Undergraduate Programs

Jewish Studies – Major and Minor

WhatIsJewishStudies_5_HiRezJewish Studies offers students from varied backgrounds and disciplines a comprehensive and interdisciplinary perspective on the study of Jews and Judaism. In learning about the geographic, temporal, philosophical, and cultural diversity of the Jewish experience, students gain critical skills that complement any direction of study and can be applied to myriad future aspirations.


Major in Jewish Studies

50 credits, to include the following:

1. Jewish Language. Students must do one of the following:

  • Complete two years of college-level coursework in one Jewish language or demonstrate second year college-level proficiency in one Jewish language through a proficiency exam;
  • Complete one year each of college-level coursework in two different Jewish languages or demonstrate first year college-level proficiency in two different Jewish languages through a proficiency exam.

Jewish languages may include Biblical Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, Ladino, or Yiddish. Learn more about Jewish language offerings at UW here. Contact Professor Ahuvia, the faculty adviser for Jewish Studies majors and minors, with additional questions regarding approved Jewish languages.

2. Introductory Courses (15 credits total):

3. Minimum 35 credits of Jewish Studies courses from an approved list of electives, to include a minimum of 25 credits completed at the 300-400 level.  May include a maximum of 10 credits from the second year of Jewish language courses.

4. Maximum 15 credits (exclusive of language) from an approved UW study abroad program may be counted towards the major.

5. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA for courses applied to the major.

To major in Jewish Studies, please schedule an appointment with Linda Iltis, the Jackson School for International Studies adviser for Jewish Studies majors.

Minor in Jewish Studies

30 credits, to include the following:

1. Introductory Courses (10 credits total):

2. 20 credits of Jewish Studies courses from an approved list of electives, to include a minimum of 15 credits completed at the 300-400 level. May include up to 5 credits from Jewish language courses.

3. Minimum 15 credits taken in residence through UW.

4. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA for courses applied to the minor.

To minor in Jewish Studies, please schedule an appointment with an academic adviser at the Jackson School for International Studies.


FAQs about Jewish Studies

Q: Is Jewish Studies only for Jewish students?

A: Just as all academic programs at UW–from French & Italian Studies to Asia Studies to American Indian Studies–are open to all students regardless of background, so too Jewish Studies welcomes any student interested in learning about culture from different perspectives. Studying the variety of Jewish cultures throughout history and their interaction with majority cultures offers a fascinating vantage point for the study of society, language, art, history, philosophy, and more, no matter one’s background or intended career path.

Q: How else can students get involved in Jewish Studies from an academic perspective?

A: Students are welcome to attend programs and events offered by the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. These events range from lectures to films to cultural performances. Many are free or feature discounted tickets for students. At these events, students both learn about new perspectives in Jewish Studies and have the opportunity to meet with community members, including representatives from the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies Advisory Board, community leaders from a variety of backgrounds who bring their expertise, wisdom, and enthusiasm to help shape the future of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.

Q. What is the Jewish Studies Student Advisory Council (JSSAC)?
Undergraduate and graduate students from all backgrounds and majors who are interested in Jewish Studies are invited to join the Jewish Studies Student Advisory Council (JSSAC), a non-religious and non-political RSO. At JSSAC meetings, students offer feedback and ideas about curriculum and courses, build leadership skills, make friends, and create community. The JSSAC meets a few times each quarter, and free dinner is provided at meetings. Check the Jewish Studies website or email us for upcoming event dates.

Q. What study abroad opportunities are available for Jewish Studies students?

Courses relevant to Jewish Studies that are transferable to UW for Jewish Studies credit are available in many UW-approved study abroad programs, from Melbourne to Haifa to Prague to Grenada! Contact the UW Study Abroad office for more information about programs that offer courses for Jewish Studies credit. Students who participate in UW-approved study abroad experiences with connection to Jewish Studies are also eligible for Student Opportunity Grants. See more information about Opportunity Grants below.

Q. What funding opportunities exist for students taking Jewish Studies courses?

The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies offers Student Opportunity Grants to support undergraduate experiences with Jewish Studies through UW-approved study abroad experiences. Accredited academic domestic opportunities will also be considered (e.g., Middlebury Language Schools). Students can also apply funding towards MODHEB 105: Intensive Elementary Modern Hebrew, taught at UW during the summer full-term. Student Opportunity Grants are separately offered in two cycles: grants for Summer/Fall and grants for Winter/Spring. Students do not need to major or minor in Jewish Studies to apply for a grant. The amount per grant will be up to $1500; multiple grants are available. Check the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies website for additional information, application procedures, and deadlines.

Qualified undergraduates may also apply to work as a paid intern at the Stroum Center for the academic year. Stroum Center interns apply theory to real-life situations; receive mentoring and supervision from Jewish Studies professional staff; and gain exposure to the world of international studies. Students do not need to major or minor in Jewish Studies to apply for an internship at the Stroum Center. See here for more information about the internships.

