Jewish Studies

College of Humanities
Dean: Paul Sherwin

Jewish Studies Program
HUM 416
Director: Laurie Zoloth

Undergraduate Advisers: Astren, Dollinger, Zoloth


Professors—Dollinger, Zoloth

Associate Professor—Astren


B.A. in Modern Jewish Studies
Minor in Jewish Studies
Certificate in Jewish Community Studies

Program Scope

Bachelor of Arts in Modern Jewish Studies. The B.A. is designed to provide an understanding of Jews and Judaism in terms of the interactions of culture, history, and religion. The challenge of modernity faced by Jews and Judaism over the last two hundred years has transformed traditional Jewish societies and generated a great measure of difference and diversity. After a history of more than two millennia, Jews have redefined religion, notions of identity, and social organization in contexts of a dominant culture (in Israel) and a minority culture (elsewhere in the world). The broader dynamics of how ethnic, religious, or racial minorities interact with the majority societies are examined in both these contexts. Courses explore the constants and variety of the Jewish experience in different historical periods and geographical settings and include language study.

Minor in Jewish Studies. The interdisciplinary minor consists of four three-unit core courses and two three-unit elective courses selected on advisement from offerings by a variety of colleges of the university. The purpose of the interdisciplinary Jewish Studies Minor is to acquaint the student with the history, culture, contributions, and religion of the Jewish people as seen through the eyes of modern academic disciplines and with particular reference to contemporary issues and patterns. Students can use the Minor in Jewish Studies to complement their majors and, with advising, to fulfill General Education requirements.

Certificate in Jewish Community Studies. The graduate certificate offers an in-depth understanding of the history, organization, and values of the American Jewish community and its community organizations. The certificate is designed for graduate students currently enrolled in graduate programs at San Francisco State University; or professionals with a B.A. degree who are already working in community organizations, educational institutions, or health care organizations serving Jewish clientele; or those interested in pursuing such a career goal. The certificate will be valuable to students pursuing other degrees as well. Professionals such as nurses, physical therapists, health educators, teachers, occupational therapists, nutritionists, counselors, psychologists, and social workers who may work in agencies that serve Jewish clientele can benefit by deepening their understanding of the tradition, texts, history, social organization, family experience, literature, religious practice, and nature of the Jewish experience in America.

Career Outlook

The Bachelor of Arts in Modern Jewish Studies and the Jewish Studies Minor offer an excellent background for students interested in Judaism as the basis for scholarly or professional pursuits, increasing the depth of understanding of the history, culture, contributions, and religion of the Jewish people within the context of a major discipline of study and prepare students for careers as educators and community professionals. The graduate certificate is critical to students who want to pursue careers in Jewish community agencies and improves a student's employment potential in a variety of community agencies.


Three universities—San Francisco State University, CSU Chico, and San Diego State University—jointly offer courses toward a major in modern Jewish studies. Students use their home campus for general education and electives, take core courses in the B.A. from their home campus, and may use the joint-campus course offerings via distance learning in modern Jewish studies to get their B.A. Each of the three campuses award the B.A. Students may take distance-learning courses only when the home campus does not offer those courses. Exceptions to this policy may be made in consultation with a modern Jewish studies adviser. No courses may be used to satisfy requirements in more than one area. All courses are three units unless otherwise noted. The major requires 42-43 semester units.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Introductory Course Units
JS 300 Introduction to Jewish Studies 3
Language Area
Units chosen at student's appropriate level (some courses are 4 units at other campuses) 3-4
  JS/HEBR 101 First Semester Modern Hebrew  
  JS/HEBR 102 Second Semester Modern Hebrew
  JS/HEBR 201 Third Semester Modern Hebrew
  JS/HEBR 202 Fourth Semester Modern Hebrew
Culture and Society Area9 units
JS 340 American Jewish Family and Identity 3
JS/IR/PLSI 430 Israeli Democracy, Politics, and Society 3
JS/CWL 437/ENG 533 Holocaust and Literature 3
History Area9 units
JS/HIST 317 The Holocaust and Genocide 3
JS 320/HIST 635 The Jewish Historical Experience 3
JS 633 Modern Jewish History 3
Religion and Thought Area9 units
JS 310 Jewish Thought and Culture 3
JS 410/PHIL 514 Kabbalah and Jewish Spirituality 3
JS 550 Good and Evil: Jewish Ethics and Contemporary Social Problems 3
Capstone Course  
JS 690 Senior Seminar in Jewish Studies 3
Units chosen from the following. These units may be taken from any campus. A maximum of 6 units outside of Jewish studies may be counted toward the major and must be approved by a major adviser. 6
  JS/JOUR 311 Facing Each Other: Blacks and Jews in the Popular Media  
  JS/PHIL 412 Derrida and Jewish Tradition
  JS/PHIL 415 The Hebrew Bible
  JS 416 Special Topics in Jewish Studies
  JS 445 Jews, Diaspora, and Identity
  JS/ENG 451 American Jewish Literature
  JS/HUM/PHIL 501 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  JS/CW 509 Jewish Writers in the American Poetry Archives
  JS 516/CWL/CLAS 416/
  ENG 532/PHIL 551
Bible and Ethics: The Moral of the Story
  JS/ENG/WOMS 546 20th Century American Jewish Women Writers
  JS 600 Internship
  CINE 406 Jewish Identity in Film
  CWL 445 Jewish Literature in Translation
Total 42-43


Core Courses Units
JS 300 Introduction to Jewish Studies 3
JS 310 Jewish Thought and Culture 3
JS 320/
HIST 635
The Jewish Historical Experience 3
JS/HIST 633 Modern Jewish History 3
Elective Courses (units selected upon advisement) 6
Total 18


Admission to Program

Students are required to have a baccalaureate degree. Both classified and unclassified students are eligible. Unclassified students may register through the College of Extended Learning.

Application must be made through the Jewish Studies Program. A faculty advisory group reviews applications, which include a statement of intent, description of previous work experience, and career goal.

Award of Graduate Certificate

The course work used to satisfy the requirements for a graduate certificate must be completed with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B), and only courses completed with a grade of C or better may be used to meet program requirements; i.e., C- grades and below are unacceptable. The certificate requires a total of eighteen units successfully completed, which includes the completion of a supervised internship/service learning course.


Students who have not completed JS 300 or comparable course work must take JS 700 or JS 710 as one of their electives.

With permission of their adviser, students may elect to take a graduate course of three to six units from another discipline that is related to their future career objective in community service; i.e., courses in gerontology, child development, economics, education, ethnic studies, public administration, or urban studies.

Core Courses Units
JS 730 Jews and Judaism in the Modern World 3
JS 740 American Jewish Identity and Family 3
JS 780 The Professional in Jewish Communal Service 3
JS 800 Internship 3
Elective Courses
Units selected on advisement 6
  JS 700 Introduction to Jewish Studies  
  JS 710 Jewish Thought and Culture
  JS 750 Good and Evil: Jewish Ethics and Contemporary Social Problems
Total for certificate 18

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Last modified July 05, 2012 by