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The Program in Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary program housed in the Department of Humanities that brings together courses and members of York's faculties whose focus is the exceptionally diverse subject areas that Jewish Studies, as an academic discipline, encompasses.

In addition to Judaism as a religion, Jewish Studies explores the texts, histories, cultures, sociologies, languages, and fine arts of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present, locating these within the context of the many western and non-western civilizations in which Jews have lived. It also examines Jewish interactions with non-Jews over the ages, both cooperative and conflictual, elements of cultural symbiosis, evolving attitudes towards and images of Jews within various non-Jewish cultures, and the history of antisemitism, including the Holocaust.

All the while, Jewish Studies explores the Jewish experience with a view to understanding the human situation in its diversity and complexity.

  Course Announcements

Course Openings

This year we have the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Yedida Eisenstat, who received her BA at York and recently completed a PhD at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as an instructor. Among the courses, she will be teaching are Rabbinic Judaism, The Jewish Experience (now a 6 credit 1000-level General Education class, no longer a 9 credit 2000 class), and the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in Context.

AP/HEB 3600 6.00 Themes in Modern Hebrew Literature

This course is intended to introduce students to a fascinating profile of Israeli cultural life mostly through readings of literature, as well as through Israeli music/songs, films, visual arts, and photography. Our timeline is from the days of the War of Independence to present-day happenings but our approach is thematic. In other words, through the prism of literary text (short stories and poems), famous songs commemorating pivotal events in Israeli history, photographs and films we will discuss major thematic shifts in Israeli cultural life including, collective and individual Holocaust commemoration, war and peace, despair and hope, unity and fragmentation, trauma and laughter.

Texts are provided by the instructor.

While the course is conducted in Hebrew students who are not entirely fluent in Hebrew are offered some help in the form of English translation of texts that are particularly difficult, as well as the option to write mid-term and final exams in English.

Course Director: Yael Seliger

AP/YDSH 2000 6.0 Intermediate Yiddish Language - Tuesday/Thursday 1-2.20 pm

K. Weiser

This course covers the equivalent of material in the later chapters of Uriel Weinreich's College Yiddish plus additional grammatical and cultural material. The focus of this class is on Yiddish conversation, grammar, reading and writing in order to prepare students to interact in everyday situations in Yiddish and to comprehend a variety of literary genres. Homework will be assigned regularly. Quizzes, based on the material covered in class, will be also given. There will be mid-term and final exams.

AP/HIST 3860 6.0 A Y Modern History of the Jews - Tuesday/Thursday 10-11.20am

K. Weiser

What defines the modern era in the history of the Jews? This course proposes multiple answers to that question as it explores developments in Jewish culture, identity, religion, and politics, as well as relations between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours, from the sixteenth century until the present. It employs a comparative perspective and surveys developments across the globe. Among the themes examined are the breakdown of traditional society, messianism, Emancipation and integration, religious reform, antisemitism, Jewish nationalism and socialism, the Holocaust, language politics, the emergence of the State of Israel, and trends in post-World War II Jewish life. The focus will be on the Jews of Europe and the Ottoman Empire and the centres of contemporary Jewish life, Israel and North America.

FA/MUSI 1045 - 4045 3.0 Klezmer

B. Katz

Course Instructor: Brian Katz (416) 656-5995 Time and Location: Wed, 2:30-4 ACE 245

Prerequisite / Co-requisite: There is no prerequisite for the 1000 level. 2000 level requires completion of the 1000 level of the same course, 3000 the completion of 2000, and 4000 level the completion of 3000. Exceptions can be made at the discretion of the course instructor. (There is not an issue if one needs an upper level credit). N.B. You may take one level in a given term.

