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Robert M. Beren Department of History

Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women

History at YU

History is not like any other major or discipline. It is not a skill to be acquired or a problem to be solved. It is our story, the collective tale of humanity. We study history to understand how our world came to be what it is, and how we came to be ourselves.

We have learned that there are many ways to interpret a single event, many voices telling the same story through their own words. Historians rediscover and reanimate these voices and use them to construct narratives by which our present society better understands the past. Although we recognize there is no single dominant narrative, no absolute “truth,” we know that history and fable are not synonymous. As instructors, we instill the same skillset in our students that we use ourselves: critical reasoning, intellectual curiosity, the ability to construct a viable argument from researched sources, and the confidence to defend it successfully in any forum.

These skills have many uses, both inside and outside academia. Students trained in history are often best poised for careers in the law and public service, or any job that requires an ability to reason and a capacious understanding of the world. Those who pursue teaching careers, either in secondary or postgraduate education, will leave Yeshiva University with a solid foundation in all core subject areas of history, and the academic training needed to excel in graduate school. Our department is committed to the intellectual development of every student we teach, regardless of major or career path.

Come and let us share the past with you.

Mission Statement

The Robert Beren Department of History at Yeshiva University seeks to instill each student with a comprehensive understanding of the past, both in its own context and how it informs the present. Through small, interactive colloquia, instructors introduce students to the complex and often competing narratives of world history, inviting them to examine sources objectively and formulate their own conclusions as to meaning.

Our courses cover a broad range of historical fields, with particular strengths in the history of Jews and Judaism. Specific topics include: Roman Emperors; Renaissance and Reformation; History of the Book; US Presidents; History of Piracy; Legal History; Modern Russia; Social Movements; History of the Jerusalem Temple; the Talmudic Rabbis; Medieval Jewish History; Jews in the New World; the Jewish Experience in Europe; The Holocaust; and History of Modern Israel.

In moving across chronological divisions and geographic boundaries, the History curriculum is designed to provide foundational knowledge while encouraging independent thought. Through written work and lively class discussion, students acquire the ability to craft a persuasive argument and present it cogently to their peers. More importantly, they gain an awareness of the vast richness of the human experience, and their own role as citizens, scholars, and members of the global community.

Advanced students may participate in graduate courses in the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and are invited to consider the joint BA/MA program in Jewish Studies.

Program Student Learning Goals

  • Understanding how historians gather, interpret and analyze source material and how they construct a narrative from that material.
  • Demonstrating awareness of the variety of the human experience across space and time.  
  • Creating and communicating their own narratives of historical analysis in clear, concise prose.

For more information about the General History Division, please contact Professor Jeffrey Freedman at 

For more information about the Jewish History Division, contact Professor Joshua Karlip at

Program Information

Thirty-three credits: HIST 1101, 1102, either 3001 or 3002 (capstone course) plus 24 additional HIST credits, of which 6 must be in American History. Up to 12 credits in Jewish history (in excess of those used to meet the Jewish studies requirement and distribution) may be counted toward the major.

A maximum of 6 AP History credits with a score of 4 or 5 may apply toward the major.

Eighteen credits: HIST 1101, 1102, plus 12 additional HIST credits, of which 3 credits must be in American History. Up to 6 credits in Jewish history (in excess of those used to meet the Jewish studies requirement and distribution) may be counted toward the minor.

A maximum of 3 AP History credits with a score of 4 or 5 may apply toward the minor.

