Current Courses

Course Offerings

As always, check BU Brain for the latest updates, course descriptions, details and registration.   

FALL 2023

Hebrew | Israel Studies | Judaic Studies | Religious Studies | Yiddish


Hebrew I - HEBR 101 - Gen Ed: WL1
Cross listed: HEBR 501
Time: M/W 9:40-10:40 | T/R 10:05-11:05
Instructor:  Orly Shoer
Hebrew 101 is the first semester of Modern Hebrew. The course is designed only for students with very little or no previous experience in the language. It offers a communicative introduction to Modern Hebrew language and its culture. It emphasizes all facets of the language – comprehension, speech, reading, grammar and writing. The focus of instruction is on enabling students to develop basic vocabulary and communicative skills in Modern Hebrew centering on the students' immediate surroundings and simple daily activities.
By the end of the course students will be able to read and write short stories, voice their opinion, converse and use basic grammar. Prerequisites: None

Hebrew III - HEBR 203 - Gen Ed: WL3
Cross listed: HEBR 503
Time: M/W/F 10:50 - 11:50
Instructor:  Orly Shoer
Hebrew 203 is the third course in the Modern Hebrew program sequence, and the last course needed to fulfill the Binghamton University’s foreign language requirement. It focuses on increasing students' confidence in using the language in different social settings. This course is designed to advance the Hebrew learner to the intermediate-high level by introducing complex grammatical structure forms and sentences. Grammar teaching covers three of the main verb structures. The course concentrates on improving speaking, writing, as well as, working on text analysis and comprehension skills. Prerequisites: HEBR 102 with a grade of C- or better, a placement exam, or permission of the instructor.

Texts and Conversations I - HEBR 311 - Gen Ed: WL3
Cross listed: HEBR 505
Time: M/W/F 01:10 - 02:10
Instructor:  Orly Shoer
Hebrew 311 is an advanced-intermediate Hebrew language and culture course that is intended for students who wish to further develop their vocabulary building and practice all four language skills, with an emphasis on reading comprehension, grammar, syntax, composition, vocabulary building and conversation. Students will advance their Hebrew language skills through reading, discussing and writing about a variety of texts, with some emphasis placed on short articles. Prerequisites: HEBR 204 with a grade of C- or better, a placement exam, or permission of the instructor.


Intro to Israeli Literature - ISRL 120 - Gen Ed: G, H
Cross listed: JUST 120 / COLI 180P
Time: M/W/F 10:50-11:50
Instructor:  Lior Libman
This survey course introduces students to texts (poems, short stories, novels) and themes (nation-building, conflict, gender constructions, ethnic and religious tensions) in Israeli literature from 1948 to the present. We will place literary works within their historical, cultural and political contexts and examine them to illustrate the main features of the time. Texts will be read in translation. No previous knowledge is required. The course is a Core Course for the Minor in Israel Studies, a Literature Course for the Major/Minor in Hebrew, and an Area Course in Israel Studies for the Major/Minor in Judaic Studies.

Modern Israel - ISRL 150 - Gen Ed: N
Cross listed: JUST 150 / HIST 150
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
Instructor: Shay Rabineau
This course presents an overview of the history of Israel from its origins in the Zionist movement to the present. Key topics include: political relations and international diplomacy leading to the establishment of the state in 1948; Israel's wars with its neighbors; conflict with the Palestinians; religion and government; internal divisions between Ashkenazic and Sephardi/Mizrachi Jews; and Israeli cultural life. No previous knowledge is assumed or required. Students who had taken the course under the original number will not receive credit for re-taking the course with the new number.

Walking the Land - ISRL 321 - Gen Ed: H, O
Cross listed: JUST 321 
Time: T/R 2:50-4:15
Instructor:  Shay Rabineau
Walking The Land: Hiking and Pilgrimage in Modern Israel/ Palestine/ The Holy Land - This course explores the religious traditions and political movements that have attached significance to the act of walking the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, beginning in the late Ottoman period and continuing to the present day. Students who had taken the course under the original number will not receive credit for re-taking the course with the new number.

