Jewish Studies Minor and Certificate | Jewish Studies Program

Jewish Studies Minor and Certificate

UNT Jewish Studies Program offers both a minor and a certificate in Jewish Studies.

A minor in Jewish Studies requires a minimum of 18 hours, including one of the following three Philosophy and Religion Studies courses:

  • PHIL 3050 (formerly 2100): Introduction to Judaism
  • PHIL 3510: Hebrew Bible
  • PHIL 3540: Judaism and Philosophy

and one of the following three History courses:

  • HIST 4315: Antisemitism from Ancient Times to the Present
  • HIST 4390: The Holocaust, 1933-1945
  • HIST 4395: The State of Israel

In addition, four courses chosen from the Total Course List below in consultation with the Director of the Jewish Studies Program and representing at least two different departments are required.

The Jewish Studies certificate is an undergraduate academic certificate that enables students and members of the community the flexibility to pursue Jewish Studies without commitment to the full minor. The required course work in Jewish Studies promotes interdisciplinary work that will allow students to pursue topics within Jewish Studies that are most relevant to their career paths and to gain knowledge of the religion, cultures and historical experiences of the Jewish people. The certificate also aims to promote Jewish Studies in the DFW community.

The Jewish Studies certificate is open to all majors and to others who are not full-time students. It is administered by the Jewish Studies program in the college of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

To earn a certificate in Jewish Studies, students most complete 12 hours of Jewish Studies courses with a grade of C or above. At least nine hours must be upper-division 3000- and 4000-level courses. Students may choose these courses from the entirety of the Jewish Studies course offerings below. Three hours of internship credit can be accepted after approval by the director of the Jewish Studies Program.

For more information or to sign up for the minor or certificate, contact

Total Course List

These courses are offered on a rotating basis at UNT. These courses run based on faculty availability and departmental scheduling factors.

Art Education/Art History

AEAH 4801: Jewish Art


ENGL 3370: The Bible as Literature
Taught from a literary perspective, this course considers the variety of literary genres and narrative strategies in the Bible and the historical contexts in which its various writers wrote. Its focus will be on books of major literary interest or influence selected both from the Torah, Prophets, and Writings of the Hebrew Bible and from the New Testament. Some biblical readings may also be paired with works of literature in English influenced by the Scriptures. No acquaintance with the Bible is assumed.

ENGL 3913: Representations of Jews in European Literature
This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which the foibles and fables, wit and wisdom of life in the cities and shetls (small villages) of Eastern Europe are expressed through the works of nineteenth and twentieth-century Jewish authors. As well as written works, Jewish humor and folklore will be studied. Films which illustrate their way of life will be shown. Most, if not all, of these writings were written in the Yiddish language and Translated to English. Historical background on the language and the authors will also be provided

ENGL 3913: The Jewish Graphic Novel
In this course, we will look at the major figures and tets in the history of 20th-century Jewish-American comics/graphic narratives (Lee/Kirby, Siegel/Shuster, Bob Kane, Kurtzman/Elder, Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, among others), and also the path breaking and formally dissonant work of Israeli writers and artists. Special attention will be paid to the representations of the Israel/Palestine conflict, the main topic of all Israeli comics.

ENGL 3923: American-Jewish Writers
Study of the cultural and historical specificity of American-Jewish literature. Comparison of that literature to canonical texts and trends, or examination of that literature as a counter discourse to dominative theories.

ENGL 4270: Modern Jewish Literature
Study of modern Jewish literature and its historical contexts. Works may take national perspectives such as American or Israeli or transnational, global perspectives. May investigate topics such as diaspora and homelands, secularism and tradition, or gender and sexuality.

ENGL 4450: Borders, Race, & Religion in Shakespeare and Cervantes

ENGL 4800: Literature and the Holocaust
Study of literary responses to the Holocaust. "Canonical" Holocaust authors such as Primo Levi, Eli Wiesel, and Anne Frank are read alongside criticism, theory, graphic novels, film, and the works of lesser-known authors. Topics of discussion include the relationship between Holocaust literature and film, language and trauma, literature and genocide, storytelling and history, arts and ethics.

