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BA Judaic Studies

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

4 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

68230 USD
68230 USD

Application fee

International 80 USD
National 80 USD
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
SAT (avg)1425
ACT (avg)34

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About this course

Judaic Studies enables students to develop a broad knowledge of the history, religion, literature, philosophy, languages, and politics of the Jews. Jewish societies, texts, ideologies, material cultures, and institutions are studied from a comparative perspective in the context of histories, cultures, and intellectual traditions among which Jews have lived throughout the ages. As an interdisciplinary program, Judaic Studies employs historical, literary, political, social, and philosophical methods of analysis.

The Judaic Studies major—especially as a second major with Economics, Political Science, Literature, English, Philosophy, or History—offers a broad and interdisciplinary liberal arts background combined with intensive preparation in the historical and religious experience of Jewish culture in its various civilizational contexts, from antiquity to contemporary times. The major epochs of Jewish history include: the Persian and Hellenistic period, including biblical and para-biblical Jewish writings; the classical period, including the literature, history, and thought of rabbinic Judaism and its antecedents; the medieval period, including Jewish history, literature, and thought in both Christian and Islamic lands; the early modern period, including Jewish history from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries; the modern period which includes the history, literature, and thought of Jews and Judaism from the late eighteenth to the twenty-first century, with attention to the impact of modernization.

Students considering the major in Judaic Studies should contact the director of undergraduate studies as soon as possible.

Check further details on University website

Eligibility Criteria



Number of courses 

13 term courses (incl senior req)

Distribution of courses 

3 courses from (1) Hebrew Bible, (2) rabbinic lit or ancient Judaism, (3) JDST 200, (4) JDST 201, (5) Jewish thought, (6) survey of Hebrew and Jewish literature; HEBR 110 and 120, or 2 courses in Hebrew literature in translation; 2 areas of concentration, with 3 courses in each for a total of 6 courses.

Senior requirement 

Two-term senior essay (JDST 491 and 492), or one-term senior essay (JDST 491 or492) and additional seminar

English language requirement:

  • IELTS: 7
  • TOEFL-IBT: 100
  • TOEFL-PBT: 600
  • SAT: 1425
  • ACT: 34

Check further details on University website

Course Modules

Core Course

JDST 200a / ER&M 219a / HIST 219a / MMES 149a / RLST 148a, Jewish History and Thought to Early Modern Times  Ivan Marcus

A broad introduction to the history of the Jews from biblical beginnings until the European Reformation and the Ottoman Empire. Focus on the formative period of classical rabbinic Judaism and on the symbiotic relationships among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Jewish society and culture in its biblical, rabbinic, and medieval settings. Counts toward either European or non-Western distributional credit within the History major, upon application to the director of undergraduate studies.  HU  RP
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

Special Project and Senior Essay Courses

* JDST 471a or b, Individual Tutorial  Staff

For students who wish, under faculty supervision, to investigate an area in Judaic Studies not covered by regular course offerings. May be used for research or for directed reading, but in either case a long essay or several short ones are required. To apply for admission, a student should present a prospectus with bibliography and a letter of support from the faculty member who will direct the work to the director of undergraduate studies.
* JDST 491a and JDST 492b, The Senior Essay  Staff

The essay, written under the supervision of a faculty member, should be a substantial paper between 6,500 and 8,000 words for one term and between 12,500 and 15,000 words for two terms.

Electives within the Major

Biblical Period

JDST 110a / RLST 145a, The Bible  Christine Hayes

The writings common to both Jewish and Christian scripture examined as diverse and often conflicting expressions of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel. The works' cultural and historical setting in the ancient Near East; the interpretive history of selected passages influential in Western culture. Introduction to a wide range of critical and literary approaches to biblical studies. Students view course lectures, which survey the entire Bible, on line; class time focuses on specific biblical passages and their subsequent interpretation in Jewish and Christian culture.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

Classical Period

* JDST 235b / MMES 235b / NELC 231b / RLST 147b, Introduction to Judaism in the Ancient World Steven Fraade

The emergence of classical Judaism in its historical setting. Jews and Hellenization; varieties of early Judaism; apocalyptic and postapocalyptic responses to suffering and catastrophe; worship and atonement without sacrificial cult; interpretations of scriptures; law and life; the rabbi; the synagogue; faith in reason; Sabbath and festivals; history and its redemption. No prior background in Jewish history assumed.  HU
* JDST 256b / MMES 236b / NELC 232b / RLST 400b, The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Damascus Document  Steven Fraade

