JIS

Welcome to the Wesleyan University Jewish and Israel Studies

Wesleyan has an over forty-year history in sponsoring learning in this area. Courses in Jewish studies and in Hebrew were introduced at Wesleyan in 1967.  In its initial years, the program was a modest, though ambitious one and included mainly courses in Judaism and Hebrew language taught in the Religion Department.  Over the years the curriculum has grown significantly and courses are taught not only in the Religion Department, but also in a number of other departments, with special strength in the History Department.  The Hebrew program has become especially robust with classes on all levels from Elementary Hebrew through advanced courses in Israeli literature and culture. In 1973 Wesleyan developed an Israel program in Jerusalem in order to provide Hebrew students additional opportunities for advanced language studies.  The program was transformed over the years into a unique one in Israeli and Palestinian studies.  Due to concerns about safety the program was temporarily suspended in 2001.  Currently planning is underway to re-establish a program in Israel that will be useful to the current needs of our students and our on-campus curriculum.  Since 2001, students interested in spending their semester abroad in Israel have enrolled in the approved programs at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Tel Aviv University, and Haifa University.  

 A core faculty is responsible for developing and maintaining the curriculum in Jewish and Israel Studies.  The core faculty is joined by a number of faculty members from various departments who offer occasional courses in the field and add range to the program of studies.  The curriculum has been especially enriched through the auspices of an endowed chair that allows Wesleyan each year to bring to the University a distinguished scholar as a visiting professor, over the years the position has been held by, among others, Joshua Sobol, Etgar Keret, Ori Sivan, and for a part of the semester by Hagit Molgan.  This critical mass of faculty and courses has made it possible for Wesleyan to offer a multi-disciplinary Certificate Program in Jewish and Israel Studies.  Here students take seven courses in at least three departments in pursuing a comprehensive curriculum in the field.

 Classroom learning has been amply supplemented by a stimulating program of extra-curricular lectures and cultural events including the presentation of academic papers in Jewish history and culture, poetry readings, art exhibits, films, and concerts all sponsored by Jewish and Israel Studies.  Especially noteworthy is a lecture series, Contemporary Israeli Voices, and the now-annual Spring semester Ring Family Israeli Film Festival.  For further information on these public events, and news about the Program, its faculty and students, please consult the Jewish and Israel Studies Blog at http://jis.blogs.wesleyan.edu/. 

Wesleyan's Jewish and Israel Studies Program has been a key sponsor, supporter, and host of the Early Modern Workshop, an annual event that brings together scholars of Jewish and non-Jewish history of the early modern period (ca. 1400s-1700s) to discuss new trends in scholarship in a series of seminars centered around primary sources.  The primary sources, the voices of the past, in their original languages and in the English translation, along with video or audio recordings of the seminars are available to the public through the Workshop's website: http://www.earlymodern.org.  The workshop, now in its seventh year, has been made possible by Wesleyan's collaboration with a number of institutions, among them the Columbia University, Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Library of Congress, University of Maryland, and Yeshiva University.

In addition to fostering undergraduate studies, the faculty in Jewish and Israel Studies is also committed to Wesleyan’s efforts in providing continuing learning opportunities for alumni and parents.  We sponsor seminars each Family Weekend in the Fall as well as at Reunion/Graduation Weekend in the Spring.  Our faculty also enjoy visiting Alumni Clubs to make off-campus presentations.  For further information please contact Professor Magda Teter at mteter@wesleyan.edu or at (860) 685-5356.