Courses by Field

Current Courses

Past and Recurring Courses

Academic Courses


Faculty at Brandeis teach a range of courses on Israel Studies across several Brandeis departments. See details below or click here for information from the Registrar's page. In 2016-2017, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies is sponsoring several new courses.

* All Israel Studies courses are offered via Brandeis departments and programs; the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies is not a degree-granting program.

Spring 2017

ANTH 120b The Politics of Nature: Environment, Agriculture and Society in Israel and the Middle East
Liron Shani, Schusterman post-doctoral fellow
This seminar examines how humans interact with the world around them. The course covers the main theories in the social research of the relationship between the environment and society, and explores issues related to the environment and agriculture in the Middle East with a focus on Israel. (T, Th 3:30-4:50).

ANTH 122b Ethnicities in Israel
André Levy, Schusterman visiting professor
Israeli social sciences are inclined to ignore the study of ethnicity in Israel, favoring instead the religious divide (“religious” vs. “secular”) and the national cleavage (“Israeli Jews” vs. “Palestinian Arabs”). Ethnic tension is considered secondary, and is prone to be dismissed or confined to economic academic discourse. This course is designed to introduce students to the motivations and reasons for such a packaging of the ethnic tension, while, at the same time, pointing to the multitude of expressions of ethnic friction currently in Israel. (T, Th 5:00-6:20)

SOC 120b Globalization and the Media: Israel as a Case Study
Rafi Grosglik, lecturer
Investigates the phenomenon of globalization as it relates to mass media. Topics addressed include the growth of transnational media organizations, the creation of audiences that transcend territorial groupings, the hybridization of cultural styles, and the consequences for local identities. Israel is examined as a case study. (T, F 9:30-10:50)

NEJS 132b Jewish Responses to the Holocaust
Laura Jockusch, NEJS assistant professor
Provides an overview on the multifaceted Jewish responses to the Nazi destruction of European Jews in the years 1945-1961. Familiarizing students with Jews' historical, legal, cultural, political, religious and commemorative reactions to the Holocaust, it refutes the unwarranted claim of a postwar Jewish silence. (T, Th 11:00-12:20).

NEJS 135a The Modern Jewish Experience
Eugene Sheppard, NEJS associate professor
Themes include Enlightenment, Hasidism, emancipation, Jewish identity in the modern world (acculturation and assimilation), development of dominant nationalism in Judaism, Zionism, European Jewry between the world wars, Holocaust, the creation of the State of Israel, and contemporary Jewish life in America, Israel, and Europe. (M, W 2:00-3:30).

NEJS 141b Human Rights: Law, Politics, Theology
Yehudah Mirsky, Schusterman and NEJS associate professor
How did human rights work arise in recent decades, and why only then? Is it a new sort of religion? What critical thinking will help this vast work of advocacy, international law, democratization and humanitarianism alleviate human suffering? (M, W 2:00-3:20).

NEJS 145a History of the State of Israel
Rachel Fish, Schusterman Center associate director and lecturer
Examines the development of the State of Israel from its foundation to the present time. Israel's politics, society, and culture will be thematically analyzed. (M, W, Th 9:00-9:50)

NEJS 154b Zionism, Israel and the Crises of Jewish Modernity
Yehudah Mirsky, Schusterman and NEJS associate professor
Explores the relations between pluralism, religious resurgence, secularism and democracy in our time through readings in history, literature, philosophy, sociology, theology and law. Focuses on one fascinating, contentious and deeply consequential place: The State of Israel. (M, W 3:30-4:50)

POL 162b Middle East Crisis: Competing Explanations
Shai Feldman, Crown Center director and professor of Politics
David Patel, lecturer, Department of Politics

Explores how political developments in the Middle East (e.g. the Arab Spring, ISIS, the Iranian nuclear program) can be seen from a number of different disciplinary perspective. The class provides students a toolbox for understand current and future developments. (M, 2:00-4:50)

NEJS 166a Carnal Israel: Exploring Jewish Sexuality from Talmudic Times to the Present
ChaeRan Freeze, professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
Explores the construction of Jewish sexuality from Talmudic times to the present. Themes include rabbinic views of sex, niddah, illicit relations, masculinity, medieval erotic poetry, Ashkenazi and Sephardic sexual practices, and sexual symbolism in mystic literature; the discourse on sex, race, and nationalism in Europe; debates about masculinity, sexual orientation, and stereotypes in America and Israel. (T, F 11:00-12:20)

NEJS 181a — Jews on Screen: From "Cohen’s Fire Sale" to the Coen Brothers
Instructor: Sharon Pucker Rivo, associate professor and director, National Center for Jewish Film
Survey course focusing on moving images of Jews and Jewish life in fiction and factual films. Includes early Russian and American silents, home movies of European Jews, Yiddish feature films, Israeli cinema, independent films, and Hollywood classics. (T, 2:00-4:50)