ENGL 4800: The Hebrew Bible as Literature
The Hebrew Bible or Hebrew Scriptures (known to Christians as the Old Testament) is one of the foundational books of both western literature and world culture, and serves as the basis for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this course, we will survey the biblical literature, acquaint students with literary and critical methods for the study of the Bible, situate the Bible within the writings and culture of the ancient Near East (ANE), and discuss the artistic and religious heritage of ancient Israel. We will deal with questions of rhetoric, artistry, structure and meaning - what the biblical text meant to its ancient readers, and what meanings it has today - but also with issues of translation and some historical, sociological, and archaeological issues useful to a fuller understanding for the reader. All texts will be read in English translation.

ENGL 4800: Jews in Western Literature from Chaucer to Dickens
This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which the foibles and fables, wit and wisdom of life in the cities and shetls (small villages) of Eastern Europe are expressed through the works of nineteenth and twentieth century Jewish authors. As well as written works, Jewish humor and folklore will be studied. Films which illustrate their way of life will be shown. Most, if not all, of these writings were written in the Yiddish language and Translated to English. Historical background on the language and the authors will also be provided


HIST 3308: Ancient Israel
This course is a survey of the history of the Hebrew people's attempts at early state formation from their earliest known origins to the beginning of the Diaspora (ca. 3000 BCE-ca. 135 CE). Particular attention will be paid to the creation of the earliest incarnations of the state of Israel in the context of its geography as a border territory. Thematically, this course will examine the interplay between Jewish monotheism and assimilation with the neighboring polytheistic cultures and how this interrelationship informed Jewish notions of leadership and community. In addition, students will be introduced to the notions and problems of state formation in the tradition of "Western" thought. This course will be heavily based on reading primary sources and some of the more influential secondary scholarship on Hebrew culture and ancient Israel and its neighbors. We will also explore the use of archaeology and other non-literary sources in an attempt to address the basic issues of the course.

HIST 4215: Jews Under Greek and Roman Rule
History of the Jewish people from Alexander the Great to the spread of Islam; covers the Maccabean revolt, the Herodian dynasty, life in the diaspora, sects of Judaism, the ministries of Jesus and Paul, the Jewish revolts, early Rabbinic Judaism, and the development of Christian anti-Semitism. Readings include the Hebrew Bible, intertestamental literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, Flavius Josephus and other historians and Talmudic excerpts, as well as documentary sources.

HIST 4216: Rome's Jewish Wars and the Roman Near East
The expansion of Rome's sphere of influence to the east brought it into open competition with the Parthian Empire, which spanned from Arabia and the Caspian Sea to India. Judaea - and independent Jewish kingdom from 160 to 62 BC - soon came under Roman control, as a client kingdom, eventually becoming a Roman province (6 AD). Examination of the sources of Roman power in the East, as well as the military clashes that shaped Rome's administrative expansion into the Near East, focusing primarily on Judaea and the two Jewish Revolts (66 AD and 132 AD). Examination of the consequences of Rome's Jewish Wars for the Roman eastern front with the Parthians, and for Jews and Christians in Judaea/Palestine and throughout the Empire.

HIST 4217: Jew, Greek, and Roman: Backgrounds of Early Christianity
Historical introduction to the original and early spread of the world's largest religion. Historical climate into which Christianity first emerged: ancient Judaism, the Roman Empire, and the cosmopolitan culture of the Hellenistic Greek cities. The origins and growth of Christianity itself: the ministry of Jesus, persecutions, the career of Paul, the slow growth of Christian communities and the conversion of Emperor Constantine.

HIST 4260: Ancient Religion and Magic: Hebrew Bible to the Fall of Rome
This course explores various aspects of ancient religion, especially as practiced by Jews, Greeks, and Romans from earliest times to circa 300 CE. The class focuses on the formal structures of religion, its everyday practices and beliefs, and the role of religion and magic in people's lives.

