Judaic Studies

Department of Classics

College of Arts and Sciences
338 MFAC
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14261-0026

Phone: 716.645.2154, X108
Fax: 716.645.2225
Web: www.classics.buffalo.edu

Samuel M. Paley
Director

About the Program

�This area of study is available as a special major or minor through the College of Arts and Sciences. It is not a separately registered degree program. Refer to the Special Majors section for more information.

Judaic studies provides undergraduate students with a comprehensive view of the development of Jewish life since its beginning 3,300 years ago. The courses explore the history, culture, and accomplishments of world Jewry in particular, while seeking in general to discover how a religion can survive for more than three millennia. Because the experience of the Jews has spanned many cultures, students must develop interdisciplinary tools for analyzing Jewish lifestyles, both ancient and modern, while pursuing this major.

The interdisciplinary nature of Judaic studies, and the fact that it is currently available as a special major, means that creative, motivated students can develop an individualized course of study to suit their own needs and interests. The Special Major Committee must approve a special major in Judaic studies.

Degree Options

A minimum of twelve courses is required to fulfill this major, half of which must be in one of the subject areas. A minimum of seven courses is required to fulfill the minor, including one full year of modern Hebrew.

Course Descriptions

HEB 101 Elementary Modern Hebrew 1

Credits:  5
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LAB

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The first stage in learning Modern Hebrew - Reading, writing and elementary grammar. At this level, students become familiar with a basic vocabulary of 400 words, around which conversational exercises and classroom learning are built. A cultural segment makes the learning process relevant.

HEB 102 Elementary Modern Hebrew 2

Credits:  5
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  HEB 101 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LAB

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Encourages improvement of reading and writing skills, and conversation. Studies complex verbal patterns and daily use of the language in an Israeli setting.

HEB 201 Intermediate Hebrew 1

Credits:  5
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  HEB 102 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Involves review and mastery of materials learned in HEB 101 and HEB 102. Concentrates on reading and discussing newspaper articles, writing letters and filling out forms and documents (job applications, postal claim forms, and so forth) which are useful for travel. Stresses understanding of basic cultural patterns.

HEB 202 Intermediate Hebrew 2

Credits:  5
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  HEB 201 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Concentrates on review and mastery of material learned in HEB 201. Continuation of irregular verbs and verbal patterns. Stresses oral comprehension and speech, reading, and discussion of newspaper articles.

JDS 101 Introduction to Jewish History

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Major political, social, and theological trends in Jewish history, from the formation of ancient Israel until the present day.

JDS 102 Crises in Jewish History

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Six issues in Jewish history and their impact on the development of Judaism and the Jewish community; analyzes the resilience and adaptability of a people under stress.

JDS 111 Great Jewish Books

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Introduces and analyzes great works of Jewish literature from ancient to modern times: the Bible, Talmud; Guide for the Perplexed; poetry of the golden age in Spain; the great moderns, such as Agnon.

JDS 112 Women in the Jewish Family

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Comparative contemporary social and psychological studies of women intermingle with rabbinic ones in an endeavor to bring into sharper focus women's status, social roles, behavior, and impact on Jewish life; the Jewish woman in historical perspective, drawing upon oriental, European, and modern American societies.

JDS 141 Introduction to Yiddish I

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Students acquire the fundamentals of the sound system of Yiddish structure and basic reading and writing skills.

JDS 142 Introduction to Yiddish II

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  JDS 141
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Second semester of introductory course.

JDS 201 Israel and the Ancient Near East

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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People of the Bible; the environment in which they lived; what they absorbed and rejected from Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, Iran, Egypt.

JDS 202 Israel and the Emergence of Judaism

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Post-biblical Jews and Judaism; their adaptation to Greco-Roman life; rise of Jewish sectarianism; writing of the Talmud.

JDS 203 Introduction to Judaism

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Judaism and the rich Jewish legacy: basic philosophical, theological, social, and political values of Judaism.

JDS 204 Seminar in Jewish Ethics

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  SEM

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Ethical principles of Judaism: love, justice, holiness, freedom of will, dignity of humans, purpose of life, imitatio dei, family life, education, social welfare, race, and ecology.

