Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University

 

Jewish Studies Program

The Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University engages in interdisciplinary study of the history, cultures, language(s), identities, and religion of the Jewish people. While our program encompasses the historical and geographic breadth of Jewish experiences, our particular strengths are in five key areas: American Jewish history, culture, and literature; European Jewish History and Holocaust Studies; Hebrew; Israel Studies; and Judaism and Jewish Philosophy.

A hallmark of our program is the close interaction of faculty, students and community members. The Jewish Studies Program offers a 20 credit undergraduate minor in Jewish Studies that allows students to explore, in interdisciplinary and flexible ways, Jewish history, culture, and identity, to learn Hebrew, and to study Judaism and Jewish thought. Students work closely with faculty mentors, who provide guidance both on academic development and professional opportunities. Our students have opportunities to engage in substantive research projects in class or as guided independent studies as well as senior theses, and to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs in Israel. The result is a collegial, supportive community of students and faculty who form lasting relationships.

The Jewish Studies Program also supports the scholarly work of Jewish Studies faculty at MSU, developing a nationally recognized program that fits with the aspirations of a 21st century global university. We have 6 core Jewish Studies faculty and over 20 affiliated faculty from ten departments and colleges across the university. The program contributes to and enhances knowledge of Jewish life in the university community, mid-Michigan, and the State of Michigan.

The Undergraduate Jewish Studies Minor
The Jewish Studies Minor offers a rich interdisciplinary program which introduces undergraduates to the history, cultures, language(s), identities, religion, and civilization of the Jewish people. Students can choose from among our varied and flexible course offerings (listed below), for a minimum of twenty (20) credits, which can be taken while fulfilling the requirements for a major in nearly any field at MSU. Our minor centers on our strengths in American Jewish History and Culture, European Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, Hebrew, Israel Studies, and Judaism and Jewish Philosophy. We emphasize close collaboration with and advising from faculty, and offer rich opportunities for undergraduate research. These curricular components are enhanced by our many co-curricular lectures and films designed to enhance classroom experiences and research.

 

COURSES 2017-2018

 

FALL SEMESTER 2017 EVENTS

Information about Dr. Alon Tal’s Fall Courses: MC335 and MC450

Learn about Yael Katzir’s course: From Collective Identity to Personal Diversity – Israeli Documentary Film Making (1 credit course, MC300, ENG490, FLM490, JS399)

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th, 12:15-1:30pm
MEET AND GREET
ANNUAL FACULTY/STUDENT LUNCH 
Kellogg Center’s Corniche Room
Complimentary lunch with Jewish Studies minors, prospective minors, and faculty.

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15th,  10:00am-11:30pm
JEWISH STUDIES FACULTY/STUDENT RESEARCH SEMINAR
THE LAND IS FULL: ADDRESSING ISRAEL’S POPULATION CHALLENGE
Wells Hall B-342
Serling Visiting Israeli Scholar Alon Tal will speak about one of Israel’s current environmental challenges: overpopulation. His presentation considers the ramifications of this extraordinary demographic growth: from burgeoning pollution and dwindling natural resources to overcrowded classrooms, courtrooms, and roads. Based on extensive fieldwork, including interviews with dozens of experts and individuals from all sectors of Israeli society, this talk examines the origins of Israel’s population policies and describes how they must change to support a sustainable future. Co-sponsored by Lyman Briggs College, the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, The College of Arts and Letters, James Madison College and The Asian Studies Center.

 

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18th, 12:30-2:00pm
GUEST LECTURE
CONTEMPORARY LEFT ANTI-SEMITISM
Wells Hall B-342
Dr. David Hirsh is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London. This talk looks at the kind of antisemitism which he argues is tolerated in apparently democratic spaces: trade unions, churches, left-wing and liberal politics, social gatherings of the chattering classes and the seminars and journals of radical intellectuals. It analyzes how criticism of Israel can mushroom into antisemitism and it looks at struggles over how antisemitism is defined. After the talk, he will be available to sign copies of his new book, Contemporary Left Anti-Semitism (Routledge, 2017). Co-sponsored by the Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The College of Arts and Letters and James Madison College.

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20th, 10:00am-11:30pm
JEWISH STUDIES FACULTY/STUDENT RESEARCH SEMINAR
MAIMONIDES’ DISCUSSION OF PROPHECY IN THE GUIDE TO THE PERPLEXED
Wells Hall B-342
Jewish Studies affiliate Dr. Benjamin Lorch will present on Maimonides’ political philosophy, which he argues is present in the part of the Guide of the Perplexed devoted to the subject of prophecy. “The central subject of this discussion is the divine law: why is the law revealed by the prophets superior to merely human legislation, and what is a good law? [Dr. Lorch] ascertains Maimonides’s answers to these questions by examining his presentation of the conflict between Judaism and philosophy concerning the truth of prophecy and the authority of the law: the prophetic teaching par excellence is the guidance that man cannot discover by means of reason and that he would not possess at all had God not revealed this guidance to His prophets. [He argues] that Maimonides identifies the special content of prophecy as the moral laws, the laws that Judaism designates ‘commandments between man and his fellow man.’” Co-sponsored by The College of Arts and Letters and James Madison College.

