Survey of Jewish history from the seventeenth century to the present, focusing on Europe, America, and the Middle East. The myriad political, economic, and intellectual challenges of modernity to Jewish life and how Jews responded to these challenges through various religious and secular movements and with new concepts of identity and community.
This course has several learning objectives that will serve as the basis for assessment. Students will be evaluated on their ability to: • Identify the significance of major personalities, places, events, movements, trends, slogans, etc. in modern Jewish history discussed in lecture and treated in the readings. • Explain the various challenges of modernity to Judaism and traditional Jewish society and the chief characteristics of Jewish modernity, e.g. being able to distinguish the modern from the premodern period in Jewish history, to compare Jewish modernity to Western modernity, etc. • Reason historically, e.g. by thinking contextually and concretely, avoiding unwarranted generalizations and anachronisms, perceiving change and continuity over time, considering how historians with divergent orientations (political, social, intellectual) might approach and explain the same historical phenomenon differently, appreciating complexity, periodizing, etc. • Analyze both primary and secondary literature (historiography) critically, e.g. by attending to things like context, structure, and argument, distinguishing thesis from supporting evidence, considering alternative explanations for given data, discerning possible authorial biases, etc. • Write essays that draw on all the above skills and are clear, cogent and concise.