Center News

New Major in Judaic Studies at UConn

The Center is very pleased to announce that the major in Judaic Studies is now officially part of the UConn curriculum!
The Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies may be obtained in General Judaic Studies or Classical Judaic Studies.  Both tracks provide the student with a broad, general background in Jewish civilization and familiarize the student with key texts that inform Jewish culture, religion, and history.  The general Judaic Studies major provides a broader perspective and includes a course concentration in the modern period.  The classical track focuses on the pre-modern experience, especially in the biblical and rabbinic periods.
Please visit our Undergraduate Program page for program details and download a plan of study form!

Jewish Humor Series to Supplement Course on Funny Jews

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish life at UConn is participating in a series on Jewish humor this Fall as part of a new collaborative project with the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford and in support of a course, "Funny Jews: On Jewish Humor," that is being simultaneously piloted on both campuses and being taught at UConn by Center director, Jeffrey Shoulson, and at UHart by Professor Avinoam Patt. These events are free and open to the public!

Josh Lambert

Josh Lambert, academic director of the Yiddish Book Center and author of award-winning book, Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture, will launch the series on September 14 at the University of Hartford's Wilde Auditorium at 7:30pm with a public talk entitled, "The Roots of Jewish Humor." Visit the event page on Facebook!  View Josh Lambert's website

Jessica Kirson

On October 19, at 7pm, noted stand-up comic Jessica Kirson will perform her comedy show in the Wilde Auditorium as part of the Greenberg Center's annual Lillian Singer Jewish Humor Lecture. To reserve your free tickets, please call the Greenberg Center at (860) 768-5018 or e-mail: mgcjs@hartford.eduVisit Jessica Kirson's website.

Jesse Appell

The final event of the Jewish Humor Series, which is in part sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, will take place on UConn's Storrs campus in Laurel Hall, room 102, on November 16 at 7pm when Fulbright scholar and comedian Jesse Appell will present his unique brand of intercultural comedy which mixes Jewish humor with the traditional art of xiangsheng, a 150-year-old Chinese comedy folk art.

Jesse Appell's blog.


New Concentration in Biblical Studies

Biblical Concentration flyerThe Center is proud to introduce a new concentration in Biblical Studies! In addition to courses in modern Hebrew, we now offer elementary and advanced courses in Biblical Hebrew. Students may also enroll in our newly revised course, The Bible (INTD 3260), in which Professor Stuart Miller explores historical, literary and archaeological aspects of Hebrew Scripture (“Old Testament”) and the New Testament.  Additionally, Selected Books of the Hebrew Bible (HEJS 3201) is available. The course focuses on a biblical book and emphasizes its literary structure and content using modern approaches.

New Course Offering for Fall 2016: Funny Jews

Funny Jews FlyerWhy are Jews so funny? What is unique about Jewish humor? What makes a Jewish joke Jewish? What makes a Jewish joke funny? Professor Shoulson’s new couse, Funny Jews: On Jewish Humor, examines Jewish humor in a variety of different forms, including literature, film, television, stand-up, and more.  This course (HEJS 3295) is being offered as a hybrid course.  It will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:20-1:10 in the classroom and Fridays virtually.

Visit our course offerings page to find out about our other Fall 2016 courses being offered!

New Courses for Spring 2016

New Courses (Spring 2016)

There are two new courses available in the Spring 2016 semester.  Information about both courses is provided below.

Africana Studies

Ethiopian Jews In Ethiopia And Israel: The Contested Nature Of Ethnic Differences And National Belonging

(HEJS 3298-001/SOC 3298-001)

Download flyer here.

In 1867, Joseph Halévy, the French Jewish scholar, meets for the first time members of the Beta Israel community in northern Ethiopia, upon been identified sole as European, he replies: “Oh, my brothers, I am not just a European, but an Israelite, like you.” Halévy’s interlocutors turned to look at one another, wondering how to make sense of such a claim?

In this course we will follow such moments in the history of Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel)—and the border social context and relations they embedded in—from the 19th century, through the great migration to Israel, and present day second generation in contemporary Israel. Looking at the social trajectory of Ethiopia Jews, we will examine more broadly the contingent and contested nature of categorical membership along racial, ethnic and religious lines, and across different cultural, temporal and national contexts.

Topics To Be Covered:

  1. Ethiopian Jewishness and Religious Boundaries in Ethiopia
  2. Sociological literature on the Making of Ethnic And Racial Categorization
  3. Immigration and Contemporary Social Problems in Israel

This course has two main objectives that complement each other: First, to acquire familiarity with the social history of Ethiopian Jews’ symbolic inclusion within the boundaries of contemporary Judaism and Israeli nationhood. Second, by using the modern history of Ethiopian Jews as a case study—and in comparison to other cases from the United States, Latin America, and more—acquire familiarity with the sociological literature that explores the variations in the workings of classification schemes, the ways our social world is organized and experienced.


Holocaust_Course Holocaust in Theater and Film

(HEJS 3298-002/ENGL 3623-001/DRAM 3138-002)

Download flyer here.

