Why Judaic Studies?

The definition of Jewishness has evolved over time and has become increasingly contested. Judaic Studies allows students to form a more nuanced and contextualized understanding of the highly charged question “Who is a Jew?” and what constitutes Jewish identity, thought and practice.

Jewish culture is multilingual and multicultural, and the existence of a diaspora has been one of the central facts of the Jewish experience. Judaic Studies offers a broad window into the world, 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 relationship with one another, and one cannot fully understand these religions without understanding their roots in Judaism.

The Jews 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 important developments in modernity, from physics to psychoanalysis to postmodernism. Judaic studies seeks to understand the extraordinary and disproportionate contributions of Jews to secular culture.

Study of the Holocaust exposes students to a range of troubling but unavoidable questions. GW offers courses in the history, literature and memory of the Holocaust.

The program has robust course offerings in Hebrew and Israel studies, including classes on the history of Zionism and the state of Israel; Israeli cinema, culture, and politics; and the Arab-Israeli conflict.