NEJS 184a — Cultural and Historical Jewish Museum Studies
Instructor: Ellen Smith, director and associate professor, Hornstein Jewish Leadership Program
Using readings, case studies, field trips, and class discussions, this course gives students introductory theoretical, historical, bibliographic, and hands-on skills for interpreting and producing exhibitions, museums, and historic sites in American, Europe, and Israel. (T, Th 5:00-6:20)

UWS 21b Contemporary Trends in Hebrew Literature
Aviv Ben-Or, Schusterman and NEJS doctoral candidate
Modern Hebrew literature has undergone vast and rapid transformations since the revival of the Hebrew language in the latter half of the 19th century and after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Closely bound up with the nation-building project in the new Jewish state, Hebrew literature has confronted, responded to, and grappled with the conflicts, traumas, and euphorias that have shaped Israeli culture for over half a century. Materials in this undergraduate writing seminar include prose, poetry, film, and television.

UWS 36a Divided Society, Divided Identity: Exploring the Experience of Minorities in Israel
Amber Taylor, Schusterman and NEJS doctoral candidate 
The question of identity in the modern world is one that is represented in a myriad of creative and cultural expressions, including literature and film. Using these two mediums, this undergraduate writing seminar will consider some of the ways that minorities in Israel explore and represent complex questions of identity in a land and society endlessly divided and sub-divided in terms of space, history and language.

Fall 2016


ANTH 135a Contemporary Israeli Society: Identities and Dilemmas
Liron Shani, Schusterman post-doctoral fellow
Explores a wide range of materials about social experience in Israel, with a particular focus on marginalized or frequently overlooked social groups. Topics include women in Israeli society, critical perspectives on ethnicity and religion, the relationship between gender and citizenship, disability and identity, and nationalism and sexuality. (M, W 3:30-4:50).

ANTH 129a Global, Transnational and Diasporic Communities
André Levy, Schusterman visiting professor
Examines the social and cultural dimensions of diasporas and homelands from an anthropological perspective. It starts by critically engaging with more fundamental concepts such as state, identity, and movement. It then proceeds to debate the various contributions that anthropologists have presented to the understanding of human life in transnational and diasporic contexts. Topics to be discussed include homeland, place, migration, religion, global sexual cultures, kinship, and technology—all within a global perspective. (Th, 6:30-9:20).

FA 175a Moving Images: Israeli Video Art in Context
Gannit Ankori, Chair in Israeli Art, Department of Fine arts and Schusterman Center
Israeli video artists have become world renowned for their innovative contributions to contemporary culture. Their path-breaking videos are featured in the most prestigious venues across the globe to great critical acclaim. In this course we will view, analyze and interpret a broad range of fascinating works by Israeli and Palestinian video artists, in relationship to the history of photography, film, television and visual culture; within the context of global and Middle Eastern art and politics; taking into account issues pertaining to gender, nationalism, race, ethnicity, trauma and religion. (Th 2:00-4:50).

NEJS 191b The World to Come: Jewish Messianism from Antiquity to Zionism
Yehudah Mirsky, NEJS and Schusterman associate professor
Messianism is an important component in Jewish history. This course examines the messianic idea as a religious, political, and sociological phenomenon in modern Jewish history. Examining how the messianic narrative entered Jewish political discourse enables a critical discussion of its role in Zionist activities as an example of continuity or discontinuity with an older tradition. (M, W 3:30-4:50).

NEJS 236a Seminar on Jewish and Israeli History and Historiography
David Ellenson, Schusterman Center director and NEJS visiting professor
Aims to introduce students to the emergence of history as an academic discipline in the nineteenth century and to provide some acquaintance with the classics of historical scholarship. It will also examine the emergence of Jewish historiography and analyze critically the works of the major Jewish historians. In addition, it will assess the contributions of the "new" historians to historical understanding and see how far their insights can aid in the study of key problems in Jewish history. (T, 6:30-9:20).

POL 164a Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East
Shai Feldman, Crown Center director and professor of Politics
Provides students with historical and analytic mastery of the Arab- Israeli conflict in a novel way. Through immersion in three competing narratives - Israeli, Palestinian, and pan-Arab - students will gain proficiency in the history of the conflict as well as analytic leverage on the possibility of its resolution. (M 2:00-4:50).

HRNS 350a Myra Kraft Seminar in Israel
Rachel Fish, Schusterman Center associate director and lecturer
Required core course for all students in the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Development. An intensive examination of contemporary issues in Israeli society and its relationship with Diaspora communities. (M, 12:00-1:50)

Language-based Studies

Advanced Hebrew language courses at Brandeis include an active Israel Studies component, Click here for a listing. Yiddish and Arabic are also a regular part of the language curriculum in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.

Past and Recurring Courses

For a listing of past and recurring courses with an Israel Studies focus, click here.

Language-based StudiesPast and Recurring Courses