Courses 2020-2021

Spring 2021 Undergraduate Courses

Jewish Studies 39

“Holy Fanfiction: Retelling Stories from the Bible and Quran”

Instructor: Madeline Wyse
CN# 25795
Meeting Time: Mon/Wed 4:00p to 5:00p;
Location: Online
Units: 2

Jews and Muslims of the medieval Islamic world produced a vast literature reimagining and embellishing the tales of famous biblical and quranic figures like Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David. This “holy fanfiction” ranges from poems to romances, mystic parables to cutting satire. It grapples with thorny theological issues, as well as other contemporary concerns, from gender relations to coping with life as a religious minority. We will read and analyze a selection of these tales and pay particular attention to the ways they complicate conceptual boundary lines that we might have taken for granted: the line between Jews and Muslims, between popular culture and scholarly culture, between piety and entertainment.

Jewish Studies 39

“Queering the Talmud”

Instructor: Chloë Piazza
CN# 32469
Meeting Time: Tuesdays 4:00p to 6:00p;
Location: Online
Units: 2

This course will provide a foundation in Talmud both from historical and cultural perspectives as well as by way of studying and becoming intimate with the text itself. Students will engage in ongoing rigorous study of a Talmudic sugya using a queer theoretical lens with a focus on teasing out radical rabbinic methodologies for subverting and upending the status quo. In order to promote coherence between the content and course format, students will be encouraged to learn at their own pace, to trust their intuitions which approaching unfamiliar material, to embody traditional modes of Talmudic study in chevrusa partnerships, and to move towards empowerment and ownership over the material. All levels welcome; no prior knowledge or experience necessary.

Instructor bio: Instructor Chloë (Zissel) Piazza is a PhD student in Near Eastern Studies with Designated Emphases in Jewish Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies. They are a teacher of Yiddish and Talmud and love learning and employing radical pedagogical methods.

Jewish Studies 121A*

“Holocaust Museums in Israel and the World”

Instructor: Stephanie Rotem
Mondays/Wednesdays 5:00p to 6:30p;
Location: Online
CN# 32428
Units: 4

*JS 121A is eligible for the Historical Studies, L&S Breadth requirements through petition
*JS 121A is eligible for the Social & Behavioral Sciences, L&S Breadth requirements through petition

Holocaust museums have become, over the past years, one of the most popular mediums of Holocaust commemoration. This course will explore the history, exhibitions, and design of various Holocaust museums around the world, and study their social, cultural and political agendas. This examination will reveal their role and responsibility in Holocaust commemoration. In order to understand the museum mechanism and the ways in which it constructs social agendas and memory, we will begin the course by studying the history of museums from ancient history to the present. This history will explain how museum exhibitions have changed from displaying treasures to disseminating ideas, strengthening national or community identity, and constructing memory of historical events. We will then study the development of Holocaust museums, from the first museum that was built on a remote kibbutz in Israel, through the establishment of prominent National museums, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. We will examine the process that led to the museums’ foundation, the social and political motives behind them, and their exhibitions, architecture and design.

Instructor bio: Visiting professor and architect, Stephanie Shosh Rotem is a graduate of Tel Aviv University. She received in PhD in 2010 in the Program for Interdisciplinary Arts, and her doctorate was published in 2013, as “Constructing Memory: Architectural Narratives of Holocaust Museums.” From 2011 to 2017, Rotem was Head of the Museum Studies Program at Tel Aviv University. She also taught graduate courses in Tel Aviv’s Faculty of the Arts and in the International Program for Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa. In 2018-19 she was a visiting professor for Israel Studies at the University of Virginia. Rotem lectures and publishes on architectural history, museum history and architecture, and Holocaust museums.

Jewish Studies 121A*

“Tel Aviv: A City from the Sands”

Instructor: Stephanie Rotem
Tuesdays/Thursdays 12:30p to 2:00p;   Location: Online
CN# 32429
Units: 4

*JS 121A is eligible for the Historical Studies, L&S Breadth requirements through petition
*JS 121A is eligible for the Social & Behavioral Sciences, L&S Breadth requirements through petition

This course will follow the history of Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew city, from its birth in 1909 as “a city from the sands,” to its present position as a global metropolis. Tel Aviv, planned as a Garden City, quickly became the center of political and cultural activity in Eretz, Israel. We will study various aspects of the city’s life: architecture, urban planning, culture, politics and the arts. This examination will include the study of photography, art works and exhibitions, poetry and popular songs, performance, theatre, and film.

