The following foundations,
individuals, and agencies
have given generously:

Eli Reinhard

Paul & Sheri Robbins

Eda & Joseph Pell

Sherri Sager

Temple Emanu-El
of San José, California

Jewish Federation
of Silicon Valley

The SJSU Middle East Studies Consortium

San José
State University

Jewish Studies

Dr. Jonathan P. Roth

Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary minor program, offering to students courses within two colleges and seven departments, allowing for a reading of contemporary, historical, fictional, philosophical, and scriptural texts that enable the critical exploration of issues and ideas. Please see the minor program pages for required and optional courses. Courses are also available to non-matriculating students through Open University.

Courses Available for Fall 2014
Aug 25 - Dec 10 2014


Upper Division Courses


English 115: The Bible as Literature

Professor Mary Warner

TR 12-1:15, SH 413

This course approaches the Bible, this signature work of Western Civilization, from the perspective of literature. We examine key portions of the Bible, exploring its subjects, themes, literary styles, and genres, and its vast influence on Western Literature. Students will write two essays—one connected to Tanach/Old Testament and one related to the Christian Foundational Writings/New Testament. There will be a midterm, final exam, and weekly sustained silent writing. Every “respectable” student should be familiar with the Bible!


History 132: History of the Jews          

Professor Jonathan Roth

MW 10:30-11:45, DMH 

Arch of Titus Menorah

This course will cover the history of the Jewish people from their origins down to the present.  We will explore the origins of the Jews, in the Hebrews and Israelites, the development of the ancient Jewish state, religion and ethnicity in the Holy Land, the Diaspora, or spread of the Jews, first around the Near East, and then throughout the world. We will discuss the changing religious, social and cultural aspects of the Jewish people, and their interaction with the societies in which they lived. A major focus of the course will be the effect of Judaism and the Jews in the course of World History.  You will critically read primary sources in translation and learn to use them in the study of Jewish culture and society.  Finally, you will be challenged to think about the "why" of Jewish and, its development, and its impact on world history. The class will also improve your reading, writing and analytical skills.


Political Science 144: Middle Eastern Politics

Professor Kathryn Wood

MW 9-10:15, DMH 226A

One of the most volatile, if tragic, regions of international politics is the Middle East. This course is designed to acquaint the student with crucial issues of the Arab-Israeli dispute, the East-West involvement, the impact of rapid political modernization, and the inter-Arab confrontations in the region. The course also includes a basic historical background of the area and a look at the contemporary political systems of the most important states of the Middle East. Strategic location, oil wealth, and instability, makes the Middle East a study of considerable urgency.


Lower Division Courses


Bible Papyrus

Hebrew Courses

Professor Rina Katzen

The Hebrew program is directed to people interested in the Bible, religious studies, archeology, linguistics, learning a foreign language, or learning about ancient and modern Israel.

In the Advanced Hebrew course students read Hebrew magazines, newspapers, and other literature, as they continue studying the language and grammar at an advanced level.

Beginning Hebrew, HEBR 10A

TR 10:30-11:15, CL 208

Intermediate Hebrew, FORL 180

sec 1: TR 1:30-2:45 CL 208

Advanced Hebrew, FORL 180

sec 2: TR 3:00-4:15, CL 208


Jewish Studies 18: Superheroes and Geeks: Jews, Comics and WWII                                               

Professor Victoria Harrison

T 6:00-8:45 PM, SH 348

Satisfies C2 requirement

Taking as its text a history of comics, this course studies a key moment in American and Jewish American history: World War II. What is called the Golden Age of Comics emerged in the late 1930s and reached its apex in the 1940s, not coincidentally amid the great patriotism of World War II. Superman, Batman, Captain America: the writers of these wartime superheroes were Jewish teens and young adults who, together, in comics, discovered that they could portray both the angst of individual powerlessness (the “geek” within) against a host of evil forces, and the strength and heroism of an “America” that could overpower its enemy. This course studies the American and Jewish-1930 Superman breaking chainsAmerican zeitgeist during World War II and the Holocaust through a reading of literary texts: Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about comic book writers of this period, Art Spiegelman’s two-volume graphic novel about the Holocaust, Maus (also a Pulitzer Prize winner), and DC Comics' Superman in the Forties, a collection of the comic strips that symbolized for an American readership (and most profoundly for Jewish Americans) their desires, dreams, and sense of power. Students will then do independent research on—and read a literary work by an author who speaks on behalf of--another representative minority group of Americans during the war. As a class, we should all come away with a vastly expanded understanding of this challenging material, an understanding that is at once academically and personally rewarding.


Religion 90: Bible History and Literature

Professor Brent Walters

Genesis 1

MW 1:30-2:45, DMH 226B    

TR 10:30-11:45, HGH124 

Satisfies C2 requirement

This introductory course on the Bible reconstructs the original context of the biblical record, covering the social setting of the Jews and early Christians in light of the cultural and religious environment that influenced the writers of these sacred writings. Discussing literal and figurative uses of language, the class studies biblical narrative, prophecy, poetry, wisdom, apocalypse, gospel, parable, and epistle.