Jewish Studies Program Description

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The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Delaware, established in the Fall of 1990, is an interdisciplinary program within the College of Arts and Sciences. Jewish Studies is a secular, academic discipline that focuses on Jewish culture and civilization from its ancient Near Eastern origins through its contemporary history and culture around the world. The history and literature, religion and philosophy, law and ethics, visual and material arts, languages, and varieties of cultural traditions of Jewish peoples are not only rich and diverse, but offer an important lens through which to study ancient and modern cultures alike. Although Jewish people are small in number, and dispersed throughout much of their history in dozens of different lands and civilizations, they have created a lasting and fascinating cultural legacy out of all proportion to their physical circumstances. This is a program dedicated to studying that legacy, and its significance for us today.

The Jewish Studies curriculum relies heavily on several departments within the University. In fact, the program is proud to include courses from such a wide range of constituent departments, such as History, Anthropology, English, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Women's Studies. In addition, visiting faculty are invited frequently to teach in our program.

An integral part of the intellectual and teaching mission of the University, the Jewish Studies program prides itself in being able to include Jewish perspectives to the university’s emphasis on diversity and multicultural studies. As an academic program, Jewish Studies does not advocate a particular belief system and does not require experience with Jewish religious practices. We welcome people of all faiths and traditions who are interested in the study of Jewish culture and history, including students, faculty, and staff.

Students who wish to undertake an Internship, Independent Study, or Senior Thesis on a topic within Jewish Studies should contact the Director of Jewish Studies for more information.

The Jewish Studies Program operates under the aegis of the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

Jewish Studies Program and the Mission of the University

The strength of the program lies in its ability to implement three interrelated goals encompassed in the mission of the University:

    • To work with departments in their efforts to provide courses on the many interconnected facets of Jewish civilization, culture and thought, including history, literature, philosophy, sociology, religion, politics, and languages.
    • To study Jewish thought and history is to better understand the underpinnings of both Jewish and Western cultures, as well as the mutual influences that helped shape each.

    Jewish intellectual development has had a profound impact on the evolution of Western philosophy, literature, and political and social thought. The influence of contemporary American Jewish writers on the shape of modern writing is a notable example. Jewish Studies has significantly contributed to grappling with the implications for Western civilization of the Holocaust and its aftermath.


    • To further the university's goal of a multicultural education:
      The geographic and intellectual history of Jews in the world addresses the way the outsider coexists (and often struggles) with the insider, to maintain both physical and cultural survival.

    • To make Jewish Studies resources available to the larger Delaware community. Colloquia and other cultural activities are open to the University and the public and are in some cases co-sponsored with other units in the University. The Jewish Studies program on campus is the only one in the State and is able to attract students from a wide geographic area.

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