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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Hannah S Pressman
RELIG 415
Seattle Campus

Modern Jewish Thought

Major trends in Jewish religious thought since the European Enlightenment, focusing on encounters between Judaism and the modern world. Includes Haskalah; varieties of religious reform and accommodation; Zionism; socialism; the philosophy of Rosenzweig, Buber, and Kaplan; and theological responses to the Holocaust. Recommended: HIST/SISJE 250, HSTEU/SISJE 469, RELIG 201, or RELIG 210.

Class description

This course surveys various issues involving language and modern Jewish culture, starting with the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and moving to contemporary times. Units of study will include: Jewish Bible translation; Kabbalistic notions of language; the rise of modern Hebrew; Yiddish then and now, including a focus on Yiddish in Israel; the role of gender in Jewish language; and Jewish bilingualism. Readings will consist of philosophical pieces, scholarly articles, and Jewish literary works that thematize issues of language and identity. Students will be exposed to major figures in the field, including: Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Gershom Scholem, Walter Benjamin, Shmuel Niger, Jacques Derrida, S.Y. Abramowitz, H.N. Bialik, M.Y. Berdyczewski, Dan Miron, Naomi Seidman, Jeffrey Shandler, and Yael Chaver.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The course will require occasional brief written responses, a midterm, and a final paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Loryn Hazan Paxton
Date: 05/13/2008