CJS - Courses and Degree Programs

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The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) at the Graduate Theological Union is a premier center for the advanced study of Jewish history, literature and culture. Our programs combine rigorous text-study of primary sources with distinctive interdisciplinary approaches. Studies at CJS provide training for those preparing for academic careers, leadership positions in the Jewish community, as well as pastoral positions in congregations of many religious affiliations.

Course Offerings

Fall 2018

Liberation or Occupation, Catastrophe or Triumph? Making Sense of the Difficult Past (M. Gross)                                                    Ancient and Medieval Jewish Civilization (D. Aranoff)

Spring 2019

Modern Jewish Intellectual & Cultural Thought (D. Biale)                                                                                                                          Jewish Mysticism (D. Aranoff)

Spring 2017

Jewish Mysticism (D. Aranoff)

Inventing Jewish Ritual (L.A. Hildebrand, Newhall Fellow)

Modern/Contemporary Jewish Thought (B. Steinberg, Visiting Scholar)

The Culture of the Synagogue (F. Spagnolo, Visiting Scholar)

Fall 2016

Ancient/Medieval Jewish Civilization (D. Aranoff) 

Texts/Contexts in Judaism and Islam (C. Fonrobert and N. Virani, Visiting Scholars)

Hasidism (S. Brownstein, Visiting Scholar)

The Jewish Atlantic (T. Whelan, Newhall Fellow)

Degree Programs

The GTU currently offers two degrees through the Center for Jewish Studies: a Master of Arts in Jewish studies and a Doctor of Philosophy featuring a wide range of concentrations within Jewish studies. The CJS also offers a certificate in Jewish studies for professional advancement in the field of Jewish education or Jewish communal life.

Scholars wishing to pursue a degree in Jewish Studies may choose to focus their studies in these departments and concentrations:

  • Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation
    • Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
    • Rabbinic Literature
  • Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion
    • Anthropology of Religion
    • Art & Religion
    • Comparative Religion
    • Jewish Studies
    • New Religious Movements
    • Religion & Literature
    • Sociology of Religion
  • Theology & Ethics
    • Aesthetics
    • Comparative Ethics
    • Comparative Theology
    • Ethics
    • Philosophical Theology
    • Theology & Science
  • Religion & Practice
    • Liturgical Studies

Master of Arts Jewish Studies

The MA program is a two-year program of advanced graduate study and research. Students complete four semesters of courses as well as supervised thesis research. They work closely with CJS faculty and may specialize in late-antiquity and rabbinic literature, medieval Jewish history and culture, as well as modern Jewish cultural and literary studies. Students are required to take a two-semester survey on the foundations of Jewish history and culture and may take a variety of electives at the member schools of the Graduate Theological Union and at UC Berkeley. Students are also required to take two courses of Hebrew study.

Doctor of Philosophy Jewish History

The CJS doctoral program encourages interdisciplinary and comparative research. Students work closely with professors from the GTU in the field of late-antique, medieval, and modern Jewish history and culture. Dissertations may focus on themes such as language, Biblical hermeneutics, translation, secularization, sexuality, cultural exchange, and Jewish-Christian interaction. Students may work within the discipline of history, as well as literary, religious, or cultural studies. Students acquire a strong general competence, particularly for teaching, in the history of Judaism from late antiquity to the recent past, and will acquire strength both for teaching and scholarly research. The doctoral program requires four semesters of coursework, including departmental and interdisciplinary methods seminars.

Certificate in Jewish Studies

The CJS offers a certificate in Jewish Studies. The program is open to registered GTU students as well as to the broader Bay Area community. The certificate allows students to register for graduate level coursework and to receive a transcript and documentation of graduate work in Jewish studies.

Intersession and Summer Programs

CJS may offer courses for credit during the winter and summer intersessions, as well as during the summer. Auditors are also welcome.

Non-Degree Study at CJS

Auditors are welcome in CJS classes, pending permission from instructors.