Jewish Studies was born in the 19th century when secular German Jewish scholars created what they called the “Science of Judaism” (Wissenschaft des Judentums) to give Judaism a dignified burial, as one of them once joked. However eulogies for Jewish civilization have always been premature, and the interdisciplinary field of Jewish Studies continues to thrive. Lang’s approach to this subject builds on The New School’s own role in Jewish history as a haven for leading European Jewish intellectuals in the 1930s and 40s. Some of these scholars, perhaps Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss are the best known, are major figures in modern Jewish Studies. They did not see the study of Jewish culture as a form of identity politics and self-regard, but as a way of understanding the world at large. And so do we. The Jewish Studies program of Eugene Lang College is a structured experience in the liberal arts that considers Jews and Judaism as rich case studies for questioning the meaning of concepts like nation, state, religion, ethnicity, exile, and diaspora; for grasping how modernity was born of antiquity; and for understanding how texts can transform the world.
Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary area of study drawing on courses offered across the university. Students study Jewish classic texts, sacred and secular, and Jewish history from the time of Abraham to the present. Students are encouraged to explore co-curricular resources throughout The New School, including the Jewish Text seminar series, Jewish Student Union student organization at The New School, and the Jewish Cultural Studies continuing education program of The New School for Public Engagement. Our students can also take advantage of the richness of Jewish life and institutions in New York City, such as the Museum at Eldridge Street, the Tenement Museum, YIVO, and the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at NYU, to name just a few in the New School neighborhood.
Jewish Studies courses may be taken as electives to supplement any Lang major or incorporated into the self-designed Liberal Arts major. Liberal Arts majors who complete six Jewish Studies courses, two core courses (Jewish History and the Hebrew Bible), four electives, and a senior capstone project guided by a Jewish Studies advisor, receive a letter from the director attesting to their completion of the curriculum—see the Jewish Studies program requirements worksheet. Interested students should contact program director Val Vinokur.
Please note: Students are advised to refer to the current applicable program catalog for degree completion requirements and to confirm their progress in satisfying those requirements with their advisors.