Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies scholars work out of many disciplines and develop many skills in order to engage in Jewish study as scholars, as life long learners, and, for some, as various kinds of practitioners. Listed below are: General and then more Advanced skills, followed by the Broader Aims of the program. The Jewish studies major, minor and secular certificate program focus on introducing students to three basic areas of Jewish studies scholarship:  Jewish religion, culture, and philosophy; Jewish literatures and Hebrew language; and Jewish History.

General skills:

  • Basic organizational, reading, and writing skills
  • Constructing simple essay arguments with use of various types of sources, sacred, literary, and historical
  • Comprehension of continuity and change over time
  • Knowing the difference and relationship between various forms of interpretation and notions of truth claims
  • Appreciating a variety of critical, scholarly perspectives
  • Understanding what various kinds of Jewish communities do and the kinds of questions Jewish studies scholars ask in relation to these practices
  • Recognizing the difference between different kinds of truth claims

More advanced:

  • Critically examining written, visual, and ritual materials and scholarly sources
  • Understanding the difference between the three primary areas of Jewish studies scholarship covered in the program at Temple: religious and secular Jewish texts, practices, and histories, Hebrew as a Jewish language and the broader legacy of Jewish literatures, and the broader span of Jewish history
  • Formulating analytical questions about Jewish texts, literary, philosophical and historical
  • Demonstrating the ability to write an analytical essay
  • Developing speaking and presentation skills
  • Gaining the ability to use the library and other technologically appropriate sources for research and writing
  • Learning how to collect and organize historical and textual data


The Jewish Studies program will assist students in:

  • Understanding the broad foundations and arguments around the relationship between, Jews, Judaism and Jewish forms of cultural expression.
  • Have some basic knowledge of forms of Jewish religious, cultural, and political expression.
  • Appreciate the broader historical questions that animate Jewish studies scholarship.
  • Understanding the distinction between theory and data and the links between the two components while drawing generalizations from actual social experience,
  • Recognizing the role of language and especially Hebrew as central to Jewish culture, religion, and history
  • Students should come out of the program knowing the differences between Judaism as a religious tradition and Jewishness as a statement of ethnicity, culture, politics and/or communal identity and some sense of how notions of race both complicates and enhances these commitments and engagements.
  • Students should know the basic elements of at least three of the major Jewish readings of history (Biblical, Rabbinic, Secular, Zionist, Haskala/Wissenschaft, Liberal, and Postmodern.).