Israeli Palestinian Conflict in Literature – ISRL 327 - Gen Ed: H, O
Cross listed: JUST 380C / COLI 380C
Time: W 3:30-6:30
Instructor: Lior Libman
The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been represented in a wide body of Israeli and Palestinian literary works of varied genres. In this course, we will read, analyze and discuss, side by side, poems, short stories and novels by both Israeli and Palestinian writers exploring questions of homeland, exile and return, longing and belonging, Self and Other. We will examine the relationships between historical, political and literary narratives, and the ways in which images and metaphors both reflect and shape national affinities. We will also juxtapose the geo-political conflict with other core issues such as religion, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.                                 
Nuclear politics of the Middle East - ISRL 386K - Gen Ed: G, N
Cross listed: JUST 386B / ARAB 386B / PLSC 389N
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Hebatalla Taha
This is an International Relations/International Security seminar, dealing with how nuclear politics have shaped the Middle East. We will start by covering the history of nuclear politics and key concepts of nuclearization in international politics – including deterrence, proliferation, restraint – as well as their critiques. We will proceed to apply these theories to the Middle East, looking at the emergence of military and non-military nuclear programs and reactions to them. The course deals with nuclear bombs, energy, and other technology through a consideration of both their material and symbolic dimensions. In addition, we will discuss the idea of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East, including the impediments facing its establishment. The course pays special attention to the Israeli nuclear program and Israeli nuclear policies in the Middle East and beyond.


Philosophy of Religion - JUST 111 - Gen Ed: H, W
Cross listed: RELG 111 / PHIL 111 
Time: T/R 8:30-9:55 
Instructor: Randy Friedman 
This introductory course will explore the many philosophical and methodological questions which emerge from the study of religious thought. Topics will include the nature of religious subjectivity, divinity, prayer, sacrifice, and faith. The course will be divided into four sections, including Two Approaches to the Study of Religion (Freud and William James); Foundations and Varieties of Faith (David Hume, Kant); Two central biblical stories (Genesis 22 - The Binding of Isaac, and the Book of Job); and Critical Study of Religion - including race and feminist theology. Students will practice techniques of close readings of primary and secondary texts. In addition to the content of this course, students will practice the process skills of reading and writing critically. Students will be expected to read the texts carefully and to come to class prepared to ask and answer questions. The course will require approximately 50 pages of reading each week.

Jewish History Ancient to 1500 - JUST 201 - Gen Ed: G, N, W - *survey course*
Cross listed: RELG 280A / HIST 285E 
Time: T/R 1:15-2:40
Instructor: Michael Kelly
This survey course examines the history, culture, philosophy, religion, and political experiences of Jews from the Biblical period through the second temple period, to the medieval period. Themes include the relationship between Jews, Christians and Muslims, Jews under foreign political rule (Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans), and the social and economic history of Jews in Europe through the middle ages. 
This course satisfies the core and survey requirements for Judaic Studies majors and minors.

The Jewish Short Story – JUST 251- Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed: COLI 281F / ENG 283K
Time: M 4:40-7:40
Instructor: C. Beth Burch
The Jewish Short Story explores the genre of the Jewish short story as it evolves from folktale into contemporary art form. The Jewish story or tale is vital to Jewish tradition, for as the saying goes, “G‐d made man because He loves stories.” We will study the technical aspects of the short story (character, setting, plot, etc.) and read deeply to examine how these short pieces of fiction articulate Jewish life, history, and tradition through the centuries, including our own. All stories will be in English, some in translation. 20 pages of writing, mid-term and final exams.

Secular Jewish Identities – JUST 284D- Gen Ed:  H, W
Cross listed: ISRL 280B, HIST 285D
Time: W 4:40-7:40
Instructor: Allan Arkush 
This course will focus on the emergence and development in modern times of essentially non-religious definitions of Jewish identity and strategies for maintaining Jewish survival. It will explore writings of the most important modern Jewish secularists as well as the programs for action outlined and implemented by Jewish secularist leaders and movements.

The Nazi State - JUST 284A – Gen Ed: 
Cross listed: GERM 241N / GMAP 281A / HIST 281K
Time: M/W/F | 10:50 - 11:50
Instructor: Harald Zils
The course looks at the Nazi regime in Germany between 1933 and 1945, at the organization and inner functioning of the government and administration. Topics include the Nazi rise to power, party structures, "Gleichschaltung" of society, economy, and media, persecution of minorities, the situation of workers and peasants, the role of the churches etc. Course taught in English.

