Courses 2016-2017



Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies 39P: “Reading the Bible through the Talmud”

Wed 10-12, 247 Dwinelle

CN: 31078, 2 units

Instructor: Shmary Brownstein

What is the Talmud? How does it relate to the Bible? This class will explore the history of the Talmud, where, when, how, and why it was produced. We will pay special attention to the issue of the Talmud’s strategies for interpreting the Bible. Students will deepen their understanding of how the Talmud came to shape Jewish thinking about the Bible for centuries to come.

Jewish Studies 39Q: “Critical Issues in Israeli Society: A Multidisciplinary Perspective, from the Social Sciences to the Arts”

Mon 2-4, 247 Dwinelle

CN: 31083, 2 units

Instructor: Rebecca Golbert

This seminar will examine critical issues and challenges facing Israeli society–from the political, legal, and international realms to the social, economic, and cultural. We will explore ethnic, racial, and religious diversity, but also social, economic, and gender inequality; the challenges of transitioning from a government-controlled to a market-based economy; and the legal and political framework and challenges for democracy and social and constitutional rights. The course will explore critical issues in Israeli society from both social science perspectives–law, political science, sociology, economics–and from the arts and humanities, drawing on music, visual culture, dance, film, theater, and literature. It will culminate with students participating in an arts conference examining critical issues in Israeli society through the lens of the arts.

Jewish Studies 101: “From Thou to Now: the Coen Brothers, U2 and Other Rewritings of the Bible”

TuTh 11-12:30, 61 Evans

CN: 17573, 3 units

Instructor: Yael Segalovitz

Few, if any, are not acquainted with the story of Jacob and Esau, David and Bathsheba or Moses and Pharaoh. However, this knowledge is, for the most part, mediated. These stories propagate in culture (East and West) through movies, literary rewritings and idiomatic expressions. This course will explore the complex interrelations between the original biblical stories and their modern reincarnations. We will ask: what covert elements of the biblical story surface when read along their modern counterpart? What is the place of sexuality, embodiment, and intertexuality in this dialogue? In what sense are South-American, Israeli, Arabic, or European rewritings of the Bible different? We will explore texts – theoretical, melodic, literary and cinematic – by William Faulkner, the Coen brothers, Amos Oz, U2, Machado de Assis, Thomas Mann, Erich Auerbach, Chana Kronfeld and Robert Alter, to name just a few. As the famous Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai wrote, “I want to mix up the Bible.” We do too.

This class satisfies the L&S Philosophy and Values and Historical Studies breadth requirements. Priority enrollment for Jewish Studies minor students. Minors should email for course permission information if space not available.

Jewish Studies 120, Section 1: “Revolutions, Messianism, and the End of History”

TuTh 9:30-11, 263 Dwinelle

CN: 17574, 3 units

Instructor: Gilad Sharvit

This course will focus on radical theories of history in early twentieth-century German-Jewish thinkers and literary figures whose utopian imagination played a crucial role in what today are taken-for-granted milestones of philosophy of history, political theory, and anthropology. Class discussions will explore the place of revolution, messianism, and the end of history in the literary works of Franz Kafka, the Utopianism of Ernst Bloch, the political theories of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Hannah Arendt, the philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig, and the historiography of Gershom Scholem.

Jewish Studies 120, Section 2: “Post-World War II Jewish American Literature”

TuTh 12:30-2 p.m., 247 Dwinelle

CN: 33192, 3 units

Instructor: Noam Gil

The 1950s and 1960s are perceived as the golden years of Jewish fiction in America when, for the first time, Jewish authors broke into the cultural mainstream. And yet, many texts by notable authors such as Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud and Grace Paley challenged their Jewish tradition and expressed a desire to transcend their own “marginal” identity into a broader universal sensibility. In this course we will discuss the way these authors engaged in establishing a new sense of self in America. It is a literary exploration that challenges not only issues of Jewish identity but prevalent perspectives concerning collective identity and their implication in Post Holocaust America.