JDS 205 Historical Geography and Archaeology of Israel

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Methods and results of excavation in Israel; development of material culture (pottery, architecture, and so forth) and its interpretation.

JDS 206 Chassidic Philosophy

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Unity of God; purpose of life; love and fear of God; significance of Jewish ritual holidays according to the various Chassidic groups.

JDS 207 Women in Jewish Society

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  JDS 112 or JDS 209
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Status of women in the structure of Jewish law. Emphasizes the variety of stresses, both legal and social, placed on Jewish women from ancient times to the contemporary world.

JDS 209 Women in Jewish Literature

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Woman's role in classical Jewish literature; Pentateuchal narrative, Chronicles, Song of Songs, and the books of Ruth and Esther.

JDS 210 Introduction to the Old Testament

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Critical, thematic, historic, and literary study of the roots of Judeo-Christian tradition as recorded in the Law, Prophets, and the Writings of ancient Israel; different methods of biblical criticism.

JDS 214 The American Jewish Woman

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Relationships and conflicts that shaped the identity of the American Jewish woman: Jewish women and the American women�s rights movement; immigrant Jewish women and labor activism; impact of feminism on Judaism.

JDS 225 Modern Jewish Thought

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Concerns of Jewish religion today: faith, practice, Israel, the Holocaust, science, and the deity - according to Hermann Cohen, Leo Baeck, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Abraham Heschel, and Mordecai Kaplan.

JDS 229 The Jew in Medieval Times

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Poets, philosophers, mathematicians, bankers, traders: how they and their families lived within and outside the ghettos of the Middle East and Europe.

JDS 230 Modern Jewish History

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Jewish experience from 1770 to the present day; ethnic origins and backgrounds of contemporary Jewry in the United States, Canada, and Israel.

JDS 235 The American Jewish Experience

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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American Jewish life from colonial beginnings to the present: immigration; assimilation; social mobility; education and the family; group identity.

JDS 237 History of Israel and Zionism

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Development of the Zionist idea and its implementation; Israel and its historic purpose as a center of religious and political hope.

JDS 242 Hebrew Literature in Translation

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Readings of the major Hebrew authors from the Haskalah (nineteenth-century Hebrew language renaissance) until today's writers in Israel and America. Themes emphasize cultural survival and other current topics in Hebrew literature.

JDS 250 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Credits:  5
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Reading and understanding the Hebrew Bible without recourse to complicated grammatical exegeses; stresses fundamentals, not the problems of the language.

JDS 253 Ethics of the Jewish Bible

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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An in-depth look at key biblical events, including the creation, humans' first sin, the sin of the golden calf. What do these events mean? What is their symbolic significance?

JDS 254 Rashi's Commentaries on the Bible

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Rashi's interpretive methods as compared to those of Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, and the Kimchis.

JDS 255 Aggada: Jewish Story Line

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Jewish folklore elements as presented in the Talmud, Midrash, and later rabbinic literature: stories, riddles, parables, homilies, proverbs, songs, and aphorisms about and of the rabbis.

JDS 260 Midrash: Rabbinic Exegesis

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  JDS 229 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Surveys the fascinating and creative literary devices and novel interpretation of Biblical narratives by Talmudic Age of the rabbinic scholars.

JDS 261 Responsa Literature

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  JDS 229 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Surveys the Responsa literature that answers every day life questions and that began in the post-Talmudic period and has continued to flourish until the present.

JDS 262 Topics in Hebrew Language and Literature

Credits:  3
Semester: F Sp
Prerequisites:  Permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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The content of this course is variable and therefore it is repeatable for credit. The University Grade Repeat Policy does not apply.

Complements the offerings of Judaic Studies. Hebrew grammar or that of other Semitic languages (not Arabic) and reading of various periods' literary texts in the original tongue.

JDS 265 Readings in the Hebrew Bible

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  JDS 250 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Readings of selected literature in the Hebrew Bible.

JDS 266 Minor Hebrew Prophets

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  JDS 265 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Book of Amos and other minor prophets in Hebrew; analyzes the style of Hebrew prophecy; grammatical exercises to improve and reinforce knowledge of syntax and vocabulary construction.