Faith and Reason - JUST 311 - Gen Ed: C, H - *survey course*
Cross listed: RELG 311 / PHIL 311
Time: T/R 11:40-1:05
Instructor: Randy Friedman
This reading-intensive seminar will explore some fundamental questions in philosophy of religion, focusing on the work of Maimonides, Spinoza and Kant. Topics will include the nature of divinity, metaphysics, the supernatural, creation, revelation, religious experience, and feminist philosophy of religion. Some questions will include: what is God? How does one know about God? How do we account for and understand revelation?  What is the relation between God and morality and the good. In addition to the content of this course, students will practice the process skills of reading and writing critically.  Students will be expected to read the texts carefully and to come to class prepared to ask and answer questions. The course will require at least 100 pages of reading each week. This course meets Judaic Studies major/minor survey requirement.

Holocaust Literature - JUST 341 - Gen Ed: C, H
Cross listed:  ISRL 380C / COLI 380B / ENG 380M
Time: T 4:25 - 7:25
Instructor: Paul-William Burch 
Students in this course read literature of the Holocaust, the Churban, or the Shoah—including diaries, journals, memoirs, fiction, poetry, and works of popular culture, informed by the belief that literary responses to the Holocaust are, as the poet Paul Celan has written, in themselves "material evidence of that which-occurred." The course includes works by First Generation writers, victims and survivors of the Shoah who bear direct witness to the horror, as well as pieces by Second Generation writers—that is, children and “offspring” of Holocaust survivors who bear witness to the witnesses and to events that they did not live through but that shaped their lives. 
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Cross-listed with English and Comparative Literature. Not for First year students.

Jews & Christians in Conflict- JUST 363 - Gen Ed: H, W - *survey course*
Cross listed: RELG 380D / JUST 385G
Time: T/R 10:05-11:30
Instructor: Jonathan Karp       
For Centuries, Christians and Jews have argued over which group possesses the one true faith. This course surveys the shifting grounds of the debate from Antiquity to the present. Topics include: the emergence of early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism; the image of the Jew in medieval Christian literature and of the Gentile in Jewish law and Kabbalah; the decimation of Jewish communities during the Crusades; and the formal disputations between Jewish and Christian scholars. We conclude with a discussion of efforts in the wake of the Holocaust to achieve a degree of rapprochement between the faiths. 4 credits. Pre-requisite: The course does not require specific background knowledge, but does demand the necessary intellectual maturity to read difficult historical primary texts (in English), often of a complex philosophical and theological nature. This course meets Judaic Studies major/minor survey requirement.

World War I and the Jews - JUST 380A - Gen Ed: G
Cross listed: ISRL 385Z / HIST 381N
Time: T/R 01:15 pm - 02:40 pm
Instructor: Allan Arkush
This course will investigate Jewish involvement in World War I, in all of the major belligerent countries, as well as the ways in which the war altered the Jewish world. Topics will include anti-Jewish pogroms on the Eastern Front, the rise in anti-Semitism in the ranks of the German Army, the worldwide lobbying for the Balfour Declaration, and the way in which the war reshaped Eastern European Jewry.

Vienna 1900: Modernism & Empire- JUST 386M- Gen Ed: A, H, T, W

Cross listed: ARTH 387B / COLI 380J / GERM 380V
Time: T/R 04:25 - 05:50 
Instructor: Neil Pages
Course explores the ideas, impulses and implosions that accompanied the rise of Modernism in Vienna around 1900. Like the multicultural, multi-ethnic empire of which it was the capital, the culture of Habsburg Vienna at the fin-de-siècle was marked by fragmentation, experimentation and contestation. Struggles with politics, identities and aesthetics generated new ways of thinking (Freudian psychoanalysis), political movements (Zionism; Marxism; fascism), radical experiments with art and architecture (Klimt, Schiele, Loos, Bauer, Schönberg) and a lasting literary legacy (Schnitzler, Musil, von Hofmannsthal, Trakl, Roth, Kraus, Zweig). By engaging specific works (buildings, paintings, texts) across disciplines, students will develop skills in reading and interpretation and gain an understanding of the cultural history of “Vienna 1900” specifically and theories of Modernism generally. We will also question how eras and cultural legacies are constructed and how cultures of memory are reflected in works of art, in historiography and in literary works.