How do your represent the unimaginable? As daunting of a task as this is, the Holocaust is one of the most dramatized and written about events in history for the amount of time since its passing. In this course we will be examining the means by which authors and directors have attempted to represent the Holocaust. We will discuss what tools were used including choices made in written structure, visual imagery, and the use of language in an attempt to capture the essence of the Holocaust and explore its deeper meaning and societal repercussions.

As well as examining both dramatic works and films that depict the Holocaust we will read first-hand accounts and watch documentaries in order to broaden our knowledge of the Holocaust so that we can better reflect upon the statements being made in the representations. We will also be reading a large body of criticism relating both the dramatization of the Holocaust and the Holocaust itself. Some of the works being studied in the class include; Akropolis by Jerzy Grotowski, Endgame by Samuel Beckett, The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth, Who Will Carry the World by Charlotte Delbo and Ghetto by Joshua Sobel as well as many others. We will also be examining films including Ida directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, The Pianist directed by Roman Polansky, and Amen directed by Costa-Gavras.

The coursework will include keeping a journal of your reflections on the material covered in the course, turning in one mid-term paper, and preparing a final presentation for the class.

This will be a discussion based class, and as such, class participation is also considered to be a part of the coursework.


UConn Today Features the Center for Judaic Studies

artworkWe’re very pleased to have been featured in UConn Today in an article reporting on a number of new developments at the Center for Judaic Studies including the release of the 2015 American Jewish Year Book (co-edited by Arnie Dashefsky), our spectacularly successful Judaic Studies Road Show, and our plans for the celebration of the Center’s 36th Anniversary this coming November.

Judaic Studies 101 – Programs by CT Colleges and Universities across the state.

js_101Judaic Studies 101 – Inviting the community into the lecture hall.  Here’s a list of programs being offered across the state.

Connecticut’s colleges and universities offer a wealth of informal learning opportunities to the general public, and departments of Jewish, Judaic, and Israel studies are no exception. Through lectures, films, conferences, and cultural events, the community becomes an integral part of these academic programs, adding their perspectives to the audience and interacting with students in an informal educational setting.

Here are the highlights of the fall semester Judaic studies programs offered by Connecticut’s colleges and universities that are open to the community. Not all programs were available at press time. Visit the schools’ websites for more information.

Judaic Studies 101 – Inviting the community into the lecture hall

New Course Offering – Spring 2015



New Course – Spring 2015 – Special Offering…Christian and Jewish Art in the Holy Land in Late Antiquity.  ARTH 3955 cross-listed with HEJS 3295 / CAMS 3295 / CLCS 3201Explores the creation of Christian Holy Land during the early Byzantine period as a religious and spiritual center.  Examine the complexity of interconnections between Christians, Jews and Pagans as revealed from their artistic heritage.  And discover the importance of material evidence in reconstructing reality.Taught by Emma Maayan Faanar, an International Scholar that is visiting UConn for the academic year, from University of Haifa.  Truly a unique experience.TuTh 11am-12:15pm.Register today!

Judaic studies introduced as vibrant, stimulating


By Kyle Constable, Campus Correspondent

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

Professors from the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life introduced what they described as “a very vibrant and stimulating field of study” to students in the UConn Honors Program last night.

“Judaic Studies is not just for Jewish students,” Professor Jeffrey Shoulson said to a group of about a dozen students gathered in an Oak Hall classroom. “It asks interesting questions about identity, about ethnicity, about not just religious questions but political and social questions.”
The event, put on by the Honors Program, is the first in the “Take a Look” series that gives students an opportunity to see how taking courses in unique fields can supplement the education they are receiving at UConn.

Three professors associated with the center participated in the presentation and Q-and-A session with students. Leading the presentation was Professor Stuart Miller, who is in his 30th year of teaching at UConn. Shoulson and Professor Susan Einbinder joined Miller for the presentation, which also served as a makeshift introduction for these two professors who are both in their first year at the university.

“The Judaic Studies program has been totally reconstituted,” Miller said. “Whereas, over the last 30 years, I’ve been the only full-time person teaching Judaic Studies and I’m now very happy and very pleased to say there are three of us.” The retooling of the Judaic Studies program is expected to bring about new course offerings for students, some being in very unique areas. As Miller conceded, his “heart is in Antiquity,” which has set a limitation on which courses have been taught, with Judaism in the medieval period taking the largest hit.

Dr. Susan Einbinder Hired as Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies


We are pleased to announce that Dr. Susan Einbinder has been hired as Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Dr. Einbinder holds a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and was formerly Professor of Hebrew Literature at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.

She has published two monographs on medieval Judaism, entitled No Place of Rest: Jewish Literature, Expulsion, and the Memory of Medieval France (U of Pennsylvania P, 2009) and Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France (Princeton UP, 2002); and she is currently in progress on a third, entitled Detours and Delays: On Medieval Jewish History and Literature. A 2004 recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed her to pursue research on her second book, Dr. Einbinder has also received a fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies, School of Historical Studies, as well as a grant from the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.