UNDERSTANDING JEWISH IDENTITY AND EXPERIENCE
through Jewish history, culture and language.
Who We Are
For more than four decades, GW’s Judaic Studies (JSTD) Program has offered robust curricula and research that reflect the complexities of the Jewish experience. Our undergraduate and graduate programs immerse students in the history and culture of the Jewish people, from ancient times to the present.
The JSTD Program’s interdisciplinary faculty are experts across many relevant fields, and they support unique research projects like GW’s I. Edward Kiev Collection, a diverse collection of Hebraica and Judaica.
Students round out their experience with program events and take advantage of Washington, D.C.'s rich resources in archaeology, modern culture, the Holocaust and more.
Why Judaic Studies Matters
- The definition of "Jewishness" has evolved over time and is increasingly contested. Judaic studies allows students to form a nuanced understanding of the highly charged question, “Who is a Jew?” and ask what constitutes Jewish identity, thought and practice.
- Jewish culture is multilingual and multicultural, and the existence of a diaspora is central to the Jewish experience. Judaic studies offers a broad window into the world through music, film, literature and art, leading students to form a global and cross-cultural perspective.
- Judaism is the parent religion of both Christianity and Islam. The three religions developed in part in relation to one another, and one cannot fully understand these religions without understanding their roots in Judaism.
- Jewish people have endured for millennia despite the lack of a common land and language, and a long tradition of anti-Judaism and antisemitism. Judaic studies enables students to explore how minorities can survive and thrive, even in unfavorable circumstances.
- Jews have played a formative role in modern developments, from physics to psychoanalysis to postmodernism. Judaic studies seeks to understand the extraordinary contributions of Jews to secular culture.
- Studying the Holocaust exposes students to a range of troubling but unavoidable questions. The JSTD Program offers courses in the history, literature, education and memory of the Holocaust and hosts trips to sites including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Judaic studies encompasses the multidisciplinary study of Israeli history, politics, society and culture. Students learn about the variants of Zionist ideology and examine a key feature of contemporary Jewish politics, while probing the limits of the field by looking at the non-Jewish populations in Israel, as well as the history and contemporary politics of Israel/Palestine. Working in collaboration with GW’s Institute for Middle East Studies and with local experts, the program offers a unique opportunity for students to examine Israel from comparative and transnational perspectives.
"Researching a subject as delicate as the Holocaust, specifically survivors' memories, I needed to be thoroughly supported through my research journey. I found the support and guidance I needed in the Judaic Studies Program, and my senior thesis received top honors at GW Research Days."
Veronica La Du
BA ’18, History