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Center for Jewish Studies

This is an archived copy of the 2012-13 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit


  • Joseph Stern, Philosophy 


  • Leora Auslander, History
  • Philip Bohlman, Music
  • Ted Cohen, Philosophy
  • Arnold I. Davidson, Philosophy, Divinity, and Comparative Literature
  • Michael Fishbane, Divinity
  • Cornell Fleischer, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • Michael Geyer, History
  • David Levin, Germanic Studies
  • Françoise Meltzer, Romance Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, and Divinity
  • Paul Mendes-Flohr, Divinity
  • David Nirenberg, Social Thought and History
  • Martha Nussbaum, Law, Philosophy, and Divinity
  • Dennis Pardee, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • Moishe Postone, History
  • Shulamit Ran, Music
  • Martha Roth, Oriental Institute
  • Eric Santner, Germanic Studies
  • Bożena Shallcross, Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Bernard Wasserstein, History

Associate Professors

  • Orit Bashkin, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
  • Hakan Karateke, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • James Robinson, Divinity
  • David Schloen, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Assistant Professors

  • Simeon Chavel, Divinity
  • Julie Cooper, Political Science
  • Na’ama Rokem, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • Anat Schechtman, Philosophy
  • Jeffrey Stackert, Divinity
  • E. Glen Weyl, Economics

Senior Lecturer

  • Ariela Finkelstein, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations


  • Howard I. Aronson, Slavic Languages & Literatures
  • Menachem Brinker, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
  • Joel Kraemer, Divinity
  • Jerrold Sadock, Linguistics

Other Members

  • Judith Nadler, Library

Jewish Studies has been an important field of research at The University of Chicago since the days when its first president, the Biblical scholar William Rainey Harper, oversaw the beginnings of programs in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations. In addition to Professor Harper, Rabbi Emil Gustav Hirsch taught Jewish Studies from the very founding of the university. In 1892 he was appointed one of the first four full professors at the fledgling university, occupying a chair in “Rabbinical Literature and Philosophy.” He held the chair until his death in 1923. In fact, the University of Chicago was one of the first universities in the world to have a full fledged program in Jewish Studies. A few decades later, these early initiatives received a huge institutional boost with the founding of the Oriental Institute, which remains one of the preeminent centers for the study of ancient Near Eastern language, civilization, and archeology. But the flourishing of Jewish Studies over the years at Chicago has also been sustained by appointments in a wide range of departments: professorships of Jewish Hellenism in Classics, Medieval Jewish Philosophy in Philosophy, Jewish Social and Economic History in History, to name only a few. During the past decade, the University has appointed eminent scholars in the study of Hebrew Bible, Midrash, Jewish Medieval Studies, Hebrew Literature, American Jewish Literature, and German Jewish Culture. Working together, they have created one of the most modern comprehensive, distinguished and interdisciplinary programs in Jewish Studies available at any American university. Students can make full use of the resources in Jewish Studies available through the Divinity School, the Departments of Germanic Studies, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Music, Near Eastern Languages & Literature, and the Oriental Institute.

Academic Opportunities

Graduate students in Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago earn their degrees in a department, school, or committee, while supplementing their disciplinary training through participation in the inter-disciplinary activities and scholarship opportunities offered by the Center. Students who wish to pursue graduate work in an area of Jewish Studies should apply to the appropriate department, school, or committee, and not to the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies. The following departments and schools offer specialized graduate study in the following tracks or programs of Jewish Studies:

The Divinity School

  • Biblical Studies
    • Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
    • Hebrew Bible and Early Jewish Literature
    • Jewish and Christian Bible
  • History of Judaism
  • Rabbinic literature, Midrash, and mysticism
  • Medieval Jewish philosophy, thought, and literature (including Islamic philosophy)
  • Modern Jewish thought and intellectual history

For information about the Divinity School please visit .

Department of Germanic Studies

  • German-Jewish Intellectual History
  • Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture

For information about the Department of Germanic Studies please visit .

Department of History

  • Modern Jewish History

For information about the Department of History please visit

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC)

  • Near Eastern Judaica (including Modern Hebrew Studies and Hebrew Studies)
  • Northwest Semitic Philology (including Hebrew, Phoenician-Punic, Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Syriac)
  • Ancient Near Eastern History (including the ancient history of Syria-Palestine)
  • Near Eastern Art and Archaeology
  • Modern Hebrew Language and Literature
  • Islamic History and Civilization (including the study of Jews in the Islamic world)
  • Islamic Thought (including the interaction between Jewish and Islamic thought)

For more information about NELC please visit .

In addition, students and faculty work in specific areas of Jewish Studies in the Departments of Music, Philosophy, Political Science, and Slavic Languages and Literatures.

