First-Year Focus

Why take Jewish Studies?

Jewish Studies at Northwestern is an interdisciplinary enterprise catering to anybody interested in a minority culture broadly conceived. It is a conversation about Jewish thinkers, leaders, artists, and Jewish life from ancient to modern times with a focus on the interaction between the Jewish people and the world. It studies Judaism as a religion and Jews as a civilization in its own right, but also contemplates Jews as an ethnic group that has made significant contributions to Western thought. It considers cultures and civilizations, texts and languages, philosophy and literature, religion and history, majority and minority groups, universally shared and particular values. Courses in Jewish Studies help develop critical skills, hone comparative approaches, and build bridges between the universal and the particular.

What do we offer?

The Jewish Studies Program offers about forty-five courses annually in nine departments or programs and can satisfy the entry-level student with no background and also intellectually challenge a sophisticated student with a solid foundation in Jewish texts. Offerings span many academic departments and programs, including Anthropology, Art History, Comparative Literary Studies, English, German, Hebrew Language, History, Political Science, Religious Studies, Spanish, and Sociology. Subjects range from the Hebrew Bible to the Arab-Israel conflict and modern Jewish thought, history, literature, and culture. See a comprehensive course listing.

Jewish Studies at Northwestern

You can take Jewish Studies courses to fulfill distribution requirements, as a way to explore your identity, as a step toward bettering your critical thinking, or simply out of curiosity. Because Jewish Studies courses are held in all different departments, students work towards many majors while completing Jewish Studies coursework. Over 1,000 students annually take Jewish Studies courses. They are a diverse group and many have no background in Judaism. Additionally, the department offers a major in Jewish Studies, a minor in Jewish Studies and a minor in Hebrew Studies that allow students to explore their areas of interest in a more in depth fashion.

Introductory Courses

Introductory courses are offered at the 100 and 200 levels and are a great starting place for someone interested in exploring the themes of Jewish Studies. Recommended classes include:

  • JEWISH STUDIES 101-6: Job's Tears: Jewish Response to Suffering
  • RELIGION 220 Intro. to Hebrew Bible
  • RELIGION 230 Intro. to Judaism
  • HISTORY 203-1, -2, -3 Medieval, Early Modern, Modern Jewish History
  • COMPARATIVE LIT 278, 279 Jewish Literature
  • GERMAN 234 Jews and Germans

Questions?

Please contact jewish-studies@northwestern.edu with questions about courses or the minor and major in Jewish Studies.

Also see general information about Weinberg College first-year advising.