Public Opinion - JUST 389B
Cross listed: PLSC 340
Time: M/W 9:25 - 10:50
Instructor: Jonathan Krasno
Examines the nature and dynamics of public opinion in American politics with a focus on the major trends in public opinion since World War II. Students examine different approaches to measuring and understanding what drives public opinion. Moreover, they focus on the effects of public opinion on the political process, including public policy and elections.

Religion & the Enlightenment – JUST 480J - Gen Ed: C, I, N, T
Cross listed: HIST 484Q / HIST 560Q 
Time: W 03:30 - 06:30
Instructor: Jonathan Karp
This course has two major aims: first, to investigate various approaches to religious questions found in eighteenth-century Enlightenment literature, such as scepticism, toleration, and Deism; and second, to survey important religious currents developing contemporaneously with the Enlightenment but distinct from it, such as Methodism, Pietism, and Hasidism. The course presumes that religion played a greater a role in the intellectual life of the eighteenth century than it is usually given credit for. Indeed, we will look in the eighteenth-century materials for some of the seeds of modern religious life.


Religions of the World - RELG 101 - Gen Ed: G, H
Cross listed: JUST 100 / AFST 180E / ANTH 
Time: TR 02:50 - 04:15
Instructor:  Michael Kelly
What does it mean to study various religions from an academic perspective? How do we, as outsiders at a public university, discuss different traditions responsibly? Answering questions like these and developing our skills as scholars of religion is of no small importance in an increasingly global society. This class will take a thematic approach to a number of traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Prominent themes include the history of Religious Studies as a discipline, religion and popular culture, religion and violence, the history of utopian thought, and the status of new and controversial movements across the globe. ​

Intro to African Religion - RELG 180D - Gen Ed: H, W
Cross listed:  AFST 171 / ANTH 280L / SOC 180A
Time: T/R | 10:05 - 11:30
Instructor: Anthony Ephirim-Donkor
E. A. Wallis Budge defined African religion as “the worship of the souls of the dead, commonly called Ancestor Worship.” Also, Diodorus, a Greek historian, wrote over 2,000 years ago that blacks were “the first to be taught to honor the gods and to hold sacrifices and processions and festivals and other rites by which men honor the deity; and … sacrifices practiced among the Ethiopians [black people] ... are those which are the most pleasing to heaven.” Thus, the course reviews the history of religion as a discipline, nature and phenomenon of African religion, conception of God and gods and goddesses, ancestors and elders, witchcraft, and rituals and symbols that offer meaning to the lives of believers.

Islam, News & Prevailing Opinions – RELG 280D - Gen Ed: O
Cross listed:  ARAB 280H
Time: M/W/F 12:00 - 01:00
Instructor:  Kevin Lacey
The course will draw attention to, and encourage discussion of, some of the more demonstrably dubious or unproven tropes advanced by the media (domestic or international or both) with respect to Islam and Islamic countries or communities. Some of the evincible reverberations of such, in government circles as well as schools and universities in the USA, not to mention “on the street,” will be touched upon. At the same time, the course will welcome students’ submitting when they think the news media—or specific outlets therein—“get it right,” and why. Interrogations of some of the premises and/or conclusions of required readings and news reports will be welcomed. Required readings are selected chapters of Covering Islam by Edward Said, some key passages of Said’s Orientalism, Doug Sanders’s The Myth of the Muslim Tide, and selected passages from Stephen Sheehi’s Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign against Muslims