Study of the Damascus Document, one of the most important of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Attention to the document's place in the history of biblical interpretation and ancient Jewish law; the nature and rhetorical function of its textual practices, both narrative and legal; and its relation to the central sectarian writings of the Qumran community. Prerequisite: reading proficiency in ancient Hebrew.  L5, HU
* JDST 392a / NELC 382a / RLST 405a, Mishnah Seminar: Tractate Ta'anit on Fasting  Steven Fraade

Close study of a section of the Mishnah, the earliest digest of Jewish law, treating procedures for public fasts in response to drought and other forms of collective adversity. Particular attention to the textual practices of rabbinic legal discourse in relation to its social function, and to the interplay of law and narrative. Prerequisite: reading fluency in ancient Hebrew.  L5, HU

Medieval and Early Modern Periods

* JDST 260a / RLST 216a, Medieval and Modern Jewish Biblical Commentaries  Staff

Survey of classic medieval and modern Jewish Biblical commentaries, from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries. Exploration of diverging approaches to the Pentateuch in light of the different intellectual and cultural contexts in which Jewish scholarship thrived. Topics include the impact of Arabic learning, attitudes towards rabbinic tradition, the rise of rationalism and mysticism, and the multiple challenges of modernity. reading knowledge of Hebrew.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm
* JDST 261a / MMES 273a / RLST 200a, Jews at the Origins of Islam  Liran Yadgar

Investigation of the role of Jews in the formative period of Islam, from the beginning of Muhammad’s call to prophethood around 610 C.E. to the early Abbasid Period (ca. 850 C.E.) in light of contemporary scholarship on the origins of Islam.  HU
T 9:25am-11:15am
JDST 265b / HIST 345b / MMES 148b / RLST 202b, Jews in Muslim Lands from the Seventh to the Sixteenth Centuries  Ivan Marcus

Jewish culture and society in Muslim lands from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to that of Suleiman the Magnificent. Topics include Islam and Judaism; Jerusalem as a holy site; rabbinic leadership and literature in Baghdad; Jewish courtiers, poets, and philosophers in Muslim Spain; and the Jews in the Ottoman Empire.  HU  RP
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm
* JDST 270a / HIST 232Ja / HUMS 443a / MMES 342a / RLST 201a, Medieval Jews, Christians, and Muslims In Conversation  Ivan Marcus

How members of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities thought of and interacted with members of the other two cultures during the Middle Ages. Cultural grids and expectations each imposed on the other; the rhetoric of otherness—humans or devils, purity or impurity, and animal imagery; and models of religious community and power in dealing with the other when confronted with cultural differences. Counts toward either European or Middle Eastern distributional credit within the History major, upon application to the director of undergraduate studies.  WR, HU  RP
Th 9:25am-11:15am

Modern Period

JDST 201b / HIST 220b / RLST 149b, Introduction to Modern Jewish History  David Sorkin

A broad introduction to the history of Jewish culture from the late Middle Ages until the present. Emphasis on the changing interaction of Jews with the larger society as well as the transformation of Judaism in its encounter with modernity.  HU
MW 1:30pm-2:20pm
* JDST 216a / PHIL 322a, Intersubjectivity and Dialogue  Asaf Angermann

Study of the multiple philosophical perspectives on the problem of intersubjectivity in twentieth century philosophy, including the phenomenological method in continental philosophy, the problem of other minds in analytic philosophy, and the dialogical principle in modern Jewish thought. Permission of the instructor is required.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm
* JDST 230a, Law and Narrative, Gender and Sexuality in the Talmud  Noah Bickart

Exploration of both legal and narrative sections of the Kiddushin tractate from the Babylonian Talmud. Close reading and literary criticism of the laws of Kiddushin, as well feminist and queer theory. Investigation into the development of Rabbinic attitudes toward marriage, as well as gender and sexuality. Readings in translation. Additional readings in Hebrew available.  HU
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm
JDST 293b / HIST 248b / RLST 214b, Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought  Eliyahu Stern

An overview of Jewish philosophical trends, movements, and thinkers from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first. Topics include enlightenment, historicism, socialism, secularism, religious radicalism, and Zionism.  HU
MW 2:30pm-3:20pm
JDST 318b / ER&M 319b / LITR 282b / NELC 282b, Cultural Critique and Israel  Hannan Hever

Major trends in cultural studies explored using Israel as a case study; focus on the political-critical approach. Theoretical questions regarding the definition of culture; critical approaches to cultural texts; theories of high, low, and popular cultures; the constitution of the subject within the cultural arena. Attention to literature, cinema, music, and visual art.  HU
* JDST 319b / HEBR 162b / MMES 161b, Israel in Ideology and Practice  Dina Roginsky