The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies seeks to provide a common space in which graduate students of all disciplines working in the diverse areas of Jewish Studies can participate in a rich and lively intellectual community. We are planning inter-disciplinary graduate courses, lectures and conferences, and graduate workshops and seminars for faculty and students. The faculty of the Center  guide students to the multiple opportunities for the study of Judaism and Jewish culture available across the university. In addition, the Center awards research and travel grants and dissertation year fellowships to students in any department and school working on topics related to Jewish Studies. Prospective and current students should keep in mind that, given the deeply ingrained interdisciplinary culture of the University of Chicago, their opportunities for study and research can range across the entire faculty in addition to the resources of their home department or unit. Although each program has its own requirements, students typically take courses and seminars in departments other than their own, and dissertation committees often include faculty from multiple departments, thus reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of graduate study at this university.

Jewish Studies & Hebrew Bible Workshop

Bringing together faculty and students from across various disciplines, the Jewish Studies and the Hebrew Bible workshops seek to provide a forum for vibrant discourse and critical reflection on work and topics included in these broad fields of Judaica. From Jewish language, literature, and music to religion and philosophy, these workshops look to engage students and faculty interested in Jewish studies while stretching them to think beyond the strictures that currently typify their sub-disciplines.

The Graduate Working Group

The goal of the Jewish Studies Working Group is to bring together graduate students across the disciplines with research interests in Jewish Studies. Representing different programs, such interdisciplinary exchange widens the students' perspective on all questions Jewish.

An all-student forum, the working group gives graduate students an opportunity to receive feedback at any stage of their work in a welcoming environment. The format of our meetings can accommodate anything from presenting conference papers and practicing Q&A’s, to getting feedback on the development of course papers, grant applications, exam lists, dissertation proposals, dissertation chapters, etc.

Research and Library Resources

The University of Chicago library system serves the research and study interests of faculty and students and houses a bound volume and microfilm collection of more than 5 million volumes; a manuscript and archival collection of over 7 million pieces; serial holdings of some 95,000 titles; and a photographic study collection of visual art of more than 500,000 pieces. The physical facilities of the library system consist of the Joseph Regenstein Graduate Research Library, supporting research activities and graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences; Harper Memorial Library, serving primarily students in the College; and six professional and departmental libraries. Regenstein Library provides the central location for research materials in the humanities, the social sciences, and the ancient and modern languages, an array of resources numbering more than 3 million volumes.

Regenstein Library contains the Department of Special Collections, a major repository of archival and rare published materials. Regenstein also houses the Middle East Collection, with rich holdings in Assyriology and Egyptology. Of particular interest to students in Jewish Studies is the unique Ludwig Rosenberger Collection, which contains thousands of items in German Judaica. In addition, the Oriental Institute maintains extensive holdings in ancient Near Eastern and biblical studies and archaeology.

Library resources are not limited to the University community. The libraries of the cluster of five theological schools in the University neighborhood enrich the available library facilities by more than 1,000,000 volumes. The libraries of the Art Institute and the Chicago Historical Society also contain extensive resources for historical study. The Newberry Library, located on Chicago s Near North Side, is a world-renowned research collection of some 1,000,000 titles and 5,000,000 manuscripts in the humanities, chiefly in history, literature, music, and philosophy, with special strengths in European, American, and Latin American history and literature.

Student Funding and Opportunities

Dissertation Year Fellowship

The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies periodically offers  Dissertation Year Fellowship(s) for students in all Divisions and Schools at the University of Chicago pursuing projects on any topic relating to Jewish Studies, including (but not restricted to) study of the history, culture, and thought of the Jews, classical and modern Jewish texts, and languages of the Jews (e.g., biblical through modern Hebrew, Yiddish).

Travel and Research Grants

The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies awards grants to students to support their work in any area of Jewish Studies. Eligible expenses include (1) research travel and materials, (2) advanced foreign language study in an accredited program (beyond the level offered at the University), and (3) conference travel and fees. Because funds are currently limited, priority will be given to proposals in the order listed. Students may combine their awards with funding from other sources.

Teaching Nominations to the Graham School for Continuing Education

The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago, in cooperation with the Graham School of General Studies, organizes an annual competition for Jewish Studies courses to be taught at the Graham School (at the Gleacher Center). The Graham School offers an array of open enrollment non-credit courses in the liberal arts for adult students; for examples of current courses, see The Center for Jewish Studies oversees three such courses on topics in Jewish Studies, to be taught by University of Chicago Ph.D. students, one in each quarter of the academic year.

Each course meets for a total of 20 hours per quarter; usually they are taught over eight weeks, each meeting lasting 2 ½ hours. Courses are contingent on minimal enrollment (typically six students). Each student teacher will be assigned a faculty mentor who will work with the student on  syllabus preparation and oversee student teaching.

Annual Student-Organized Academic Conference at the University of Chicago

The Center for Jewish Studies funds an annual, one-day conference, organized by graduate students, and held during the academic year. Graduate students submit conference proposals to the Governing Board of the Center one year prior to the proposed conference. The organizers of the winning proposal take responsibility for all aspects of the conference, from contacting speakers to organizing the conference schedule.

For additional information about the Jewish Studies program, please see .