Approved Courses and Electives for Jewish Studies
Major and Minor

List of approved electives for the Jewish Studies major and minor
Minimum 35 credits of Jewish Studies courses from this approved list of electives, to include a minimum of 25 credits completed at the 300-400 level.  May include a maximum of 10 credits from the second year of Jewish language courses (see below).

Contact jewishst@uw.edu with any questions or for clarification.

Course # Title Credits Instructor
RELIG 130 Justice, Service, and Activism in the Jewish Tradition 5 I&S Pianko
RELIG 145 Introduction to Judaism (required for major/minor) 5 I&S Ahuvia
RELIG 155 Heroes, Heretics, and Radicals: The Beginnings of Judaism and Christianity 5 I&S Ahuvia
JEW ST 175/ GERMAN 195 Popular Film and the Holocaust 5 VLPA/DIV Block
RELIG 201 Introduction to Introduction to World Religions: Western Traditions 5 I&S Ahuvia
JEW ST 210 Funny Jews: Jewish Humor and American Identity 5 VLPA Pianko
HSTEU 234 Nazi Germany 5 I&S Marhoefer
RELIG 240/ NEAR E 202 Introduction to Hebrew Bible: Old Testament 5 VLPA/I&S Martin
JEW ST 258
Introduction to Rabbinic Literature 5 VLPA Ahuvia
JEW ST 269/ HSTCMP 269 The Holocaust: History & Memory 5 I&S/DIV  Naar
NEAR E 287 Near East in Song: Israel & Popular Music 2 VLPA/DIV Sokoloff
JEW ST 289 Special Topics in Jewish Studies Varies Varies
JEW ST 295/ GERMAN 295 Contributions of German Jews to German Culture 5 VLPA/I&S/DIV Block
RELIG 306/ NEAR E 306 History of Biblical Interpretation 3 VLPA/I&S Martin
ENGL 311 Modern Jewish Literature (in translation) 5 VLPA Butwin
NEAR E 311 Archaeology of Biblical Israel 5 I&S Selover
JEW ST 312/
ENGL 312
Jewish Literature: Biblical to Modern 5 VLPA/I&S/DIV Butwin
JSIS A 314/ NEAR E 315/ POL S 314
Israel: Dynamic Society and Global Flashpoint 5 I&S/DIV Halperin
RELIG 315/ NEAR E 305 The Biblical Prophets 3 VLPA/I&S Noegel
NEAR E 316
Israeli Identities 5 VLPA/DIV Sokoloff
JEW ST 317/ NEAR E 307 From Israelites to Jews: The First Six Centuries BCE 3 VLPA/I&S Noegel
JEW ST 318/ NEAR E 317 Jewish Life in Literature and Film 5 VLPA/I&S Sokoloff, Senderovich
NEAR E 318/ 
C LIT 318
Literature and the Holocaust 5 VLPA/DIV Sokoloff
NEAR E 320 Prayer and Poetry in the Jewish and Islamic Traditions (taught in English) 5 VLPA/I&S Sokoloff & Alavi
JEW ST 325 Contemporary Judaism in a Global Context 5 I&S Pianko
POL S 325 The Arab-Israel Conflict 5 I&S  Duman
JEW ST 330 The Sages: Foundations of Classical Judaism 5 credits Ahuvia
NEAR E 333 Prophecy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam 3 I&S Zafer
RELIG 334/ GWSS 334 Gender, Sex and Religion
5 I&S/DIV Ahuvia
JEW ST 336/ HSTAA 336 American Jewish History 5 I&S Pianko
NEAR E 336 Islam in Jewish Contexts, Judaism in Muslim Contexts 3 I&S/VLPA Zafer
JEW ST 337/ HSTAA 337 The Holocaust and American Life 5 I&S/DIV Glenn
JEW ST 339/
B H 339
Bioethics: Secular and Jewish Perspectives 5 I&S Khazzam-Horovitz
JEW ST 357/ ENGL 357 Jewish American Literature and Culture 5 VLPA/DIV Butwin
JEW ST 358/ HSTCMP 368 Jewish Thought 5 I&S Pianko
JEW ST 360/ CLAS 360 Jews, Greeks, and Romans in the Ancient World 5 VLPA Stroup
HSTEU 361 Spain and Its Golden Age, 1469-1700 I&S Schmidt
JEW ST 367/
HSTAM 367
Medieval Jewish History 5 I&S
JEW ST 368/ 
HSTEU 368
Modern European Jewish History 5 I&S/DIV Naar
JEW ST 369/
HSTCMP 369
The Jewish Twentieth Century in Film 5 I&S/VLPA/DIV
JEW ST 377/
SOC 377
The American Jewish Community 5 I&S/DIV Friedman
JEW ST 378/
SOC 378
Contemporary Jewish American Identities 5 I&S/DIV Friedman
JEW ST 379/
SOC 378
Doing Jewish Identity Studies 5 I&S Friedman
JEW ST 418/
PHIL 418
Jewish Philosophy 5 I&S Rosenthal
JEW ST 427/ RUSS 427 Russian Jewish Experience 5 VLPA/I&S/DIV
JEW ST 438/ GWSS 438 Jewish Women in Contemporary America 5 I&S/DIV Friedman
RELIG 440 Angels: From the Bible to American Spirituality 5 I&S Ahuvia
JSIS A 458 Israel: Politics and Society 5 I&S/DIV Migdal
JEW ST 460/ SPAN 360 Sephardic Culture before 1492 5 I&S/VLPA Naar
JEW ST 462 Anti-Semitism As a Cultural System 5 I&S/DIV
JEW ST 463 Enlightenment, Emancipation, Antisemitism: History of the Jews, 1770-1914 5 I&S/DIV
JEW ST 465/ HSTEU 465
The Jews of Eastern Europe 5 I&S
JEW ST 466/ HSTCMP 469 The Sephardic Diaspora: 1492-Present 5 I&S/DIV  Naar
JEW ST 468/ HSTEU 464 The Jews in Spanish History 5 I&S
JEW ST 490 Advanced Topics in Jewish Studies 1-5 max 15  I&S Varies
JEW ST 491 Seminar: Topics and Issues in Judaism 5 I&S
JEW ST 495 Seminar in Jewish Studies 5 I&S
Special Topics For any course prefix when topic is appropriate; email for approval Varies Varies

