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Jewish History Department

Jewish history at Yeshiva is a multidisciplinary exploration of the Jewish past from antiquity to the present, from the "waters of Babylon" to the Tiber River, from the Rhine to the Hudson—and beyond.

Jewish History at Yeshiva College introduces students to the depth of historical research and thinking, serving as a testing ground where Torah and madda harmonize in the academic study of the Jewish past.

Renowned throughout the world for their scholarly research and methodological sophistication—and around YU for their exciting teaching methods—the Jewish history faculty utilize a broad range of historical approaches. These include: social history, political history, intellectual history, the history of religion, gender history, cultural history, art history and archaeology.

Contact Us

For questions or further information on the Jewish History Department:

Dr. Joshua Karlip
Chair, Jewish History Department
Belfer 526

Program Information

Please see the Schedule of Classes for the current semester’s offerings.

  • JHI 1105 or 1106 History of the Ancient Near East
    3 credits

    First semester: third millennium B.C.E. to 1300 B.C.E.; second semester: 1300 B.C.E. to 586 B.C.E.
  • JHI 1116 Biblical History and Archaeology
    2–3 credits

    Archaeological discoveries in Israel and their impact on the study of Jewish history.
    Prerequisite: junior status.
  • JHI 1200 Classical Jewish History
    3 credits

    History of the Jews from the beginning of the Second Temple period until the end of the Talmudic period.
  • JHI 1235 or 1235H The Dead Sea Scrolls
    3 credits

    Archaeological, historical, and literary aspects of the scrolls; their place in the development of the Hebrew language and Jewish thought. Prerequisites: HEB 1206 and permission of the instructor.
  • JHI 1270 or 1270H Remembering Communal Catastrophe: The Crusades through the Holocaust
    3 credits

    Paradigms and archetypes of historical memory, focusing on the Crusades (1096), the Blois massacre (1171), the Chmielnicki massacres (1648–1649), and the Holocaust.
  • JHI 1285 The Holocaust
    2–3 credits

    (Same as HIS 1285.) The emergence of modern anti-Semitism and racial ideology; Nazi implementation of the "final solution"; problem of the Judenrat; life in the ghettos and camps; Allied, Christian, and world Jewish reactions; resistance; post-Holocaust literary and theological reflections. Under the Eli and Diana Zborowski Professorial Chair in Interdisciplinary Holocaust Studies.
    Prerequisites: JHI 1200, JHI 1300.
  • JHI 1300 Medieval Jewish History
    3 credits

    The Jewish people from the Gaonic period to 1550.
  • JHI 1322 Jews in Medieval Ashkenaz
    3 credits

    Jewish settlement in Italy; Charlemagne and the Jews in Franco-Germany; Rabbeinu Gershom and early Ashkenazic scholarship; the Crusades and the origins of medieval anti-Semitism, Rashi and the Tosafists; Church and the Jews in the 13th century; the Paris Disputation; Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg and his disciples—e.g., Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel and Rabbi Mordecai ben Hillel; the Black Death and its aftermath; Jewish life and scholarship in 15th-century Germany, with special emphasis on Rabbi Jacob Molin (Maharil), Rabbi Jacob Weil, and Rabbi Israel Isserlein; the transition of Ashkenazic life and scholarship to Poland.
  • JHI 1345 The Jewish-Christian Encounter in Medieval Europe
    3 credits

    Examines the ways in which medieval Jews and Christians encountered one another in a variety of contexts and settings, including positive and negative mutual perceptions, religious and intellectual contact, in daily life, as they imagined the "other," changing attitudes, and the role of violence in the medieval Jewish-Christian encounter with a focus on contemporary historiography.
    Prerequisite: JHI 1300 or equivalent. Please note: You cannot take this course if you have taken JHI 1835.
  • JHI 1371 Jews in the Medieval Moslem World
    3 credits

    Judaism and Islam; the protected minority; Gaonate and Exilarchate; Karaism and false Messianism; Saadiah Gaon and medieval Jewish philosophy; the flowering of Jewish culture in Moslem Spain; the migration to Provence.
  • JHI 1400 Modern Jewish History
    3 credits

    The Jewish people from 1550 to the present.
  • JHI 1401 or 1402 Modern Jewish History I; II
    3 credits

    Rise and flowering of the Eastern European Jewish communities; Hasidism; the Enlightenment; the Emancipation and development of Western European Jewry; American Jewry; new religious currents; modern anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; Zionism and the founding of the State of Israel. First semester: 1600–1900; second semester: 1900–1948.
  • JHI 1403 Destruction of Polish Jewry
    3 credits

    Seminar analyzing the destruction of Polish Jewry during World War II.
  • 1415 History of Zionism
    3 credits

    Rise and development of modern Jewish nationalism against the backdrop of contemporary Western civilization and the scope of Jewish history; writings of major Zionist ideologues; role of Zionism within the major Diaspora communities; impact of the rise of the Jewish state movement on the world political and diplomatic scene.
  • JHI 1451 The Jews in Eastern Europe I
    3 credits

    History of the Jewish people in Eastern Europe from the Early Settlement to the Third Partition of Poland (1795). Prerequisite: JHI 1400 or equivalent.
  • JHI 1452 The Jews in Eastern Europe II
    3 credits

    History of the Jewish people in Eastern Europe since 1795.
  • JHI 1453 The Jews of Early Modern Europe
    3 credits