The social history of modern Israel from the inception of Zionism in the late nineteenth century to the present, with emphasis on the ideological processes that led to the foundation of the state in 1948. Topics include political dynamics, the complicated relashionship between state and religion, Jewish-Arab relations, and contemporary Israeli society. Prerequisite: HEBR 140 or equivalent.  L5  RP
MW 1pm-2:15pm
JDST 323b / MMES 160b / NELC 155b / SOCY 155b, State and Society in Israel  Dina Roginsky

The interplay between the state and society in Israel. Current Israeli discourse on controversial issues such as civil rights in a Jewish-democratic state, Jewish-Arab relations, and right and left politics. Issues of orthodoxy, military service, globalization, and multiculturalism in Israel. Sociopolitical changes that have taken place in Israel since the establishment of the state in 1948 and that have led to the reshaping of Israeli Zionist ideology.  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm
JDST 332a / HIST 216a / MMES 197a / RLST 193a, Zionism  Eliyahu Stern

Introduction to the core ideas of the Zionist movement from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth. Focus on internal Jewish debates and criticism of the movement by European and Middle Eastern intellectuals. Social, political, cultural, and messianic ideological strands within the movement and their interpretations of various historical experiences and ideas located in the Jewish tradition.  HU
MW 10:30am-11:20am
* JDST 335a / GMAN 254a / PHIL 274a, Jewish Philosophy  Paul Franks

Introduction to Jewish philosophy, including classical rationalism of Maimonides, classical kabbalah, and Franz Rosenzweig's inheritance of both traditions. Critical examination of concepts arising in and from Jewish life and experience, in a way that illuminates universal problems of leading a meaningful human life in a multicultural and increasingly globalized world. No previous knowledge of Judaism is required.  WR, HU
* JDST 336a / HIST 278Ja, The Culture of Acculturation  David Sorkin

Noninstitutional forms of Jewish expression and identity in modern Europe explored through the works of intellectuals, writers, and artists. The emergence of a bourgeois Jewish culture from 1648 to 1870, including self-representation in systematic thought, history, fiction, and painting; innovative ways in which such representations were revised by intellectuals and artists of succeeding generations; the influence of political trends and cultural developments in European society.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm
JDST 340a / HIST 252a, Political History of European Jewry, 1589–1897  David Sorkin

The reshaping of political principles that governed Jewish life in the European diaspora during the modern period. The Jews' internal traditions of political self-understanding and behavior; the changing political status of Jews in Europe; Jewish political participation in European society.  HU
MW 2:30pm-3:20pm
* JDST 349a / ER&M 218a / LITR 435a / RLST 228a, Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationality in Modern Jewish Culture  Hannan Hever and Eliyahu Stern

Conception and development of cultural identity through the category of “the Jew” in modernity. Investigation of identity politics in modern Europe, the Middle East, and America with consideration of how discourses of colonialism, science, theology, and multiculturalism have determined the perception of self and relation to others.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm
* JDST 352b / HIST 283Jb, Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism, and Anti-Zionism  Staff

Investigation to further understanding of the origins, causes, motives, and long history of antisemitism. Antisemitic topics include: its relationship to pre-modern anti-Judaism and contemporary anti-Zionism; its connection to religion and modern secular ideologies like nationalism, fascism, and socialism; how it differs from other forms of racism, hatred, and bigotry; and how its resurgence relates to anti-Zionist political activism.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

Language and Literature

* JDST 213a / HEBR 150a / MMES 150a, Advanced Modern Hebrew: Daily Life in Israel  Orit Yeret

An examination of major controversies in Israeli society. Readings include newspaper editorials and academic articles as well as documentary and historical material. Advanced grammatical structures are introduced and practiced. Conducted in Hebrew. Prerequisite: HEBR 140 or equivalent.  L5  RP
WF 9am-10:15am
* JDST 305b / HEBR 158b / MMES 168b, Contemporary Israeli Society in Film  Shiri Goren

Examination of major themes in Israeli society through film, with emphasis on language study. Topics include migration, gender and sexuality, Jewish/Israeli identity, and private and collective memory. Readings in Hebrew and English provide a sociohistorical background and bases for class discussion. Prerequisite: HEBR 140 or permission of instructor.  L5, HU  RP
* JDST 316b / ENGL 456b / HUMS 427b / LITR 348b, The Practice of Literary Translation Peter Cole