Jewish Language Courses that May Be Taken as Electives

Note: Jewish Studies Majors are recommended to take up to 15 credits from the list below.

Course # Title Credits Instructor
MODHEB 100 Introduction to Hebrew Language and Culture 2 VLPA/I&S Khazzam-Horovitz
MODHEB 200 Hebrew Conversation 2 VLPA/I&S Romano
ARAMIC 201 Biblical Aramaic 5 VLPA Martin
BIBHEB 201 Biblical Hebrew Poetry 5 VLPA Martin
BIBHEB 202 Inscriptions From Biblical Times 5 VLPA Martin
BIBHEB 203 Biblical Prophetic Texts 5 VLPA Noegel
BIBHEB 206 Magic and the Bible: Tales of Cult and Wonder 5 VLPA Noegel
MODHEB 201
MODHEB 202
MODHEB 203
Intermediate Modern Hebrew 5 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 401
MODHEB 402
MODHEB 403
Introduction to Hebrew Literature 3 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 404 Hebrew Poetry 5 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 405 Hebrew Fiction 3 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 406 Hebrew Poems and Prayers 3 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 407 Hebrew in Song 5 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 408 Hebrew in Prose 5 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 490 Supervised Study 3-5, max. 15 credits, VLPA
MODHEB 496 Special Topics in Modern Hebrew 1-6, max. 18 credits

Jewish Languages at UW

UW offers courses in biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew. Students who wish to study a Jewish language not currently offered at UW should contact Professor Mika Ahuvia, undergraduate faculty adviser for Jewish Studies and coordinate with Jackson School academic advising office.

Students who wish to satisfy language requirements of the Jewish Studies major by demonstrating sufficient knowledge should contact the Office of Educational Assessment website and then notify the Jackson School academic advising office with the results. For additional information about placement and proficiency exams, see here.

Biblical Hebrew Language

A two-year sequence in biblical Hebrew language offered in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at UW counts toward a degree in Jewish Studies. The inductive method employed in biblical Hebrew language classes allows students to read solely from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) by the end of the second quarter of the first year. Thereafter students take courses on biblical Hebrew prose texts, biblical poetry, and ancient inscriptions. The final quarter of the second year is typically devoted to biblical Aramaic or some other course of interest to students of ancient Hebrew.

After completing BIBHEB 101, 102, and 103, students may take higher level BIBHEB courses (i.e., BIBHEB 201, BIBHEB 202, BIBHEB 203) in any order.

For a complete list of courses, a series of online learning tools for the study of biblical Hebrew, relevant course websites, and resource sites for those who want to study the Hebrew Bible in greater depth, please see here or contact Professor Scott Noegel.

Biblical Hebrew Language Courses

Course # Title Credits Instructor
ARAMIC 201 Biblical Aramaic 5 VLPA Martin
§BIBHEB 101
§BIBHEB 102
Elementary Biblical Hebrew 5 Martin
§BIBHEB 103 Biblical Hebrew Prose 5 Martin
BIBHEB 105 Intensive Biblical Hebrew  (SUM only) 15 Martin
BIBHEB 201 Biblical Hebrew Poetry 5 VLPA Martin
BIBHEB 202 Inscriptions From Biblical Times 5 VLPA Martin
BIBHEB 203 Biblical Prophetic Texts 5 VLPA Martin
BIBHEB 206 Magic and the Bible: Tales of Cult and Wonder 5 VLPA Noegel
§ Preparatory course; credits do not count toward the requirement for the Jewish Studies major.

