signboard saying shalom, Hebrew for welcome or hello

Welcome to SJSU Jewish Studies

The Jewish Studies Program, a minor program within the History Department, welcomes SJSU students and community members into a study of Jewish ethnicity, history, literature, ethics, religion, and culture. The program features classes, both on campus and in the community (see Yiddish).

We work together with the SJSU Jewish Faculty & Staff Association, Hillel of Silicon Valley, and the Jewish Student Association to offer book discussions, public lectures, film screenings, and other cultural programming throughout the year. 

Check back here for dates and times of events.

Jewish star hanging from a branch; blurry spring bloom in background

Spring 2023 courses 

SJSU courses:

HEBR 10A Elementary Hebrew (3 units), Galia Stein-Rosen 

HIST 132 Advanced Topics in History: History of the Jews (4 units), Greg Tomlinson

MUSC 10C Pop and Rock in the U.S. (3 units, C1 Arts), Tom Langan

RELS 70 Gods, Guns, Gurus, Grails–World Religion (3 units, C2 Humanities), Marianne Delaporte Kabir

RELS 90 Bible History and Literature (3 units, C2 Humanities), Brent Walters 

RELS 99 Death, Dying and Religions (3 units, E: Human Understanding & Development), Todd Perreira

RELS 191 Religion in America (3 units: SJSU Studies S: Self, Society & Equality in U.S.), Marianne Delaporte Kabir

Please contact the JS coordinator to discuss opportunities for independent study and community engaged learning. Also, see the "about us" and "program" pages for lots of info about classes and the minor.

Please see the SJSU Course Catalog for prerequisites for the courses listed here.

Community course:

In January, we'll begin Yiddish instruction as a weekly, hybrid community course. SJSU students are welcome to audit, tuition free (material costs will be requested). Check back here soon for more information!

Andrew Porwancher's The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton book cover with Hamilton image in profile

Events

Heading for New York? There's a fascinating intersection of Jewish-themed theatre right now. Read a discussion among directors and actors of what it feels like to work on them, in a time of rising antisemitism and right-wing violence.

December 2-18 at Berkeley Rep: "Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski," a Polish WWII hero and Holocaust witness who risked his life to carry his report of the Warsaw ghetto from war-torn Poland to the Allied Nations and the Oval Office, only to be met with inaction and disbelief. Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee David Strathairn plays Jan Karski.

Every year we honor founder Bob Levinson with a talk by a major Jewish Studies historian: this year we'll host Andrew Porwancher March 29, offering his exploration, "Was Alexander Hamilton Jewish?"

photo of Greg Tomlinson reading a book while looking at his computer screen

Featured Faculty

I asked Greg Tomlinson, instructor of "History 132: History of the Jews," to tell folks a little about himself, and his personal interest in this class. Dr. Tomlinson shows in his responses that he challenges himself--and he will challenge you--to think critically about history, identity, nation. Please find his thoughts on the People page. 

Peter Williams standing on a boat in Venice, with another boater in the rear

Featured Student

Each semester an outstanding Jewish Studies minor student will receive a scholarship for their studies. Peter J. Williams, double French and History major and double Middle East Studies and Jewish Studies minor, is the fall 2022 recipient, on the strength of his range and depth of study in contemporary and historical Jewish Studies. You may find an interview he did with me on the People page.  

back of a man head's shows a kippah with the words Jew Got Questions

Jewish news, issues, questions

Peruse the Jewish News, Issues, Questions page if you're wondering about Jewish news here in the Bay Area, or about musings in Jewish thought. I welcome guest contributors to this page! Please email me with your interest.

The organization Amcha just issued a report on the significant threat to students' Jewish identity, in the face of anti-Semitism on college campuses. If you or someone you know is a victim of identity-based aggression or micro-aggression at SJSU, please let's talk to explore your/their options. Email me so we can meet? 

Vicki Harrison, coordinator, profile picture

Message from the coordinator

Welcome–I’m glad you’ve stopped by. I’m Vicki Harrison, the Jewish Studies Program coordinator. My career path has been that of a wandering Jew–a PhD in English at Rutgers in New Jersey, a professorship in English at UC Santa Barbara, founding member of Kehillah Jewish High School’s faculty, and most recently, chair of Notre Dame High School’s English department. In between and again, I coordinated Jewish Studies here at San Jose State and served as faculty advisor to the Jewish Students Association. Returning home to this minor program, almost 50 years old but always in start-up mode, I welcome you: Are you a student considering an interdisciplinary, flexible minor that will challenge you as a critical thinker and as a human exploring the diversity of our world? Are you a community member considering the potentials of lifelong learning? Are you a language lover, seeking to learn another (or two) languages (Hebrew and Yiddish)? Please return to the Jewish Studies website often, as I update it whenever I have something new to show you!