 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 23rd, 4:00-5:30pm
GUEST LECTURE
Beyond Borders: Environmental Cooperation in Israel and Palestine
Room 303 of the International Center
Learn about the cross-cultural community and environmental studies at Israel’s Arava Institute, where students from Israel, Palestine, Jordan and around the world come together to collaborate on environmental solutions. Shadi Shiha, a Palestinian-Jordanian and Eve Tendler, an Israeli, will speak about how their participation in the Arava Institute had a significant impact on them. Co-sponsored by Lyman Briggs College, the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, the Asian Studies Center, The College of Arts and Letters, James Madison College and The Asian Studies Center.

 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 7:00-9:30pm
ANNUAL GEORGE AND ESTHER KESSLER MEMORIAL FILM EVENT
SHORES OF LIGHT
MSU Library Green Room (4th Floor West)
Israeli filmmaker and Serling Visiting Israeli Scholar Dr. Yael Katzir will discuss the screening of her film Shores of Light. Shores of Light tells the true story of poor Italians in southern Italy welcoming thousands of Jewish displaced persons, WWII Holocaust survivors on their way to Israel. The film is also about the journey of three Israeli women born in Italy at that time, children of Jewish refugees.  They have returned to the place of their birth in search of the people that were so important in their parents’ lives. Rare, historic photos and video clips intertwine history and the present. Co-sponsored by the Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The College of Arts and Letters and James Madison College.

 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29th, 7:00-8:30pm
GUEST LECTURE
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE: PROCESS, PROSPECTS AND POSSIBILITIES
THE KELLOGG CENTER AUDITORIUM
Daniel Kurtzer is the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East policy studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is the former US ambassador to Israel and to Egypt. Throughout his career, Kurtzer was instrumental in formulating and executing U.S. policy toward the Middle East peace process, and has participated on Track II negotiations. He has written several books, including The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989-2011; Pathways to Peace: America and the Arab-Israeli Conflict; and Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East. Co-sponsored by The College of Arts and Letters, James Madison College and The Asian Studies Center.

 

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8th, 10:00-11:30am
JEWISH STUDIES FACULTY RESEARCH SEMINAR
THE TWEENAGE JESUS AT PASSOVER AND OTHER EARLY CHRISTIAN FAMILY STORIES
Wells Hall C-607
Jewish Studies faculty affiliate Dr. Chris Frilingos has studied family stories about the child Jesus and his parents for his new book, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Family Trouble in the Infancy Gospels (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). His book examines the Infancy Gospels of Thomas, a collection of stories from the mid-second century C.E. describing events in the life of Jesus between the ages of five and twelve. He argues that the accounts pick up on themes found in the Jewish Scriptures, specifically the omniscience of the biblical God and the limits of human understanding. Co-sponsored by The College of Arts and Letters and James Madison College.

 

MSU JEWISH STUDIES CO-SPONSORED EVENTS

 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1st, 6:00-10:00pm
CO-SPONSORED FILM SCREENING
JUNCTION 48, DIRECTED BY UDI ALONI
WELLS HALL B-119
The Department of Linguistics and Languages will screen Junction 48, a movie that follows the story of Kareem, a Palestinian-Israeli teenager who performs hip-hop at a Tel Aviv club and becomes the first Palestinian-Israeli rap star. Jewish Studies faculty Marc Bernstein introduces the film and Tamer Nafar, a Palestinian-Israeli rap singer and the star of the film, leads a discussion after the film.

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd, 10:45am-12:15pm
CO-SPONSORED PANEL DISCUSSION
TAMER NAFAR AND THE POLITICS OF ARABIC RAP IN ISRAEL
Room 303 of the International Center
Jewish Studies faculty Marc Bernstein will speak about Tamer Nafar and the politics of Arabic rap in Israel on a panel discussion. Jewish Studies affiliate Dr. Safoi Babana-Hamption will also moderate this panel, entitled Visualizing Arabic.

 

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25th, 7:00-8:30pm
CO-SPONSORED GUEST LECTURE
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM
Wells Hall B-342
The MSU Hillel Jewish Student Center invites Yair Rosenberg, a senior writer at Tablet magazine who often writes about contemporary anti-Semitism, to talk about his work.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11th, time TBA
CO-SPONSORED GUEST LECTURE
GLORIA STEINEM, ALICE WALKER, AND BIBLICAL STUDIES
Location TBA
The Department of Religious Studies invites Dr. Nyasha Junior to speak about her recent book, Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation (Westminster John Knox Press, 2016).

 

News

Kaila Waineo, Jewish Studies Minor, was awarded the Audrey and Michael Rubner Scholarship for 2017-2018. This prestigious scholarship is awarded to students excelling in Middle East Studies, Security Studies, or U.S. Foreign Policy.

Events

MEET AND GREET ANNUAL FACULTY/STUDENT LUNCH
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th, 12:15-1:30pm
Kellogg Center’s Corniche Room
Complimentary lunch with Jewish Studies minors, prospective minors, and faculty.

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