About Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies is an Interdisciplinary Program  housed in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Kentucky, which draws expertise and scholarly leadership from a  dynamic group of 20+ affiliated faculty drawn from five colleges (Arts and Sciences, Fine Arts, Education, Medicine, and Engineering).  First established in 1996, the Jewish Studies Program and interdisciplinary minor has enjoyed a long history at the University of Kentucky.  Our courses reflect the disciplinary training of our core advisory faculty, most of whom have been housed in philosophy or history, but recent faculty hires have included faculty from Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies and Modern, Classical Literatures, Languages, and Cultures,  resulting in new course offerings. These new faculty and courses reflect the interdisciplinary and transnational shift of Jewish and Israel Studies on the whole. Currently, the program offers a two-course, year-long sequence in Jewish thought and culture, HJS 324-325 along with courses on the history of the Holocaust, Holocaust literature, Jewish philosophy, Jews in America, the Jewish Graphic Novel, Women in Judaism, the Hebrew Bible, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino, Composing Oral History: Jewish Kentucky,  and the Jewish musical tradition. 

The minor in Jewish Studies familiarizes students with the historical and contemporary diversity of Jewish culture, language, literature, religion, history, and philosophy. In addition to specific courses offered by the program, students may also obtain approval from the program director to take courses from other fields provided the course subject matter is significantly relevant to the area of Jewish Studies.

In addition to offering an average of  5-7 courses each semester, we also sponsor the Zantker guest lecture series with a minimum of four invited speakers (this year we'll have at least 8!) and a graduate essay competition and prize.  In the past we have collaborated with the local Jewish community, Hillel, and the Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass, to sponsor an annual fall film festival every fall that showcases four contemporary Jewish/Israeli films. Additionally, the University has agreements of collaboration with Haifa and Ben Gurion Universities.  We offer several education abroad experiences: one to Israel, one to Europe. We also provide financial support for undergraduate research projects. Typically 1-2 awards are offered per academic year.  As we look toward our 25th anniversary in 2021, we are excited about new directions for growth and development.