Possible texts will include novels and short stories by Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Grace Paley, Philip Roth and Cynthia Ozick.

Jewish Studies 198, Section 1 (DeCal): Film: A Look Into Israeli Minorities

Tu 5-7 p.m., 106 Dwinelle 

CN: 17575, 1 unit

Facilitator: Leora Ghadoushi

In this course we will use film to foster social awareness and cultural understanding. This course presents dramatic and documentary films, as well as engaging speakers who will discuss the history, culture, and identity of minority populations in Israel.

Jewish Studies 198, Section 2(DeCal): Jewish Identity in 21st Century Theater

Th 5-8 p.m., 83 Dwinelle

CN: 17576, 1 unit

Facilitator: Emili Bondar

Theater has an affinity to capture life’s deepest complexities—turning fictional characters and literary themes into words wished to be spoken and emotions longed to be openly expressed by its audience. This course will grapple with themes of Jewish identity, experienced in the contemporary age. Students will explore what it means to be Jewish through modern plays as it fits with homosexuality, women’s roles in society, and familial and spiritual belonging in the modern-day.


Dutch 166: “Anne Frank and After: Dutch Literature and Film on the Holocaust”

MWF 3-4 p.m., 183 Dwinelle

CN: 32216, 4 units

Instructor: Jeroen Dewulf

This course satisfies the L&S Breadth Requirement for Arts & Literature.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart.” For many, this sentence sums up the basic idea of Anne Frank’s diary. Yet, if we take into account the horrors that Anne Frank experienced, a different quote from her diary seems more appropriate: “There’s a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill.” These harsh words will form the basis of our critical reflection on the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. Using film and literature, we will analyze the German invasion, the Dutch resistance and collaboration, the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. The course includes a guest lecture by Ronald Leopold, Director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. All readings and discussions in English.


German 157: “Luther, Kant, Hegel: Religion and History”

MWF 10-11, 105 Dwinelle Hall

CN: 32932, 4 units

​Instructor: Karen S. Feldman

This course offers an introduction to several central concepts in the thought of Luther, Kant and Hegel by way of close readings of short texts by each author. We will focus on the relationship between religion and history in each thinker, paying special attention to how religion fits into their very different concepts of human freedom and morality. Within these parameters, the course will follow points of theoretical continuity and discontinuity between these authors–e.g. how does Kant’s theorization of obligation relate to Luther and the ‘inner man’? How does Hegel conceive of morality in contrast to Kant? We will pay special attention to how Luther, Kant and Hegel frame their thought in explicit contrast to Judaism. We will also look at the significance of these authors in the work of other major authors, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. All readings and discussions are in English, no German is required.


Hebrew 104B: “To Love in Hebrew”

Wed 2-5 p.m., 246 Barrows

CN: 15857, 3 units

Instructor: Chana Kronfeld

From the biblical Song of Songs and David’s Lament to contemporary love stories between Jews and Arabs and LGBTQ poetry anthologies, Hebrew literature has fostered diverse expressions of love and sexuality.  We will read a selection of  love poems and short stories from various genres and periods, focusing on the ways in which the Hebrew language functions in these literary works. Course conducted in Hebrew.


History 178: “The History of the Holocaust”

TuTh 9:30-11 a.m., 101 Moffitt Library

CN: 16212, 4 units

Instructor: John Efron

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.

NES 39B: “The Abrahamic Religions”

Spring 2017 – NESTUD 39B – 3 units

TuTh 12:30-2 p.m., Barrows Hall

Instructor: Professor Manuel Oliveira

This seminar aims to introduce students to the three major monotheistic religious. While Judaism, Christianity and Islam share common biblical roots, their differences and similarities vis-à-vis an understanding of their particular position in the world often placed them in confrontation, despite periods of complementary convergence. We will survey some of the theological/ spiritual dimensions of these Abrahamic traditions and explore the significance of their heritage to human civilization.