The following list includes faculty who teach at the Beren (B) and/or Wilf (W)

Joseph Angel
Professor (B/W)
Selma Botman 
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (B/W)
Douglas R Burgess Jr. 
Associate Professor of History (B/W)
Steven Fine 
Professor of Jewish History; Director, YU Center for Israel Studies; Dean Pinkhos Churgin Chair in Jewish History (B/W)
Jeffrey Freedman
Chair, General History
Professor of History (B/W)
Jeffrey Gurock
Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History, (B/W)
Joshua Karlip
Chair, Jewish History Division(B/W)
Ephraim Kanarfogel
E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law, (B/W)
Mario Kessler
Visiting Professor of History (B/W)
Hadassa Kosak
Associate Professor of History (B/W)
Chaviva Levin
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish History (B/W)
Jess Olson
Associate Professor, Jewish History (B/W)
Ronnie Perelis
Chief Rabbi Dr.Isaac Abraham and Jelena (Rachel) Alcalay Associate Professor of Sephardic Studies (B/W)
Ellen Schrecker
Professor of History, Emerita (B/W)
William Stenhouse
Professor of History (B/W) 
Joshua Zimmerman
Professor of History (B/W)

History Courses Spring 2023:  Yeshiva College
History Courses Spring 2023:  Stern College

History Courses Fall 2022:  Yeshiva College
History Courses Fall 2022:  Stern College

History Courses Spring 2022: Yeshiva College
History Courses Spring 2022: Stern College

History Courses Fall 2021:  Yeshiva College
History Courses Fall 2021:  Stern College

Jewish History Courses

JHI Courses Spring 2022: Yeshiva College JHIS Courses Spring 2022: Stern College

Department News

Burgess YU Library Book Talk

Library Book Talk | When Hope and History Rhyme: Natural and Human Rights from Ancient Greece to Modern America {Onsite and via Zoom} 

Date: Thursday, November 10, 2022
Time: 8:00pm - 9:00pm
Time Zone: Eastern Time - US & Canada 
For registration and more information, visit

Awards, Fellowships, Honors

Ephraim Kanarfogel was appointed in 2017 by the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate to serve on an international academic advisory board with the mission to inform and support the application of the Jewish communities of Speyer, Mainz, and Worms to be designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. This designation and its accompanying award were recently granted.

Jeffrey Freedman received two fellowships: one from the Shelby Cullom Davis Center at Princeton University (2017-18) in support of his current research project on the history of fear; another from the Center for Advanced Study (CAS) at the University of Munich in Germany (summer 2016) connected to his work on the Franco-German book trade in the age of Enlightenment.

Josh Karlip received two research grants to support his current book project, "Rabbis in the Land of Atheism: The Struggle to Save Judaism in the Soviet Union.” One was awarded by the Moscow-based SEFER Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization; the other by the Moscow-based Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.  


The Lost Promise book cover

The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s by Ellen Schrecker

The Lost Promise is a magisterial examination of the turmoil that rocked American universities in the 1960s...Learn more





When Hope and History Rhyme book cover

When Hope and History Rhyme by Douglas Burgess 

An exploration of natural law for an era of deep division...Learn more





Jozef Pilsudski Founding Father of Modern Poland book cover

Jozef Pilsudski Founding Father of Modern Poland by  Joshua D. Zimmerman

The story of the enigmatic Jozef Pilsudski, the founding father of modern Poland...Learn more 





Brothers from Afar book cover

Brothers from Afar Rabbinic Approaches to Apostasy and Reversion in Medieval Europe by Ephraim Kanarfogel

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The Jews of Harlem book cover

The Jews of Harlem: The Rise, Decline, and Revival of a Jewish Community by Jeffrey S. Gurock 

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Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic Blood and Faith by Ronnie Perelis book cover

Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic: Blood and Faith by Ronnie Perelis

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The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israel book cover

The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israel by Steven Fine

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Engines of Empire: Steamships and the Victorian Imagination book cover

Engines of Empire: Steamships and the Victorian Imagination by DOUGLAS R. BURGESS JR.

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The Jews of Harlem book cover

Parkchester: A Bronx Tale of Race and Ethnicity by Jeffrey S. Gurock 

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The Polish Underground and the Jews, 1939–1945 book cover

The Polish Underground and the Jews, 1939–1945 by Joshua D. Zimmerman

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For an expanded list of recent History Department publications, including edited volumes and articles, click here

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