JDS 267 Wisdom Literature in the Hebrew Bible

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  JDS 265 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Selections from the books of Proverbs and Psalms in Hebrew illustrating the styles of this type of didactic literature, Hebrew Bible, and poetry.

JDS 280 Jewish Mysticism

Credits:  3
Semester: F
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Jewish outlook concerning the mysteries of creation, the mystical concepts of the soul, reincarnation.

JDS 283 The Holocaust and Jewish Law

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Full range of legal and ethical problems posed during the Holocaust and the precedent-setting decisions set down in the Responsa literature.

JDS 284 Israel and Jewish Law

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Introduces a full range of legal, ethical, and theological issues that surround the status of biblical and talmudic Israel; legal and theological questions that emerge and reemerge at the establishment of a modern Jewish state.

JDS 285 Talmudic Law

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  SEM

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Introduces various processes, synthetic and analytic, out of which Jewish law developed its intricate legal systems.

JDS 288 Old Testament Prophets

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  SEM

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Prophetic vision of the Old Testament and its relations to life realities of the people of Israel - personal; social; political. Uses biblical texts in translation.

JDS 295 Development of Jewish Law

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Historical, sociological, and legal concerns in early and later rabbinic literature that led to an understanding of the trends of Jewish legal history through the centuries.

JDS 296 Jewish Business Ethics

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Surveys Jewish business attitudes from the perspective of Jewish law and ethics. Familiarizes students with the history and development of Jewish business law and ethics, and introduces them to a comparative study of Jewish and American law relating to business and economic issues.

JDS 302 Art and Archaeology of Ancient Assyria

Credits:  3
Semester: Sp
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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The history and development of ancient Assyrian culture; focuses on how individual strains of different cultures in the variegated peoples that make up the ancestry and contemporaries of the historical Assyrians can be reworked by these ancient peoples to create a sense of common heritage; the relationship between ancient Assyria and biblical history.

JDS 304 Mesopotamian Archaeology

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  None
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Studies the masterpieces of the architecture, painting, and sculpture of the societies that lived in the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys until the era of the Persian Empire.

JDS 382 Topics in Talmudic Law

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  JDS 283, or JDS 284, or JDS 285, or JDS 295, or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Specialized studies of how specific Jewish laws developed and their relationship to intricate legal systems, including civil and ritual law in Judaism.

JDS 384 Maimonides: His Life and Works

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  junior status
Corequisites:  None
Type:  SEM

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Maimonides' life in Spain, Palestine, and Egypt; Maimonides and Aristotelian philosophy; the Mishnah Torah, the Guide for the Perplexed, and the Thirteen Principles of Faith.

JDS 385 Maimonides: The Guide for the Perplexed

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  JDS 384 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Uses the actual text as a foundation for this course as fundamental issues of Judaism are viewed through the eyes of Maimonides.

JDS 391 The Feminine in Kabbalah

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  JDS 280 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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Examines the symbolic position of the feminine in Jewish mystical tradition through intensive, close reading of primary sources of kabbalistic texts, many of which have not yet been translated into English. The instructor translates and provides photocopies of several of these readings.

JDS 396 Jewish Medical Ethics

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  junior status
Corequisites:  None
Type:  SEM

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Jewish moral, ethical, and religious principles in medical practice: use of Jewish legal response to abortion; definition of death; euthanasia; contraception; sterilization; semen testing; artificial insemination; circumcision; organ transplants; sex changes; religious observations in the hospital.

JDS 399 Redemption in Jewish Thought

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  junior status
Corequisites:  None
Type:  LEC

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A comprehensive study of Judaism's view of redemption and the world to come.

JDS 401 Aspects of American Jewish History

Credits:  3
Semester:
Prerequisites:  JDS 235 or permission of instructor
Corequisites:  None
Type:  SEM

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Selected topics in American Jewish history emphasizing the period since the East European migration (1890s); reciprocal impact of America on Jews and that of Jews on the cultural development of the United States.

Updated: Apr 12, 2006 11:48:40 AM