Near Eastern Studies

NES 190H: “The Un-Chosen Body: Disability in Israeli Literature, Film, and the Arts”

Undergraduate Seminar (limited to 18 students)

Wed 2-5 p.m., 271 Barrows

CN: 33120, 4 units

Instructor: Ilana Szobel

This course explores representations of disability within Hebrew and Israeli culture. By focusing on literature, film, dance, and visual art, it looks at personal and socio-political conceptualizations of disability. This course pursues various applications of physical, mental, and emotional disability experiences and theories to Zionist, Jewish-Israeli narratives and rhetoric. Thus, while we will examine how the social context of disability in Israel affects representations of disability, we will also consider the ways in which disabled experiences and the notion of disability in general raise questions about Israeli subjectivity.

Political Science

Political Science 149S: “The Political Economy of Israel”

TuTh 9:30-11 a.m., 145 McCone

CN: 33264, 4 units

Instructor: Michael Shalev

Political economy analyzes linkages between the economic and political spheres. It asks about the role of the state and politics in the economy; and conversely, how economic interests and power shape politics. The political economy of Israel today is similar to other capitalist democracies in having strong neoliberal or “free market” features. Yet at the same time,  the Israeli state pursues an ambitious and expensive agenda related to territory, demography and national identity. The state also has unusual capacities to shape economic activity through war preparation, occupation, and by attracting resources from abroad such as immigration and foreign aid. The course addresses this and other puzzles posed by the Israeli case. They include the unusual meaning of left and right in Israeli politics, a clash between “hawks” and “doves” that is seemingly all about ideology and identity politics, not “pocketbook issues” and the economy. On these issues Israeli public opinion has a clear preference for equality and the welfare state over unbound capitalism. Yet inequality is high and rising, in part because of government policies. Another seeming paradox is that Israel’s economy performs well, led by a dynamic and entrepreneurial hi-tech sector. Yet despite structural reforms to encourage competition, large sectors are sheltered from competition, and so-called “tycoons” control many of Israel’s largest businesses and enjoy vast personal wealth.


Yiddish 102: Intermediate Yiddish

MW 10-11 a.m., 106 Dwinelle

F 10-11 a.m., 247 Dwinelle

CN: 24204, 5 units

Instructors: Yael Chaver (MW), Niklaus Largier (F)

Hebrew 1B: Elementary Hebrew language study

MTuWThF 10-11 a.m., 252 Barrows
CN: 15853, 5 units

Hebrew 20B: Intermediate Hebrew language study

MTuWThF 11-12, 275 Barrows
CN: 15854, 5 units


Jewish Studies 290: Ancient Israel in the Modern Western Imagination

Tues. 2-5 p.m., 275 Barrows

CN: 17579, 4 units

Instructors: John Efron and Ronald Hendel

Spanning the 17th through the 20th centuries this course sets out to explore the way Europeans, Americans, and Israelis have imagined and represented Biblical Israel.  Among the topics we will address are: Spinoza’s heresy, the Enlightenment Bible, the politics of archaeology, histories of Ancient Israel, Christian and Jewish representations of Jesus and the Holy Land, Israelite-Sephardic authenticity and Masada and the Zionist imagination.


Hebrew 204B : “Writing Gender in Modern Hebrew Literature”

A collaborative graduate seminar, taught in Hebrew

Th 1:00-4:00, 246 Barrows

CN: 15870, 3 units

Instructors: Chana Kronfeld and Ilana Szobel

This seminar aims to explore the aesthetics and politics of writing gender in modern Hebrew literature and culture: the gendered body of the poetic subject in juxtaposition with the metaphorical body of the nation-as-woman; the literary intersections of and resistance to political aggression and sexual violence; the grammars of gender and the genders of grammar in the work of Hebrew writers.

By opening the texts to a variety of reading strategies and theoretical approaches —from close and surface reading to feminist and queer theory, and from postcolonial thought and psychoanalysis to disability studies—the seminar will allow us to unpack the textualization of socio-poetic conjunctures, asking how they participate in, encourage or neutralize conflicting ideologies of the gendered body in modern Jewish culture. Course conducted in Hebrew.

