Chair, Professor STEVEN GERRARD

Advisory Committee: Professor: GERRARD. Associate Professor: S. FOX*. Assistant Professors: DEKEL*, GARBARINI**, HAMMERSCHLAG.


Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses the texts, history, languages, philosophy, and culture of Jews and Judaism as they have changed over three millennia and throughout the world. The program offers courses in multiple disciplines including but not limited to Religion, Classics, History, Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, and Comparative Literature. Across these disciplines, the program examines topics such as religious belief and practice, textual interpretation, the development of Zionism, life in the Diaspora, the historicization and memorialization of the Holocaust, and historical, political and philosophical questions surrounding Jewish identity. Investigating the foundations and development of these various Jewish topics, as well as their interaction with and influence on other traditions, provides an opportunity to explore the continuities and diversity of Jewish life and thought. Students will gain exposure to a common body of knowledge and scholarly approaches through which to engage in their own rich and varied intellectual explorations of Jewish and related topics.


The concentration in Jewish Studies requires five courses with at least two different prefixes: one gateway course, two core courses, one elective, and one capstone course.

Gateway Courses:

Jewish Studies 101/Religion 203 Judaism: Innovation and Tradition

Jewish Studies/Religion/Comparative Literature 201 The Hebrew Bible

Core Courses

Jewish Studies/Religion/Philosophy 204 Endtimes: Messianism in Modernity (W)

Jewish Studies/Classics/Religion 205/Comparative Literature 217 Ancient Wisdom

Jewish Studies/Religion/Comparative Literature 206 The Book of Job and Joban Literature

Jewish Studies/Religion 207/Comparative Literature 250 From Adam to Noah: Literary Imagination and the Primeval History in Genesis

Jewish Studies/Religion/Comparative Literature 209 The Legend of the Wandering Jew

Jewish Studies/History 230 Modern European Jewish History 1789-1948

Jewish Studies/History 232 Nostalgia in Jewish Thought, Literature, and Art

Jewish Studies/Religion 280/Philosophy 282 The Turn to Religion in Post-Modern Thought (W)

Jewish Studies/History 338 The History of the Holocaust

Jewish Studies/Comparative Literature 352 Writing after the Disaster: The Literature of Exile

Jewish Studies/History 482T Memory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews in Europe


Students may meet the elective requirement with a course partially related to Jewish Studies or another core course. In a core course partially related to Jewish Studies, a student will normally focus at least one of the major writing assignments on a topic relevant to Jewish Studies or approximately one-third of the course will be devoted to Jewish subjects. The list of relevant electives changes regularly, so the course catalog should be checked for details. Listed below are examples of courses partially related to Jewish Studies. Students may meet the elective requirement with a course not listed here, subject to the approval of the Chair of Jewish Studies.

[Comparative Literature 232 European Modernism]

[German 301T German Studies, 1770-1830]

German 202 German Politics

German 302 German Studies, 1830-1900

[German 311 Freud and Kafka]

History 111 Movers and Shakers in the Middle East

[History 129 Blacks, Jews, and Women in the Age of the French Revolution]

History 207 Modern Middle East

History 225 The Middle Ages

[History 226 Europe from Reformation to Revolution]

[History 237 Modern France]

[History 239 Modern German History]

[History 311 The United States and the Middle East]

[Religion 270T Father Abraham; The First Patriarch]

Religion 271 Religion and the Modern Literary Imagination

Spanish 271 The Interaction of Jewish, Islamicate, and Christian Cultures in Early Modern Spain

Capstone Course

Jewish Studies 491/Comparative Literature/Religion 309T Exile, Homecoming, and the Promised Land

Croghan Professorship

Each year, in addition to the regular course offerings listed above, Williams sponsors the Croghan Bicentennial Visiting Professor in Religion who offers one course in Judaism and/or Christianity. Past Croghan Professors have taught courses on the Mishnah (Shaye Cohen), the historical Jesus (John Dominic Crossan), and Ancient Mediterranean Religions (Ross Kraemer).

Overseas Studies

Studying in Israel is highly recommended for students interested in Jewish Studies. Many students have spent a semester or year at Hebrew University. With the approval of the Jewish Studies program chair, students may count a study-abroad program towards on core requirement.


The Bronfman Fund for Judaic Studies was established in 1980 by Edgar M. Bronfman '50, Samuel Bronfman II '75, and Matthew Bronfman '80. The Bronfman Fund provides opportunities for the Williams community to learn about Jewish history and culture, both within the College's formal curriculum and through the planning of major events on Jewish themes.

The Morris Wiener and Stephen R. Wiener '56 Fund for Jewish Studies was established in 1997 through the estate of Stephen R. Wiener '56. The Wiener gifts have provided an endowment to support a faculty position in modern Jewish thought, and are used to underwrite an annual lecture, forum or event relevant to contemporary Jewish life.