    An examination of intellectual, social, and cultural changes of the new Jewish communities in Europe from Spain through Poland and in the Ottoman Empire, including the impact of Renaissance and Reformation on Jewish history; Jewish communal structures; the development and impact of print; Christian Hebraism; writing about the self; messianism; Lurianic Kabbalah; Sabbatai Zevi; the beginning of modernity.
  • JHI 1455 Lithuanian History and Culture
    3 credits

    A look at the development of the beliefs, values, and behaviors of Lithuanian Jews over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. Topics include the shtetl, the lamdan, the maskil, the woman, the rebel, the yeshivot, and many others. A good working knowledge of rabbinic and academic Hebrew is required.
    Prerequisite: JHI 1400 or equivalent.
  • JHI 1511 or 1512 Modern Israel
    3 credits

    Comprehensive survey of the history of Israel from 1948 to the present; political, economic, and social developments; current problems.
  • JHI 1521S through 1562S Sephardic Communities.
    3 credits

    Social, economic, and communal development of various communities of Sephardic Jews.
  • JHI 1521S Israel Since 1492
    2 credits
  • JHI 1573 American Jewish History
    3 credits

    (Same as HIS 2581) Major political, economic, and cultural developments from colonial beginnings to the present; the Jewish experience in its American historical context; the Jewish labor movement, rise of American Zionism, and role of American Jewry during the Holocaust.
  • JHI 1575 or 1576 American Jewish History
    2 credits

    First semester: the Jewish community in the United States and its development from earliest times; immigration and settlement; social, economic, and communal development; contribution to American civilization. Second semester: the modern and contemporary scene—American Jews and the Holocaust, State of Israel, civil rights movement, Russian Jewry, inner-city tensions.
    Prerequisite: junior status or permission of the instructor.
  • JHI 1577 Contemporary American Jewish Issues
    2 credits

    The American Jewish community today against the backdrop of the pluralistic American society; analyses of current issues and problems, within the community and at its interface with other communities and cultures; guest lecturers.
  • JHI 1801 or 1801H History of Talmudic Literature
    3 credits

    The political, cultural, technological, and linguistic history of the Talmudic period and the textual history of the Babylonian Talmud as they bear on the interpretation of the text.
  • JHI 1829 or 1829H; 1830 or 1830H 3 credits
    JHI 1831 or 1831H; 1832 or 1832H 3 credits
    JHI 1833 or 1833H; 1834 or 1834H 3 credits
    Jewish Intellectual History
    3 credits

    Sequence of courses focusing on major themes in the intellectual history of the Jews from the Second Commonwealth to the present; readings almost exclusively from primary sources. JHI 1829; 1830 covers the classical period; 1831; 1832, medieval period; 1833, early modern period; 1834, modern period.
  • JHI 1835 Jewish-Christian Encounters From Early Christianity Until Contemporary Times
    3 credits

    Understanding the major roots of the conflict between Judaism and Christianity including shared scripture, shared traditions and shared sacred space with different and conflicting interpretations, from the foundations of Christianity through the most heated era of conflict, the Middle Ages, until contemporary times. Topics include polemical texts, interactions acculturation, mutual interest and collaboration, evolution of both Catholic and Protestant attitudes towards the Jews, post-Holocaust Vatican policy, apocalypticism, Christian support of the State of Israel. Prerequisite: JHI 1300. Please note: You cannot take this course if you have taken JHI 1345
  • JHI 1836 or 1836H Historiography
    3 credits
  • JHI 1850 or 1850H Jewish Autobiography
    3 credits

    Analyzes "self-texts" on their own terms and as historical documents with a focus on the 16th- to 18th-century works of Gluckel of Hameln, Leon Modena, Rabbi Pinchas Katzellenbogen, and Rabbi Jacob Emden.
  • JHI 1932H (cross listed with HIS 1932H) Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in the Western World
    3 credits

    A writing intensive that surveys the evolution of tolerance and intolerance from 1200-1800 on both sides of the Atlantic. The Jewish experience is contextualized as part of European and American history. Open only to first-year Honors students.
  • JHI 4104 Print Culture and the Jewish World, 1450-1800
    3 credits

    Examination of the changes wrought by print, and the impact of "print culture" on Jewish life, learning, and communities. Topics include: shift from manuscript to print, material culture of the book, social networks that developed in the wake of print, printing of the Talmud, male and female literacy, new religious and vernacular texts, censorship, life in the print shop, translations, Christian Hebraism, and the development of an "international" Jewish community of readers.
    Prerequisite: JHI 1300 of JHI 1400
  • JHI 4901, 4902 Independent Study
    Meet with the Yeshiva College academic dean.


See the description of the Jewish Studies major at the top of this page.


Two survey courses in Jewish history, and 15 additional credits in Jewish history courses.

Qualified upperclassmen may receive permission to take courses in Jewish history at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Consult the schedule to see the offerings available.

Students who plan to do graduate work in Jewish history or to major in Jewish Studies with a Jewish History concentration, are strongly advised to fulfill their Jewish history requirements at Yeshiva College as soon as possible.

  • Steven Fine, Professor of Jewish History; Director, YU Center for Israel Studies; Dean Pinkhos Churgin Chair in Jewish History
  • Joshua Karlip, Chair, Jewish History
  • Chaviva Levin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish History
  • Jess Olson, Associate Professor, Jewish History

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