 

Modern Hebrew Language

The Modern Hebrew curriculum at UW is based on the textbook Ivrit Min Hahathalah (“Hebrew from Scratch”), which was developed by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Students who take the year-long Elementary Modern Hebrew (MODHEB 101, 102, 103) series or the summer Intensive Elementary Modern Hebrew (MODHEB 105) will cover material from Level I. Intermediate Modern Hebrew (MODHEB 201, 202, 203) covers the material from Level II. The first year of modern Hebrew at the University of Washington is roughly equivalent to Level Aleph at the ulpan (intensive language courses) offered at Hebrew University; the second year is roughly equivalent to Level Bet.

For questions pertaining to placement, native speakers, and proficiency tests, click here.

Modern Hebrew Language Courses

Course # Title Credits Instructor
§MODHEB 101
§MODHEB 102
§MODHEB 103
Elementary Modern Hebrew 5 Khazzam-Horovitz
§MODHEB 105 Intensive Elementary Modern Hebrew (SUM only) 15 Khazzam-Horovitz
MODHEB 201
MODHEB 202
MODHEB 203
Intermediate Modern Hebrew 5 VLPA Romano
MODHEB 401
MODHEB 402
MODHEB 403
Introduction to Hebrew Literature 3 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 404 Hebrew Poetry 5 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 405 Hebrew Fiction 3 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 406 Hebrew Poems and Prayers 3 VLPA Sokoloff
MODHEB 407 Hebrew in Song 5 VLPA Sokoloff
§ Preparatory courses; credits do not count toward the requirement for the Jewish Studies major.

FAQs about Modern Hebrew at UW

 1. If I have taken modern Hebrew before, in which class should I enroll? Is there a proficiency exam I can take?

Students who wish to enroll in a modern Hebrew language class and are not sure what level is most appropriate should contact Professor Naomi Sokoloff.

Students who have studied modern Hebrew outside of UW and wish to receive Credit by Examination should consult the advising website and contact the Testing Center at the Office of Educational Assessment. Three exams are available:

1) An exam covering material from the first two quarters of Elementary Modern Hebrew (MODHEB 101,102). To receive 10 credits toward an undergraduate degree, students must pass this test with a score of 75 or higher.

2) An exam covering material from all three quarters of Elementary Modern Hebrew (MODHEB 101,102, 103). To receive 15 credits toward an undergraduate degree, students must pass this test with a score of 75 or higher; by receiving a passing mark on this exam students qualify to enroll in Intermediate Modern Hebrew and they also meet the University of Washington undergraduate foreign language requirement.

3) An exam covering material from all three quarters of Intermediate Modern Hebrew (MODHEB 201, 202, 203). To receive 15 credits toward an undergraduate degree, students must pass this test with a score of 75 or higher. By receiving a passing mark on this exam, students meet the Jewish Studies requirement for 2 years of Hebrew language study.

2. Can I transfer course credits in modern Hebrew?

Students who wish to transfer credits in modern Hebrew language courses from either UW-approved study abroad programs or independent learning abroad or domestically can learn more about the process here. In cases where students need faculty approval, contact Professor Sokoloff.

3. If I am a native speaker of Hebrew, which Hebrew course should I enroll in?

Students who are native speakers of Hebrew cannot enroll in MODHEB 101, 102, 103; MODHEB 105; or MODHEB 201, 202, 203. Students who wish to study modern Hebrew and who are not sure if UW considers them “native speakers” should consult with the UW admissions office and/or with Professor Sokoloff. Students who speak Hebrew at home but have never studied the language in a formal setting are often considered “near-native speakers.” For placement questions, consult Professor Sokoloff.

4. If I want to be admitted to UW and want to show that my knowledge of Hebrew fulfills the foreign language requirement for admission, what do I do?

Individuals applying for admission to undergraduate programs at the University of Washington are required to have completed two years of high school foreign language classes. Those who have not met this requirement (and thus have a “deficiency” in their application), may take a test to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of modern Hebrew. Learn more about the process here.

5. If I am a non-matriculated or Access (WA state resident aged 60 and older) student, may I enroll in Modern Hebrew?

Modern Hebrew classes are available to non-matriculated and Access students on a space-available basis. Learn more about registering as a non-matriculated student here, and as an Access student here.

 6. Where can I get additional information about modern Hebrew at the University of Washington?

Visit Professor Sokoloff’s blog to learn more about the modern Hebrew language, Israeli culture, and the Modern Hebrew program at the University of Washington.


JSIS & Affiliate Jewish Studies Faculty