Jewish Studies 122*

“Contemporary Judaism in Israel: Swaying Religion and Nationality”

Instructor: Tomer Persico
Tues/Thurs 9:30a to 11:00a;   Location: Online
CN# 24898
Units: 4

*JS 122 satisfies the Philosophy & Values, L&S Breadth requirements

This course shall study the divergent forms of Judaism in Israel since the 1990’s, apprehending the ideological and social fluctuations each stream has experienced over the last three decades as it parted from its previous formulations, and noting the way every major expression of Judaism in Israel at this time is in the midst of an identity crisis. It will also examine the tense relations between religion and state in Israel, analyzing the clashes and concurrences between different Israeli-Jewish identities and explaining Religious Jewish radicalism on the one hand, and the secular/spiritual “Jewish Renaissance” on the other.

Instructor Bio: Tomer Persico is the Koret Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish and Israel Studies, Dept. of Near Eastern Studies, Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, Center for Jewish Studies at U. C. Berkeley. Persico is also the Shalom Hartman Institute Bay Area Scholar in Residence. He has taught for eight years at the Department for Comparative Religion in Tel-Aviv University, and his fields of study are contemporary spirituality, Jewish Renewal, Forms of secularization and trends of secularization and religiosity in Israel. His book, The Jewish Meditative Tradition was published by Tel Aviv University Press in 2016.

Jewish Studies 122A*

“Topics in Judaism: Lit & History in Hebrew Bible”

Instructor: Hendel/Alter
Tues/Thurs 11:00a-12:30p;   Location: Online
CN# 31153
Units: 4

*JS 122A meets Arts and Literature, L&S Breadth requirements through petition

A course on trends in Jewish religious, cultural, and social life. Our understanding of the Hebrew Bible has been transformed in recent years due to insights from literary criticism, anthropology, archaeology, and historiography. This course explores the impact of these innovations and provides a multilayered introduction to the writings of the Hebrew Bible, focused on the mingling of memory, religion, and the literary imagination.

Hebrew 1B:

“Elementary Hebrew”

Instructor: Rutie Adler
M, Tu, W, Th, F 10am-11am, location: online
CN#: 22327
Units: 5

Hebrew 20B:

“Intermediate Hebrew”

Instructor: Rutie Adler
M, TU, W, TH, F 11am-12pm, location: online
CN#: 32572
Units: 5


“History of Modern Israel”

Instructor: Eran Kaplan
M, W, F  1:00p-2:00pm, location: online
CN#: 32436
Units: 4

*HISTORY 100M counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor

This course examines the formation and the development of modern Israel. The course focuses on the historical, social and cultural origins of Zionist ideology, Israel’s founding ideology, as well as on role of the Holocaust; the Arab-Jewish conflict; the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi and secular-religious divide in the development of contemporary Israeli society. Throughout the course students will engage with a variety of primary sources, from historical documents to literary and cinematic works, and a variety of secondary sources. Israel tends to dominate the headlines of media outlets around the world, in this course we will go beyond the headlines and explore from an intellectual and academic perspective the forces and conditions that have shaped the modern Israeli experience. There will be a final paper, rather than a final exam. Instructor Bio: Eran Kaplan is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor in Israel Studies at San Francisco State University. Previously he taught at Princeton, Cincinnati and Toronto. He is the author of several books on Israeli history and culture; the latest, from 2020, is Projecting the Nation: History and Ideology on the Israeli Screen.

Legal Studies 174*

“Comparative Constitutional Law: The Case of Israel”

Instructor: Roy Peled
TU, TH 3:30pm – 5:00pm, location: online
CN# 25148
Units: 4

*LEGALST 174 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor
*LEGALST 174 satisfies Historical Studies, L&S Breadth requirements
*LEGALST 174 satisfies International Studies, L&S Breadth requirements

This course will provide an introduction to constitutional law using Israel as a case study. Topics include: Constitutionalism and judicial review, state neutrality and self-determination, minority rights, state and religion, Human Rights Law, the concept of “defensive democracy” and ban of non-democratic political parties, legal aspects of the fight on terror, freedom of expression, equality and anti-discrimination, social rights, and constitutional limitations on privatization.

Yiddish 102:

“Intermediate Yiddish”

Instructor: Yael Chaver
M, W 10:00am – 12:00pm, location: online
CN#: 24304
Units: 5

*Yiddish 102 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor

Spring 2021 Graduate Courses

Jewish Studies 290:

“Major Themes in Modern Jewish History”

Instructor: John Efron
Time and Location: Wednesdays 10:00a to 12:00p
CN# 32430
Units: 4

This course will examine various trends in Jewish historical scholarship, focusing on the theme of the Jewish confrontation with modernity—especially politics and culture. We will approach the subject matter by looking at the emergence of historical consciousness among modern Jews and then fan out to look at newer developments, adopting a more thematic rather than traditional, geographic approach.
Class Notes:
This seminar will be taught synchronously, via remote instruction. It will meet regularly during the scheduled class times, and students will need to attend those meetings to succeed in the class.