HIST 4260: Jewish Women: A World Perspective

HIST 4260: War Crimes, Genocide, and Justice
This course examines first war crimes and the development of the laws of war from Antiquity through the 19th century. The class examines how an international movement developed beginning at the end of the 19th century that attempted to more fully codify relations between nations during times of war. It also examines the preeminent role played by the U.S. in the creation and promulgation of new international law for the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity during WWII.

HIST 4262: Nazi Racial Policy
Immediately after seizing power in 1933, the Nazis made it clear that they sought a racial reordering of the globe. They immediately began implementing the dual polciy of developing a racially fit group and destroying those groups that were undesirable, alien, and dangerous such as the disabled, unproductive, mentally ill, alcoholics, work-shy, prositutes, homosexuals, Jews, and Gypsies. This course explores the Third Reich's racial policy by examining the roots, formulation, and implementation of Nazi racial-anthropological and racial-hygienic and eugenic measures. By 1937, the Nazis realized that only war and world domination would allow them to raciallly reorder the globe Under the cover of the war that started two years later, the Nazis managed to fully implement a racial-hygienic program that led to the deaths of millions of innocent victims.

HIST 4262: The Messiah: From David to Jesus to the Present

HIST 4262: Violence, Atrocity, & War: Eastern Europe in WWII

HIST 4263: Arab-Israeli Wars
Since its birth in 1948, the State of Israel has fought four great wars with its Arab neighbors and won four impressive victories: the War for Independence in 1948, the Sinai Campaign in 1956, the Six Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Note that these are the names the Israelis use, as do most American scholars. Each one of these wars has a different name in the Arab world, however. What Israelis call the War of Independence is the "Naqba" to Arabs, the "catastrophe" or disaster. The Sinai Campaign is the "Tripartite Aggression" (since Israel made war on Egypt in concert with Britain and France). The Six Day War is simply the "June War"; and the Yom Kippur War is the "Ramadan War," since the fighting took place during the Islamic holy month (which in 1973 fell in October). It is a good metaphor for the basic political problem troubling the Middle East: the presence of a Jewish state on territory that Arabs in the neighborhood and Muslims worldwide believe is rightfully theirs. This course will offer a detailed analysis of the four major Arab-Israeli wars: 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973.

HIST 4263: The Messiah: From David to Jesus to the Present

HIST 4315: History of Anti-Semitism from Ancient Times to the Present
Examines the history of anti-Semitism from ancient Egypt to the contemporary world. topics include pagan responses to Jews, Christian theological anti-Semitism, the first Crusade, the ritual murder accusations, the blood libel, the Inquisition, impact of the Reformation, Russian pogroms, anti-Semitism in America, the Holocaust, Holocaust denial, and Arab anti-Semitism.

HIST 4385: Nazi Germany
Comprehensive sophisticated account and analysis of the Nazi period in German history; exploring issues related to the content and implications of Nazi ideology; the role of Hitler, the complicity of elites such as Junkers, the military, the churches, and big business. Examines the origins both of the Nazi movement and of the conditions in Germany that led to the movement's rise to power. Analyzes the consequences of the implementation of Hitler's policies in the forms of genocide, military conquest, and defeat.

HIST 4390: The Holocaust, 1933-1945
European Jews and their destruction during Nazi Germany's ascendancy; Jewish communities and anti-Semitism before the Nazis; institutions and processes of extermination; victims, including non-Jews; perpetrators; historical background.

HIST 4395: The State of Israel
History of the modern State of Israel, including the pre state period, Zionism, the Arab-Jewish/Israeli conflict and wars, immigration, social and religious groups and cleavages, terrorism, culture, politics, religion and identity.

HIST 4435: American Jewish Experience
Examines the Jewish experience in America from the colonial period to the present. Topics include immigration, shaping American Jewish identities, American Judaism, anti-Semitism, American Jews and the Holocaust, Zionism, and Israel.