Undergraduate Courses, Fall 2016


Jewish Studies 39 O

Freshman/Sophomore Seminar: Jewish Love

W 2-4, 233 Dwinelle

CN 30640, 2 units

Instructor: Joseph Rosen

This seminar will explore diverse Jewish approaches to love and eros. We will especially focus on the role of modernity in transforming ancient traditions of Jewish love, and try to make sense of contemporary forms of Jewish romance, such as interfaith, queer, and secular, that veer far from the past. At the core of this course is a simple question: What does religion have to do with experiences and practices of love?

History 84

Freshman/Sophomore Seminar: Was Ancient Judaism a Religion or an Ethnicity?

Tu. 10:00 am -12:00pm, 2303 Dwinelle

CN 33857, 2 units

Instructor: Erich Gruen

This seminar will explore a question whose roots lay in antiquity but whose significance remains of central concern today: were the ancient Jews considered (and did they consider themselves) as an ethnic group or as adherents of a religion? In short, how does one define Jewish identity in the ancient world? We shall investigate this question through reading various biblical stories such as those of Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Tamar, Ruth, and Esther, some Jewish writers of the Greco-Roman period like Philo and St. Paul, and selections from Roman authors, like Cicero and Tacitus, who commented on Jews.

Jewish Studies 120

Special Topics in Jewish Studies: “Obscene” Jews in America’s Culture

TuTh 9:30-11am, 235 Dwinelle

CN 17736, 3 units

Instructor: Noam Gill

This course will focus on the way social identities are portrayed in literary, cinematic, and televised texts. Our case study will look at Jewish identity in America from the 1960s through the early years of the 21st century. We will explore texts by Jewish “renegades” whose work put them at the center of cultural scandals, due to their depiction of the community from which they emerged in America. By focusing on the works of contemporary artists such as Sarah Silverman and the Coen brothers, as well as such precursors as Isaac Bashevis Singer, Philip Roth, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Larry David, and David Mamet, we will discuss the subversive nature and impact of their texts on American culture in the latter part of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Economics 196*

Economic Policy: Israel as a Case Study

W 3-6, 60 Evans

CN 32799, 1-4 units

Instructor: Tali Regev

This course introduces contemporary economic policy debates focusing on examples from the Israeli economy.  The first part of the class will focus on Israel’s macroeconomic development.  We will start with a brief introduction to the economic history of Israel. We will then discuss topics such as growth, the public sector and fiscal policy, inflation and monetary policy, privatization and liberalization.  The second part of the course will focus on the ongoing macro and microeconomic challenges and policy implications for the Israeli economy. We will discuss topics in public finance and labor economics, exploring the regulation of natural resources, the welfare state, fertility, employment, immigration, emigration, and discrimination. Prerequisites: Basic courses in micro-and macroeconomics.

Hebrew 104A

Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture

W 2-5, 246 Barrows

CN 16307, 3 units

Instructor: Chana Kronfeld

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.

 Legal Studies 174*

Comparative Constitutional Law: The Case of Israel

TuTh 8-9:30 am, 155 Kroeber

CN 32984

Instructor: Tamar Kricheli-Katz

The course will provide an introduction to the theory and practice of constitutional law. It will use the Israeli constitutional law as an illustration to general concepts, issues and doctrines of constitutional law. The main approach to these issues will be a general social science foundational approach. An emphasis will be put on the law in action and on the possibility of social change. The main subjects discussed include: human rights law, equality and antidiscrimination, social change and legal change, social rights, constitutionalism and judicial review, minority rights (with a focus on group rights of Arab citizens of Israel and of Women in Israel), state and religion, freedom of expression, equality and antidiscrimination, social rights, and constitutional limitations on privatization.

History 175B

Jews in the Modern World

TuTh 9:30-11 am, 247 Cory

CN 15879, 4 units

Instructor: John Efron

This course will examine the impact of modern intellectual, political, economic, and social forces on the Jewish people since the eighteenth century.  It is our aim to come to an understanding of how the Jews interpreted these forces and how and in what ways they adapted and utilized them to suit the Jewish experience.  In other words, we will trace the way Jews became modern.  Some of the topics to be covered include Emancipation, the Jewish Enlightenment, new Jewish religious movements, Jewish politics and culture, antisemitism, the Holocaust, and the state of Israel.