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Courses

Jewish Studies 39* “Escape Artists in Jewish Popular Culture and Literature: Houdini, Kafka, Kirby, Chabon”

Instructor: Oren Yirmiya
CN# 33725
W 3:00 pm – 4:59 pm, location: online
Units: 2

This class explores the art of escape, and the determining role Jewish artists played in its conception and history. Throughout the semester, we will contemplate the social meaning of escapology and its representations in art. We will also discuss the historical circumstances that drove Jewish artists to take part in performative bondage that ties together magic, stunt work, mass entertainment, and anti-fascist sensibilities. By the semester’s end, we will also reflect on the afterlife of escape art, and the ways the creators are remembered in contemporary social consciousness. These endeavors will mostly focus on the life and works of four Jewish artists who performed, wrote, and illustrated the art of escapology: Harry Houdini (1874-1926), Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Jack Kirby (1917-1994), and Michael Chabon (1963- ).

In this exploration, we will see how the trope of escapology allows the creators to challenge social constraints and elude them. As such, this class offers an uncommon insight into 20-century Jewish culture, and the multiple responses Jews had to religious tradition, anti-Semitism, racism, masculinity, gender, and body politics. This class requires no prior knowledge in either Jewish studies or escape art and is open to everybody.

The primary texts we will read through the semester are: A Magician Among the Spirits – Harry Houdini [selections]; “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk,” “A Hunger Artist” – Franz Kafka [short stories]; New Gods, Mister Miracle – Jack Kirby [selected comic book issues]; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay [a novel]. Secondary sources will be added as needed to enrich the reading experience.


Jewish Studies 100* “Jews and Judaism: From Paris to Jerusalem and Beyond”

Instructor: Ethan Katz
CN# 31242
TTH 12:30pm-2:00p, location: online
Units: 4

*JS 100 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor

  • Meets Historical Studies, L&S Breadth
  • Meets Philosophy & Values, L&S Breadth

This class treats France and the Francophone world as a laboratory for the study of Jewish civilization over the past millennium. France has the world’s second largest Jewish population outside of Israel. It has a rich and complex history that traces all the key developments of the Jewish experience since ancient times: expulsions and migrations; codification of Jewish law; religious reform; the rise of anti-Semitism and the tragedy of the Holocaust; struggles between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews; complex relations between Muslims and Jews; the emergence modern Jewish politics; and the impact of the Israeli-Arab conflict. As we explore these themes and other themes, students become introduced to most fields of Jewish studies.


Jewish Studies 120* “Jewish Folktales Around the World: Past and Present, Self and Other”

Instructor: Sarah Levin
TTH 11-12:30pm, location: online
Units: 3

*JS 120 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor

*JS 120 satisfies the Arts & Literature, L&S Breadth requirement

In this course, we’ll read a sampling of Jewish folktales and jokes from diverse Jewish communities (Moroccan, Polish, Kurdish, Indian, etc.), while exploring themes such as creativity and artistic expression. We’ll also address gender, individual and group identity and values, and stereotypes.  Movies and guest storytellers will complement discussions.  Students from all majors and backgrounds are welcome.  Conducted in English with readings in English.


Jewish Studies 121* “Music in Israel”

Instructor: Francesco Spagnolo
TTH 12:30-2:00p, location: online
CN# 33279
Units: 4

*JS 121 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor

  • Meets Arts & Literature, L&S Breadth

This course will address topics related to Jewish arts and culture with a format that includes lecture and lab hours.


Jewish Studies 122* “Introduction to Jewish Mysticism”

Instructor: Tomer Persico
MW 2:00p-3:30p, location: online
CN# 25444
Units: 3 or 4
*JS 122 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor

  • Meets International Studies, L&S Breadth
  • Meets Philosophy & Values, L&S Breadth

Beyond the esoteric names of the divine and the meditative practices used to draw Its graces lies the inner pulse of Jewish Mysticism. In this course we shall explore the Jewish mystical tradition, from the Bible, through the Second Temple literature, Kabbalah, Hasidism, and up to contemporary developments. Emphasizing mystical techniques, we will examine the practices through which Jews in different times sought direct connection with the divine.