HIST 4475: Jewish Women in Modern America
Examines the changing experiences and representations of American Jewish women (and men) over the course of the last century. Topics include the transformation of gender identity; gender and family, work, entertainment, sex, religion, and feminism.

Mayborn School of Journalism

JOUR 4210/5210: Public Opinion and Propaganda: Israel and the Middle East

JOURN 4240/5150: Comparative International Media Systems: Israel and the Middle East

Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology

MUMH 4800: Nazism, Judaism, and the Politics of Classical Music in Germany
This course explores the connections between Nazi ideology, politics, anti-Semitism, and classical music in Nazi Germany.

MUMH 4810: Jews, Judaism, Anti-Semitism, and Opera
This course explores different roles of Jews in operas, including sympathetic representations by Jewish composers, and negative stereotyping by both Jewish and non-Jewish compters.

Philosophy and Religion

PHIL 2070: World Religions
This course serves as an introduction to selected world religious: indigenous lifeways, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and others. In addition to covering basic beliefs, values, and practices, this course emphasizes the extent to which the religions have become increasingly local. Such a shift requires that students preparing for a variety of career paths have a heightened level of understanding and awareness of diverse religious traditions.

PHIL 3050: Judaism and Religious Diversity
Examines the beliefs, practices, laws and movements of Judaism from Biblical times to the present, emphasizing the impact of modernity on the central texts and traditions.

PHIL 3120: Social and Political Philosophy
This course examines the philosophical implications of four controversial social and political issues nowadays, by looking at four plays by William Shakespeare--on antisemitism (The Merchant of Venice, 1597), racism (Othello, 1604), feminism (The Taming of the Shrew, 1593), and elitism (The Tempest, 1611), respectively. To help us see the philosophical dimensions of these plays, we shall pair each with an appropriate non-Shakespearean work: The Merchant of Venice with Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta (1590); Othello with Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum speech (entitled "The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions," 1838); The Taming of the Shrew with Niccolò Machiavelli's Mandragola (1518); and The Tempest with Machiavelli's The Prince (1513)
**Please note: This course only counts toward the Jewish Studies minor when taught by Dr. Yaffe, due to the variations in course content.**

PHIL 3140: Religion in America
This course covers religious experience in America, emphasizing the diversity of religious practice that has been present from its beginnings through current times. Rather than reinforcing a common view that this is and always has been a monolithic "Christian nation," or even the assimilationist view of America as a melting pot, this course emphasizes the unique ways American soil has acted as a meeting place--at times in conflict, others in collaboration or mutual change and exchange--of difference. More than an historical overview or a focus on concepts, this course develops practical skills for respectfully engaging and working with people whose worldview and experiences are drastically different from one's ow

PHIL 3320: Medieval Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy concerns the question of Jerusalem and Athens. It is the question of how the way of life handed down from ancient Israel (namely, the way of life guided above all by biblical piety as taught by Orthodox Judaism, Catholic Christianity and/or traditional Islam) fits, or fails to fit, with the way of life handed down from ancient Greece (namely, the way of life guided above all by philosophical inquiry as exemplified in the writings of Plato and Aristotle). There are three main approaches to the Jerusalem-Athens question. According to St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Anselm of Canterbury, "Unless you believe, you will not understand." According to St. Thomas, "Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it." Finally, according to Rabbi Moses Maimonides and the Muslim scholar Averroës, revelation, and philosophy remain in a necessary, though instructive, tension.

PHIL 3510: Hebrew Bible
Philosophical and ethical concepts of the Hebrew bible compared with ancient pagan thought and subsequent Western culture. Concepts discussed include creation, revelation, holiness, faith, covenant, prophecy, idolatry, chosen people, justice, mercy, truth, and peace.