This course emphasizes practical performance instruction in the Klezmer musical traditions. The course will encompass a wide range of approaches to playing Klezmer, from early twentieth century styles to those incorporating modern jazz and free improvisation. Singers (you'll learn some Yiddish as well as lots of nigginum, wordless melodies) and ALL instrumentalists are welcome. It is always a mix of students from various faculty's, and multilevelled; beginners will simply be given less challenging parts but almost everyone can fit in! We always do at least one performance per year and most often more, including performances outside the university. One year, the ensemble played at the Ashkenaz Festival at Harbourfront.

If a student has any issues registering they should contact Melanie Marinucci in the Music office: .

AP/HUMA 3840 Rabbinic Judaism

This year we have the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Yedida Eisenstat, who received her BA at York and recently completed a PhD at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as an instructor. Among the courses, she will be teaching are Rabbinic Judaism, The Jewish Experience (now a 6 credit 1000-level General Education class, no longer a 9 credit 2000 class), and the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in Context.

How much Torah did God give to Moses at Mount Sinai? In Rabbinic Judaism: Thought and Institutions, we will not answer this question. We will, however, explore the implications of different understandings of God's revelation in the history of rabbinic Judaism, from ancient times to the present. We will acquaint ourselves with the major corpora and genres of rabbinic literature, each within its historical context, in order to understand the development of halakha, Jewish law. Then, after studying Jewish religious practice and modern denominations, we will turn to the application of Jewish law and ethics to modern questions: What do the rabbis have to say about abortion, capital punishment, the modern state of Israel, Zionism and feminism?

Dr. Randal Randal Schnoor will be teaching Contemporary Jewish Life in North America (SOSC 3917) and Gender and Sexuality in Jewish Life (HUMA 4750)

AP/SOSC 3917 6.0 Contemporary Jewish Life in North America.

Professor Randal Schnoor

This course develops an understanding of contemporary North American Jewry using findings of social science. Key community issues are analysed, such as assimilation, intermarriage, Jewish identity, etc. The course focuses on the Canadian Jewish experience and compares this to the United States. It also offers comparisons between Canadian Jews and other Canadian ethnic groups. The course begins with an historical overview of the major immigration patterns of Jews to North America. The course emphasizes the pluralistic nature and diversity of Canadian Jewish communities. Particular attention is paid to less studied Jewish groups, such as Hasidic Jews, Israeli Jews, Jewish women and gay and lesbian Jews.

New Addition to Course Calendar for Winter 2015

AP/HIST 3386 3.0M W Cooperation, Competition, and Conflict: Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe, 1914-1945

Lecture: T 10:00-11:30; R 10:00-11:30;

Beginning with a survey of life in the new states that emerged in East Central Europe after WWI (e.g. Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania) in the 1920s and 30s, this course ends with an exploration of the fate of Jews and their neighbours under Nazi and Soviet occupations during World War II. It focuses on developments within Jewish and non-Jewish societies as well as relations between Jews and non-Jews in the region throughout this period, which culminated in the deaths of millions and the near complete obliteration of a centuries-old Jewish presence there.

The period between the two world wars was one of paralleled cultural and political vibrancy in Jewish life. It saw the intensification of competing trends within Jewish society – among them, the clash between religious devotion and secularism, the development of rival nationalist and socialist movements, the striving for integration into the dominant non-Jewish culture alongside the growth of an autonomous modern cultural sphere functioning in Jewish and non-Jewish languages – against a backdrop of economic and political crises, the rise of fascism and new forms of antisemitism, and explosive tensions between national groups populating the region.

Readings drawn from:
Lucy Dawidowicz, From That Place and Time
Timothy Snyder, Blood Lands
Czeslaw Milosz, Native Realm
Laimonas Briedis, Vilnius: City of Strangers
IB Singer, My Father's Court

1. Student attendance and regular participation, 10%
2. map test, 10%
3. midterm exam, 25%
4. book assignment, 20 %
5. Final Exam, 35%

Course credit exclusions: None.
Grade Breakdown: TBA
Maximum Enrolment: TBA

Course Director: Keith I Weiser