Hebrew 1A: “Elementary Hebrew”

Instructor: Rutie Adler
M, Tu, W, Th, F 10am-11am, location: online
CN#: 21949
Units: 5


Hebrew 20A: “Intermediate Hebrew”

Instructor: Rutie Adler
M, TU, W, TH, F 11am-12pm, location: online
CN#: 21913
Units: 5


Hebrew 100A: “Advanced Hebrew”

Instructor: Rutie Adler
Tu, Th 12:30pm-2pm, location: online
CN#: 21950
Units: 3

Advanced Hebrew, especially designed for those going on to the study of modern Hebrew literature. Vocabulary building, grammar review, and literary analysis of a sampling of modern texts.

*Hebrew 100A counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor


Hebrew 104A: “I Want to Mix Up the Bible”: The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (in Hebrew)”

Instructor: Chana Kronfeld
M 2pm-5pm, location: online
CN#: 21914
Units: 3

A close reading of selected works of modern Hebrew fiction, poetry, and drama in their cultural and historical contexts. Topics vary from year to year and include literature and politics, eros and gender, memory and nationalism, Middle-Eastern and European aspects of Israeli literature and culture.

*Hebrew 104A counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor


Hebrew 202A: “Advanced Late Antique Hebrew Texts”

Instructor: Daniel Boyarin
Tu 2pm-5pm, location: online
CN#: 33647
Units: 3

Historical and literary study of Hebrew and Aramaic Judaic texts (e.g., Talmud and Midrash).

*Hebrew 202A counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor


Hebrew 204A: “The Poetics and Politics of the Yiddish Avant-Garde”

Instructor: Chana Kronfeld
Th 2pm-5pm, location: online
CN#: 31382
Units: 3

This seminar will focus on the works of the Yiddish avant-garde poets in Eastern Europe, the US and Israel in their historical and political contexts. Nurith Aviv’s new film, Yiddish that centers these poets’ contribution to transnational modernism will provide a unifying framework for our discussions.

Collaborative work is encouraged.  All the poetry will be read in the original Yiddish.

*Hebrew 204A counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor


History 100M-002/Global 142-001 “Jews and Muslims”

Instructor: Emily R Gottreich
MW 5:00 pm – 6:29 pm, location: online
CN# 33802
Units: 4

*History 100M/Global 142 class counts toward the Jewish Studies minor


This course studies Muslim-Jewish relations as they developed in the Middle East and North Africa from the rise of Islam to the present day. It analyzes how ethnic and religious boundaries were both drawn and transgressed in historical settings including Arabia in the time of Muhammad, Islamic Spain, the Ottoman Empire, and modern Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, and Israel. It asks how this shared cultural heritage is remembered and mobilized in the contemporary world, shedding light on the current state of Muslim-Jewish relations not only in the MENA but in Europe and the US as well. Films, memoirs, scripture, and historical works form the basis of our inquiry.


History 178-001 “History of the Holocaust”

Instructor: John Efron
TuTh 9:30-11:00am, location: online
CN# 25983
Units: 4

*History 178 This class counts toward the Jewish Studies minor
*History 178
satisfies the Historical Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences, L&S Breadth requirements

This course will survey the historical events and intellectual developments leading up to and surrounding the destruction of European Jewry during World War II. We will examine the Shoah (the Hebrew word for the Holocaust) against the backdrop of modern Jewish and modern German history. The course is divided into two main parts: (1) the historical background up to 1939; and (2) the destruction of European Jewry, 1939-1945.


Legal Studies 190 “Minority Rights: the Israeli Balance”

Instructor: Roy Peled
Tu  5:00pm – 8:00pm, location: online
CN# 16708
Units: 4

Advanced study in law and society with specific topics to be announced.

*Legal Studies 190 class counts toward the Jewish Studies minor


Yiddish 101: “Elementary Yiddish”

Instructor: Shirelle Doughty
M, Tu, W, Th, F 11am-12pm, location: online
CN#: 23868
Units: 5

Introduction to Yiddish language and literature. Attention to reading, writing, and speaking in the context of the historic Yiddish cultural environment.

*Yiddish 101 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor


Yiddish 103: “Readings in Yiddish”

Instructor: Yael Chaver
Tu, Th 12:30pm – 2:00pm, location: online
CN#: 23864
Units: 3

Soviet Yiddish literature flourished from the 1920s to the 1940s, at first supported by the State. Almost seventy years ago, most of the major Soviet Jewish intellectuals were executed (“Night of the Murdered Poets,” Aug. 12, 1952). We will read powerful poetry and prose works by avant-garde modernist writers such as Peretz Markish, Dovid Hofshteyn, and Moyshe Kulbak.

*Yiddish 103 counts towards the Jewish Studies Minor