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

Fall 2023 SJSU courses 

HEBR 10a cancelled because of underenrollment.

JWSS 111: Special Topics in Jewish Studies: Yiddish History and Culture (3 units) MW 12-1:15 synchronous online, Rokhl Kafrissen

HIST 132 World War I (4 units), TR 10:30-11:45 in person, Jonathan Roth

HIST 144 Europe 1900-1945 (4 units) MW 9-10:15 in person, Allison Katsev

HIST 146 Soviet Union (4 units) TR 1:30-2:45 in person, Xiaojia Hou 

MUSC 10C Pop and Rock in the U.S. (3 units, C1 Arts) TR 2-3:15 in person; MW 10:30-11:45 synchronous online, Thomas Langan

RELS 70 Gods, Guns, Gurus, Grails–World Religion (3 units, C2 Humanities), asynchronous online, Arthur Zarate

RELS 90 Bible History and Literature (3 units, C2 Humanities), MW 10:30-11:45 in person, Todd Perreira; asynchronous online, Marianne Delaporte Kabir 

RELS 99 Death, Dying and Religions (3 units, E: Human Understanding & Development) TR 9-10:15 in person; MW 1:30-2:45 synchronous online, Todd Perreira

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


flyer for Hebrew 10a class

Featured Class

SJSU's Elementary Hebrew has been cancelled due to underenrollment. We are currently working on GE certification (C2) for both semesters of Elementary Hebrew. These should be ready for the 2024-25 school year.

In the meantime, you might wish to consider online Hebrew through CSU Northridge. Here's the info:

Hebrew 101: Elementary Hebrew I

Study of the fundamentals of Hebrew, including grammatical structure, reading and practice in the spoken language. (Available for General Education, F Comparative Cultural Studies.)

Units: 4

Start Date: 8/28/2023

Course ID: 01Sec (14009)

Meeting Days/Time: TuTh 02.00 PM to 03.40 PM

Prerequisite: Not open to students with oral and writing proficiency or who attended schools where Hebrew was the language of instruction




Yiddish History and Culture class announcement

Featured Class

New this fall: a CSU Fully Online course on Yiddish History and Culture that will meet MW 12-1:15, available to students at the 23 CSU campuses and through SJSU Open Enrollment. Rokhl Kafrissen will teach the class from New York, where she's immersed in Yiddish culture, theater, writing. She brings that enthusiasm to her teaching of the diaspora of Jewish culture, from Eastern Europe to the US, and from the 19th century to our contemporary re-envisionings. It's a course about immigration, labor, queer imaginings--please check out the syllabus [pdf]

Rokhl Kaffrisen photo, Hebrew books in the background

Featured Faculty

I asked Rokhl Kafrissen, instructor of the new CSU Fully Online course Yiddish Culture and History to tell folks a little about herself and her personal interest in Yiddish. Ms Kafrissen shows in her responses that she challenges herself--and she will challenge you--to think creatively and critically about history, language, identity, and nation. Please find her thoughts on the People page. 

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

Featured Student

Outstanding Jewish Studies minor students may be selected to receive a scholarship for their studies. Peter J. Williams, double French and History major and double Middle East Studies and Jewish Studies minor, was the 2022 recipient, on the strength of his range and depth of study in contemporary and historical Jewish Studies. You will find an interview he did with me on the People page. 

Will you be the 2023 recipient? The Jewish Studies minor is now accepting new students into the program.  

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 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! Email me with any questions/comments.