assistantship