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Jewish Studies
The Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies

The minimal understanding of the ideal of Torah Umadda is the pursuit of the study of Torah along with secular disciplines, but the highest form of this ideal is a level of integration in which each pursuit enriches the other. Such enrichment can take place with respect to virtually all fields, but there is no area where the interaction is as intimate and potentially rewarding as in the use of the tools of the academy to enhance one's understanding of the Jewish heritage itself. Jewish Studies at Yeshiva College are taught with a reverence for tradition combined with the rigorous application of the methodology of the relevant academic disciplines. In short, academic Jewish Studies lies at the heart of YU's mission. This explains the substantial Jewish Studies requirement in the college curriculum, and it also means that the Jewish Studies major should evoke serious interest on the part of any student whose decision to attend YU is rooted in the desire to attain a broad and sophisticated appreciation of Judaism and the Jewish people.

The Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies includes programs in Bible, Hebrew, Jewish History, and Jewish Philosophy and Thought. A student majoring in Jewish Studies may choose a concentration in any of these programs. Hebrew is also available as a separate major. Please click here for a list of courses offered during the Spring 2016 semester.  

Mission Statement

The Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies serves two main sets of stakeholders: the general Yeshiva College student population and majors in the department.  Its mission to all Yeshiva College students is to educate them regarding Jewish civilization from biblical times through the present, to develop their knowledge of and appreciation for the Hebrew language as a vehicle for Jewish culture throughout the ages, and to develop their appreciation for the contexts in which Judaism arose and developed.  For majors, its mission is to develop their facility with primary and secondary sources and their independent research skills, and thus prepare them to pursue graduate-level degrees in Jewish Studies.

Student learning goals:

1.      Students will be broadly familiar with the sweep of Jewish history.
2.      Students will be able to value context as relevant to studying Jewish texts and cultures.
Students will be able to appreciate the validity and value of modern academic approaches to Jewish civilization alongside traditional Jewish approaches to the same subjects.
4.      Students will have basic facility with the Hebrew language, especially in its classical form in biblical and rabbinic texts.