PHIL 3530: Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism, Myth, and Magic
This course is an introduction to Jewish mysticism, presented in historical survey. Through lectures and readings from seminal texts, the course will explore the major topics of Jewish Kabbalah, including mystical cosmogony, apocalypse, and eschatology, theosophy, word-mysticism, meditation, and mystical-magical rituals of power.

PHIL 3540: Judaism and Philosophy
An introduction to a wide range of Judaic texts -- biblical, medieval, and modern -- that address Jewish law, history, and thought from diverse points of view.

PHIL 3550: Jewish Business Ethics (crosslisted with MKTG 2980)
Using a comparative Jewish perspective, this course critically assesses the ethical and social impact management implications in the employment of business strategy and tactics. Specific attention is afforded to the rights and responsibilities of the firm, consumers and society. The course explores real-world decision-scenarios to provide a platform for highly interactive dialogue on issues dealing with ethics, organizational compliance, societal marketing, and social responsibility cast against a backdrop of Jewish value systems.

Political Science

PSCI 3100: U.S./Israeli Relations: Conflict, Cooperation, and Advocacy
Israel and United States have been closely allied since Israel's founding. President Truman officially recognized Israel almost immediately after it declared independence, and popular support for this new state grew among American Jews and Christians alike. Indeed, support for Israel has remained high even as some argued in recent years that the strategic value of the alliance has apparently diminished. This presents two interesting and related political puzzles: First, does U.S. policy toward Israel fall inside or outside the tradition of foreign policy realism? Second, in a country where public policy is made by majoritarian institutions (Congress and the president) designed to represent local interests and opinion, how has the cause of this small country maintained consistently high levels of support from policymakers and the public alike? These are some of the questions that will be explored in this class.

PSCI 3700: Israel Politics
This course investigates the government and politics of modern Israel. We begin with an exploration of the historical and intellectual foundations of the state, and then we examine Israel's political institutions and processes. Finally, we discuss some of the governing and policy‐making challenges faced by Israel.

PSCI 4330: Jewish Political Thought
Perhaps no other religion has been so closely associated with the great political controversies faced by humanity as Judaism. Can political life be self-directed by rational, autonomous individuals (as Spinoza argues) or must it be under the umbrella of Divine Law (as the Bible proclaims)? Indeed, is there a conflict between the Bible, properly understood, and reason at all (this is the subject of Maimonides' investigation in his Guide of the Perplexed)? This course proceeds through a close reading of three of the classic texts that, each in its own way, navigate these complex waters

PSCI 4330: Medieval Political Theory
The goal of this course is to understand as clearly as we can the thought of the greatest medieval political thinkers in the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian worlds and the radical challenge that thought poses to modern and contemporary political thought. We will also attempt to determine what light might be shed on contemporary politics by the often neglected masterpieces of medieval Christian, Muslim, and Jewish political theory and theology.

PSCI 4330: Zionism and Liberalism
Modernity presents an essential challenge to Judaism (and indeed to any and all revealed religions). For modernity is a secular undertaking premised on the view that there is a universal human nature. Religion is no longer understood as something that constitutes a person's being and circumscribes all their choices but, rather, as a free choice to be made (and remade or even unmade) as the individual wishes. Because Judaism was classically understood (like Islam) as a legalistic religion, its interaction with modernity has been beset by more challenges than Christianity's. This course attempts to examine the theoretical premises and possibilities of Judaism in its interaction with modernity.

PSCI 4330: Political Philosophy and the Challenge of Religion
Perhaps no other religion has been so closely associated with the great poltical controversies faced by humanity as Judaism. Can political life be self-directed by rational, autonomous individuals or must it be under the umbrella of Divine Law? Indeed, is there conflict between the Bible, properly understood, and reason at all? This course proceeds through a close reading of three primary texts and one scholarly work that will aid in interpreting them. Each involves an extremely subtle analysis of the proper place of reason and religion in political life--and therewith of the ultimate purpose and limits of political life.