Political Science 191.2*

Junior Seminar: Occupy Wall Street in Comparative Perspective

Phase 1 priority given to Political Science declared majors

Tu 10-12, 202 Barrows

CN 20728, 4 units

Instructor: Michael Shalev

While often seen in the US as a local product, Occupy Wall Street appeared at the end of a year of innovative mass protests, both in the Middle East (the “Arab Spring”) and Europe. Whereas Occupy mobilized primarily tent activists and met with a mixed public reception, the earlier protests of “indignant” youth in Southern Europe and Israel spurred mega-demonstrations and won broad public support. What explains the appearance of rare “encompassing” protests, and why did they occur in some countries and not others during the 2011 protest wave? Did participants in in mega-protests cross class, cultural and political boundaries more than the Americans who supported and participated in Occupy? The course will also raise two broad issues common to both Occupy in the US and the more encompassing protests elsewhere. First, do they signal a fundamentally new capacity of masses of strangers to launch mass protest movements from below, using digital communication devices and social networks? Second, what is the relationship between electoral politics and the post-2010 protests in different settings? Did they spawn new political parties and change election outcomes? The course draws on literature on social movements and contentious politics, and will look closely at diverse national cases, especially Spain and Israel.

Theater 121, Section 2

Mapping Diasporas; Jewish Studies, Humanities, and and Digital Humanities

TuTh 11-12:30, 2121 Allston Way, Room 110

CN 24381, 4 units

Instructor: Francesco Spagnolo
A deeper and critical understanding of museums, archives, and libraries is increasingly important, especially in thinking about the digital narrative form, and about how digital platforms enable new forms of interaction with cultural objects, and ways to “perform culture.” In everyday life, we all experience a growing need to learn to be archivists and curators. This course provides a valuable resource and opportunity to critically engage with practice and theory. Students will work directly with The Magnes Collection, including its holdings of material culture, its digital assets, and related data, and learn to conduct collaborative research and documentation in view of producing narratives that encompass curating and publication results, in museum galleries and online. This course counts toward the Jewish Studies minor.

NES 190A

Rome and Jerusalem: The Complex Relations Between Judaism and Christianity

MW 12:30pm-1:59pm, Barrows 252

CN 19825, 4 units

Instructor: Manuel Oliveira

Despite their shared roots in biblical faith and conceptual similarities, Judaism and Christianity have profound theological differences that in moments of crisis led to attitudes ranging from overt contempt to persecution and physical annihilation. Our survey will lead us from the last decades of the Second Temple up to the 20th century, when the relation between these traditions evolved towards a rapprochement, pioneered by a small number of scholars and religious leaders. Along this course, we will approach some aspects of the apparently irreconcilable nature of the theological controversies embedded in these traditions, while exploring potential avenues for spiritual co-existence.

NES 190A-003

Readers of the Lost Ark: Texts, Objects, and Memory in the Bible and Beyond

M 3:00pm-6:00pm, Dwinelle 262

CN 31476, 4 units

Instructor: Daniel Fisher

This seminar investigates the complex relationships between texts, objects, and collective memory. The course explores the writings and visual culture of ancient and more recent groups that have identified with (and quested after) objects from the Bible.


Graduate-Level Courses, Fall 2016

Hebrew 298

Seminar: Historical Linguistics of Biblical Hebrew

T 3-6, 275 Barrows

CN 31472, 4 units

Instructor: Ronald Hendel

Our understanding of the biblical period has been transformed in recent decades due to the rediscovery of Israel’s cultural context and the influence of literary and anthropological forms of interpretation. We will explore Israel’s culture from its inception through the Second Temple period, emphasizing the close readings of texts and the diversity of biblical worldviews.