Arabic Civilization & Culture - RELG 380B - Gen Ed: G, H, I, T, W
Cross listed:  AFST 372 / ANTH 380C / HIST 385C / MDVL 380S
Time: T/R 10:05 - 11:30
Instructor: Moulay Ali Bouanani
This course aims to give an overview of the Civilization and Culture of the Arab peoples in Africa and elsewhere, starting with their origins and continuing through the present. A selection of texts­in English­dealing with and pertaining to different aspects and areas of Arabic life and culture will be read and discussed. The texts have been selected with the intent to compare and analyze approaches in those written by Arab writers and those written by non-Arab writers. Among the topics to be covered are­but not limited to: The origins of the Arabs; pre-Islamic Arab society; Arab-Islamic society and the Islamic Empire; Arabs in Africa and Europe, Arab-African (Amazigh) Epires, Arabic-Islamic culture in Africa and its contribution to world culture; decadence and fall of the Arab-Islamic Empire; European Infiltration and Colonialism (18-19 C); Independence and the creation of Nation-States. We will also analyze and discuss modern concerns and problems of the area focusing on the Maghrib, the Sahel and West Africa.

Jesus Mary Joseph in the Quran – RELG 380G - Gen Ed: C, H, I
Cross listed: ARAB 383Q
Time: F 01:10 – 04:10 
Instructor: Omid Ghaemmaghami
This course is an depth examination of chapters and verses from the Quran that speak of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. We will consider the image and portrayal of these figures with their portrayal in the Bible. Special focus will be given to how Quranic translators and commentators have understood, interpreted, and negotiated their stories. Among the questions we will explore: Why do Joseph and Mary have a Quranic chapter named after them? Why is Jesus the only figure to whom the Quran refers to as the “Word of God” and the “Spirit of God”? Why was it historically significant for the stories of such Biblical figures to be adapted and told in Arabia some six hundred years after the death of Jesus? Extensive weekly readings include primary sources and scholarly literature in English.

Politics & Religion in EA – RELG 480A - Gen Ed:
Cross listed:  AAAS 481O / AAAS 582C
Time: TR 04:25 - 05:50
Instructor: Kristina Buhrman
A seminar on the topic of the role of religion in processes of state formation, legitimation, and political activities in East Asian states. During the course of the semester, case studies from the intersections between politics and religion in East Asian history will prompt students to investigate sources of political legitimacy, forces shaping group cohesion and motivation, the definition of religion, and the origins of the modern right to religious freedom. Examples from South Asian, Southeast Asian, and western history will be brought in for comparative purposes. Students will complete a semester-long research project analyzing the role religion played in politics or government at a historical moment of their choosing, and draw conclusions about the possibility of separating the religious from the secular.                     


Yiddish I - YIDD 101 - Gen Ed: WL1, G, O
Cross listed: JUST 180A / GERM 180C / RUSS 180A / YIDD 501 
Time: M/W/F 01:10 - 02:10
Instructor: Gina Glasman

Yiddish 101 is the first semester of the Yiddish language course sequence and is intended for beginners. It introduces students to the Yiddish language and its culture.  It emphasizes all facets of the language – comprehension, speech, reading, grammar and writing. The focus of instruction is on enabling students to develop basic skills.

Yiddish II - YIDD 102 - Gen Ed: WFL2
Cross listed: JUST 180B / RUSS 180R / GERM 180B / YIDD 502 
Time: M/W/F 10:50-11:50
Instructor: Gina Glasman
Follows on from Yiddish 101 as students sharpen their linguistic skills with more complex sentence structure, a deeper knowledge of tenses and cases, and a broader vocabulary. In addition, we explore Yiddish culture through film, stories, folk sayings and the occasional joke! As always lyrics from Yiddish popular song provide the backbone of the class, and individual attention is a feature of the instruction. Note: interested students canjoin 102 directly without having taken 101. (Instructor permission needed)

Living in a Material World I - YIDD 180A - Gen Ed: J, N
Cross listed: JUST 180C / HIST 180B
Time: T/R 4:25 - 5:50 p.m.
Instructor: Gina Glasman
This class will be dedicated to a single question: how can we use the artefacts of everyday life to better understand the history of an immigrant metropolis? To explore this question, we will focus on a specific city—New York—and a particular cultural vehicle, museums—institutions rooted in the notion that “objects” can speak! In the Spring semester, students will create their own digital exhibit, using the themes, approaches and concepts we have explored together in class. Students can choose to focus their research on any community within the complex urban fabric of either past or present-day New York City.