PSCI 4700: Contemporary Conflicts in the Middle East
The purpose of this course is to equip students with the knowledge, both theoretical and empirical, to understand conflicts that continue to play a major role in the contemporary Middle East and the broader international arena. Course readings and discussions will address foundational concepts such as colonialism, imperialism, orientalism, religious fundamentalism, sectarianism, and terrorism that are fundamental to understanding the history of the Middle EAst as well as its contemporary states. The course builds on these concepts to analyze the antecedents and characteristcs of recent and current conflicts including the Iran-Iraq War, the Yemeni Civil War, the Arab-Israeli/Israeli-Palestiniam conflict, and the Syrian Civil War.

PSCI 4850: The Political Weaponization of Antisemitism
Course readings and discussions review the historical origins of political anti-Semitism, examine primary anti-Semitic propaganda like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, analyze seminal cases of anti-Semitism such as the Dreyfus Affair, and explore modern political manifestations of the world's "oldest and longest hatred."

Media Arts

MRTS 4415: Israeli Cinema
This course explores major themes in Israeli cinema under the context of the social and historical backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the emergence of a new Jewish-Israeli identity in the shadow of the Holocaust, and the interactions between different religious and ethnic groups in Israel. Israeli cinema has become increasingly diverse, critical, and multicultural in its orientation. Given this dramatic development, films provide a fascinating window to explore some key developments in Israeli life while exploring the development of Israeli cinema. We will explore the following questions to understand the major social, political, and cultural issues in Israel: How did a society of immigrant Jews from numerous countries evolve into an "Israeli" society? What was the experience of growing up in Israel in the 1950s? What was the impact of the Holocaust on the young Israeli society and how has it changed overtime? What was the unique communal life and children-rearing method of the kibbutz and how has the kibbutz been transformed in recent decades? What is the impact of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict on Israeli life and on Jewish-Arab relations within and outside of Israel? How is the diversity of Jewish religious life depicted in film? How are Israeli gender identities constructed and portrayed in various settings?

MRTS 4415/WLLC 4980: The Holocaust and Film
This course explores the problems of representing historical tragedy and catastrophe via a medium of popular culture and debate reagrding what should count as success or failure in Holocaust films.


SOCI 4260: Contemporary Israel and Turkey

SOCI 4260: The Peoples of Israel: Identity and Diversity
In this course, students will become acquainted with Israeli history, society, and issues of identity. We will become familiar with the history of the state of Israel and the formation of the Israeli diverse identities in this tiny country through an interdisciplinary examination of formal sociological and historical research combined with Israeli representation of the self and others in cinema, literature, and documentaries. Using the fruits of social science research, we will trace the varied psycho-social layers and conflicts that shape Israeli identities: being an immigrant, a holocaust survivor (or the child of one), a soldier, an Israeli Palestinian, a non-state Palestinian, a religious Jew, a woman, a Kibbutz member, and more. Through objects of cultural production: scenes in movies, TV shows, photographs and posters, and passages of literature, we will explore the relationship between private and public in the Israeli context. This examination of the fusion between the personal and the collective will give the student a window into the diversity of contemporary Israeli society and culture, as well as providing social-analytical tools for appreciating and examining any modern society that shares in these features and dynamics.

Dance and Theatre Arts

THEA 4395: Theatre and the Holocaust
This course involves the exploration and examination of performance as a reflection of the experiences of people during the Holocaust. Through readings, plays, films, videos, personal experiences, and family histories, students will form and discuss personal points of view regarding the power of arts as a way of honoring memory.

THEA 4500: The Broadway Musical
A survey of the Broadway musical from Irving Berlin to Stephen Schwartz from a Jewish perspective. Beginning with a consideration of Yiddish theatre, this course examines the contributions made by Jewish performers, composers, lyricists, playwrights, directors, choreographers, and producers to the evolution of America's singular contribution to world theatre.

World Languages

WLLC 3400: The Holocaust and Film
Examines how the Holocaust has been portrayed in feature films and documentaries.