Intensive readings in the history and theory of translation paired with practice in translating. Case studies from ancient languages (the Bible, Greek and Latin classics), medieval languages (classical Arabic literature), and modern languages (poetic texts).  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm
* JDST 325b / AFAM 343b / AFST 326b / ENGL 231b / LITR 343b, Literatures of Blacks and Jews from the Twentieth Century  Staff

Comparative study of representative writings by African, Caribbean, and African American authors of the past one hundred years, together with European, American, and South African Jewish authors writing in Yiddish, Hebrew, French, and English. Examination of the paradoxically central role played by minority, or marginal groups, in the creation of modern literature and the articulation of the modern experience.  HU
* JDST 339a / LITR 418a / MMES 418a / RLST 203a, Politics of Modern Hebrew Literature Hannan Hever

Overview of the Poetics, Culture, History and Political dynamics of Modern Hebrew Literature as a national literature over the last 300 years. The course will trace the literary development of its diasporic condition in Europe through the Hebrew Literature that is created in the Israeli Jewish sovereignty. Readings in translation. No background in Jewish literature, Hebrew literature, or Jewish culture is required.  HU
T 2:30pm-4:20pm
* JDST 341b / ENGL 253b / LITR 322b, Jewish American Poetry  Peter Cole

Consideration of American poetry written by Jews and Jewish poetry written by Americans and the relation these poems bear to other American poetry and to the poetry written by Jews elsewhere in the world. Key figures include Emma Lazarus, Gertrude Stein, Moshe Leyb-Halpern, Charles Reznikoff, Louis Zukofsky, Allen Ginsberg, Anthony Hecht, Adrienne Rich, and Harold Bloom. All readings in English.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm
* JDST 353b / ER&M 306b / LITR 308b / MMES 308, Literature at the Limit from Palestine and Israel  Hannan Hever and Robyn Creswell

Readings and films from post-1948 Palestine and Israel, with special attention given to historical and political contexts. Consideration of the limit, in the geographical sense of borders and checkpoints, as well as in the existential sense of extremity and trauma.  HU
W 2:30pm-4:20pm
* JDST 360a / HEBR 160a / MMES 155, Hebrew in a Changing World  Dina Roginsky

Focus on how Hebrew language is used in Israel for constructing social norms, expectations, and day-to-day experiences. Topics include gendered language, political and PC language, military language, slang, humor, dialects, accents, name-giving practices, language in a sacred and in a secular context, and Americanization of the Hebrew language. Materials include advertisements, internet forums, movie clips, skits, maps, political stickers, and newspapers. Prerequisite: HEBR 140 or permission of instructor.  L5
TTh 1pm-2:15pm
* JDST 391a / NELC 381a / RLST 407a, Midrash Seminar: The Revelation at Sinai  Steven Fraade

The giving of the Torah to Israel as seen through rabbinic eyes. Close readings of midrashic texts. Views of revelation, tradition, interpretation, law, and commandment in their literary and historical contexts. Interpretations and interpretive strategies compared and contrasted with those of other ancient biblical exegetes (Jewish and non-Jewish). Reading fluency in ancient Hebrew.  L5, HU
* JDST 416a / GMAN 158a, Reading Yiddish  Joshua Price

This course is designed to build literacy in Yiddish, the vernacular of Ashkenazi Jewry. With focus on the accelerated treatment of Yiddish grammar, regularly supplemented with simple primary texts (poems, songs, folktales), and followed by close readings of (modern) Yiddish literature, students will be able to navigate most Yiddish texts with the aid of a dictionary. May not be taken concurrently with elementary or intermediate German.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm
* JDST 418b / GMAN 159b, Reading Yiddish II  Joshua Price

Intermediate study of Yiddish literary language with annotated readings from classic authors including: Mendele, Sholem Aleichem, Peretz, Bergelson, Der Nister, Bashevis, as well as American and Soviet Yiddish poetry. Secondary readings in English will offer a broader introduction to the modern Yiddish canon.  Continuation of GMAN 158/JDST 416. Previous knowledge of German or Hebrew-Aramaic recommended but not required.
W 3:30pm-5:20pm


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How to Apply

All applicants for freshman admission must submit one of the following:

  • The Coalition Application with Yale-Specific Questions
  • The Common Application with Yale-Specific Questions
  • The QuestBridge National College Match Application

Additional requirements for all freshman applicants:

  • $80 Application Fee or Fee Waiver
  • Two Teacher Recommendations
  • One Counselor Recommendation
  • School Report (including Transcript)
  • Standardized Test Results
  • Mid-Year Report (due when first semester/term senior grades are available at your school)

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