History 280B

German Jewry

CN 16093, 4 units

Tu 2-4, 3104 Dwinelle

Instructor: John Efron

This seminar is designed to introduce students to an intensive examination of the major themes and issues concerning the history of the Jews in Germany from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.  German Jews made defining innovations in Jewish life while at the same time, they also contributed to general western culture to a degree disproportionate to their numbers.  No other Jewish community has had such a profound effect on both Jewish and European civilizations concurrently. Among the topics to be explored are the debates over Jewish emancipation, the scholarly and religious life of German Jews, integration into and separation from the mainstream, German antisemitism and Jewish responses, economic transformations, communal organization and family life, Jewish culture in the Weimar Republic, life under Nazi rule, Jewish life in postwar Germany.

NES 298

Advanced Topics in Modern Jewish Thought

Th 3:00pm-5:59pm, 225 Dwinelle

Instructor: Manuel Oliveira

This graduate seminar aims to analyze issues that have characterized the development of Jewish thought in the Modern period. We will approach the thought of Baruch Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Joseph Soloveitchik and David Hartman, as these thinkers confronted an ever changing world, marked by the increasing centrality of reason and the great challenges that the Enlightenment, Zionism, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel brought into Jewish life.

Sociology 202B

False Consciousness- An Israeli Perspective

M 10-12, 402 Barrows
CN 23584
Instructor: Nissim Mizrachi
Drawing on the current Israeli socio-political terrain, especially the persisting gap between the universalistic message of the liberal-left and the social particularity of its adherents and opponents, the seminar offers a theoretical investigation into the relevance of false consciousness as an analytic tool. The Israeli case will provide a window to a broader discussion of the concept. The issues to be explored include: What are the concept’s historiosophical roots? How does false consciousness manifest itself as a building block of critical theory? What groups have been characterized as exhibiting false consciousness, by whom and in what contexts? Our investigation will enable us to delve into core issues of interpretation and understanding in the social sciences and to rethink the interpretive space occupied by contemporary critical sociology.


Hebrew and Yiddish Language Courses, Fall 2016

Hebrew 1A, Elementary Hebrew

MTWTF 10-11, 252 Barrows

CN 16478, 5 units

Instructor: The Staff

Hebrew 20A, Intermediate Hebrew

MTuWTh 11-12, 275 Barrows

CN 16306, 5 units

Instructor: Rutie Adler

Hebrew 100A, Advanced Hebrew

TuTh 12:30-2, 275 Barrows

CN 16479, 3 units

Instructor: Rutie Adler

Hebrew 106A, Elementary Biblical Hebrew

TuTh 2-4 p.m., 275 Barrows

CN 16567, 3 units

Instructor: The Staff

An introduction to the language of the Hebrew Bible

Hebrew 202A, Advanced Late Antique Hebrew Texts

Tu 4-7, Barrows 252

CN 33031, 3 units

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

Yiddish 101, Elementary Yiddish

MTWTF 11-12, 175 Dwinelle

CN 24817 5 units

Instructor: Jennifer Ingalls

Yiddish 103, Readings in Yiddish

TuTh 11-12:30, 233 Dwinelle

CN 24794, 3 units

Instructor: Yael Chaver

“Views from the Fringe: Yiddish Literature in Zionist Palestine.” Yiddish was proscribed in the Zionist community of British mandate Palestine, which elevated Hebrew while considering Yiddish emblematic of an undesirable diasporic life. Yet many Zionist settlers who came from European Yiddish culture were reluctant to disavow their mother tongue and its literature. In the 1920s and 193s, Zionist Yiddish writers in Palestine continued to write and publish in that language; their outsider status in the culture often enabled them to express positions and nuanced insights that were unique in the developing community. We will sample the Palestinian Yiddish press, as well as the prose and poetry of Zalmen Broches, Avrom Rivess, Rikuda Potash, and others. Prerequisite: One year of college Yiddish or equivalent knowledge. Readings are in Yiddish, discussions in English.


*Courses marked with an asterisk are sponsored by the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies.